But honestly? There’s a lot more than just a smiley face and the excitement of a PR.
Weather was a big deal. It was around 40 degrees and rainy for the majority of the race. Cold + Rain = poor running conditions, poor spectator support, and race officials and volunteers who want to pack up, get warm, and go home.
The crushing news? I didn’t officially finish the race. The Get In Gear had a cut-off time of 3:00. And although my Garmin said 3:08:46, by the time I crossed the finish-line, they had already packed up and unplugged the mat at the finish. I have timed results for the 4-mile and 10-mile mat crossings, but no actual “finisher” results.
In addition, I have a LOT of other feedback about the race itself, and I’ll be including that in a different “event recap” post later this week.
Let me be clear: I am not angry with the Get In Gear race – fair and square, they DID say that the race cut-off time was 3:00 and anyone taking longer than 3:00 will not be an “official finisher”.
Now….. My previous time for the Red White & Boom TC Half Marathon (last July) was 3:22:49. It looks like I set a personal record [PR] by just under 14:00. Moreover, the entire race was completely different. 100% different experiences between my 1st half-marathon last summer, and the half-marathon on Saturday. I trained for this race differently than I did before. I followed a training plan very diligently and knew I was ready, despite having some speed-bumps along the way. My goal was to reach the starting-line, knowing I had done everything I could do to be ready for this race.
And I did.
I loved this race because the 10k and Half-Marathoners started together. And although the congestion was difficult to navigate the 1st few miles, I got to hang out with my friends running the 10k in the starting chute. Seeing an entire group of familiar faces does wonders for pre-race nerves!!
Seriously. I loved it.
The atmosphere of the race was great, and Hannah and I logged the first few miles pretty easy. We ran up the West River Parkway and over the Lake/Marshall Street bridge. I told her, “This is my favorite part of the race.”
Of course, we ended up near some chatty-cathys at the back of the 10k pack. Hannah and I decided that they were chatty because they simply weren’t running fast enough. And when we hit the big hill near Mile 4, I sang along to LMFAO “Sexy and I Know It” and she told me that I wasn’t running fast enough if I could sing. [harsh, but probably true.]
I started feeling fatigued around Mile 4.5, and I took a gu and some water. Hannah was keeping us on pace with the splits, and started telling me when we needed to “make up time“, which completely freaked me out. So much so, that I asked her NOT to mention pace any more. Honestly, this race-anxiety and self-doubt was my biggest barrier during the half-marathon.
We crossed under the Ford Parkway bridge around 5.5 – that’s where the 10k splits off from the half-marathon. Despite seeing Hannah’s co-worker, we were solo. Hardly any runners nearby. Water stop at Mile 6 and again at Mile 8. Somewhere inbetween there, we saw the winner(s) of the half-marathon running back towards us.
See, the course was a 5.5-mile loop and then a 3 mile out/3 mile back course. Although it was really neat to see everyone run past (and look for some familiar faces in the crowd), it was also incredibly intimidating to see how many fast runners there were, and how far we still had to go. Between seeing the race finishers run back and knowing the distance we had to travel before hitting the turn-around, it started a pattern of negative self-talk that I just couldn’t shake.
Mile 6 is where I started to question whether or not I could finish the race. I started feeling so incredibly fatigued.
Mile 7 is where I saw my pace drop considerably. I took a gu and tried to keep my head up.
Despite seeing Jay around Mile 8, I slowed down.
I also thought I would be seeing my mom around Mile 7 and didn’t, and I asked Hannah to call her on my cell phone to find out where she was. Again – not a highlight of this race. Looking back, it must have looked pretty ridiculous to have her running behind me, fishing my phone out of my spibelt. [Sorry, Hannah.]
The turn-around was at Mile 9, and immediately after we crossed the turn-around loop, I asked Hannah to walk. Or maybe, I told her we were going to walk. Either way, I can confidently say that Mile 9 was where I “fell apart”.
Mile 10 was another water-stop, I took a gu and we ran into Joey. He and I have been mutual Twitter followers for a while, but I haven’t actually met him in person. I’m embarrassed to say, he didn’t meet me at my finest moment. Miles 10-13, I walked/ran the remainder of the race, yelled obscenities and told Hannah (about a million times) just how “tired” I was.
It was also around Mile 10 that my ipod died. Not like, battery died, but made a loud, angry “dead electronic” sound and completely shorted. I think it was fried from the rain. Not having music was a HUGE barrier after Mile 10.
We ran into my mom and Lori around Mile 11 – they were a GREAT cheering section and I was happy to see them during the last few miles of the race! It was a really nice boost and helped me to keep going during the hardest part of the race.
We ran/walked the rest of the race. Miles 10-13 were, without a doubt, the most difficult of the race. I struggled to keep moving and walked a lot. I got into my head and couldn’t shake the negativity. I thought we would NEVER finish. Finally, Hannah and I made our way past Mile 12 and Mile 13, and crossed over the Ford Parkway bridge. We came towards the finish line and there was a huge group of people cheering us on.
My goals were:
Don’t sit down.
Run to the finish.
Finish strong and proud.
We couldn’t see the finish line right away. Hannah and I just kept moving forward.
There was no big flag or welcoming “FINISH” line.
I was incredibly surprised and humbled at the number of friends and family waiting for us at the finish. It was overwhelming, to see their smiling faces on such a cold, wet morning – to know they waited JUST for us – most of them already having run the 10k or half-marathon. So amazing. And THAT was one of my favorite part of the race: Finishing. Seeing everyone cheering us. Reading all of the congratulatory tweets and taking the “finishers” pictures.
Shortly after the finish, we headed home to warm up. Kat, Hannah, Jay and I quickly got out of our wet clothes to warm up. Some of us (ahem – Kat and Hannah) promptly positioned themselves in front of the electric fireplace.
We had a wonderful coffee + brunch afterwards and went to our respective homes for showers/blankets/naps and more food. My recovery included the latest Runners World and corn. I didn’t eat the corn – I put it on my knees.
Afterwards, I also discovered a nasty chafe on my neck, of all places. I blame the long-sleeve-under-the-short-sleeve shirt combo. Rain makes everything more chafe-y.
Body-wise, I have been feeling pretty good. I was SO THANKFUL that my knees felt OK during the race – no horrible pain or stiffness, and although my hips got tight in the last 3-4 miles of the race, no injuries or pain. The day after the race (Sunday), Jay and I went grocery shopping, ran errands, and made some progress on the Gard-Ann. I’m having usual stiffness and soreness, but stretching and Aleve do wonders. All is well and I’m thankful to my body for carrying me for 13.1 miles on Saturday.
I don’t even want to post them.
But in the spirit of being honest and truthful about my race experience…. Here they are.
I knew we had slowed down. I didn’t know we had slowed down that much. (I promised Hannah I would let her control the pace and my Garmin was switched to “clock” mode the entire race – so I couldn’t watch the distance, time or pace.) And despite Hannah’s best efforts to keep me moving, I completely fell apart during the last half of the race. I know that physically, my body was hurting. It’s hard to run 13.1 miles. I get that. The real struggle was mental. The rain and cold was a good “excuse” to have a bad race. My ipod dying was another “reason” that I fell apart. Deep down, I know I just didn’t push myself or believe in myself to finish under 3:00. The race got tough, and my mind couldn’t handle it. I broke down and walked MORE TIMES than I want to count. Yes, I was tired. But it really was because I couldn’t push myself to run stronger in the end. My inability to control my feelings in the last half of the race, along with missing the 3:00 time limit cut-off (and not being an “official finisher”) leave me feeling disappointed in my performance. However, lots of things went really well: I finished the race injury-free and proud of my accomplishments. I earned a PR and had a great race with a wonderful friend.
The other finishers (5k, 10k and Half-Marathon) – CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishments! Hopefully you had a fast, injury-free race and got some down-time to relax, dry off, and warm up.
To my friends and family who waited at the finish – seeing your faces was INCREDIBLE. I get all teary-eyed thinking about you waiting in the cold and rain just to see me finish, and I am so thankful for your friendship, encouragement and love. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything.
Hannah – I don’t think I would have finished this race without you by my side. You pushed me, motivated me, encouraged me and helped me through the entire 13.1 miles and “thank you” doesn’t begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for you. Thank you for sticking with me for the ups and the downs of training, running, and finishing the race. You are an awesome person and I am blessed to know you.
Thanks again for everything, blog readers, family and friends.
This week is going to be amazing – I start my new job today. I have a few more blog posts coming: a review of the Get In Gear event, and a special “thank you” to the spectators (our friends + family) at Saturday’s race. I also have a update on the Gard-Ann and plan to workshop some things for the upcoming race(s) this spring and summer.
Race season has officially began – what’s your next race?
If you ran the Get In Gear, what was your favorite part? How did you do?