Well folks, I did it!!
What a race. The weather was PERFECT, the course was beautiful and the race was very well organized. Because of all those factors and my pure awesomeness (LOL, we all know it was the cooler weather), I had a great run!
That's right!!! 2:04:22!!!
That's OVER FIVE minutes off my PR in Sarasota 18 months ago!! AND almost FOURTEEN minutes off my crappy Half Marathon in Miami in January (nightmare). Also, it's almost TWENTY minutes off my first Half Marathon in Miami in Jan/2007.
You know, for all my bitching and complaining, you would never know I am actually getting better.
The day started out fine. I took a bath last night, laid out my gear and drank some Tension Tamer Tea.
This ritual always helps to relax me a bit, but I still had a hard time falling asleep. I couldn't stop thinking about the race which led to weird dreams all night (something about Jeremy and his friend not helping me do dishes after I cooked for a huge party, then Jennifer Garner coming to my wedding...). Anyway, I ended up with about four hours of sleep.
When I finally woke up I was shocked at how cold it was outside. I think it was about 52 degrees, which I know for most people is not a big deal. But honestly, I think it may have gotten to 52 degrees TWICE in Miami last winter. And that was a nighttime low. Yeah, I was definitely wearing capris.
I ate a Cliff bar with some water and coffee and we headed out. We had no problems finding parking because there are a million lots downtown. We actually found one about 1/2 mile from the start. I was still freezing. I actually had on a light jacket and GLOVES! LOL, I am in for some serious shi%t in a a few months.
We got to the race with about an hour to spare. We wandered around and took a few pictures. We used the port-o-potties before the lines got out of control. By the way, if the door is RED, that means it's OCCUPIED!! Some douche tried to break his way into my potty while I was in there. He was jiggling on the door so hard I thought the whole thing was going to knock over! When I got out, Jeremy told me he was just walking along them all, wiggling all the doors trying to find one that was empty. Idiot.
About 20 minutes later, of course I had to go again, but the lines were suddenly 3 miles long! We ended up going into the woods to cop-a-squat. Isn't it funny in these situations how the trees seem to somehow get divided into a "men's"and "women's" section? Some girls played lookout for me and then I was good-to-go.
We lined up in the corrals. Everything was very well organized. In other races I have been to corrals have been kind of a joke. Pretty much anyone can go into any corral and it's no big deal. These were actually separated and your number indicated which one you were in. It seemed to work out well.
The mayor of Philadelphia said a few words, we heard the national anthem and we were off. The weather was perfect (low-mid 50's and sunny) and downtown Philly looked beautiful! There I was. Finally happy to be running again with 15,000 of my closest friends.
Immediately I noticed my achilles. Not really a "pain" but more like an irritation. I figured as long as it didn't get any worse, I could deal with it. I tried to press down on my big toe as little as possible. Normally, changing your running pattern on gameday would not be considered a good idea. But it actually worked for me and now after the race, my foot and achilles feel fine. Or at least no worse than they did before I ran.
In spite of this, I felt pretty good. My legs were nice and warm, I had zero wardrobe problems and I felt pretty strong. We started out down Ben Franklin Blvd and ran the first four miles through downtown. We ran through some of Philly's most charming Center City neighborhoods, past Rittenhouse Square and back up towards the Art Museum. It was a little difficult trying to manage my way around the other runners (it's been awhile since I ran a race) but pretty soon I managed to get my groove.
Around mile 5 we headed out on West River Drive which is the loop Jeremy and I run for our long runs on Saturdays. It felt good knowing there were no more surprises on the course since I already felt I have run this route a million times. The road widened and I found it hard to keep myself under control. I felt so good I just wanted to take off. Thank goodness Jeremy (and his common sense) were there to reel me in.
"Slow it down."
"We can speed up at mile 8 if you feel good."
"I said, slow down."
"No, not yet."
This was pretty much the extent of our race dialogue.
So I slowed it down a bit but still ran it a nice, steady, speedier pace. I know this ultimately helped me later on.
I took a GU at mile 6. Still felt good. Got a good burst of energy at mile 8. But after we stopped for a walk break at mile 9, I noticed the first onset of fatigue after we started to run again. It scared me a bit, but luckily it never really came back as bad as I feared.
I took another GU at mile 10 and tried to distract myself with songs in my head. At mile 11 I felt pretty good and made myself zone out into a "runners high" because it usually helps me if I can completely empty my mind. I remembered something someone once told me about how when you get tired, you should focus on a persons back in front of you and sort of use their energy to pull you along.
I started noticing peoples calves ( I have no idea why). I picked a girl in front of me with strong, muscular calves running a steady pace and I just focused on them. I emptied everything out of my head and focused on the energy of her legs pulling me along ( I know this sounds hokey, but it actually worked!). Pretty soon I was passing her and I found another runner, this time a guy and used him. Then I passed him, etc. This went on for over 10 minutes. It helped.
Mile 12 we were suddenly running face first into the sun. The temps weren't as hot as I am used to which is good, but the sun was definitely putting a damper on my runners high. For some reason though, I didn't slow down. It was really the first time I have run a race where I really pushed myself to stay as strong as I could. Even though I was doing this, I never felt like I was exhausted and I always felt like I could maybe go a little harder.
Until mile 12.
I always have problems with the last mile but this time it was for two reasons.
1. The first half of this mile was on a slight incline.
2. I saw some orange construction stuff up ahead that I mistakenly took for the finish line.
When I saw the orange I started booking it up the hill thinking "Why the hell would they put the finish at the top of this incline?" When I got to it and realized it wasn't the finish and I couldn't see it anywhere, I started to panic! I literally felt myself slow way down. I saw Jeremy turn around and give me the "You're kidding me" look. The one he always gives me the last mile of every race. Poor guy.
Finally, I saw the real finish and looked down at my watch. It was 2:03!!! Holy crap! I actually almost considered slowing down when I realized I had beat my PR by so much, then had to shake those thoughts out of my mind (I am so lazy sometimes). I said "O.K" to J and took off. Later he told me he got pissed cause he thought I was going to ditch him at the end. Haha. That's what you get for not helping me with the dishes in my dream, sucker!
So, 2:04:22 is our final chip time. And we did a pretty decent job with getting a negative split (no thanks to me, lol!)
Mile 1 - 9:37
Mile 2 - 9:46
Mile 3 - 10:01
Mile 4 - 10:09
Mile 5 - 8:26 - Um, no...
Mile 6 - 10:43 - Must have been a mile mix-up
Mile 7 - 9:36
Mile 8 - 9:24
Mile 9 - 9:28
Mile 10 - 9:15
(oops) - :42
Mile 11 - 9:14
Mile 12 - 9:17
Mile 13.1 - 9:28
Afterwards we wandered around, got our Liberty Bell medal ( I almost told the volunteer my medal had a crack in it, but refrained when I realized how lame that joke actually was) and got some refreshments. We took a million more pictures, ate breakfast at some dive diner in the city and now I am sitting on the couch, in my race shirt contemplating walking to main street for some beers.
Yes folks, life is good.
Here are some more pictures from my new favorite Half Marathon!
A view of City Hall in the morning.
The Art Museum where Rocky ran up (Yes, they played the Rocky theme at the start).
Me, feeling like a badass.
Jeremy on top of the Art Museum steps.
My newest treasure (and an awful pic of me)
Either my feet are huge, or Sly had some tiny Chucks.
The finish from above.
We had to do it.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Well folks, I did it!!