Monday, March 23, 2009

National Half Marathon Report

*Warning: Long-Winded Race Report Below*

Hi all, sorry for the delay. It's been a busy couple of days.

First off, I need to correct my time from my last post. I think I forgot to shut off my watch so my official chip time was:


Yeah bi%ches!


And since you all are DYING to know J's time, (that aren't on FB and already know) I'll post it here so you don't have to wait in suspense until the bottom of my post:


For those of you who are keeping track, that is a TWENTY-FIVE minute marathon PR!!!! Who the eff does that?

It just goes to show how sick he was during the Philly Marathon (and how much faster we could have run). No wonder I felt so good after that marathon!

Anyway, it was wonderful, I was sooooooo proud of him. More on that later.

So, we got up early on Friday and headed out to Washington. It was an easy drive, only 3 hours and that includes an early lunch stop at Cracker Barrel.

Yes, we ate at Cracker Barrel the day before our race. Don't laugh, we both had huge PRs. I will now eat Chicken and Dumplings with mashed potatoes and green beans before every race.

We arrived in DC and checked into our hotel around 1pm. This was my first time in DC and I have to say, it was pretty nice. It is much cleaner than I expected. Or, maybe I have just been in Philly too long (I love Philly, don't send me I-love-Philly hate mail, but c'mon, it's dirty). The only thing that I didn't like about DC was the traffic. It was awful and people drive like they do in Miami, really, REALLY bad. Philly may have a ton of traffic, but at least people can drive.

Oh, and what's with all the DIAGONAL streets in DC? Every intersection has like, 6 crosswalks. It's very confusing and deadly.

Once we parked the car, we realized we wold not be driving anywhere again until we left. While the hotel was no where near the race site, it was only a few blocks from the Metro which was super-convenient. We quickly figured out where it was and how it worked and before you knew it, we were at the expo.



The expo was nothing special really. It is still a pretty small race so the vendors were a little disappointing. I did manage to finally pick up a bondi band which I have been meaning to try forever. I also picked up this totally awesome shirt.


While the race never technically went into Virginia, I still had to have it. Mainly because it's funny, but also because the National Half Marathon shirts were soooooooooooooo hideous, I had to make up for it somehow.


WTF color is that? SALMON? It kind of looks pink and kind of looks orange but let me assure you, it is NOT pink and it is NOT orange..."porange?" The full marathon shirts were blue and much cuter. I got salmon. Stupid ankle.

After the expo, we headed back to the room, dropped off our stuff and headed out to dinner (veggie wrap with a baked potato). We were both exhausted for some reason and we headed back to the room right after dinner. Normally, this is where I post a shot of all my gear laid out, but I was so tired that night, that I didn't feel like putting in all the effort. I packed what I could, took a hot shower and quickly feel asleep.

The next morning I woke up feeling pretty good. I got ready, ate my peanut butter and bread (no toaster) and banana, loaded up on water and choked down some horrid hotel coffee. J and I both took turns going to the bathroom about 500 times and then we headed out around 5am.

Look how well my reflective hat works! I have never seen it all lit up before! I actually doubted that it even worked.


The hotel had a shuttle that rode to and from the race, but we decided to skip it and just do the metro again since they opened it up at 5am for the marathon. We got there just as they were opening the gates and we were quickly surrounded by other marathoners. Although the start was on the other side of town from our hotel, it was very convenient to get to.

We got there way too early though and it was freezing out. A chilly 32 degrees and still dark. Even though I knew it was perfect running weather, I wasn't looking forward to standing outside for 2 hours, especially since in my tired state, I forgot to pack a throwaway sweatshirt for the start. Since I had to put my jacket in my bag and check it, I was instantly freezing and we walked around trying to keep warm. We ended up taking about 20 more trips to the port-o-potties as our nerves were tricking us into thinking we had to go. But sadly, I realized towards the end, I was really just hanging out in the port-o-potties to stay warm. Yuck.

Here I am, all reflective again. Look at my gloves!

It wasn't until about 30 minutes before the start that we realized the Armory next to the start was open and runners were hanging out inside to stay warm (duh). So we headed over and hung out in there until right before the race started. Then we made one final trip to their bathroom and walked to the start.

The start was very well organized. The announcements were loud and clear and everyone seemed to line up in their correct corral. We heard the National Anthem and we were off.

I honestly don't remember a lot of details about this race, just random pieces. It seems like the whole thing went by in a total blur. Maybe it's because I ran it so fast. HA! Here are a few highlights of what I do recall:

• There were a TON of half marathoners and only a handful of full marathoners.

• The weather was PERFECT! 33 degrees, sunny and NO wind. It was a day made for PRs.

• The race opened up right away once we crossed the start mat. There was hardly any crowding at the start and it was real easy to find your groove.

• The first 1.5 miles we ran up East Capitol Street toward the Capitol building. The sun was rising up on the building from behind us and it was a blazing orange. After that we ran past the National Mall and the Washington Memorial as they glowed in the morning sun. It was easily four of the most breathtaking miles I had ever run. It was an amazing way to see these beautiful monuments for the first time.

• Around mile 4 my ankle/calf/foot started stiffening. It wasn't incredibly painful but it did make me happy I wasn't running the full. It would feel stiff and "off" the rest of the race.

• After that, it got hilly, especially between miles 4-8. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think any old marathon can advertise as "flat and fast" nowadays. Who sets the criteria for this? It was not flat. My splits will show you what I mean. They were all over the place.

• The good news is for every uphill, there was a downhill. Mile 8 in particular was very nice, as you will see in my splits.

• There was no music on this course which was weird. It seemed quiet.

• Some mile markers were hard to read (too low to the ground) so I missed them. For those of us recording our splits without a Garmin, that kind of sucks.

• There was hardly any crowd presence. There were at a few designated spots but for the most part it was pretty empty. It didn't bother me for the half as much as it probably would have for the full. That being said, the crowds that were out were great.

• The volunteers were awesome, as usual.

• Most of the last 9 miles of the race were through neighborhoods. I had no idea where I was, but it was pretty nonetheless.

• They were tearing down some random building that we ran by. It was crazy to hear the wrecking ball smash into it while we were running.

• We ran through a couple of small tunnels which made me feel claustrophobic.

• At mile 8 I looked at my watch and freaked out because I realized I wasn't going to hit a sub 2 hour, so I sped up for a mile. When I hit the next mile marker I saw I was at mile 10 and had plenty of time. Woops.

• I never really hit a "wall" at all. I just ran steady the entire time and felt good. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the weather.

• This was the first half- marathon or marathon that I didn't feel like I was going to die the last mile. I finished feeling really strong and felt like I could have run a few more miles (maybe not another 13.1).

• I didn't have to go to the bathroom once during the race and didn't end up going again until after we got back to the hotel.

Here are the splits:

1. 9:22(walk break)
2. 8:29
3. 8:14
4. 9:00 (walk break)
5. 8:45
6. 11:30 (big hill and walk break)
7. 8:00 (downhill)
8. 7:58 (downhill)
9. 9:02 (walk break)
10. 8:08
11. 8:31
12. 9:14 (walk break)
13. 8:13
.01. 53:43

1:55:25 (8:49 pace)

All in all it was a great race. It was definitely perfect weather which I'm sure is what led to so many PR's that day (the first three winners of the men's marathon all beat the course record and the mayor of DC PR'ed by over 10 minutes).

Before the race, I had talked to J about our plans for running. I told him I didn't want to run with him this time because I didn't want to hold him back if I was hurting and I didn't want to have to try an keep up with him. On the other hand, I wanted to PR for my half and since he was running the full and trying to hold back the first half, I didn't want to slow down to stay with him if I felt good.

I was also running my first race (half or full marathon) without taking regular walk breaks. A few months ago (after my tendonitis was already bothering me) I decided to start seeing if I could start phasing them out. It's been working pretty well and I wanted to see how I would run a race doing it, since I have already run 16 miles without them. I made a decision that I would only stop for water and that I would only take about 30 second breaks, or however long I needed to drink. And then about 2-3 times, I would make one of those water stops a full minute.

Jeremy was still doing his walk breaks, but instead of stopping to walk one minute every mile PLUS walk through water, he just planned his water stops into his walk breaks.

In our little experiment, I found that I run exactly the same pace when I take walk breaks as I do when I don't. As J stopped to take his first walk break, I told him I loved him, wished him well and kept running. About 2 miles later he passed me. Then, I passed him at this next walk break, then he passed me about 5 minutes later, etc. This went on the entire race and he ended up right behind me, veering off to finish the full, as I ran across the finish to the half.

All in all, I don't know which is a better plan. But at least I know I can run it both ways and am the same pace. And actually, because of all the hills, the last walk break I took, it was really hard for me to start again. My legs were getting stiff. That made it easier to just keep running.

After the race I got my bag from bag check which was just thrown on a table with about 2000 other bags for you to pick up with NO ONE there to help. That was a huge mistake in my book. Not sure what happened there but I don't like the idea that anyone could grab whatever bag they wanted. Plus, it took me forever to find my black backpack in a sea of black backpacks.

After I changed and ate a bagel, I scoped out a great spot to wait for J and watch all the runners come in.I had a blast cheering everyone on and loved listening to the announcer and Burt Yasso announcing everyone as they came in. They did a fantastic job.

Around 3:50, I started getting a little nervous that maybe Jeremy wouldn't come in under 4. This has happened in the past and it's never easy. I knew he looked strong when I last saw him, but you never know what could happen out there. I was suddenly worried and sad to think of him out on the course all alone.

But soon enough, I saw him come around the bend and make his way towards the finish (it's hard to miss him with his newly-grown hair).

Here's the joyous event caught on tape. I warn you, you might want to turn down your volume. I got a little excited when I saw him.

He did so great and smiled the whole way in. I was soooooo proud of him.


All-in-all it was a great day in DC.


Afterwards we headed back to the hotel (I was freezing from standing in the cold for two hours), took hot showers, ate and then walked around DC for FIVE hours. Yes, you heard right. We didn't mean to, but really wanted to see as much of DC as we could while we were there.

Of course, later that night, we were passed out in bed by 9pm. With visions of PRs dancing in our heads.


Marci said...

What an awesome race report! I laughed when you said you ate at Cracker Barrell. They don't have CB in Canada, so Hubs and I LOVE going to them as soon at we hit the States. In fact last week before my HM I had "chicken fried chicken" and also PR'd. LOL
You did seriously amazing and so did J. I want to run DC sometime, but I did hear about those hills.
Again, great job and congrats!

Bert said...

Excellent race and absorbing race report. Congrats to both of you! Cracker Barrel! They really have them up there in the north-east? The Virginia is for Runners t-shirt is a perfect fit, looks great on you. As for the salmon color on the official shirt, trust me it could have been worse. I have one here which classifies as 'sharky' i.e. somewhere between $hit and khaki.

joyRuN said...

You WALKED AROUND FOR FIVE HOURS after all that?!?! Holy insane!

Kidding aside, your legs probably appreciate that extra circulation.

LOL on the "porange"! Sorry about the fugly shirt.

I like Philly's grid layout. DC confuses the hell outta me. I think their drivers are confused too, hence the driving.

But I digress.


Rookie on the Run said...

And I thought Virginia is for Lovers... guess I was wrong. :)

Congratulations to both of you! How awesome for both of you to come in under your hour-limits.

Love the pictures, too.

chia said...

1.) I nearly commented on how you so profusely beat the hub's arse but then promptly realized he did the full and you did the half... at this hour apparently "cute but not too bright" is an accurate description of my person.

2.) CB is the bomb. Anyplace that will feed me grits is good in my book.

3.) Awesome job :-)

4.) I read "33 degrees" and thought to myself "damn, she be crazy." Then realized I'm the one with a quilt over me when it's 70 degrees. Meh.

Progman2000 said...

That's awesome, congratulations to both you guys. I needed to google bondi band to see if this was a piece of gear I needed (um, not so much).

Congrats to J on the sub-4, tell him to give me some pointers (and tell him to get a haircut too!)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your race report! You guys both did an awesome job on your PR's. You both certainly put the time into your training. Hope your ankle/calf/foot, heals up and feels better real soon.

Denise said...

YEA!! Congrats to both of you!! I love how you ended the post, too cute!! And great picture with the medal.

Now that you're back, let's meet up!!

Tell J I said congrats!!

Heather said...

Amazing job, and congrats to J. Great report - I loved your pictures!

Runner Leana said...

Congratulations to both you and J!! Awesome job on your races. Mmm, chicken and dumplings... No doubt that all that walking around for 5 hours helped to keep your legs loose!

X-Country2 said...

What a great day for you both! (Aww, you guys are cute together.) Congrats all around!

Marcy said...

YYYAAAAYYY BABY!! ;D ;D Alright chica!! CONGRATS to both of you ;D ;D

Maybe I will have to look into this walk break thing more ;-)

NancyPants said...

Way to go Laurel!!! Glad to hear that both of you PR'd!!! I enjoyed your race report and pics.

I don't blame you at all for walking around DC for five hours after the's a beautiful city with so much to see. I think the walking will really help your recovery, too.


P.O.M. said...

FYI - you kicked my half marathon ass by a minute! Nice job :)

Congrats to both of you guys :)

Aron said...

first of all i love laurel long winded race reports :) they are the best!!!

CONGRATS to both of you!!!! what an amazing day :) you did so awesome! i looove the video too, makes me all teary eyed :)

Marlene said...

You BOTH smoked it! Big, huge congrats! Sounds like you both ran strong races.

Thanks for the awesome report!

Chic Runner said...

Great RR! :) So glad that you guys both did great. Porange.... lame shirt for sure! :) That virgina shirt is cute though and that last picture deserves to be in a frame. Congrats again on great races!

Anonymous said...

great race report. congrats to both of you! wahoooooooooo

Anonymous said...

Great job on the race! I walked home after my marathon (about 3 miles) and it was great for leg recovery.

Do they really advertise as flat and fast? All the local runners told me it was really hilly. Good job conquering the hills.

Come down again sometime and run a VA race with me!

Manderz said...

What a GREAT race report!!!! I felt chills reading it. How exciting for you and J!

Thank you for your kind words regarding my dad. I like your idea about raising money but I'm not sure how to go about that, any suggestions?

Jolene said...

Awww...I teared up watching that video just listening to how proud you were of Jeremy. Congrats to both of you for kicking arse and taking names! Loved the race recap!

Jolene said...

Oh, and forgot to mention that we eat the exact same pre-race breakfast- peanut butter on bread and a banana...with caffeine! Not to mention the same morning routine- non stop runs to the porta potty. It got to a point where I would pee, and then get right back in line (since they're usually so long anyway)! It's a way to pass the time too, isn't it?

FLYERS26 said...

Congrats to both you guys on the PR's!
That shirt is BAD!
After reading your report, I wish I would have been able to run this course.
I can't believe you walked J around for 5 hours after he ran the marathon. I could barely walk after Philly.

Ali said...

Congratulations! You both did awesome!

oh and the pb, banana and coffee combo is what works for me, I've changed it but always come back to it.

I Run for Fun said...

Congratulations! Great report, awesome PR and cute medal.

Julie D said...

Congrats for the PRs!! Awesome!

Michelle said...

Great job, both of you!!!!

DC is a very cool place. I've been there twice and still haven't seen everything there is to see!

Unknown said...

Amazing race report! Who the heck has that big of PR?!?! That is great. Congrats to J and yourself for such great races.

Natalie D said...

Great job! Both of you! I love DC!!

Irish Blue said...

Wow! You too rock!! Two awesome PRs. Good stuff guys.

Ok, I laughed at the Cracker Barrel thing too. Whenever I need comfort food I make my husband go there and he always makes fun of Wait 'til I tell him it causes serious friggin PRs.

Before I'm 35 said...

Congratulations on the run! And Cracker Barrel is awesome, especially the chicken and dumplins - add in some hashbrown casserole and it's perfect :)

Unknown said...

Excellent post-race report !!! I loved the video. That is so friggin cool of J to get it under 4 hrs and CONGRATS TO YOU for getting the job done. GREAT PRs. Hat off to both of you !!!
It does bring me memories of DC since I used to go to Gallaudet University in DC as a graduate student. DC is still a GREAT city and plenty of terrific museums. I am glad you and J and the opportunity to explore the city itself.

kelsey said...

Great race report! And great race!! :D

Sonia said...

Great performance Laurel!! So proud and happy for you! A sub 9 min/mile pace for a half-marathon.... W-O-W!! You're such a speed demon now! I hardly believe we were almost twins in pace times not so long ago!! I want to be just like you when I 'grow up' or stop the injury madness LOL

Congrats to J too!!! Cool video! =)

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