Saturday, September 29, 2007

Harvest Half Marathon report

Happy, happy, happy! I ran my second half marathon today. My official time was 2:07:07.

This means I took 11 minutes off my time from July. Yaaay! My goal was 2:10, so I was pleased.

One weird thing was... I placed 294th overall. If you look at the photo, you can see that my race number was also 294. Kind of twighlight-zoney, eh? I don't know what the statisitcal probability of that is, but next time I'm going to ask for bib number 001!

A number of things went wrong leading up to the race. I was tired, burnt out, and felt like I was "not on my game". Went to the doctor. My blood was generally fine. Thyroid a bit high, blood sugar a bit low, but all within normal range. The general diagnosis: "Overdoing it." Great thing to hear less than 2 weeks before a half marathon.

Between that and the last meeting I had with my trainer where he said there was no physiological reason for the decline in my training performance and that it was mental... that being mentally tough was important (a "chat" that felt like a mental beating in itself) I went into today's race feeling a little less "sharp" than with my first half marathon in July.

My massage therapist cancelled on my pre-race appointment, and my chiropractor let loose on me a bit about how a race shouldn't just be about getting a certain time... "That's like it being all about the money for a business person. If you take that attitude, it is never good enough. It never ends. It should be a celebration of the training."

I agree with the last bit, but I wasn't sure where the tongue lashing came from... I don't think I'm obsessed with race times and in general, I think I set reasonable goals. But whatever... For a variety of reasons, I went in feeling like like the lead-up to a big event was less than ideal.

However, I owe a big debt of gratitude to Alia, who served as my chauffeur, cheerleader and race crew. She arrived at my house at 6:30 am to pick me up and then took care of me until the minute she dropped me off at my door. She's not a runner herself, but man, she is one helluva supporter.

I also owe thanks to a new runner friend who has run in the same event in previous years. Prior to the race he gave me a tour of the course, told me where the tough bits were and ran a few kms of it with me as a training run. That was huge boost psychologically and in the midst of a string of things that felt wrong, it was particularly helpful.

Alia was also the official photographer for the day. As we were looking at the photos after the race, she giggled at this one. Apparently, runners are tall people. Or at least, I make them look that way.

The race course itself was beautiful. About 60-70% of it was through a park area, with lots of trees, a river and positively gorgeous views. There were parts that were breathtaking.

My weakness in this race was that I started out too fast. I slowed down quite a bit on some nasty hills at the end. Despite the fact that I love hills and have been known to almost shriek with delight when I train on them, I was a bit spent when I got to "the killer" hill in the last 3 km.

My iPod konked out on my around 9 km, which threw me for a bit of a loop, since I almost always train with it. It did that to me in the gym last week. I'd heard that iPods get to the point where they won't hold a charge any more. I had it charging for 2 entire days before the race, so the battery was full when I started. I did manage to get it going again, but the volume was low. I knew I couldn't count on the music for motivation, but I wanted to enjoy it as long as I could.

One of the first things I said to Alia upon finishing was, "I really have to learn to keep my shirt on!"

She replied, "Yeah, you really do!"

It was between 2 C and 3 C (around 35-36 F) for the duration of the race, but I got so hot I felt like I was melting, so off the shirt came. I do believe I was the only woman running in a racer top today. But whatever. I was too hot and sweaty to care.

The usual blister issue existed, but I am getting used to it now. I brought my own first aid kit and patched myself up after the race. I knew they were bleeding, but I was able to manage it well enough that they didn't soak through to my shoes this time.

All in all, it was fun. The lead up conditions were not as ideal as they were for my first half in July, but I am happy that I ran it. It was a beautiful day and it did not rain or snow, as they'd talked about in the forecast. I had fantastic support from a dedicated friend. I managed the blisters better than ever before. Despite feeling a little tired and achy, my knees and hips felt good and strong. I managed the GI issues. (Alia and I went for eats after - and coffee, of course!) And I took 11 minutes off my time from my first half marathon in July. Yes, overall... today I am a happy, happy runner!


Turtle Guy said...

Good friends and loyal support are to be cherrished, Sarah. It sounds like you have all the support you could ever ask for - despite, and including the 'tongue lashing'. It's refreshing to see someone who is also genuinely thankful for everything she has.

Thinking of you.


Backofpack said...

You did great! You know you need to find a running group to hang out with - it balances out the lectures from non-runners. The "come-on, you can do it, it'll be fun" is like a balm to the soul. Good for you for managing it all and for doing better with your blisters. I know how that one goes.

Carmen said...

Wow! You go already went! Very impressive. Don't let Dr. Mike get you down. He just isn't a type A personality. Some people like to work towards a goal! Nuttin' wrong wit it! As long as it's reasonable.


Journey to a Centum said...

Dr. Mike (if that's your chiropractor) needs a phone call on Monday with a little report on your improved time. He's supposed to be a positive influence, positive energy. Remind him of that.

Nice work!

robtherunner said...

Congrats, Sarah! That's a huge improvement and it is always nice to have someone there to support you. So, is a full marathon next?

Anonymous said...

Way to go Sarah! Did you ever know that you're my hero? You're everything I would like to be...

- Jacqui xo

Downhillnut said...

WOW. If this is the kind of progress you make when you're "not on your game", I can't wait to see what happens when you ARE!

Your trainer was right though - look at how thinking about a finish line pepped up your PR! You really can choose how you feel about your performance. Don't let those little training ups and downs get to you.

Your doctor was also right - a race time is just a number. Yesterday yours was a very COOL, AWESOME number (Woohoo!!), but he's still right :) I realize that as an academic you like solid numbers for proof, but there are always a ton of variables at each race. Celebration doesn't depend on the variables as much as The Number does.

I'm with backofpack :D Plus, group running can help ease the pain of ipod withdrawal.

You might want to try wearing a singlet under your long sleeved shirt, if you're feeling modest one day.

Those blisters will eventually turn to callouses. Eventually.

Um... oh yeah. Back to my own race report assignment :)

angie's pink fuzzy said...


Sarah said...

Congrats! What a nice boost to smash a pr like that. That's awesome! Maybe its not all about the time, but pr's are still nice. : )

John Vezina said...

Everyone is having fun but me! Wahh! Seriously, I am very happy that you had a good run and a good time too! And a good time. Think about it.

Maybe someday soon like say Oct 8th I too will be in running heaven! I miss running and I will only have been off for less than 10 days! How pathetic is that?

craig said...

What a great day. This should serve as affirmation that you're doing something right. I'm glad that things are going so well for you. You worked hard through the difficult times. I'm glad you are enjoying the fruits of your labors.

Robb said...

Sarah, you did it! Nice time too. Nice improvement over July.

You've come a long way baby - battled those tough injuries and issues and you've done it. Good job. I'm proud.

psbowe said...

Major congrats to you girl, you pulled it off with a PR! You running stud. That is pretty funny with your place reflecting your bib #. You probably should have gone out and played the lottery or something like that. :)

ipm said...

wonderful! sounds like a really great day...

olga said...

Sometimes our best races come when we least expect them. At least it had been happening to me a lot. Back far back in my mind, I always set goals. So whatever the doc says - is all good. It's even better to still keep those "want" times quiet to not get discouraged - or rather, share them with those who do believe in you and your plans.
Congratulation, Sarah! That's a big PR, indeed. I liked how your number fell on your placing - I kind of believe in faith like that, it follows me around (not exactly this one, but have numbers that can lead to good or bad stuff). As for i-Pod - my previous 2 had it when they'd charge full day and get to die in 2 hrs. This one lasted about 9 hrs, so no complains, probably under-held it.
So, what's next! :)

Alex&Rosa said...

Bravo Sarah! Una media marathon! Yo nunca me he atrevido. Eres un ejemplo de autosuperación y disciplina. Muchas felicidades de los dos! A ver cuándo haces una marathon de baile...

Runner Gal Leana said...

Wow....11 minutes off of your time from July and you weren't feeling as strong up to the start of this race? That's amazing. I can only hope for a similar improvement over my Calgary half time from this July versus my next half in a couple of weeks. Way to go!

Granny said...

Congratulations and Happy Thanksgiving!!