For those of you who are just catching up, I raced in the Zooma Women’s ½ Marathon this past Sunday in Annapolis Maryland.
I grew up competing in swim meets at the Naval Academy, but I had never run in Annapolis before. In my head I pictured a nice quaint relatively flat course. Yeah…not so much! But before I get into the details of the run, let me rewind to 24 hours before the race….
Given that my biking is my weakest link, and I have been away and will be away during a few precious training weekends between now and Mr. HIM in July, I decided that I would train through this past weekend…aka ride a moderate ride on the day before my ½ marathon.
I had such a fabulous time riding with Lauren, Erin and Amy! We didn’t ride too hard, as Erin is still recovering from her Kinetic HIM and Lauren is on taper for the Eagleman HIM this coming weekend (which she is going to rock!), but 30 miles is 30 miles, so my legs were definitely not rested. I also did a quick thousand in the pool on Saturday before heading out to babysit
for the evening until 2 am. I definitely drifted in and out of sleep on the babysitee’s couch, but didn’t get home and into my bed until about 2:30 am. I woke up at 4:40 to head to Annapolis….but made an absolutely necessary stop.
I got to Annapolis in lickity split time and had about an hour to spare before the race started. After picking up my goody bag (which had some AWESOME shwag including lots of Gu chomps-which I call gomps, a wicking T-shirt, a coupon for ¼ a chicken at Nandos and some toothpaste) I decided to just hang out in my car, eat my Justin’s Maple Butter/banana and honey bagel and get pumped up with Lady Gaga. Around 6:40 I walked over (it was about a 2 minute walk) to the start.
There were about 2000 athletes (99% women and 1% men who didn’t realize they were signing up for a women’s race). We were told to self select a pace group. I had not rested or tapered and had gotten about 4-5 hrs of broken sleep, but I was feeling good and ready to run! I chose the 8 minute pace group and decided that if worse came to worse I would just get passed. The gun went off at 7 on the dot and immediately I was passed by about 10 women. At mile 1 I looked at my watch and saw 8:04. So I figured that either a) these speedy girls lined up in the wrong pace group or b) they were going to die. I got my answer by mile 2. They died. By mile 2, I was still holding 8 min flat miles and had passed about 9 out of the 10 women who zoomed ahead of me at the start. It wasn’t too long ago that it would take me about ½ mile to warm up and 3 miles to be completely cooked, but at this point, it takes me about 3 miles for my legs to stop cramping and loosen up into a good pace. By mile 3 I was feeling good and loose. I also saw these two amazing cheerleaders at mile 3!
I was very excited to see them and apparently was just chipper as can be. Miles 1-3 were fairly flat and fun! We weaved in and out of downtown Annapolis. There were a few rolling hills but nothing that could wipe the smile off of my face.
Around mile 3.5 the rolling hills started to roll higher and higher…and around mile 4 we hit “the big bridge.”
I had learned just a few days prior that there was one REALLY tough bridge on the run. It was hard and I definitely slowed down a bit, but D.C. is surprisingly hilly so my legs are used to climbing. As I was approaching the turn-around mark for those who were just competing in the 10k, a woman turned to me and said “You are doing great! We’re over halfway there!” My response…”You my friend are over halfway there. I have a ways to go.” Her reaction “Oh… Sorry.” I didn’t mind though! I was feeling strong, my HR was relatively moderate (for me-165-175) and I felt proud to be continuing on instead of turning around. Miles 5-7 were pretty hilly but uneventful. My pace never slipped above 8:10. My strategy was to focus on someone ahead of me and just catch that one person. My competitiveness definitely kicked in and I chugged along. The rolling hills continued. By mile 8 I had passed quite a few people, but I could feel myself slipping.
I am not sure if it was my loud breathing, the signs of fatigue on my face or just my lucky day, but just when I really felt like my pace started to slow, a completely random woman ran up behind me and said “hey.” I didn’t really know how to respond so I just said “hi.” She replied by saying “you’re coming with me.” I was a little taken aback and unsure of how to respond to this random runner, but before I knew it, I was off with my newest friend Tracy, running 7.15 minute miles. She wouldn’t let me fall back. She told me I was strong. She told me that once we just caught up with the pack, the rest would be downhill. We caught up to a few others and Tracy convinced them to join our little group. And so I pushed and pushed and hung onto her every word…until my heart rate was at 195 and I told Tracy that as much as I liked running with her, I really didn’t want to pass out. So I let her go around mile 10. The last 3.1 miles were hard. I grabbed a Blackberry Gu at one of the water stops and spent the last 3 miles eating it. Part of the reason for my slow eating was so that I could amuse myself and not focus on my tired legs. The other reason is because of my lack in experience properly fueling myself during endurance races. (I really need to work on this!) The Gu worked though! From mile 10-12 I was back at my 8 min pace. I dropped down to about 7:50 for the last mile and just raced. With endorphins going strong and Steph and Bill at the finish line, I finished hard.
I gave it all I had and finished with a PR of 1:43. Turns out I placed 3rd in my age group and 15th overall (out of 910 women). I am really proud of myself for this race. I really pushed hard. I was not rested and had gotten only a few hours of sleep the night before, but still gave myself the opportunity to not let these factors impact my race. I went out and competed. This race really showed me how much progress I have made since the spring of 2010, when I ran my first race longer than a 5k. I am stoked to finish up my last 6 weeks of training before Musselman.
I want to give a BIG thanks to my 321delish buddy Steph for coming out to support me! We celebrated together with brunch and strawberry champaign 🙂
And Tracy…if you are reading this, can we please be training partners???
Question of the Day: What is your favorite training/racing “fuel”?