On Friday, the day before the race, I felt like I didn't really care what happened Saturday. I ate cereal and an apple for breakfast, vegetarian Pad Thai for lunch, a Luna Bar for a snack, a vegan everything cookie and a bunch of chips at Earth Fare, and then some sweet potatoes and a sandwich for dinner. I wasn't even trying to carb load, but I clearly had a ton of them. I didn't announce to the office that I was running a half marathon the next day. I just thought to myself, "Whatever happens, happens."
On Saturday, my alarm went off at 7:05 am, but I was already up. With a start time of 8:30, I wanted to have plenty of time to eat, hydrate, and do all those other things you do pre-race. My breakfast was a sandwich with sunflower seed butter (great alternative to peanut butter). It was in the 40s when I woke up so I wanted to dress warmly but also in layers, so I wore my CW-X compression pants, a long-sleeved dry fit shirt, a light track jacket, a hat, and gloves. Heading to the race, I was relieved to see that neither traffic nor parking was an issue. I tend to park kind of far away from the start line for a couple of reasons: A. My warm up can be the walk/jog to the start B. My cool down can be the walk back to the car C. I don't want to battle traffic getting home when I'm sweaty and tired.
Getting to the start, I was surprised to see that there weren't a lot of people there. The Louisville Triple of Crown of Running in the Springtime draws a HUGE crowd...I'd say that there are at least 7,000 people in each race, but it turns out that yesterday only had 2,143 finishers. It was cold and I was visibly shaking, so perhaps the weather turned some people off, but there were some people in shorts and t-shirts too! I don't see how they did it.
We took off at 8:30, and I took it slowly. We were on a pretty flat road and with all the miles in front of me I wanted to take my time to find my groove. However, it didn't take long for me to get excited. I may have been running with a smile on my face. I was going to run and complete a half marathon...for the first time in 2.5 years! I ran mile 1 in 9:31 and I was happy to be running at my training pace.
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:18
Mile 4: 9:28
Mile 5: 9:47
Mile 6: 9:39
Mile 7: 9:45
Mile 8: 9:29
Mile 9: 9:33
Mile 10: 9:27
Mile 11 - 13: NOT SURE
Chip time: 2:05:43
Division (F 25-29) Place: 66/215
Gender Place: 317/1,066
Overall Place: 977/2,142
After Mile 4, we started to run hills hence my pace slowing down. We ran two hills in Cherokee Park (mile 5), had about a mile of downhill/slight downhill roads (mile 6), then some gradual climbs again (mile 7). After that, it was either flat or downhill! When my Garmin chimed that I had run 8 miles, I reminded myself that 8 was the max that I had run in a long, long time and it was ok to take it easy. However, I felt great! I just kept on plugging. I felt that I was running at a comfortable speed that I could maintain. Somewhere around the end of Mile 9/beginning of Mile 10, the light rain turned into moderate rain and then into heavy rain. My jacket is not waterproof so I was soaked. I wished that I had had the gloves that I had shed and thrown to my dad in the park miles back. However, the rain motivated me to keep on running so I could just finish. I started to see some walkers, but they kind of motivated me to keep on running as well because there was no way I wanted to walk in the rain.
Somewhere around Mile 11, I began to fatigue. First of all, I was elated that it took 11 miles to do so, but with just two miles left, I kept on pushing. The reason I don't know my splits for the last three miles is because I hit the lap button on my Garmin and it would chime after 1/16th of a mile instead of after every mile. I don't even know its purpose? Did I change the settings on my Garmin? If anyone could enlighten me that would be great.
The last mile was on Main Street in downtown Louisville and it was also the road on which we started. We had just run basically down to Liberty and 21st or so, looped around, and then had to run back towards downtown and the finish line was either on 5th or 6th and Main. The thing about running towards skyscrapers is this: you are never as close as you think you are. You can see them so clearly and think that you're just about there, but you always have a bit more. One thing I know for sure was that I ran the last mile at full capacity. I looked straight ahead, pumped my arms, and made myself finish strong!
We immediately received medals and those blankets that look like aluminum foil. It was very cold! The post-race party was pretty dreary because of the weather so I grabbed a banana, Vitamin Water, and a chocolate milk, then took a quick lap and left. I was so tired of moving my legs back and forth in a forward motion so on the walk back to my car I would occasionally side shuffle :)
For the rest of Saturday, I took a bath in some salts, ate, lounged, and tried to nap. Just like for the triathlons this summer, my body was screaming "Nap time!" but my mind couldn't do it. It's frustrating! And today? I feel pretty good. I am sore, but I'm not limping or anything like that. My field hockey league's last and championship game is today, which is terrible timing for me, but I'm still going to go and help as much as I can. Our team is undefeated and we cannot lose this last one!
Almost forgot to mention - I saw Todd, one of my Bourbon Chase teammates! We were on the same van this year and I saw him pass me somewhere around Mile 7. I yelled his name and caught up to him, and we ran together for a few minutes and then I told him to take off. He told me later via Facebook that he ran into Kevin, another teammate/vanmate and Kevin ran the last mile backwards with Todd, yelling at him to finish strong! I love my Bourbon Chase teammates! We might be having a reunion this month and I can't wait.
So anyway, I did it. I ran the whole thing. I doubted myself, but I held on and pushed through. And what's even better news is that 2:05:43 is a new PR...by over NINE minutes!!!!
How did I do it? Obviously there are numerous factors, but here are the important ones:
1. I ran consistently through Summer and Fall. I didn't go crazy and run every day, but I made sure I ran at least 2-3 days per week.
2. I did speed workouts weekly usually in the form of tempo runs.
3. I strength trained 1-2 times per week.
4. I threw in several long runs (maybe 5-6 total?)
The key word here was consistency. I didn't overtrain. I made time for running, but I didn't let it take over my life. Those factors helped me have a great race and I am so glad that I ran it!
What's next? That is TBD. I'd like to get back to Kettle Bells as for the months of September and October I only went a handful of times. I'd like to do more yoga. I'd like to get back to spinning classes. But as for today, I'd like to win a field hockey league!