Saturday, April 21, 2012

SLC Half Marathon 2012

Today was so much fun!  I loved this race again this year, and it was a good one!

First off, I will be the first to admit that my training for this was less than ideal and I went into the race with an attitude of "just finish and have fun".  I got up at 4:00 this morning, got my race outfit on, gathered my things and left to drive into the Gateway where I would park and hop on tracks.  The whole way down I was like a little kid awaiting Santa, I was just giddy with excitement and so ready to just RACE!  I really wasn't caring about how I did, I have been craving the race atmosphere, the music, the company of other runners, the adrenaline, the kids at the end of their drive ways wanting high fives as you go by.  I could barely contain myself as I hopped on Trax and rode up to the starting line at the University.

There was a 25 mile bike tour that started an hour before the marathons did.  So, most of the people on the train were cyclists.  There was a group of runners that flagged me over to sit with them and we became instant friends.  One of the things I LOVE about the running community, is they are so inclusive and friendly, and these people were a family all running the half, except for one of their daughters that was signed up for the full.  We joked on the way up, compared running stories, injuries, and goals for the day.  They were a hoot.  It definitely made the hour and half till the race more enjoyable to hang out with these folks.

At the start line I made my couple trips to the bathroom, downed my water and banana, and then started looking for the 2 hour pacer for the half.  I knew that it was advantageous at best to try to keep up with him for the whole thing, but with my ultimate goal being a 2 hour race, but my other goal of a PR (which would mean beating 2:10:42 from last year's TOU Half) I figured I would keep up with him for as long as I could, and at least keep him in sight without letting the 2:10 guy pass me.  This strategy would serve me well!

The first 6 miles FLEW by.  I was able to hold my own with the 2:00 hour guy, and had him within 50 feet the first six.  I was probably around an 8:45-9:15 mm (um, HELLO, any of you follow my on Dailymile, you know that on a GOOD day, I have been lucky to pull a 10 minute mile, so this was well beyond my expectations), and it was awesome!  That portion of the race runs down from the U, which is down hill, through Sugarhouse Park, and then through the neighborhoods.  The crowds were out, and tons of people cheering and holding signs.  I loved that.  I saw Team Bart from last year, the father/son team, where the son is seriously handicapped and the father pushes him in a wheelchair.  So neat to see them again!

Then at about mile 7-8, I had to slow down.  My sides were cramping, and I was feeling the speed and  downhill that my body isn't used too.  I was uncomfortable until I settled into a new pace and just kept going.  The miles continued to fly by, and though I don't know what my pace was, it was faster than my practice runs, but slower than I did the first half of the race in.  I enjoyed the portion that ran through Liberty Park, and then I knew I had to start preparing myself for the hill that is at mile 12.5 on State Street.  I kept looking at my watch and not believing the time I was seeing on it.  I noticed at several mile markers some INCREDIBLE (for me anyway) times. 

At mile 3 - 24:30
At mile 5 - 44:12
At mile 7 - 1:03

I started to realize that if I played my cards right, I could PR this one!  The hill made me nervous, but I decided to run the whole thing, start skipping aid stations, and hope that I wouldn't suddenly need a bathroom break :)

Well, it all paid off.  I ran the hill.  I kept a good pace.  At the top of the hill, I only had a half mile, at the most, left.  I could see the finish line.  I didn't really let myself recover from the hill, and kept reminding myself that it was okay to arrive on empty at the finish line, because then you know you really did give it all you had.  I did the same thing in St. George and it is a tremendous feeling.  So, I put the pedal to the metal, and just went for it.  I pulled it out of somewhere and had an almost sprint for the next quarter mile, then a full on sprint after that towards the finish line.  I just about collapsed when I got there, but the time on the clock said 2:09:15, which was clock time, not my chip time, and it was a PR even going on that!

I was exhausted, completely out of breath, but so, so grateful (and I must admit, in total shock) of what I had just pulled off.  A PR?!?  Really?  This from someone who is working full time, going to school full time, and still a wife and mom to boot?   I really didn't see this coming, and have no idea how it happened, because like I said, my training has been less than stellar.  My long run last Saturday was an 11:15 pace (and I wanted to die afterward), and I just did a 9:45 average pace?   WTH !?!

I let myself enjoy that moment.  The tears came. I was mad for doubting myself,  amazed at another race accomplishment.  THIS, my friends is what running is about.  It is about pushing your limits, learning to believe in yourself, and enjoying the process and the ups and downs that come with it.

So what was my final time?  I checked the website when I got home, final race chip time was 2:08:40.  An official PR by 2 minutes, and 2 seconds!

A friend told my earlier in the week that we are always more capable than we think, we can always dig deeper, and that sometimes our biggest obstacles are the ones that mentally we place on ourselves.  He told me he thought I could do this, and don't be so quick to count myself out, and sell myself short.  He was right.  I am so glad that I listened to him!

What a season opener!  I  am so grateful for this great start to a race season that is sure to be amazing.  My next event is just next week with Ken!  We are doing the Salt Lake Running Company 5k.  I am not sure what my goal/strategy is going to be for this race.  On one hand, I want another PR.  But then again, this is the first race I have ever been able to talk Ken into doing with me, so I don't know if I will just hang with him and enjoy crossing the finish line together.  I will keep you posted for when I decide.

Happy training!

Love me some new race bling!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Race week!

My season opener is this week!  My first race of the year is the Salt Lake City Half Marathon this Saturday.  I am way excited about it, and even though I have to be realistic about what my goals are, I am excited nonetheless.  I did this race last year.  I almost regretted signing up for it as what I had read online wasn't great, the expo was lame and the organizers were jerks about exchanging my race shirt that was like 4 sizes too big.  But, the next morning when I ran it, it quickly became my favorite half ever.  The route is all in the city, and hits the prettiest parts of it.  It is mostly speed!  And, since it is an urban race, there is awesome crowd support the entire way, making it so much fun.  Then, there is the best finish line ever, running over the cobblestone streets through the Gateway for the last half mile with thousands of people barricaded off to the sides cheering you on.  It is like your own little feel-like-a-rockstar moment.

My initial goal was to make this a PR race.  But, being realistic with my training lately and the times I have seen, I know that probably won't happen.  I'm not beating myself up too bad about it, because even though a year ago my training was alot better than it is now, a year ago I also wasn't working full time and going to school full time.  I will simply do the best that I can, and simply have fun.  I did that in last year's St. George Marathon, and even though I didn't PR that race, it was one of my most favorite, and I had a blast, and was satisfied with my performance.  So, it will be with that same goal that I have this week with this half.  And the weather is supposed to be sunny and 80, who can argue with that?

Friday, April 6, 2012

God gave me a birthday present

Today is my birthday.  I turned 33.  So far my 30's have been the time of my life, I feel that I am completely ME, and loving my life!  I love who I am in my 30's!  Anyhow, I was scheduled for a run today, and last night the weather forecast said it was supposed to be cold and snowy this morning.  Many people would hit the treadmill under those circumstances, but not me!  For one, I hate treadmills with a passion.  I think I would give up running all together if that was my only option for running.  Second, my favorite runs ever have either been in snow or rain.  I went to bed last night thinking, "Could I possibly be lucky enough to get a long run on my birthday in the snow?"  Well, this is what the trail looked like this morning.  It was perfect.  About 30 degrees, steady snow, but not enough to stick to the trails, and I had them all to myself.  I left the music and watch at home and just enjoyed what God gave me to start my day with.  Days like today remind me of why I love running, and why I keep doing amid the injuries, the time demands, and everything else it can throw at you. 

Running is really my first love as well.  As much as I enjoy  my bike, enjoy a relaxing swim, and enjoy the burn of a strength work out, nothing compares to running.  There is just something about it that is good for the soul.  Maybe it is the time to myself, the time in nature, the runner's high, whatever, but I love my runs.

Happy training!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Small victory

I attended the 5:00 am Masters Swim this morning and I usually go to the 9 pm.  Anyhow, completely different group of people than what I usually see.  I got there early and was initially the first person in my lane.  Others started filtering in and then two girls, probably in there early 20's joined my lane. I could tell they were friends and they were very good swimmers.  I heard their conversation and they swim competitively on teams.  I still consider the swim my "weakest link" on the three tri sports, and though I can cover distance, I don't consider myself fast, and I am sure my form sucks.  But anyhow, they got to a part of the work out where we were supposed to do 50 meters hard.  They asked if I wanted to join them and race.  I initially thought, "Yeah right, so you can laugh at me?"  But, I didn't want to appear a wuss or pansy, so at the cost of potentially embarrassing myself I said I would.  I held my own with them, if not even leading for the first 25.  Because I am not proficient in the flip turn yet, I didn't bother, and I still managed to beat them both!  I so needed that pick  me up today!  I needed the confidence booster and it was awesome!  It's the little victories in training, right?