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Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

November 18, 2011

I finished!  I really finished!

Let’s start at the beginning…

For the last couple of weeks leading up to the race I obsessed about every detail of it.  From the items I needed to make sure I had with me to the pace I needed to run to be able to finish.  My goals were fluid, changing daily.  My training was next to non-existent.  I didn’t really update the blog with my training log because I was so embarrassed at how awful it was!  Let’s look at a sample week (this isn’t really one because I’m too lazy to look up the spreadsheet, but it’s close enough):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Planned Soccer Easy run: 3 miles rest Tempo Run: 5 miles incl 3 miles at goal pace rest rest/xt Long Run
Actual Soccer (maybe) rest rest you guessed it: rest rest long run rest

So I only really accomplished my long runs in the two weeks leading up to the race.  I was terrified that this was going to negatively affect me, and I’m sure it did, but the long runs were some of the easiest, most effortless runs I’ve had during the training.

So I set some goals:

When I first went into this, my goal was to finish faster than 2:30.  My super-secret, most awesome goal was to finish closer to 2:00 than 2:30.  By the time it got close enough to actually set a real goal for the race, I had decided that 2:30 wasn’t possible for me.  As is commonly recommended for a first race at any distance I set three goals:

1.  Finish (strong) – kind of a nebulous goal, but it really meant that I wanted to “haul” to the finish line.  I didn’t want to have a painful grimace on my face in my finish line pictures.

2.  Finish with a 12:00 pace – most of my training runs averaged in the high 11:00’s I figured this allowed me to walk if needed.

3.  Finish in 2:30:00 – faster than my average training run, but you never know what’s possible in the race environment!

And then I ran:

2011-11-13_10-20-56_292On Thursday we received an email from the medical team regarding the expected heat.  I hadn’t been too concerned up to that point.  I trained through August!  Well over 100 degree temperatures most of the time.  No way was the heat going to affect me.  However, at the start the temperature was  61 degrees (not bad!) with something like 90% humidity.  I’m so glad I didn’t know that at the time!  I made sure to drink plenty of water, but nerves made it almost impossible for me to choke down my banana and peanut butter in the hotel room and the bagel while waiting in line for the port-o-potty before going to my corral.

I have no reference other than two pretty small 5k’s, but this was pretty well set up.  The corrals were very easy to find (thanks to 30,000 other people leading the way!) and plenty of food and drink options were available to choose from.

I got to the race about 40 minutes early, found where my corral was, then headed to the potty lines.  I made it back to my corral just before the starting gun went off.  I was in corral 22, though, so I had quite a while to wait!  Had I been more familiar with the set up, I would have waited closer to the starting line for my corral to catch up to me.  I might have been able to catch a glimpse of the elite runners taking off.  Those people truly amaze me!

I was so nervous and really over-analyzing every little bit of the upcoming race.  I listened to the conversations around me and just tried to stay as loose and relaxed as possible as we moved so slowly up to the starting line.  They let corral 21 go, and we were next…the nerves just melted away.  This was just another long run with several thousand friends!

I started out entirely too fast, and I knew it, but my legs really wanted to just go.  So I let them for what seemed like forever!  The cheering crowds melted away pretty quickly and it was just me, my breathing and the footsteps of thousands of people around me.  The start was actually much less crowded than either of the 5k’s I’ve run in, so there was no dodging the walkers who started too far up the line.  I fell in behind a couple of ladies and followed them for what seemed like forever!

I felt great!  I ran, and ran!  I smiled because the miles were just flying by…and then I passed the 1 mile marker.  D’oh!

Map

Runkeeper Splits

I forced myself to walk through every water station and take a cup just in case.  I felt like I could run forever, but my main goal was to finish strong.  By the time I saw Ron & G at mile 8 I had found my “happy pace”.  Seeing them, though, really picked me up!  Mile 8 was faster than mile 7 and mile 9 was even faster!  I thought I had missed them at mile 10, but they were actually waiting at mile 12 for me.

Miles 10 and 11 were definitely the most difficult.  I had been able to run through a cramp in my hamstring in mile 6 and nagging knee twinges in the following miles, but by mile 10, my legs were just tired.  I did walk a little extra through 10 and 11, but still tried to keep up the pace as much as possible.

Then, I saw Ron & G at mile 12.  The picture above is from mile 12.  I got my second wind knowing that I was so close and I had two people there rooting for me!  They had faith that I could make it.  They ran with me, trying to make it to the finish line, but were forced to split off about half a mile away.  I just had to hope they could beat me to the finish!

The last portion of the race was largely uphill!  How evil is that?!  I was so thankful for all my hill training!  I was able to charge up the last hill, round the last corner and finish strong!  I really turned on the burners and sprinted as quickly as my exhausted legs could carry me!  I was flying! (at least I thought I was until I saw the video… Disappointed smile)

I took my medal and wet washcloth and wound my way through the chaos that was the finish line to find my supporters.

And then it was done:

Here’s my RunKeeper recap:

Overview

And here’s the official Rock ‘n’ Roll recap:

RnR Official Recap

I beat every goal I had for this race and couldn’t be happier!

I have to do what?!

The benefit of staying within walking distance of the starting line: I get to walk!

The con of staying within a mile of the finish line: I have to walk all the way where?!

We opted not to stay for the free beer and concert, and headed back to the hotel for a shower instead.  I knew I was going to need lunch very quickly and I really wanted to be clean!  The walk back to the hotel from the Alamodome was painful.  My feet hurt and my legs just wanted to cry.  But I forced them to keep moving with promises of beer and Mexican food on the River Walk.

The walk from the hotel to the River Walk for lunch was even less fun, but I think I’ll tell you that story another time…not that it’s really a story…actually, just know that I hated every minute of it!  But fajitas, Shiner Bock and margaritas made it all worthwhile in the end!

CIMG9555

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