Yeah so I wanted to come over here on Sunday and write up a nice race recap but like everything else that doesn’t involve me getting drunk, getting the money or keeping the baby alive (or if we’re being honest just mindlessly surfing the internet) it got shuffled down on the priority list and now it’s been so long it’s awkward. And election night. HEY LET’S MAKE IT MORE AWKWARD SHALL WE? Saturday’s half marathon was the culmination of me taking my training seriously for the first time ever. I was confident going into this race and I knew that unless everything went to shit, I’d hit my goal and PR and there would be no surprises.
In a way it was sort of anticlimactic, but I guess that’s better than the alternative, right? I did have a little wonkiness going on in my kneecaps, and my shins haven’t felt right in ages, but it was not these areas (foreshadowing) that bothered me during the race. For all my lack of proper training, I do have the pre-race routine pretty much down: I sleep in until the last possible moment and then stumble around in the dark cursing before I head out the door with a hastily-prepared slice of peanut butter toast and a tumbler of coffee that will be too hot to drink until I’m already there. But psychologically I still need to make the coffee. I always stress about parking and I always easily find a spot in the same garage where I always park. And I laugh at the 500 cars backed up at the entrance to the garage that is closest to the start while I glide two blocks past it into the mall garage where there is no wait (and only costs a buck-fifty for three hours!). I end up in the lobby of the convention center for 30 minutes during which I grow increasingly impatient. Getting there too early is almost worse than getting there late. I find a comfy club chair to sit in, realize the only people sitting in chairs are the olds, and I decide that I don’t give a shit and I stay in the chair. If you’re wondering if I’ve trailed off on a tangent or if this is still the pre-race routine, it’s still the pre-race routine. I procrastinate going outside until the very last possible minute, when I become trapped behind the mass exodus and barely make it to my corral in time for the gun. I also have a routine for writing race recaps: I go, THIS IS THE ONE WHERE I’M NOT GOING TO WRITE THE WHOLE THING IN THE PRESENT TENSE. I start out in the past tense and then at some point I realize I have unconsciously switched to the present tense and I have to go back and change all my verbiage. My childbirth recap was the same way. So the race starts and I actually find myself smiling instead of scowling. It just feels so good to be racing again. The roar of the crowd and even the jangle of cow bell enthuses me, and for a few delicate and beautiful moments, I forget to brood.
In that first mile, I become panic-stricken when I feel a new pain in my left knee that’s uncomfortable enough to make me limp a little bit. Sheeeee-it. Thankfully, it goes away and never comes back. Side note: My goal was a 2:10 half. My other heretofore unspoken goal was for every mile to be under 10:00. So naturally I fucked that up on the very first mile. Mile 1 – 10:04.
I don’t remember much from these first miles except that I was desperately trying to run a 9:50 pace while trying not to feel like I was desperately trying to run a 9:50 pace. Mile 2 – 9:49 Mile 3 – 9:33 (WTF) Mile 4 – 9:59 Mile 5 – 9:54 Mile 6 – 9:56 I hit the 10k in 1:02:14. It’s somewhere around here (but before the full marathon splits off) that the mothershitting 9:55 pace group creeps up on me out of nowhere and there are a lot of them and they are a lively bunch. I feel myself getting muscled out of the way and before I know it, I am behind the 9:55 pace group. I have to get them.
I hit the sidewalk and gun it to get around them, and my goal for the next mile is to get as far away from them as possible. Mile 7 – 9:30 The urge passes. Mile 8 – 9:53 In the last few miles the bunion on my left toe feels inflamed. I accidentally kick it with my other foot as I dodge a bitch who stops short at a water station. Also, the outside edge of my right foot aches, and that’s a totally new pain. But for some reason shit feels easier than it felt at the beginning of the race. I’m 66.7% excited and 33.3% terrified that I’ll cross the finish line in 2:10:01 because I’ve been running sloppy this whole time. The last four miles are pretty much a straight shot to the finish. I see a dude barfing next to a bus stop shelter. It’s unclear whether he’s running the race or not.
Mile 9 – 9:39
Mile 10 – 9:42
Mile 11 – 9:44
Mile 12 – 9:41
Aside from my right toe which is still killing me, I feel really good. Too good. I’m passing people like crazy and despite being really really ridiculously good looking, I’m discouraged that I didn’t go out in the 9:40s at the beginning of the race. But in my defense no part of my training indicated to me that I was capable of that. I just had a really good day. FOR ME.
Mile 13 – 8:47
Last .29 – 7:27
Yeah. I tried to run the tangents but ended up tacking an extra .19 onto the course, which I’m pretty sure was all in the first 2000 feet.
Chip time: 2:08:15. A PR by 13 minutes. What lessons have we learned here? Running a lot makes you better at running. There are benefits to taking shit seriously. I started my training cycle early in the summer and stayed consistent with my long runs. My weekly mileage was higher than ever before. I did not make excuses and I did not skip runs and I did not take walk breaks or tweet while I was running. I’ve said before that I don’t think I have another marathon in me, but shit. When you have a good day you start thinking marathons, trail marathons, 50Ks and pretty soon you’ve gone and done Badwater (all in your head) and nailed it. At any rate, I’m going to take it easy this week, do some swimming, some conditioning and then we’ll see if I’m up to trying another long run next week. Also I need to see what’s going on with this toe. My feet grew during my pregnancy so I’m hoping I just need some new half-a-size bigger shoes, but the bunion has definitely gotten worse and the toe got a little numb and tingly at points during the race. And I’m so scared I’m not going to say anything else about it. One thing is certain: Nic Cage made this blog post infinitely more interesting than it would have been otherwise.