Sunday, May 17, 2015

Race Report, Cleveland Half Marathon 2015

....or, Definitely Not My Favorite.
....or, It's Been A While Since A Good Old Fashioned Death March.
....or, Why Spring Races are Just Not A Good Idea For Me.

Okay, so I'm still a little bitter.  But the sting is wearing off a bit and I'm trying to keep the chin up and stay positive.  Long story short? My phone said 100% humidity. All day.  Is that even possible? Is it a swimming pool?  Because it felt like it sort of was.  And humidity and I just don't get along well.  Humidity likes to smack me upside the head like 658,943 times per hour.

So needless to say, my super stretch goal of sub-1:40 was quite laughable.  I ended up with a chip time of 1:49:53, which was a full 10 minutes of this goal.  However, it was only 2 1/2 minutes or so off my previous PR, which is old and not really what I can do now, but still.  Little victories.

The best part about today was kind of like what happened at Cleveland last year.  I'm to the point in my racing where my absolute, wheels-fall-off, want to quit races are still not too far off from what used to be my best.  So I'm not allowed to be too upset here.

Oh, and pretty much everyone I know had crappy days.  Like, most of my marathoner friends were at LEAST 30 minutes off their goal times. THIRTY. MINUTES.

Those poor, poor souls shuffling up the Shoreway...I felt really bad for them while I was drinking my Great Lakes in the Beer Garden after the race.  No really, I swear. I did!

I knew this would be tough, but I guess I didn't realize how tough.  My teammate Mike posted this article about running in humidity and I would say, yeah, that sounds about right.  The pace I could barely--BARELY--hold today was equal to or slower than the pace that I did a good amount of my long runs.  So it was pretty dejecting, but again, everyone had to deal with it, so times were slow across the board.

I started off between the 3:15 and 3:25 pace groups and lined up right by my teammate Jen and the super awesome Meredith who came into town after having a frustrating race in Athens--I was like, oh, hey! That was completely me last year!  And what are the odds I'd like up in between both of them in a race of 20,000?!  That was cool.

The first 2-3 miles I was right on pace, but it felt WAAAAYYYYY too hard.  I knew I was done for, like, before I hit mile 3.  I thought, well, maybe I can just PR today, since that should be something I can do in my sleep at this point as my training was spot-on all winter and spring.

No.  Sigh.

Around mile 3 I started to get angry.  Really, really angry.  I was swearing under my breath, and not under my breath.  Seriously.  I DON'T LIVE IN THE SOUTHEAST FOR A REASON PEOPLE.  Why was this happening?  I was PISSED.  Then I saw Laura from Salty Running.  She's a total badass, and she had a disappointing mile 2 of the 10k (still, her mile 2 was a pace I rarely EVER see, but it meant that she should probably drop out seeing she's an elite).  She asked if I wanted some company, and of course I said yes.

She stayed with me the entire race.  We held hands at the finish, and then I hugged her and cried.  Because, friends.  And because, FRUSTRATION.  But mostly friends.  That was awesome, and there was NO FREAKING WAY I would have finished without her there pushing me.  Or at least I would have spent the last 5k walking if it weren't for her chipper encouragement/harassment to get over the hills and catch "that girl in the teal shirt."  I love her.  Thanks, Salty.  You are the true embodiment of everything that's right with this sport, and I can't thank you enough.

I kept seeing my new Spin-Second Sole Multisport Teammates on the course and it was so great to see them.  They have been awesome about welcoming me to the team, and I certainly didn't want to let them down with my first race in the new kit!  So I kept pushing every time I saw them, which was quite often.  I saw them on bikes, pushing strollers, cheering loudly, AND running. They are good people. I am really looking forward to being a part of them!

My favorite part of the race was at mile 9, when my friend Noelle literally ran onto the course yelling--nay, DEMANDING--that I "open up my shirt" so she could stuff ice cubes down my sportsbra.  Seriously--I love it.  She had asked the night before if I'd need anything and I looked at the weather report and said, "how about some ice?" She decided that just giving me the ice wasn't enough--she wanted to help deliver it.  Best support crew ever, and I'm pretty sure most people in the crowd were laughing with at us.

Also, I ran into my friend Marie who was KILLING IT at Mile 10 and smiling like it was no big deal.  It was great to see her and finally see one person who actually looked like they were having a great race!  She finished really strong and I definitely need to talk her into Columbus. Hear that, Marie? I'm coming for you...

Afterwards I paused for a few pictures, but I hid my race bib because I could just tell this was a race I wasn't going to really want to pay ridiculous amounts to document anyway. So these two pictures are the best ones I have:

Me, and the super awesome Salty--

And me, and the also amazing Krystal, enjoying our very much deserved Great Lakes Brews:

No other pictures are needed from this race.  Those are the only ones I need.

When all was said and done, my 1:49.53 was good enough for 21/418 in the F35-39 AG.  So as rotten as I felt and as disappointed as I was, I can't be too upset with that. It was rough for everyone, and that showed it.

I know I have a faster half in me, but today was not the day.  I think what the past two years of training have done is change my mindset from "That Was A Wasted Training Session" to "WHATEVER. I Am Fitter Now So Screw You Humidity."  I have a great base going into tri season (and yay! Tri season!) and I'll continue to focus on getting stronger to have a great race in Columbus this fall.  

Any finish line is a good finish line, my friends.  Today was still a great day, just not for the reasons I expected it to be.

On to the next goal!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Let me tell you a story

Ten years ago this November, I started writing here to chronicle my Ironman journey.  This was before everything was done in 140 characters or even in status updates.  And that's where I've been, really--no time for much anything else except snippets, retweets, and likes.  Life lately has felt a lot like train, work, kids, sleep, train, work, kids, sleep.

When I was in 5th grade, all I wanted to do was be an author.  I think for that reason this space will never really go blank; at least not permanently.  The rest of the world might move on to snapchats and instagramming, but for me I think I'll always have a space in my heart to need to write more than that.  Even if no one is reading--well, especially if no one is reading.

I'm about to run a hard, fast half marathon on Sunday.  It will be hot--way warmer than I'd like--but I can't really control that so I'm working on letting that go.  There's not much  left to do except control the controllables--sleep, diet, staying positive.  So that's what I'm going to do.

Most of my training has been at 5am on a treadmill during this brutal winter.  Here in CLE, the average--AVERAGE!--temperature for the entire month of February was 15.1F.  So when I needed to run (like, when it was dark and icy), I had to do it on the treadmill.  Luckily, I have some great friends crazy enough to run with me in the cold on the weekends at least, and as always, training with them was such a gift when I had those moments to spare.

Boston came and went, and I was ridiculously happy for my friends and training partners who made it and got to toe that rather cold, rainy, windy line in Hopkintown.  But I'd be lying if I didn't say it was bittersweet.   I hadn't thought about it in a long time, but it was a little bit of pang-filled reminder that I wasn't there. I tried, and I wasn't good enough.  It's okay, because sometimes that happens.  I actually am of the school of thought that it's a good thing that those things happen, that you try your very best and still fall on your face, because it reminds you you're not invincible, and that hard work makes you better but sometimes takes a longer time than you'd like.  It was, and continues to be, a lesson in patience for me--something I definitely need more of.

I spent the better part of the past calendar year stepping away from that goal, because I was really starting to not like what it was doing to me.  So I rekindled my love for triathlon, where I know my heart really is.  It was perfect; it was just what I needed.  And on February 1st--the very first day registration opened--I signed up for the Columbus Marathon.  I felt a tiny bit of the fire coming back.

It felt good.

So I set the goal of going as fast as I can in a spring half, because I've decided that the next Spring Marathon I'll do will just have to be Boston.  No other spring marathon is worth that winter training for me--it's just not.  Done that enough times to know that fall marathons seem to be more my style.  A spring half, however, is a nice tune-up and long enough to make me work hard but not too long that it sucks the life and soul outta me.

The last time I did a standalone half marathon (without a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride in front of it!) was in 2009.  Right before I got pregnant with Emery.  It was 1:47.06, and it was a great day.

I've progressed quite a bit since then, but I've been so focused on the marathon quest that I never really got a chance to see just how fast I can run a 13.1.  So that's what I plan to do.

I've been training for a race pace of about a 7:40/mile.  Just typing that sounds pretty freaking insane, seeing as for 9 years I could not run a 5K under a 7:42 mile.  But the body is a pretty crazy thing, and one thing I've learned is that I never gave myself enough credit or believed what my coaches always said to me--there's a lot more fast in here than I give myself credit for.  I've hit all the paces I need on almost every single run, and I stayed injury-free.

I am pretty confident that I will PR; it's just a matter of by how much.  Which is a great place to be, really.  It's kind of liberating.  Just how much is in me, anyway?  I plan on finding out.

Any PR is a good PR, so I may need reminding of that in case something doesn't pan out the way I plan it to.  But I feel good. I feel confident, I feel fast.  I feel like if you told me 5 years ago I'd be gunning for as close to 1:40 as I can get, I'd laugh in your face.  I still have a playlist on my old iPod called "1:54 or Bust" since for years I couldn't even go faster than that.

So I'll tell you a story of a runner who just won't quit.  The story seems to just keep getting better, so I'll write the next chapter on Sunday and let you know how it goes.