So my plan to just run the 3M Half Marathon as a training run failed. It was a good morning to run and so I did! And the whole 3M race was excellent- organized, plenty of parking, good support, and there was food left at the end! I was a little worried because work Saturday was especially long, with an emergency amputation at 3pm, so not a good way to take it easy and taper. My mid back, which always gets tight after a long day of surgery, was screaming, but I stretched Saturday night and then went to bed early.
Sunday morning, got up and dressed, and then drove out to the starting area around 6:15- plenty of time and no traffic. Went to the bathroom twice, jogged a little, and found a good side street to wait on so that I could get across the start line only two minutes after the race started. I was a little worried about the parking shuttle at the end, which the race info warned that the last bus would leave at 11 am. Considering I was planning on taking 3:30 to finish, I wanted to get started as early as possible. It was 38 degrees at the start, but I was comfortable in shorts, technical T and cotton long sleeve, with cotton throwaway gloves.
I started out comfortably and found a rhythm. I saw a couple T3ers which was nice and an old TNT triathlete from the Captex 2008 training. I feel like there is a community of athletes in Austin and that I'm a part of it, and I like that. My wonderful cousin, F, told me she would be cheering on Mesa, and I tried to give her an approximate time when I would pass by- I feel bad that they're waiting on me, especially when it's so cold. And not only did she come with her cowbell, she brought the whole family! It really was a boost to see them so I'm glad they braved the weather to come out.
I passed the relay station feeling strong, so no question that I would continue on to finish the whole thing. I alternated between keeping the long sleeve on and taking it off, and taking the gloves on and off. The sun came out briefly, but then it clouded back over and was chilly. I was taking water at each stop which were every two miles, and I took the Gu I brought at mile 6. The only gatorade stop was at mile 12, which seemed a little late, but I didn't really it need it, so it didn't matter. I was trucking along, going around 15 minutes per mile, and feeling pretty good. The downhills were very nice, and when I would see an uphill ahead, I would think "maybe I'll take a walk break on the uphill" but when I would get there, would chug up just fine without too much extra effort. I was looking ahead and picking out people to run towards to break it up, and I was also keeping the mile splits on my watch, which I've never done in a race, but helps to pass the time and also keep me aware of where I was in the miles as well.
There were a couple of people that did the thing I hate most about races- walk/runners who obviously set a goal to run past me, but immediately after doing so, stop and walk. And it's worst when the road gets narrow, so that they stop directly ahead of me and I have to swerve around to pass them. And since I'm doing the steady jog, I usually will catch up to the them and pass them, which causes them to start jogging to get ahead of me. Repeat ad nauseum. Today, there was a group of three women that were doing this, so that when they stopped in my path, it was very annoying to go around them. From mile 9 or so, we hopscotched back and forth, and it became very obvious that they were waiting until I caught up with them to start running again.
But I was sticking with my steady pace and game plan. I had picked it up after mile 10, knowing the end was coming and that I was feeling strong. A little after mile 12, I looked at my watch and saw that it was 3:07. If I could finish in 15 minutes, I would have a PR- my best result was my first half at the 2006 Freescale in 3:22:50. So I picked it up a little more. Now the group of three women had become two, as one had decided to run the last mile to finish ahead of them. The other two were still alternating walking and running, and would start running as soon as they could hear me coming up behind them. I'm not all that competitive, and I know that running faster than someone else does not make you better than them. I am a firm believer in that because I'm usually the slower person. But this was pissing me off, and I was feeling strong and was really close to beating my PR. So at about 150 yards from the finish, I pretended like it was just another ramp up sprint at practice, where you start slow, and accelerate to 95% of your maximum pace. I did that from about 10 feet behind the annoying twins, and just could feel I was putting it into another gear, stretching out my legs, and moving fast. And I zoomed past them and across the finish line in 3:20:12!
Of course, afterwards I felt like I was going to pass out- light headed and wobbly, but I tried to keep walking and keep upright. Got a bottle of water and my medal, and then one of the annoying twins came up behind me and said "that was some kick you put in there at the finish" sounding a little annoyed, like they had it all planned to keep ahead with their walk/jog, and to which I weezed "and now I'm about to die!" But really, I was thinking "Ha, you nitwits, I beat you- sometimes the turtle can get a move on!" But again, beating them does not make me a better person, but maybe they will realize that their little strategy can backfire.
I slowly was able to breathe again, and I went to the finisher's area which was already starting to pack up some tents. I got a couple of breakfast tacos and a gatorade, and sat down gratefully. After that and a little stretch, I looked for the T3 tent- I thought they were going to have a tent and their personal massage therapist (a great perk of training with them!) but either they didn't come or they'd already packed up to leave. The general massage tent had a big crowd, and I could see the extra buses were already being sent away so I went ahead and headed back. And of course, sitting makes you stiffen up and my left hamstring was the worst. I did have a little pain during the race on my right foot- the Morton's neuroma pain in the middle of the metatarsal bones, but was able to stretch and move my foot around in my shoe to help relieve that. I probably need to retire these shoes as the padding is probably going. I got home, stretched and foam rollered, showered, and took a nap watching tennis (Jelena Dokic got through to the semifinals- yay!) And now, I think I'm going to just go back on the couch for the rest of the day.
But it was a good day, and a good motivator. Sometimes it seems like nothing will change, or if it does, it changes so slow to be almost imperceptible. Some days it feels like I'm running in sludge, and that it's one step forward and then two steps back. But today was evidence of my hard work at practice and improved nutrition. The scale may not be moving all that quickly, but I am certainly moving faster than I have before!