3 Intense Days

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After the race last week, I knew I was going to take a mini break from running.  It took me a few days to get back into the whole exercise thing, and I went to the gym a whopping total of one time.  Because after that one time, I got sick with a cold.

But, this week has been better, so I have started doing the Zuzka Power Cardio DVDs.  Have you heard of Zuzka?  She used to host Bodyrock workouts, but left that site a few years ago and now has her own venture, Zuzka Light.  Anyway, I’d occasionally do her Bodyrock workouts, which were intense.  And I’ve tried a Zuzka Light workout or two, and they are also intense.  So I decided to try the Power Cardio DVDs, which were released earlier this year, knowing I’d get a pretty good workout in.  And $15 for 3 DVDs and 12 workouts isn’t bad!

So Monday I did the first workout.  I cut it a little short because I was pressed for time, but I was still SWEATING.  I woke up on Tuesday with some sore hamstrings, but that was about it.

Tuesday I did the second workout.  I pushed through the whole thing even though I wanted to quit.  I pretty much doubled the time she took to complete the workout, but that’s OK.  (PS, one of the things I like about her workouts is that even she gets tired!  So I know they’ve got to be effective).  I woke up this morning a bit sore all over, but nothing too bad.

This morning was a workout with our trainer.  It started out pretty standard with some squats and some lunges.  But then he had us doing some kind of snatch/squat press and some push-ups with rows and yet more squats and bicep curls with squats and ahhhh am I sore now!  And I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg…

Tomorrow is a rest day which I am looking forward to because after three intense days… I need it!

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – Final Thoughts

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I wanted to do a separate blog post with my overall thoughts on the race logistics because I think there were definitely things that anyone thinking about doing this race in the future should keep in mind.  Mostly, I had a good time, but if you are thinking about doing this race, there are some things you should expect!

1. Lines. They were everywhere, at least for me. From packet pick-up to buying clothing post-race to taking a photograph at the finish, I have never waited in line at a race as much as I did this weekend. And I’ve run several big city races. Obviously, you don’t HAVE to wait in line to buy a finisher’s shirt, or you can try to pick up your packet at non-peak hours. But I’d caution anyone to be prepared to wait.

2. Pace teams. Nike didn’t advertise them, and I couldn’t find anywhere to sign up for them, but I did actually see one pace team on the course (the 2:20 pacer) and saw several finishing when I was waiting for my sister. So, I guess either be prepared to run your own race, or maybe get to the corral early to find the pacer.

3. Water stops. I HATE carrying my own water, but if you think you’re going to be in the middle to back of the pack, you might want to consider carrying your own. I am SO thankful for every person who volunteers at any race, I just think Nike didn’t have enough of them on the course.  I’ve read other race reports where people had no problem with the water stops, and I think it really depends on where you are in the pack.

4. Information. There is no website for this race. Nearly everything is run from a Facebook page, which is actually kind of annoying. They didn’t post much in the weeks leading up to the race, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. But they didn’t seem overly responsive to questions on their page. Which is actually kind of weird. To run the whole race interface with runners through social media but then not be very responsive on it.  There was a pretty extensive FAQ section though.

5. Corporate-ness. This race may be a large fundraiser for Team in Training, but their is an unmistakable air of huge corporate giant attached to it, at least to me. I mean, they don’t have an expo, they have a Nike branding experience basically. If you want to buy anything, you can… at their corporate store down the street. Do any of the proceeds from the weekend go to Team in Training or just to Nike’s bottom line? How about the race entry fees? I don’t know (I briefly perused their annual report and didn’t see anything.)  The corporate feel is not necessarily BAD, especially if you expect that, but it is different.  And for some, I know it could be pretty off-putting.  As I detailed in my posts, I pretty much bought it hook line and sinker though.

If you’d asked me on Sunday, I would have told you no way was I going to run another Nike race. One was enough of a headache for me. It was mostly fun, but a bit ridiculous at times. My sister remarked that we should cut them a break because it is their first year putting the race on in DC. No. They’ve been doing it for YEARS in San Francisco (and from what I gather the congestion and waiting isn’t any better there). Also, they are a corporate GIANT. There is no reason a corporate giant can’t get a race like this spot on if they wanted to. There are plenty of best practices to model in the industry. I think they just don’t care. They dangle the Tiffany’s necklace and the guys in tuxes giving it to you and women come running, myself included. And that is fine, but the race itself is not a well-oiled machine.  It doesn’t really have to be, since the demand is there regardless.

But today, even saying all that, I want to run the San Francisco race. Ron already says he’ll run it with me. He doesn’t mind being one of the “few good men” running a women’s race. It doesn’t hurt that San Francisco is near the top of my domestic travel bucket list. Not sure I can handle two Nike races in one year!  Plus, it happens to be on the same date as the Detroit Marathon races, which would require NO travel on my part.  So, to be determined!

I am absolutely glad I did this race and have been wearing that necklace pretty much non-stop.  The race has been on my bucket list for awhile now, and I’m glad they brought it to DC.  If you are thinking about doing this race in the future, I encourage you to do so, but I also want you to go in knowing what to expect!

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – Race Report

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Race morning. One of the smartest things I did for this race was find a hotel near the start so we could just walk there. No more hour commute into the city! Although I used the restroom several times before leaving the hotel, I had to go again once we got to the start. Unfortunately, I only found a single bank of porta potties and the lines were huge (after the race I saw where there were more). Memories of the Cherry Blossom run in DC last year where I was still waiting in the porta potty line when the race started had me skipping and going right to my corral. I did not want to get stuck in the last corral! I hoped I would either find a porta potty on the course or that I would stop having to go once I started running.

No pace tats or pace bands, so I wrote it on my arm instead.

No pace tats or pace bands, so I wrote it on my arm instead.

I wasn’t in the corral very long before the announcer started trying to hype up the crowd. He said he wanted to wake up the White House (we started on Pennsylvania Ave). Then he introduced Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson. I don’t know if they actually ran the race or if they were just there for PR. Then we had a moment of silence for Boston. I’ve run a lot of races and there is almost always chatter going on, even during the national anthem. It was dead quiet during that moment of silence. And it stayed dead quiet as the first strains of that National Anthem was sung. It was quiet right up until the “O’re the land of the free, and the home of the brave”, which elicited cheers from the crowd.

Waiting in the Corral

Waiting in the Corral

And then we were off! It only took me 3 minutes to cross the start line! I am never that close to the start.

I was running really well for maybe a half a mile, feeling really good, obviously since it was the start of the race. Then the road narrowed and, ugh, bottle neck. There was no where to go, so I had to slow down. They should have had a wave start instead of just the pace corrals. Eventually the bottle neck cleared a bit and there was a little more room to run, though the course remained crowded the whole race.  But, it meant I started slower than planned and over the next several miles was about 30 seconds off of my planned pace.

Pretty soon, we headed into a tunnel. They had two drummers in the tunnel so the echoes of the drums and the cheering were pretty cool, although I wondered why they were placed so early in the course. But we actually ran through the tunnel on the way back near mile 11, and they were a real motivation then.

The first water stop presented another logistical problem. It was difficult to actually get the water! I think, especially in the first water stop, they had enough water, just not enough people to hand it out for the amount of runners coming by. This remained a problem throughout the course. At one water stop I actually stopped and waited for the single volunteer to fill up a cup with Nuun. Eventually, I started walking through the stops in part to make sure I got enough fluid. I know that it is often a strategy to walk the water stops, but I don’t like to if I can help it. Walking, even if only to get the water, makes it harder for me to start running again.

They were handing out Shot Blocks at mile 4, and although I tried to get some (really they were more like half packs), the crowded course meant I missed them. Glad I brought my own nutrition! Part of my strategy was to take in more nutrition and earlier than I would normally like in an effort to keep my energy up in the later miles. So instead of getting the Shot Blocks and then the water, I missed the nutrition, drank the water, and then took a gel. That left me feeling a bit thirsty.

Running along!

Running along!

At this point, I pulled out my phone and asked Ron where he was. He hadn’t told me where he would be on the course, and I don’t think he even looked at the map before race morning… and even then he left it in the hotel room. He said he was trying to get to mile 5 or 6. I told him to go to 6 as I was about half a mile from 5. I knew he had Gatorade and water, so I told him I was having trouble at the water stops and was thirsty.

Mile 6 is also when you enter Hains Point. I knew that part of the course would be tricky for me. I take it that DC races use this park a lot and its not very spectator friendly. So it’d be a dead part of the course… and also the point where I started struggling in all of my long runs. It turns out this race was no different. Although I had kept up a pace just slightly slower than my 2:15 goal (thanks to the congested first mile) through the halfway point, it became clear I was going to have a hard time keeping it up. This is where longer tempo runs would have been a good training move, but you live and learn. I started walking more often, though I tried to keep the breaks short.

I hadn’t seen Ron at mile 6 and knew he wouldn’t be in the park. I’ll admit that this bummed me out. I was mad at myself for not asking him where he was going to see me before the race, and annoyed he hadn’t looked at the map before hand. At some point, I heard my phone get a text message, but it took me awhile to pull it out. The message said only, “see you at mile 10”. Mile 10? I sent back that he was fired from spectating. Actually, I think this is preferable to him anyway since he’d rather be running any day of the week than watching me run. Not that he isn’t supportive, he’d just rather be participating as well!

Fired from spectating

Fired from spectating

But anyway, I eventually got out of the park and the crowds were awesome and just the boost I needed. They were thicker than they had been at any other point on the course. I was wearing a Pitt shirt and people started calling it out. I’d give a whoop or lift my arm when I heard them, but I think I missed half of them. And I did, in fact, see Ron just after mile 10. He tried to hand me some sport beans, but I grabbed the Gatorade from him. I was so thirsty! But it is a double edged sword because if I drink too much it sits like a brick in my stomach. Which is, unfortunately, what happened.  As soon as I passed him, Ron took off running. I thought he was just going to run up a bit farther on the course and maybe take a picture. I was going to give him the Gatorade back because it was really too big for me to carry for another 3 miles. But no, as I started climbing back to the tunnel, he was running somewhere else. So, feeling guilty, I ditched the half full bottle on the side of the road.

After the tunnel, we started heading toward the Capital. For some reason, I remembered the course as just a turn around, so I thought I was closer to being done than I really was. The trip around the Capital seemed interminable and I also developed a side stitch which made taking anything more than short gasps painful. I really wanted to finish strong and run the last mile but had to keep walking out the side stitch. Finally, I saw the finish line ahead and picked up the pace. Looking at my watch, I thought I still had a chance of breaking 2:20. But that finish line was deceptive! It was much farther away than I realized. I ended up crossing in 2:21:04. So I missed my A and B goals… but that’s OK, because there were the Tiffany’s boxes, and then Ron was there, telling me he was proud of me.

Apparently I surprised Ron and he barely had enough time to snap this.

Apparently I surprised Ron and he barely had enough time to snap this.

Why thank you ROTC man in a tux, for handing me my pretty blue box and also not being creeped out by how many photos you had taken of you that day.

Why thank you ROTC man in a tux, for handing me my pretty blue box and also not being creeped out by how many photos you had taken of you that day.

Priorities - water and my prize!

Priorities – water and my prize!

Hanging out in the finisher's area

Hanging out in the finisher’s area

I told Ron I was going to check out the Finisher’s Boutique and see what else was in the finish area. And there was yet another line! It was just more clothes and it said it was open until 1:30, so I decided not to wait in line. They had a picture area set up, but no photographers. Since I was alone with no one to take my picture, I didn’t stop. I did check out the results tent, hoping maybe my official time would be a little faster than my Garmin time, but no dice. I walked through the stretching tent, but didn’t stop. Then I went back in search of Ron. We had neglected to pick a meeting spot (oops), but he’d told me he’d walk along the finish line and wait for me at the Finisher’s Boutique when I told him I wanted to check it out. It didn’t take too much to find each other again. We went back out to the course to wait for my sister and to cheer her and other runners on. When we finally spotted her, I ran out to her and ran her most of the way to the finish. She was hurting!

We walked back through the finish area (it wasn’t closed off), stopping to take some pictures this time, and actually stretching in the stretching tent. By the time we did all of that, the line to the Finisher’s Boutique was shorter, so we got in line. We still waited an hour plus to give Nike more money. What can I say. I bought their hype this weekend. Then finally we hobbled back to the hotel to clean up.

Sisters, and their Tiffany Blue boxes.  (Also, repping a house divided in my Pitt shirt and her Penn State shirt).

Sisters, and their Tiffany Blue boxes. (Also, repping a house divided in my Pitt shirt and her Penn State shirt).

We went to brunch at a restaurant called Lincoln, across the street from our hotel. Let me just say, I highly recommend it. It was crowded and crazy, but also a fun atmosphere. I got bottomless Bellinis, Ron got a beer, and Katie got a cocktail. And when the cocktail was taking forever to come out, our waiter brought her another free drink that had been extra. Oh yeah, there was also a DJ. Overall, just a really great way to celebrate the race!

Finisher shirt and the box

Finisher shirt and the box

Front of the necklace

Front of the necklace

Back of the Necklace

Back of the necklace

Nike Women’s Marathon Half – DC

Race Date: 4/28/2013

Finish Time: 2:21:04

Pace: 10:46/mile

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – The Day Before

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My recap of the Nike Women’s Marathon Half DC turned out quite long, so I’m going to break it up a bit.  Oh – and all of the pictures are iPhone pictures.  Some are better quality than others.

My last blog post had Ron and I driving to Pittsburgh to spend the night with my sister before all three of us headed to DC for the weekend. We hit construction getting out of Pittsburgh, which delayed us about an hour. Other than that, the drive was uneventful until we hit DC.

Bored in the car - stupid traffic!

Bored in the car – stupid traffic!

The race instructions had suggested that parking was limited in Georgetown where Nike’s version of an Expo, the “Expotique” was being held. Instead, they advised taking the metro to one of two stations that were still a 15-25 min walk away. But we were already in the car, and it was too early to check into the hotel. Finding a metro station to park at, figuring out the metro, and then walking to the expo sounded like more than I wanted to deal with, so we decided to take our chances on parking. We managed to find a garage on only our second try, but the traffic and confusing location of the expo had fried our nerves before we got there!

And then another problem presented itself. After several hours in the car… I had to use the restroom! We asked at the Nike info desk set up for the Expotique and were directed to a set of porta potties. I’m obviously not unfamiliar with porta potties, but it was a less than ideal situation.

Having that problem taken care of, we located the packet pick-up tent and started walking to the end of the line. And kept walking. And walking. When we finally found the end of the line, we could no longer see the tent.

THIS is the Packet Pickup Line?

THIS is the Packet Pickup Line?

Ahem. The Chicago Marathon registers 45,000 participants, and when I went to that expo, also the day before the race, I waited no more than 5 minutes to talk to someone to pick up my packet. For a race with “only” 15,000 participants, we waited in line for 45 MINUTES. I cannot fathom why it took so damn long to pick up a race number for this race. We didn’t even get shirts, they would come at the end of the race. End rant. For now.

So after waiting in the line that never ended, we hit up the Expotique. I had read some online reports about the race in San Francisco, so I kind of knew what to expect. Unlike a normal expo, this one had only a few “vendors” and nothing was really for sale. Mostly it was a giant branding opportunity for Nike. They did have places set up for Bare Minerals to give you a makeover and Paul Mitchell to do your hair. We also had a sign printed at the Luna section. I wanted it to say “My head is on fire, but my legs are fine. After all, they are mine”, lyrics from Fun’s “Carry On”, but it was too long, so I had to cut it.

Photo Op!  Hey Ron, take our picture please!

Photo Op! Hey Ron, take our picture please!

Signing my name on a giant wall.  I don't know the purpose... but pens were presented to do so!

Signing my name on a giant wall. I don’t know the purpose… but pens were presented to do so!

One disappointment. I had seen a tweet from Nuun that if you bought two tubes of Nuun you would get a “Run DC” water bottle. We did find a small section selling Nuun and Shot Blocks and a few other race essentials. I usually have Nuun on hand at home, so I bought two (discounted) tubes of Nuun, but alas, no water bottle.

Hey Ron, why'd you cut off the phrase?  We'd seen pictures of this flashing on the screen at the expo and wanted to find it.  Turns out, it was right behind the expo.

Hey Ron, why’d you cut off the phrase? We’d seen pictures of this flashing on the screen at the expo and wanted to find it. Turns out, it was right behind the expo.

With the Expotique thoroughly explored, we headed to Nike Georgetown. First, we found our names on the wall.

Names on the Wall

Names on the wall

Then we did some shopping. Nike releases a limited edition shoe for their races, and DC was no different. As much as I knew I didn’t NEED Tiffany Blue Nike shoes (I don’t run in Nikes), I WANTED them. Yes, I was practically begging Nike to take my money this weekend. Unfortunately, they sold out online almost immediately, and there were no more in stock in the store in my size. And as much as I want the shoes, I’m not going to pay double to triple the price on Ebay. And yes, I do realize what Nike did there… creating hype over a “limited edition” shoe to create buzz and therefore sales. What can I say. Sometimes I play into a company’s marketing even as I realize I’m doing it. Anyway, no shoes, but I did couple of things, a hat, a hooded shirt, and a tank.

In Georgetown, in front of part of the C&O Canal.

In Georgetown, in front of part of the C&O Canal.

We were finally shopped out for the day, so we headed to our hotel for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Race day essentials, ready to go.

Race day essentials, ready to go.

Next up, the race.

Goals!

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Tonight, after work, I’m going to start heading to DC, with a stopover in Pittsburgh to pick up my sister and crash at her place for the night.

So lets talk goals for Sunday!

My A goal… well, lets break it into two parts.  They’re very close together so I consider them kind of the same goal.

A1 Goal: Sub 2:15

A2 Goal: PR – currently at 2:16:50

My current PR was set in my very first half marathon in 2006.  It is old.  It is sad that in 7 years I haven’t been able to bring it down (I haven’t really chased it either though).  I think I maybe have it in me.  I’m going to act like I do anyway.  My goal is to go out somewhere around 10:15-10:20 pace and hopefully hold on to it the whole race.  Maybe pick it up the last 5K.  (Ha!  Good luck with that…)  Unless they have pacers.  Then I might just try to use a pacer for the first time ever.

I’m very worried the weather is going to get to me though.  Current conditions call for near 70 on race day.  Though it’ll be cooler in the morning, I have done NO significant training in anything warmer than about mid-50s.  Unless you count the gym, which I don’t really.

I’m also kind of worried by stories of super crowded starts in the San Francisco races.

B Goal: 2:20.

My Martian Half Marathon time was 2:22:XX.  I bonked hard during that race, and it wasn’t even a goal race.  I should be able to go below 2:20 in a goal race (please race gods let at least this be true).

C Goal: Get my Tiffany’s Necklace and have fun.

If I miss either of the A or B goals… I’ll probably be disappointed.  But at least I’ll have finished.  I’ve got some ideas of where my training could have been better, and some thoughts on how to train for my next race, once I decide what it is.  If I don’t PR… well, I know there are more half marathons out there, and I’m fairly confident I’ll get that PR this year, even if it takes me all year.

So there they are, out there for all the world to see.

Runners for Boston

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Last night, Ron and I went to a “Runners for Boston” event organized by local running store chain, Running Fit. The run was not just a solidarity run for the events of Boston, but also a “Congratulations” and celebration of area runners who ran in Boston. The plan was to run 4.15 miles.

Unfortunately, we were late. So we missed the start. Running Fit was selling “Runners for Boston” shirts, the proceeds of which would be going to the One Fund Boston, but they were sold out before we got there.

So, we were late. Which means we didn’t start with the pack and then somehow missed where the run actually started, so we just joined in and ran along. At first, I was so wound up about work stuff and being late and other things. I had to remind myself to chill out, that this run wasn’t about me. Instead, I just tried to enjoy the act of running. There were so many Boston jackets! I saw everything from 1996 to 2013. I wore my Chicago Marathon jacket which quickly became too warm. This weird spring weather is so hard to dress for! It is in the 70s one day (Tuesday) and back into the 30s the next day (Wednesday). There were probably 700 people there (overheard estimate from Running Fit!)

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The actual running itself was frustrating, my calves kept cramping. Not what I want to happen just days before a goal race! But eventually I found a good rhythm and was able to enjoy just being outside running.

At the end, we saw a group photo being taken of the area runners who were in Boston this year. It was quite a large group! I’m slow right now… but someday I hope to qualify for Boston, and seeing so many people who had been there before was inspiring. I know it will take me years of working towards that goal though.

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Oh! And we were able to place an order for the shirts at the end.

Taper Crazies

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It’s no secret that a lot of runners don’t like to taper. Truthfully, I never really got that. For me, the race is the goal and I don’t mind running shorter mileage leading up to a race (when I actually taper that is).

But man is my head messed up this week. I’m not really sure if I’ve trained enough to reach my goal this weekend. But I’ve spent the first part of this week telling myself all the reasons that I will fail. I didn’t do enough tempo runs. My 7 mile long run this weekend sucked so much. My 2 mile race pace effort last night was too hard (never mind the wind and rain). The course will be too crowded. It will be to warm. I’ve blown up in all of my long run efforts over 8 miles. Etc.

Ugh. I need to stop! All of those might be reasons I won’t reach my goal, but that doesn’t mean I have to dwell on them. Instead, I should be thinking about the training I did do, the track sessions and the long runs and the regular runs. I should be thinking bout how my goal pace isn’t that much faster than what I’ve run my long runs at. “The hay is in the barn” and all that is left is to see what I have to give on race day. So I’m going to try to ban the taper crazies and visualize a good race. Only a few days before race day!

Martian Half Marathon Review

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A little late, but here’s a (loooong) recap of the Martian Half Marathon!

The Expo

Race weekend started for me on Friday night, where I’d signed up to volunteer at the expo from 5:30 to 9:30. This is a smaller race, so the expo wasn’t huge, but there were still a few vendors and some Martian Marathon gear for sale.

Ron and I raced home from work, changed, let the dogs out and fed them, and then raced to the expo. We arrived at 5 and spent some time shopping and then picked up our packets. After checking in at the volunteer desk, we were told to see if anyone working the packet pick-up area needed a break. We ended up handing out bibs and shirts for the 10K. It was actually kind of fun, though also tiring. An hour in, I was surprised by how tired I was. Soon after, someone came around and told us to take a break. There was pizza and water they said, so off we went to find what would amount to dinner.

Martian Expo, Aliens are everywhere!

Martian Expo, Aliens are everywhere!

What we also found was a meeting between the race director and the course marshals. Since the pizza was in the same room, we ate and listened as it was confirmed that the race course was going to change due to flooding. As long as the course marshals knew where to point us, I was pretty sure we’d be OK. I wasn’t going to share this, because I didn’t know how true it was, but a Thank You e-mail from the race director this week confirmed it.  Not only was the original course flooded, but the back-up course couldn’t be used either because one of the roads was torn up!  This race could have easily been cancelled with all the flooding and having to use a SECOND alternate course, so a big thanks to the race directors and the cities of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights who found somewhere for us to run!

Handing Out Packets

Handing Out Packets

The expo ended at 8 and we helped tear it down and pack it all back into moving trucks. I knew that a lot went into planning and executing a race, but the sheer volume of STUFF to pack up and move was astounding. Eventually, we were released and headed home.

Obey Me!

Obey Me!

The Race

The good thing about a race starting at 8:45 is that you don’t need to get up super early to make it to the race start. We got up about 6am and slowly started to get ready. I decided to wear a pair of tights and a lighter long sleeved shirt with a hood and my Chicago Marathon jacket over that. I also wore my Chicago Marathon hat – not because I wanted to be a walking advertisement for the Chicago Marathon but because I wanted a hat to keep the rain off of my face.

Pre- Race Coffee

Pre- Race Coffee

I had planned on parking in a surface lot with meters and had money to pay for the meters, but unfortunately, the lot was full! Luckily, Ron had grabbed some cash, so we parked at a garage a bit further away. We made our way to the start line and directly to the port-o-potties, even though I’d used the bathroom approximately 1,000,000 times at home.

All morning I’d had the strangest feeling about the race. It didn’t seem real that I was running a half marathon. I wasn’t worried about being able to finish, I knew I could. I wasn’t trying to PR or meet a time goal. And yet, I was strangely nervous.

Nervous or not, it was soon time to line up. There are no waves in this race, and I didn’t see any kind of indication of where to line up for what pace, so I just had to guess. (After the race started, I saw an 8:00 minute and a 10:00 minute sign, but they were extremely close to each other and I’m not sure how accurate they were). The race didn’t start on time – don’t know why – but eventually we were moving!

Read to go!  And an unintentional walking billboard for the Chicago Marathon.

Read to go! And an unintentional walking billboard for the Chicago Marathon.

The course IMMEDIATELY narrows, which caused congestion right after crossing the start line. I don’t know why it was set up like this, but it was frustrating to be immediately stopped. Since I wasn’t gunning for any particular time, I tried to just stay patient and not weave around other runners. This worked out for me for probably the first time ever and I didn’t really have to weave around anyone.

Mile 1: 10:25 (oops, a bit faster than I planned!)

Mile 2: 11:10

Mile 3: 10:22

Late in mile 1 my left leg started to cramp. I knew I’d need to stop and walk the cramp out. Walking after a mile in a half marathon was not my plan! But I knew once the cramp was gone, it probably wouldn’t come back, so I pulled to the side. I also retied my shoe. And I still managed to run the second mile in 11:10. This was stupid. My Garmin only gives me average per mile pace, so I don’t know exactly how fast I was running, but I’m pretty sure it was under 10 min/mile. Too fast too early in the race!

Mile 3 starts with a nice downhill onto Hines Drive and into the parks. We saw some marathoners (who had started at 7:15am) coming back to finish their first loop (the new course was 1 loop for half marathoners and 2 loops for marathoners). Soon I noticed the 10K turn around point. It seemed to come up so quick! The race seemed to take a lot longer when I was running the 10K last year, but here I was passing the turnaround and it seemed like no time at all had passed.

Mile 4: 10:31

Mile 5: 10:15

Mile 6: 10:15

Mile 7: 10:41

Mile 8: 10:31

We ran another mile in the park before the original course and the new course diverged. We made a left turn into some neighborhoods. Volunteers were handing out Gu, but it was still pretty early in the race, so I didn’t take any. In hindsight, I should have taken the Gu and the water at the water stop because it would be awhile before I saw another water stop.

The course through the neighborhoods was a bit narrow because runners were running both out and back along neighborhood streets. There were also still some cars parked along the street, but with the last minute course change, I can’t really fault the residents for not moving their cars.  In fact, I know it must have been a hassle to suddenly find your street shut down for hours on a Saturday!

I was running strong through the first part of the neighborhoods when we came back out to a larger road before turning into another neighborhood. I figured we’d pass the main water stop we’d seen going into the neighborhoods, so I took a Gu. It turns out we didn’t pass that one again yet, but there was a small water stop before a turn and as I angled to grab a cup, someone stopped right in front of me. I managed to grab the water and then was going for Gatorade when Ron did about the same thing. This all slowed me down some, as did the hill I suddenly found myself facing. I was so thirsty from this point on until I reached another water stop. Through the second set of neighborhoods, my time was slipping. I felt a bit of disappointment, but I reminded myself that this was still just training, not my goal race. Through all of this, the mile markers were coming before my Garmin beeped and I wondered if the course was going to be short. Since it was a new course, the race would need to certify it after the fact.

Mile 9: 13:28

Mile 10: 11:24

Mile 11: 11:15

Finally we were back on Hines Drive but instead of turning right to head back, we had to turn left to go just a tiny bit further before turning around. I’m sure it was just to get appropriate mileage in, but it was kind of funny how little we ran in that one direction just a little bit before turning around.

I kept telling myself to just keep moving. My pace had dropped quite a bit and I was struggling to keep going. Around 8.75 miles, I found myself walking. That sounds funny, but is the most accurate description I can give. I was trying to pump myself up, tell myself to keep going. I knew I’d hurt worse if I stopped to walk. I wanted to put on my “Running Emergency Playlist”, but my iPod was in my jacket pocket and I’d taken my jacket off and tied it around my waist in mile 1. I couldn’t seem to get to it without expending more energy than I wanted to. And then, I just stopped. Immediately, my feet started to HURT. They’d been fine when I was running but now walking hurt. I walked for maybe a quarter mile, then started up a slow shuffle. When I got to a water stop, I stopped to walk again, taking water and Gatorade (and another Gu, I think?)

Mile 12: 10:38

Mile 13: 10:17

Last 0.1: 1:21

Around mile 10 or 11, we turned off of Hines Drive and onto the Rouge River Gateway trail. This is one of my favorite places to run in Dearborn, except for two things. The two bridges over the river. Whenever I run across them, they bounce and make me dizzy. With a lot of people running over them, the effect was that much worse. The bounce doesn’t coordinate with my footfalls, which is what makes it so bad. I stopped, grabbing the side of the bridge for balance and walking the rest of the way over it. Right after the bridge is a pretty steep but short hill. I started running again, even up the hill, but I still felt like I was on that damn bridge. A few minutes of walking cleared my head and onward we went.

With a bit more than a mile to go we reached a downhill. Like I said, this is one of my favorite parks to run in, and I knew the rest of the course. I always let this hill carry me as fast as it can and today was no exception. I was behind Ron so I told him, “Go!”. Down the hill we went, over the other bridge which thankfully wasn’t as bad. Slowed on the uphill to get out of the park, tried to stay strong as we ran back on the road, turned a corner, and another downhill to power down. Then just a little bit further, turn the corner, and give it everything you have left in the finish chute. I chicked one older gentleman, with Ron running by on one side and me on the other. And finally, we were done. I grabbed my medal (still in the bag), a cookie, some water, and some chocolate milk. I found a picnic table and sat down, eating my cookie, putting my medal around my neck, and chugging my chocolate milk. After a few minutes, we started hobbling back to the car. I’d had half a mind to watch the kids race, but I was so cold and just wanted to go home and change.

Ron said he did it for the Chocolate milk.

Ron said he did it for the Chocolate milk.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this race. I’m annoyed that I stopped to walk around mile 9, and by my inconsistent pace. But this wasn’t a goal race and I hadn’t tapered at all, so who knows what would have happened had my legs had some rest. I’m amazed that I knocked off 7 minutes from my best half marathon time of 2012… without really trying to beat that time AND I still walked. I calculate that if I had run the whole thing, I’d only be a minute or two off of my PR. On the one hand, this race wasn’t really the confidence boost going into Nike that I’d hoped it would be. On the other hand… a proper taper did wonders for me in Chicago, so maybe it’ll work again.

Race shirt, medal you can't see, and a half zip I bought at the expo.

Race shirt, medal you can’t see, and a half zip I bought at the expo.

Medal!

Medal!

 

Boston

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Like so many in the running community, I was absolutely shocked and deeply saddened at the bombings in Boston yesterday.  I wanted to cry all day and was definitely not productive for the rest of the day.

I’d planned to run that night.  I wanted to run, too, after hearing about the bombings.  Because I was angry, because I was sad, because I feel violated.  Instead, I watched the news all night with Ron.

A few people have asked me if I’m going to stop running marathons.  And my answer is no, because I do not want to let “them”, whoever they are, win.  I don’t want to live in fear.

A few other people have told me that they thought of me and Ron when they heard the news.  It is very humbling to hear that, especially since I’m nowhere near a Boston caliber runner.  But people care, close friends and acquaintances alike.  They know that I like to race and they thought of me in the wake of the terrible news.

Tonight, I ran 2.62 miles.  For Boston.  2.62 humid gym, treadmill, breaking in new shoes miles.  I ran it in my Martian Half Marathon shirt.  It was sticking to me by the end.  I couldn’t wear a race shirt to work, but I did wear a blue sweater and a yellow scarf.  Boston Marathon colors.