Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Watchless Georgetown Half

First, let me just say that my super cool, pink, leopard print Nike socks I bought in Boston gave me a blood blister. Will not wear these puppies again for a race. Dennis made the comment after the race how he had no blisters today. He gave them to me; I have never had a blister in my life running - other than when I ran Pikes Peak when it was raining and my feet were soaked. Anyway, socks are officially banned from further races. They can, however, be worn just for training.

It wasn't until Sunday that I decided to do the Georgetown half marathon - I was in limbo about doing it because of a slew up upcoming other races I have, including Pikes Peak Ascent next weekend (8000' up in 13 miles. *gulp*). Talked with Rob about it and he thought it would be a good idea to run it in prep for Portland. Ok, I'm game.

Though my thermometer read 70 degrees in Denver, it had to be about 40 at the start of the race in Georgetown this morning. I MUST remember this next year and wear a fleece coat and GLOVES! I was so cold I and couldn't stop shivering. The worst, of course, is when you shread what little layers I actually did bring and go to line up. That's a side note so that when I read this blog a year from now, if I do this race again, I want to remember how cold it was so that I remember to dress more warmly for the weather.

I have a watch issue: I cannot find my regular Nike running watch (sans pacer option). I know I had it when I got home from vacation but it is nowhere to be found. On top of that, I cannot find the charger to my Garmin watch. That, I thought I packed for my trip but when I got to Iowa, it was not in my suitcase and when my second suitcase arrived in Iowa later, it was not in that one either. I figured I forgot it at home - though I could swear I packed it. Got home and no, it was not in it's usual charging spot. I am now left with only my heart rate monitor watch, which is fine, but I don't care for the display; it's a bit hard to read. This poses a slight problem when running - and running a race where I am notorious for going out too fast and thus need to stay on a conservative pace.

So Dennis took my Garmin last night and charged it overnight so that I could use it today, since my preference of watches for racing, the Nike, is MIA. I figured this watch was better than my hr watch because in the sunlight, it is very difficult to read the display of my hr watch. In a half frozen state, I put on my Garmin and instantly, it reads it has 2% life left. In other words, it's almost dead. 5 minutes later, after bathroom break, it was dead. Dennis said it was 100% charged last night so apparently, there is something wrong with it. It's battery is either not holding it's life or it somehow accidentally was running all morning. We don't think it was the later and so Dennis took it to charge it and see if it is the battery. If so, then I need to return it because the batteries for these things are like ridiculous and it should be covered by the warranty. Anyway, this whole no-life-in-the-battery left me watchless. For a race. I started to slightly panic.

Dennis was trying to get me to use his Garmin but no way, I know that pacing thing is very important to him. I moved to plan B which was my iPod - it has a stopwatch. I've never used it so I played around with is a few minutes and found out it actually does laps! Okay, I think for a very brief moment that this may work. But really, I knew it was going to be such a hassle unclipping it off my shorts and finding the display and hitting 'lap.' But I have no other choice.

By the time the gun went off, I had already messed it up. I played with it a few seconds and got it working.

Mile 1 told me I was doing a 10:19 and I had to practically bring the entire iPod up to my eyeball to see it. I HAD to be going faster than a 10:19 - I felt faster than a 10:19.

I had to pee. Badly.

I missed the mile 2 marker and passed a slew of portapotties. I should have stopped here and went but they are so far off the road and I just didn't want to kill that much time after just running a 10:19 (later, it was a consensus that the first mile had to be off, everyone commented about that). Mile 3 I pulled the whole iPod off my body and hit 'lap' but I can't read it, the glare is horrible and the screen is itty-bitty. I am running clueless. This is a very odd feeling!! Very!

My legs felt heavy. I'm thinking that this is because I was at sea level for almost 2 weeks but who knows for sure. I asked Rob but he never got back to me on that. I also just didn't feel "good." Not bad, but not good. I felt I had a pretty quick pace going and most likely, was going too fast. When I got to mile 4, I hit the pace button again and it said something in the 8 minute range. Another mile or two later, it told me about 7:15 range. I was either all over the map or my iPod was not the most reliable stopwatch - I think it was the later.

I actually start feeling a little better yet feel that my clip is pretty strong. I wonder if I can sustain it. I now start looking around for someone, anyone, that has a Garmin and I can verify what pace I'm running. It was about mile 8 before I found someone and 3 times total, I asked found someone with a Garmin and asked what pace we were running. I needed to know if my pace was too fast, as I was suspecting it was. Each time I asked, I was about a 7:35 - 7:40 pace. Eeeek. This IS too fast. But I was feeling pretty good. And I thought if I could keep up this pace, I was going to go well beyond a sub 1:44.

Runner's Edge of the Rockies, a local Denver running group, had a slew of runners all around me - evident by their red technical sleeveless shirts that read on the back: "To Give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Okay, I get it already. I followed these red shirts to the end and I gave it my best.

I can say with 100% certainty that I gave that race my 100% effort. I do not think I slowed considerably at the end. I was tired, I couldn't have run another mile at that pace, but I did not slow down. I felt in my heart I ran a PR today; I have never felt I pushed a race that hard. Ever.

The clock read a gun time of about 1:45:10. I was a little shocked. Stunned. Perplexed.

It didn't occur to me to ask anyone around me what their time was when I crossed the finish line and plus, I still had not gone to the bathroom and wow, I had to go bad!! I popped in the portapotty and afterwards, asked a few people that were coming in what their times were. I was slightly encouraged because I saw a girl that I swear I had passed in the last mile and she said she ran a 1:43:50. In my mind, I'm now thinking the clock was off and I ran a 1:43:30 or something. I FELT I ran a 1:43:30. I really felt I put so much into this race and felt it had to be quick - especially since those check times along the course were verifying I was running faster than ever in a half marathon.

The whole mystery of the unknown finish time is a very odd feeling. Made me a little anxious, really.

But it wasn't meant to be and officially, I ended up with a 1:44:50. And 4th in my age group, missing the mining pan award (we're in gold mining country here) by one place. Third place turned out to be almost a full minute ahead - which somehow makes me feel better that I didn't miss it by a mere few seconds. This is also the fastest time I have ever recorded on this course.

Still, I can't be a bit in question mark mode right now. I'm pleased with my time, it's very respectable. I'm stoked with my 4th place placement in what is a very large field of highly competitive runners. I'm elated with my effort and that, pace time unknown, managed to maintain a constant push through the end. I'm thrilled my glute did not bother me while running.

What's bothering me, I guess, is the fact that my time of 1:44:50 is no better than my Atlanta time back in March. I'm suppose to be getting better. I'm suppose to be improving. I've been working hard. I gave this race every single drop of energy I had. Yet my half marathon time has not improved.

I'm not sure if it IS because I have not improved. Maybe it's because I spent almost two weeks at sea level and have just recently returned and not acclimated fully to the altitude. Maybe it's because this race WAS at altitude and Atlanta was run at sea level (Josh, the art teacher at school, would disagree with this: he claims his altitude training study/research friend says there is no perks in training high and racing low. Sleeping high and racing low, yes, but not training high and racing low. Hum...). Maybe the heavy leg syndrome I has at the start was lactic acid build up from being at lower altitude for so long. Maybe it was the 64 miles I ran last week. Maybe that stretch of the course where the road was dug up and you had to be extra careful of protruding rocks, caused a slower time (Dennis has an acquaintance, BSG, that will swear he could have knocked off an additional minute if not for that stretched that slowed him down. He is a little more then obsessed with this running thing, he would know more than anyone if his pace is slowed due to this road mess). Maybe it's because I'm feeling the onset of a cold (??) Maybe. I'm not sure. The numbers, when plugged into various prediction calculators, tell me today's time will give me anywhere between 3 :38 - 3:43 in Portland. I know one really needs to use these predictions with a grain of salt, but there is some validity in the fact that given a certain time, that's what your legs can do. And do no more. I want to run a 3:35 - 3:40 in Portland!

I have a few more weeks of very hard training and I'm going to work like crazy. I vow to get my weight and body fat to where I want them (down 5 lbs weight, 3% bf) before I get to Portland - I know it will make a couple minutes difference, and I'm going to pray that the Running Gods give me cool temperatures in Portland to land me a few more minutes. But I also want to start preparing myself mentally for the possibility that this may not happen. I think of all the ambitious goals I've set, even Boston qualifying, this is one that is the closest to being on the border of making it or not. Let's hope for making it!! :)

I have to say a huge congrats to Ann, my client and friend, whom ran a course PR today. She will be running Top Of Utah Marathon here in 6 weeks. I am very excited for her.

Dennis ran today with a little hip pain but not like it had been so I am encouraged by that - though I know he's probably not overly happy right now. Good job, Dennis!

I came home from the race and took an ice bath; my quads are tight and I know they are going to be hurting some tomorrow. The ice felt great. My legs are going to be sore, nonetheless.

13.1 miles


elaine said...

You are awesome Jill!

Anonymous said...

Good job Jill.. what a gret race after a long training week. Altitude running at PC will help you in Portland as well. Don't happy :)

Dennis said...

Nice race. You did great, taking 4 minutes off your time from last year and finishing 4th in your age group. And doing it without a watch.

In the end it was fun, thanks for talking me into it.