You know how I can get so wordy; as much as I love to run, I love to write….but I’ll try to condense an action packed weekend into a brief summary:
Arrived in Huntsville, AL on Thursday evening, an hour later than expected due to United inevitably delaying my flight. By the time my girlfriend picked me up and we drive the hour to her house, it was well past 1a.m. when I finally hit the pillow.
Woke up Friday morning to sunshine and warmth! Went for a short, hilly run and this is what I found: temps warmer than 25 degrees, birds chirping, dandelions, crab grass, acorns and black walnuts lining the road, red bricked houses galore, red soil, no snow, green-grassed lawns, paper mill smells, Tennessee River, oxygen, and abundant daffodils. All things either too early for Colorado or things Colorado does not even possess - I was in springtime heaven….and my sinuses were letting me know. Drippy and stuffy....which I don't fully understand how you can have both!!! I love the beauty of spring but not the allergens that loom in the air. Especially after having endured WAY too much of this crud in February. My girlfriend and I had a nice day just doing nothing. How often does one get to do that!!??!! No child screaming, “Mooooommmmm….,” no job to go to, no kids at school whining, sleeping later than 6a.m. I also consumed about 30,000 calories more than I should. Saturday, get up and head to Atlanta for the race. I’m actually contemplating pulling a Jamoosh and running the full marathon instead of the half because 1) I’m not in the mood to “race” a tough ½, I’m still having mental issues “racing” right now with the 5-week lung fungus running hiatus and, 2) I’m not in the mood to do another long run before Boston next weekend so the thought of knocking off doing 26 LSD miles in a race is tempting me, and 3) my sinuses are really bad today and by the time we reach Atlanta 4 ½ hours later, I now have motion sickness (I am not a good traveler. I like being in new location but getting from point A to point B is never easy for me, I have “issues” on a plane AND a car. My family all loves traveling with me!!).
Make our way to the expo and I’m feeling like total crap. I’ve eaten way too much bad-for-me-foods (why must I feel compelled to resort to high school eating behaviors while away from home??!!??), my sinuses are killing me, the car made me nauseous, and I’m really not in the mood to be there. As far as expos go, this isn’t all that exciting….but I did manage to find a shirt to wear for Boston that is PERFECT for the race. I’ll share more on that as Boston approaches. I decided that I’m absolutely in no mood to run 26 miles the next day so 13 was going to have to suffice….it was only a passing thought to run the full anyway, I seriously doubt I’d ever go through with such a thing; I’m way too much of an anal planner for that to occur.
Race day morning is about 49 degrees and calling for rain showers later in the morning. I have no earthy idea what 49 degrees is with humidity. Living in a semi-arid state and all, I’m not acclimated for the warmer temps….let’s recall what a miserably cold winter Colorado has had! So I found the start to be warmer than I thought it’d be: 49 degrees in Atlanta is a whole different feel than 49 degrees in Denver! By mile 1, I totally discarded my gloves and was glad I had the foresight to wear a sleeveless shirt
I had no expectations going into this race of my abilities. I know last year I PR’d my half marathon time on this course, even though it’s really hilly. Maybe the extra oxygen or the fact that I was in pretty decent shape last year training for Boston; either way when I crossed the finish line last year, I felt incredible and strong. This year I had no idea; 5-weeks of less than ideal training due to Mr. Lung Fungus left me a huge question mark. I knew, though, that to perform as well as last year was most likely not going to happen, but how far off exactly was a total mystery.
Thankfully I was seated in corral C so my start wasn’t behind a mass of walkers and casual runners. Again, not bashing those – I am all for anyone and everyone that wants to run these things, but I don’t like being stuck behind them and not able to quickly get into a steady pace, especially for a half marathon. This race was predicted to hit about 18.000 runners (but I think a little under 10,500 finished) – it’s a biggie!! Hit mile 1 at 8:00. Mile 2 at 8:00. Mile 3, with a large hill at 8:10. Mile 4 at 8:10 with another large hill. Mile 5 at 8:00. See a pattern here? I was and it was that 8 min/mile was what my body had in me. I wasn’t hurting and I wasn’t dying and I wasn’t holding back…this is where my ability to run a very hilly half marathon was. I hit a couple miles along the course in the 7:40 range and felt slightly encouraged but I knew some of the toughest hills were yet to come and once I hit mile 11 with an 8:30, I knew then that my lack of training properly was going to spew me a less than 1:44 where I landed last year. I got to mile 12 and just decided it wasn’t worth killing myself for a few measly seconds off the clock and I just accept it for what it was and slowed the pace down, took in my surroundings, and crossed the finish line.
Overall finishers: 960/10481
Sex place females: 207/5863
Div Place: 13/542
Am I disappointed or bummed or any other unsatisfying emotion? No, not really. I mean, I can’t help but be bummed in a sense about the training and where it left me but I had a moment out on the course and came to the realization that I’m 46 and at my age and the 32+ years I’ve been running competitively, I have to work like hell to make a tiny dent in any PR time or produce amazing results anymore. I was not able to train at the level I needed to this winter with the garbage I had going on in February to produce the results I hoped for…and that is sucky. My training suffered and I lost the drive to fight like mad when I was healthy because basically, I ran out of time and in my head, I knew there wasn’t a lot I could do about that. All I could do now was see what I had left of the conditioning that was still inside me. So when I clocked a 1:46 with the amount of training I’ve done, I was actually pleasantly pleased. I think I had about 3 good workouts in the past 6 weeks; a 1:46 is gratifying under the circumstances!! The hills in this race are relentless (and I am convinced they raised the elevation of every single one of them from the previous year I ran it!!!); I don’t think there is even one mile where there is not a series of many hills, except for mile 7-8 (where my splits were in the 7:40’s), they come at you in full-force and do not give up. But you know what? As much as I hate hills, and we all know I do, I remained tough on them and felt strong. And that makes me even more happy. I had a great weekend, with great friends and I ran a tough race well on minimal training. I'd say it was a pretty dang good weekend!
So where do I go from here, in my mind and in my training, now that Boston is a mere 4 weeks away??!!?? I have come to peace with the fact my 3:51 2009 Boston finish time will be faster than this year’s. I really am okay with that. My goals for the next 4 weeks are to run enough to maintain the conditioning I currently have – it’s not like a big test the next day where I can cram in all the needed work to produce mega results but I do not want to lose anymore either. I will eat healthy and controlled, I will get as much sleep as I can, I will weight train to maintain my current conditioning, and I will enter the Boston start line ready to give the race whatever my body wants to produce - with a big smile on my face. And it’s all going to be okay! There are other races and marathons out there waiting for me; my body is much more in harmony training in the summer for a fall marathon than it is in the winter for a spring marathon, so maybe Chicago in October…..after I’m done with Boston, I will sit down and look at my options. Until then, I got a little race to run and a party to attend so let’s get this show on the road and finish up my training in good spirits!
I thank all you guys for your well-wishes last week for my race, I thought about you during the course and carried each and every one of you with me. I'm so bummed I wasn't able to connect with Saundra while I was in Atlanta, but am sooooo excited she PR'd and had an excellent race!! I am so behind on blog world so I apologize for my lack of comments but will be sure to get to you guys soon, promise (I am back to work tomorrow so have time to read ;) )! Run strong, friends!!!
Oh, and least I forget - GO UNI PANTHERS!!! Man, I love that my alma mater whomped Kansas' butts!!
My friend from Alabama, Shari, and I the night before the big event
Shari and I just before the start (our hotel was steps from the start line. SWEET!)