I’ve finally realized that I’m never going to get caught up on blogging if I don’t skip ahead to the present. Let me quickly summarize the last few weeks….
I finally dropped back to the run/walk group at my Monday running group. To my surprise I found it to be about right for me!
Then I had a sick child and missed a lot of runs, including one weekend 4 miler and many mid-week runs. I did manage a 6 miler last weekend at 13 min/mile pace.
That pretty much bring me to today’s race.
I missed both mid-week runs this week and developed a cold in the process. I then spent the week obsessing about the weather reports. Somehow the temperature got warmer and warmer each time I checked. The race day high was predicted to be 84 degrees – about 20 degrees higher than ideal. Add Yom Kippur to the mix (I didn’t fast this year – I used the “I’m not Jewish and I’m running a race tomorrow” card). My pre-race meal was a Break Fast complete with bagels, lox, and cream cheese.
I picked up my race “packet” yesterday. I say “packet” because it consisted of a plastic bag with a t-shirt (which is actually quite nice – white short-sleeved tech shirt that actually fits!), a bib, and 4 safety pins. No papers. No race expo. Pretty simple. I picked out my outfit last night and attached my bib. I went with the lightest weight possible over fashion. It pained me to leave the running skirt home but my goal was to avoid any risk of chafing.
This was the first race I’ve done that was truly local. No 3am alarms or early morning trains into NYC. I figured I could leave home at 7:15 and still get to the race an hour before start time. I woke up and showered (Why? Habit? Wake-up?). I got dressed and made sure I had my race gear – iPod with arm band and headphones, spibelt with fuel and iPhone, Galloway run/walk timer, bad-a$$ headband to keep stray hair away, etc. I wasn’t feeling hungry but drank a glass of chocolate milk and grabbed the last (and very sad looking) banana for the road. I grabbed a Gatorade but drank very little on the way over.
I parked in the County Center lot at a cost of $5. There were plenty of parking spaces even though there were already lots of runners out and about. I left my race bag in the car along with my sweatshirt (it was still in the 50s at this point) and walked over to the festival area. They had a DJ going and a festive atmosphere. I bumped into a woman from the running clinic and we hung out. She mentioned indoor bathrooms in the County Center so I ran off to have my last encounter with indoor plumbing.
They started the half marathon walk division 30 min before the runners. We were all starting together – no corrals. I didn’t want to start in the back because I knew I would be really slow and didn’t want to feel too far. I picked a spot in the middle and at the outside. I realized run/walk would be challenging until the crowd thinned and I was a little worried.
I decided on a run 1/walk 1 since that’s where I’ve been training and I wasn’t really feeling well-enough to push too hard. For the first interval I ran 2 min – just to not get trampled. I finished the first mile slightly faster than 12 min, which was faster than I wanted to go. Shortly after the first mile – and during one of my walk breaks – a man from a local running group came to talk to me. At first I thought he was “training” some of the newer runners from the group – sort of a team-in-training thing – but it soon became clear that he had noticed my run/walk intervals. Apparently he had injured his calf on a trail race last weekend and immediately had a flare-up. He thought about dropping out when he noticed that I was taking regular walk breaks. He had an epiphany that he could probably finish if he joined me. So I found myself a race partner!
My wonderful family was waiting for me around mile 2. Definitely a highlight! The aid stations were well-stocked and often staffed with enthusiastic children. There were not a lot of spectators so I was glad to have a running partner. The race went down the Bronx River Parkway for 6.5 miles with a turn around at Scarsdale Road. My running partner thought we were last but we found that by the halfway point we were passing lots of people. The beauty of run/walk! Around mile 5 we saw one of my Residents running the other way. He leaped over the divider to say hello. That was fun.
The second half had more uphills. We gave ourselves some extra walking for the uphills but added some run time to make up for it. The heat was definitely a factor on the back half of the race. I also had some stomach discomfort – maybe smoked fish isn’t ideal pre-race food? – which bothered me for most of the race.
My new friend and I finished together – 2:41:55 for an average of 12:23 min/mile. Not my best but not my worst. I wasn’t even last in my division! And my lovely resident was there to see me finish (thank you Aaron, if you read this). And a big thanks to Peter Gross who was a fabulous running companion even though we never met before!
My new medal is nice. Not Disney medal nice but still a nice addition to my budding collection.
I felt really crappy after the race. Under fueled and dehydrated. Even though I fueled and drank throughout. Maybe it was just the heat? I found some water and coconut water, bananas, etc. I had some chills, too. I finally felt well enough to drive home.
Lessons learned:
1. Keep up with my training.
2. Work on leg strength. My rate limiting factor is leg muscles. Hills, here I come.
3. Re-fueling is an all-day phenomenon.
4. Run/walk works. Believe.
5. DLF > DNF >> DNS. Dead last finish is greater than Did not finish which greatly trumps Did not start. (credit to W.I.S.H. Team) I may be slow but I’ve successfully finished 3 half marathons this year. While several hundred people finished before me today, several million never even started the race!