Monday, March 19, 2012

RnR USA Half Marathon: race report

Race morning is my favorite.
It's better than Christmas, it's better than vacation, it's better than the day I got to pick up my new bike and ride it.  On most race mornings, I've spent the better part of the preceding days being crabby and stapled to my couch, and I finally get to let all that energy explode out of me.  I blast music, I bounce off the inside of the windshield, and my shoes appear to have been overnight loaded with springs.  It usually hangs around until I get into my corral and then I try to suck it all back inside me and save it for mile 11.


Saturday morning went perfectly.  I ate and drank the things I needed to eat and drink, I had not one but two successful deliveries to the porta-potty wizard, I mixed up my race fuel and even managed to spray the poet with sunscreen a few times when he wasn't paying attention.  For the first time in a long time, the entire mafia was going to be out there racing, all of us with different goals but all of us with a fire lit.  I saw two of my girls in the armory and was overwhelmed with relief when I stumbled across the third on the way to the starting line.  That checked my last box.  I was ready.
I'm not sure how my predicted finish time put me in corral three, but I decided to stay there to get as far ahead of the heat that I could.  I knew that meant thousands of runners would stream past me all day, but it also meant I would get to see most of my friends as they rolled by.  And I did.
I think the best thing about the race was that it was generally unremarkable, and based on the recent disaster that's been going on in my brain, that's actually pretty remarkable.  I set up my Garmin so my screen was telling me total time, total distance, and lap pace, and it was exactly the information I needed and none of it stressed me out.  Based on the loose race plan I had for myself, I knew that I might PR, but I also knew that I might not, and I wasn't going to waste the whole race doing math trying to make it happen.


I went out at exactly the speed that I wanted to go out at - 9:30s - and I stayed there through the first four miles and felt amazing.  I had to hit the brakes over and over to keep it there, and once I realized that there were mile markers on the course I turned off auto-lap and had to lap my watch to catch up, so my splits don't look like that is what was going on, but that's what I did.  When I lapped my watch at mile 4, I decided that I would try and push just a little up the hills that were coming, and that worked well, too.  I popped out of the other side of the Dupont tunnel and thought of where I was last year, and how my friend Cris jumped in and ran me up the hill, and I let her run me up it once more.  At the top of the hill, I slowed at the water station to slug down half my flask of magic beans and chase it with some water.  The whole day, I had been thinking about mile eight.  When I got to eight, it was time to see what I could do.  


And it all just went well.  Miles eight through eleven were solid.  I was holding a pace that didn't terrify me to hold and just felt slightly a little bit too hard.  I tried to ease up the rolling hills and let my heart relax and breathe on the downhills.  A lot of people think about the half marathon in terms of a 10-miler and a 5K, but I hate the 5K.  The 5K sucks.  So instead, I wanted to wait until I hit mile 11 to turn on the turbo boosters.  I know that I can run two miles in 15-16 minutes at the end of a long run.  I did it a month ago during the last long run I had before this race, and I was hoping that my body would respond to my brain and let me pull that out at the end of this race.  But it didn't, and maybe for the first time that day, I could feel that piece that was missing from the last month of my training - the long run.  Mile 12 was the slowest on the day, mostly because I stopped to walk a few times.  My body tried to distract me with a cramping quad, and I ended up bending over and yelling, "STOP IT" at the top of my lungs directly at it.  Once I went past the last mile marker, I pushed every single thought out of my head and rewound that stupid Jessie J song one more time and tried to just let it all go.  I did not hear a single solitary person cheering during that last mile until I caught Jon and Beth right before the 13-mile mark, and when I twisted my head to look at them, I thought I was going to black out.  
I stopped as soon as I crossed the line, and a volunteer patted me on the back and said, "great job!" and it felt like she hit me with a sledgehammer.  I managed to grab onto the fence and hung out there for a few minutes while my body put blood back into all the places I needed it.  But pretty quickly I felt just fine, and was able to stuff bananas and chocolate milk and granola bars down my pants before I went to find my family.  And this is how I looked when they found me.
When all the dust of the day settled, the only thing I am left with is peace.  I still haven't been able to put the parts together to race this distance in the way that I would like, but I am pleased with how Saturday went down.  I had a lot of successes that were not related to the time on the clock.  I got to wake up happy, run hard, then spend the day with my friends and family, and that has got to be what this is all about.
Maybe my glory days aren't meant to be fast, to be filled with PR after PR after PR.  Maybe I'll never put the pieces together in the right order to run a 1:49 at this distance.  I'm starting to realize that I'm okay if that is the answer, if that indeed is my journey.  Maybe the glory about these days is the fact that I can love my body, I can move my body and I can use it to celebrate how lucky I am to be living this life.
And I am, indeed.  Lucky.

33 comments:

  1. Congrats! Sounds like a great day!

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  2. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so glad you had a great race! Sometimes the running gods smile down at us on race day after too much injury B.S. and grant us a great day. I'm so glad you had yours!

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  3. Man, I love this. It sounds like you had a solid performance, but best of all--you felt happy and your body (overall) did great. I am so excited for you and Thom!!!

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  4. So happy to read this race report and it's full of all kind of happy thoughts. You deserve to have a day when it all comes together and just be happy in it.
    And that final pic has got to be THE best race photo ever. It exudes love. Love for each other, love for doing something together that means so much to you both, love for being alive and in the moment.
    Congratulations for all the above!

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  5. Congratulations! Sounds like you had an incredible day!

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  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE that last photo. I must be the biggest dork ever because it actually made me tear up!

    Congrats on a great race day:)

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  7. Goosebumps reading those last few lines and seeing that photo. Great way to summarize a successful day. Congratulations!

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  8. I love it when a plan comes together. Congrats! Post-race highs are almost as good as pre-race jitters.

    (also, your abs are ripped!!!)

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  9. Awesome recap - sounds like you did everything in your power to piece together a fabulous day. And that last picture is just perfection. Congrats!

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  10. awesome! sounds like there is a lot of mental training going on too and that is just as important. Well done!

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  11. Didn't you write recently..."any "abs" I was rocking last summer seem to be hibernating for the winter under a cozy layer of beer." Whatever! Did you see the pics above? You look awesome! Nice race.

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  12. man i love those days!!! congrats to you and the poet and all your buds!!!

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  13. Damn, Muscles, you looking HAWT! This post makes me so, so happy for you. Everything about it from your incredible smile in the first pic to the tender sweentness of the last.
    Peace.
    You deserve it.

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  14. This makes me smile like crazy.

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  15. This just sounds so SOLID. I think you killed it.

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  16. HUGE difference between this race and philly, in both the 'tude and HR #'s, even in hotter conditions!

    Good seeing you and Thom after the race! Was a good day!

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  17. It sounds like you had a great day and I just love the picture of you and your hubby. it's the best.

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  18. "how my friend Cris jumped in and ran me up the hill"

    Hah! We ran each other up the hill :)

    [and I actually wrote this comment BEFORE you posted on my blog, just failed to hit publish)

    And I think you ran the race with calm focus, instead of obsessing over splits, and that's why you had the great race you did today (I think you ran great, especially considering the conditions).

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  19. Congrats! Sounds like you ran a great race.

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  20. Awe I'm so happy for you girl! Great race, it sounds so fantastic. I wish the Shamrock and this half hadn't been the same weekend-it would have been so fun to do!

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  21. LOVE IT!!

    I volunteered and my husband ran the half as his first half marathon post being hit-by-car while riding in prep for a half Ironman 2 years ago. He ran side-by-side with the woman who found him at the accident site.

    Despite not cracking 1:30, he was content with his time and all that went through the day.

    Love me some great acceptance and healthy body, healthy journey realities.

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  22. It makes me happy that you and Thom both had such great days. And that you could run an almost PR just weeks after a calf tear and time off.

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  23. Congrats!!! It sounds like it was a fairly uneventful race which is really the best kind. When you are prepared and know what to expect, everything just falls into place.

    Love that picture of you and Thom. That is frame worthy.

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  24. Actually sounds like we had quite similar days! Really I just wanted to comment from Cape Town to make your blog stats more interesting ;). Congrats on a great day, sorry we missed each other, I was on a mission to reach the drive through before breakfast :)

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  25. Congrats on a great race - and an awesome attitude! I'm glad you aren't beating yourself up about not hitting the 1:49 - all this training to go long doesn't always helps us to go fast in shorter races. You'll get your goal - it's waiting for you after you accomplish other big goals - like IMCdA :)

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  26. Holy shit where did those abs come from??? Girl that is amazing. Rock the fuck on.

    You still put together the best race you could have for the day and looked good doing it. Most of us can't ask for anything more.

    But fwiw, most runners don't peak their speed until age 37, so you've still got a few more years to get faster. It can happen if you can smartly add the volume and speedwork that the coach will advise you to do. Great job!

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  27. You and Thom are the CUTEST!!!! I love that pic.

    And you looked happy at mile 13. Tired, but happy!!!

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  28. Great job and way to keep a positive attitude! Your day will come at IMCDA. Love the picture of you and Poet holding hands at the end :)

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  29. Love that pic of you and the Poet. Awesome race Katie! Bummed I missed ya!

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  30. From what I can tell, this is one of your best race reports. You know where YOU are, and it's a great place to be. You sound strong and well trained and ready for the next challenge!

    Cannot get over the ridiculous cuteness of that last photo. Just CANNOT. Congrats to you both (and the CAR crew!!) on a good day! :)

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  31. Nice perspective! Glad you had so much fun and even though you weren't time focused, I think that's an incredible time considering the heat! Nice!!!

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  32. I agree with everyone else that the last photo is SO cute it might just make me cry : ) Totally didn't realize you were running this or I would've tried to hunt you down and take a pic with you for cute Lauren at failed muffins ; ) I know she loves you so and she is the one who got me reading your blog!! It was pretty crazy and packed in the armory though and I spent most of time at the port a potty lines anyway so who knows if I would've found you ; ) Great race report, so positive and upbeat, thanks for sharing!

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  33. The race must have been a real great event. I wish I was present and enjoy the party. issere.com

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