Thursday, May 17, 2012

(the longest) lincoln half marathon recap (ever)

[If you're reading this today, Thursday, then hop over here and enter the TWO giveaways I have up that end today! Lots of cuteness up for grabs!]

I meant to do a race recap from the Leprechaun Chase 10k I ran back in, oh, MARCH, but that didn't happen. And now it's all a big green blur. I remember that it was windy, oh so windy. And hilly, but doable. And really freaking congested for the first 2 1/2 miles. But it was fun, and there was beer waiting for me at the end, so I can't complain too much. I finished that race in 59:19 (9:33 pace) - and I was hoping to beat 60 minutes, so I'm happy with it. It was a fun race. Joey and I matched. Whee. (Also: this is a really horrendous picture of me, but look at my skinny husband.)


Then I meant to do a race recap from the Bee Buzz Run in April. I super puffy heart Bee, Nebraska. Since my own hometown is 5 hours away, I've adopted Bee as my new hometown. It's cute and tiny and they have really good fish fry's (fish fries looks like french fries, and that's not what this is, grammar police) on Fridays. But they also have a 4 mile race in the spring to raise money for rehabbing the Bee Ballroom - it's a giant 12-sided building that needs a bit of TLC to be restored. Anyway, love Bee. The 4 mile race takes you out into the country, on gravel roads, around a "section" (linked for my non-farm friends). I finished the race in 37:06 (9:16 pace) - whoa, fast.

The Lincoln Half Marathon was 11 days ago - and it already feels like a blur. The night before, we left the boys with my inlaws, and then Joey and I went to church and to supper. I didn't sleep a ton - and knew my alarm was set for 4:45 and was dreading oversleeping. It was storming and windy all night. I woke up at 4am and was up for the day. A quick glance at the radar on my phone showed this:


And then I laughed and Joey woke up and was cranky with me for being up 45 minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

We left at 5:45 to get downtown. We parked across from the stadium, dropped our bags in the bag drop, and I began plotting where I was going to pee the requisite 421 times before the race began. Our sweet neighbor, Camille, rode with us to the race and was more than patient with my necessary pre-race pit stops.

Joey - still annoyed with me being up at 4am.
The clock ticked toward 7am and by then the rain had stopped. It was overcast, cool, and beautiful. I kissed Joey good luck, said farewell to Camille, and found my spot with the 2:05 pace group. The day before, at the expo, I stopped by the pacer's table and they had magical wrist bands with the pace that each group was going to hit for each mile. In my mind, I had a goal of hitting 2 hours, 10 minutes - that was a 9:54 average pace, which I was pretty sure I could hit. But the 2:05 pace group was a 9:33 average - and the first mile was a 10:02 mile - that I knew I could do. The pacer dude told me to start with the 2:05 group and fall back if I needed to.

I brought some Shot Blocks for my pre-race energy, and nervously started chomping on 3 of them (not all at once, those things are freaking huge) as we were herded toward the starting line. I finally crossed the starting line at 7:22.

Here is where I tell you that running a half marathon in a race setting is really not at all comparable to training for a half marathon. The training part was work, it was sweat, in some cases it was tears. It was the gritty means to an end, a necessary evil some days. It took time away from my kids, and there were days that I resented it. The actual race? Was kind of blissful. Maybe it was just my newness, and wide-eyed wonder at the whole situation, but it didn't feel like work. It was truly the best kind of reward for the previous six months of toil.

I knew the first water station wasn't until mile 3 - and those 3 miles were a blur. There were people cheering, I was navigating rain puddles, and trying to stay with the little group of people in my 2:05 group. Thank God for them, seriously, because if they hadn't kept me to a 10:02 pace that first mile, I would have been gone like a flash and paid for it in agony later. I paced with them well until miles 5-6. We hit a 9:13 mile pace and I was feeling it. Thankfully, there was a long downhill stretch, but I could tell that my adrenaline had subsided and I needed to rely on my endurance to carry me. I popped the last 3 of those gigantic, delicious, shot blocks, and prayed they'd kick in quickly so I could keep up with the group. The course wasn't super congested at this point, but there would still be times that I would get cut off from them a bit and have to catch up.

A little past mile 6 (I think), we turned off the road and onto the trail. THAT was congested, the entire time we were on it. People were passing two-wide on the grass. Everyone was courteous, and no one was really walking or being dumb, it was just zomg, so many people. It would be swell if this event could go beyond 10,000 runners, but unless they move off this trail, I don't know how that would happen. [End random soapbox from the beginner runner who has only run this race once.]

Anyway, I kept up with the 2:05 group as much as possible, but we were finally cut off entirely between mile 7 and 8. It was 7.79 when I finally lost them and glanced at my RunKeeper app - and noticed I was running a 9:26 pace. I said HOLY CRAP, audibly, and laughed, and slowed down a bit. No wonder I was sucking wind so badly - and I still had 5 miles to go.

Since I was trying to hit at least a 2:10 finish, I knew that all I really had to do was stay in front of the 2:10 pace group. The previous day, the pacer guy at the expo had told me that each group would finish within 1 minute of that pace.

I continued to plod along - I never stopped to walk. I didn't ever feel like I needed to, and I knew it would sap my momentum.

And then I ran into The Hill. I really, really wanted to get a wagon ride up the hill from the kids on the sidelines. I told myself to lean into it. Ha, I have no idea what that even means, but it seemed to work. I just leaned forward a bit and kept going. Cresting the hill, this guy had a sign saying "It's all downhill from here". Phew.

I got to the aid station by the hospital and needed a final boost. I had lost track of miles, I think maybe mile 9? I don't know. I think 9 because I told myself that's when I'd have my GU Gel. Oh I hate those things. They make me gag and sputter. But they work. It's just. They're so freaking... gooey. Blech.

But I had eneeerrrrrgyyyyy!

I also hate warm water, so I got a cup of ice and very carefully poured my water into my cup of ice, while running. I am awesome at multitasking.

The crowd was awesome the entire time, but they were necessary those last 3 miles. I was done. I was dreaming of my couch, and food, and sleep. I never did see my boys - Joey did - but we missed each other entirely. :o\ I saw a lot of really random, awesome people - both those who I knew would be out cheering, and those I didn't. I would start to need a boost and say a quick "please God, just give me someone, I need a boost" - and it would be a former coworker, or a cute kid with high fives, or even just some random dude on the street saying "goooo Alison!".

I finally, finally neared the stadium. I passed a poor girl at the 12.9ish mark who was passed out and they had fluids going into her and had her feet propped up. I never felt so bad for someone in my life... to make it so far!

I rounded the bend into the stadium, and this guy was like "you're almost there, it's just a 50 yard dash!" so I dashed, I found some random pocket of sprint energy and sprinted to the finish.

Wheee!

I found some bananas and chocolate milk (which sound hideous together, now, but were divine in that moment).

RunKeeper was telling me 2:11:16 for a finish, and a distance of 13.3, so I knew it was a bit off.

A few hours later, my final time came in at 2:11:00 - 10:00 pace on the dot. Who does that?! Who hits a perfectly round number? This girl with the love for round numbers!

I don't know what happened to the 2:10 pace group - they never passed me. Maybe I was just a smidge ahead of them though, who knows.

Overall, I was thrilled with the entire experience and can't wait for the next one!

Camille and I - we did it!
And I present you with really horrible race photos...



That kid running in the red shirt? Is THIRTEEN. Incredible.

9 comments:

  1. Look at you!!! Congrats on such a big accomplishment!

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  2. Love all those race recaps! So sad I couldn't do the leprechaun chase this year. Doesn't that trail get congested? I thought so more this year than previous years. Probably because in previous years I was walking it and was oblivious to people trying to actually run the race. I love your photos too, you were smart to wear a hat! I can't believe you finished in 2:11 exactly! So cool. Are you going to run Omaha?

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    1. Yes, so, so, so congested. It was a bit alarming and distracting at first. :) Not Omaha I don't think - I'm going to do the Scottsbluff half in October though I think - close to my family! :)

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  3. Your race pictures were really good ones.... in mine I look like I'm just confused or maybe a bit high. Anyway, congratulations on your first half! All I can say is that if you enjoyed Lincoln this year, you would love a race when the weather is a little nicer (this was WAAAYYY too hot and humid for my taste).

    If you care, my recap for the same race is at http://therunningdaddy.blogspot.com/2012/05/2012-lincoln-marathon-race-recap.html

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  4. AnonymousMay 19, 2012

    you rock!

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  5. I love this post, thank you for sharing it! What a great way to remember it before the memory is GONE. Things become such a blur so fast in this life.

    I am SO SO SO proud of you. Your time was awesome and not walking at all? AH-MAZING. You are a bada$$ mama.

    XOXO

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  6. This give me chills!!! You rock!!! I'm so impressed that you do all that you do. Between the kids, the blog, the Etsy shop, the running, and the being a good friend, YOU EXHAUST ME!

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  7. WOOOOO!! You are awesome. and I can't wait to run my 1/2 - because, seriously, once I pay that money it.is.on!

    but you are so right, race day is NOTHING like training - the people cheering, the people pacing you, it all makes such a HUGE difference. A singular event not feel so singular!

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Thanks for leaving some love!