Monday, January 28, 2008

SLTC Frostbite Series - Half Marathon

I had been pretty excited for this race all week. After another good week of running and feeling very inspired by "Spirit of the Marathon," I was ready for this race. A week ago I had just planned on running this race nice and easy for my weekly long run, but as it approached I started getting a little greedy and wondered, “Could I possibly set a new PR for the half marathon?” (For any non-running readers, a "PR" stands for personal record (time-wise) on a course/distance.) Hmm…this could be interesting. It was a very hilly course, but I ran it well two weeks ago for the 20k – and if that time was any indication, I could beat my previous PR (which was 2:14:50 from Lewis & Clark in September 2007).

I woke up Saturday morning very cold and incredibly tired. I didn’t sleep well and seriously considered just staying in bed. The weather was supposed to be 28 degrees with a strong wind and mostly cloudy. Not ideal conditions. I bundled up, ate two English muffins with jelly and gathered my gear. I should have gotten everything ready the night before, but obviously forgot or didn’t think about it, which was a big mistake. My ipod was skittish and not working properly, my headphones were missing, my gloves had a hole in them, and worst of all, my Garmin’s batteries were dead (noooo!!). What else could go wrong? I woke up Ryan and we got in the car, late. Then we were not paying attention and missed our exit, had to drive through construction and then missed another turn. Ryan dropped me off at the visitor’s center and I picked up my race bib with not a second to spare and ran outside and down the block to the start line just as the gun went off. I had learned my lesson from the last race and this time I started myself at the very back of the pack. My friend Rick suggested that I kick some old people and walkers in the shins to ensure that I didn't finish last, which I was seriously considering at the time (thanks for that Rick).

Within the first few minutes I knew I was wearing too many layers. I had a neck gaiter, an extra pair of gloves and a hat all in my windbreaker pockets, which all had to go. What was I thinking wearing so much clothing? Obviously I was too cold when I got dressed that morning. I saw Ryan at mile 2 and handed off my windbreaker and all my extra gear and immediately felt much lighter (see picture). Then I began to pass a couple people! This was a real confidence booster and I was feeling great. My picked up the pace a little and thought of that PR. The first big hill was nothing! I didn’t even slow down…I couldn’t believe it!

Around mile 6 my stomach was growling and I really wanted the Sport Beans that were in my windbreaker pocket. I kept going and still felt pretty good when I passed the aid station and heard the volunteers offering words of encouragement. At the beginning of the second loop, Laura (from my TNT marathon training team) yelled hello to me and I shot back a hello and a happy birthday to her. She was so far ahead of me…speedy girl. Hope you had a great brithday Laura, just in case you read this! I met Ryan and Mally again around mile 8 and got the Sport Beans. I ate those beans so fast I barely chewed them. Wonderful!! I loves me some jelly beans. Then I saw my new running buddy Jenn (from RA) and was so happy she was there. Go Jenn!

I finished the beans and prepared for the hills again. By this time my legs were aching and burning so bad I didn’t want to finish. I tried stretching a little as I ran, but it didn’t seem to help. The hills kicked my ass this time around. I didn’t walk but slowed down so much I barely felt like I was moving at all. Some little old woman flew by me and I nearly gave up! I wished I would have kicked her in the leg at the start line! I wanted to sit down and pout. My Garmin was dead and I had no watch on, but I knew I was moving “very slow” had blown my chance at a PR. Oh well, next time. Damn little old ladies.

Step by step I made it to the final turn-around and saw Ryan up ahead. I ran over to him and asked if I could please have a kiss. He was so sweet and encouraging and told me I was doing awesome. I asked if I was in last place because I felt like hundreds of people had passed me in the last mile and was very discouraged. He ran alongside me a little bit, which helped a lot. He told me how excited he was that he would be running a little of the marathon with me in April and how proud he was. That was pretty much all I needed to feel better. I couldn’t wait to see him at the finish line.

Close to the end I started getting passed left and right again. I hate that!! With half a mile to go I tried playing my Power Song on my ipod to get pumped up and give me that little extra push at the end. Stupid ipod wouldn’t play it, so I ended up with some cheesy Jimmy Buffet song (which I love but was not “inspired by”). I rounded that last corner, cursing every step and waited until the last possible moment to look up at the clock. I couldn’t believe it! The clock read 2:09:50!! A new PR!! I beat my previous time by 5 minutes!! Woot!!!

Well, of course, then I felt GREAT!! The pain in my legs seemed to disappear instantly. I couldn’t believe I did it. Ryan ran up to me and congratulated me on my time. He even used the term “PR” (which is adorable because he thinks I’m a running dork using all these running terms and sayings). We walked very slowly back to the car and went home. I wore a “perma-smile” the rest of the day. :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, Sara! WOOT, WOOT for you! How did you EVER pull off a PR after such a frantic start to the race and all the little things that didn't go "quite right"?!?

    I am SO proud of you girl! Way to hang in there and stick with it when the race was bleak and you didn't feel like going on! And, Ryan... What a dude! So awesome the encouragement he was able to give you to spur you on to the finish! Congratulations on the PR and, even more so, for gutting out that race even when you thought you wouldn't fair as well as you wanted and didn't feel like continuing on! You rock girlie!

    See... had you taken out those old people at the beginning of the race, they wouldn't have passed you in the latter stages. I'm tellin' ya! I'm old and slow, but wise. ;-)

    Very happy for you, Sara, and Ryan. Stellar job! Well, ok maybe not stellar given the frantic start and poor planning, but you pulled out an awesome race in spite of negative circumstances! You're runnin' strong!

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