Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hands-on House Half Marthon - COMPLETED!! :)

Well it is official now - I am not just crazy person obsessed with running, I am officially a crazy half-marathoner obsessed with running! Lukas happens to just be a normal half-marathoner married to the crazy obsessed one lol.

If you are not looking forward to a detailed race re-cap, enjoy the pictures and ignore the ramble. I want to remember this race for the rest of my life so all the little details are going in here :)

Let's start with Friday: After getting off work at 3 we headed up to Lancaster, PA to pick up our race packets. I was seriously so nervous, I was shaking at the table. Not sure why - it isn't like they are going to say "eww, you don't look like a runner, get out of here you poser!" lol

There was a little snaphoo with my race tshirt - the list said we both ordered Mediums but I know I ordered a Small. Since it was on the list tho, there was nothing they could do about it. I honestly almost cried. Stupid, I know, but it was my first race and my first shirt and I was feeling pretty emotional about it all to begin with. Other than that, it was exciting to get our race bibs and time chips and be officially signed in for our first race EVER!

It was probably a waste of time driving 1.5 hours each way but I was so nervous, I just wanted to get that part over with. We headed home for some spagetti and relaxing and went to bed before 9pm. Thanks to the bad night's sleep we had Thursday night and getting up super early for work on Friday, we slept a lot better than we would have normally so I'm grateful for being exhausted on Friday!

We got up at 4:45 today - race day!!! - and got showered and ready. We headed up to PA at 6 and we were to the race area by 7:15ish - yea, way too early for 9am race and we really should have just skipped all the driving yesterday because we had tons of time to sign in, etc. It was good that we got there early tho because we were able to park at the Children's museum which was hosting this event - so we didn't have to shuttle in and stand around outside in the cold. We instead sat in our nice warm car under a blanket because it was only in the 50s out, windy, and overcast - everyone was freezing in their race gear!

Race Day packet pick-up and registration

**One really nice side note: I was a little bummed about my shirt and the mixup with the sizing because my email confirmation did say small. I passed the feedback onto the race last night through email and suggested the maybe double check better next year. Someone called me within hours and left a message letting me know they'd found the problem - anyone who signed up multiple people (aka me signing up Lukas and myself) had issues with the sizing on the report if they weren't the same. They had a small shirt waiting for me to exchange my medium and I could gladly do that on race day according the voicemail. I did exchange it today and they were super nice about it and it was just one little thing that probably is meaningless to everyone else but it meant a lot to me!! I want to be able to wear my first race shirt on training runs as a reminder of what I've accomplished!

One weird peice of information you probably don't want to know - apparently when I get nervous I have to pee excessively lol. We got there and I went around 7:20. By 7:50 I was wiggling in my seat and could barely get my gu-chomps and some gatorade down because I had to pee so bad. It was clear as water tho - so weird! And then about 8:10 I went again. And even standing at the start line at 8:45 I was wiggling around and felt like I had to go. I was fine the entire race and until I got home - apparently it is a weird nervous reaction I never knew about lol.

After peeing a bazillion times - we decided it was time to get our shoes on and get ready. Thank goodness we were smart and wore our flip-flops tho - my feet didn't need to be cooped up in shoes 3 hours early!

Shoes - Mizuno Wave Inspire 8 - aqua (sitting behind me)

Shoes - Asics gel cumulus 12 - yellow and black

We then got our bibs pinned on properly - and even tho they gave out a sheet of how to wear it and how not to wear it, we saw SEVERAL examples of all of the "how not to wear your bib" during the race - which made me giggle a little. We asked some random strangers to take a picture of us - that is what they get for wandering around the parking lot with excited newbies haha. (ps. I am not wearing a swim cap lol - that is my headband trying to keep my short hair off me so I wouldn't be a crazy mess after the race).

Still freezing - no way was I taking off my jacket until the last possible moment! haha
We waited around until just before race gathering time and headed over to the signup area to get ready. It was still pretty chilly but atleast the sun was up and the clouds were less grey and threatening looking by that point.

They spoke some words of thanks to the race organizers and sponsors... and then we headed over to the start line. (I wish I had an iphone and I would have taken pictures of every step of the race lol.) I started shaking again out of nervousness (which probably didn't help that "i have to pee every 5 minutes!" feeling haha) and as lots of people lined up infront and behind us, I was getting a little freaked out. Apparently I forgot how much I hate crowds!! But they ushered us up to the line and we got going and after the first mile everyone had spread out a bit and we were back in the last section of the race-pack which made me feel less overwhelmed nervous.

As everyone was surging ahead across the start line, it was soooo hard not to run to keep up with them all. It is like a stampede with an excited herd of cattle - you just want to run with the group but I forced myself to stay back and let everyone pass us and just go at my own normal pace. It wasn't until after mile 2 that I finally calmed down and was able to get in the groove a little better - my heart was pumping super fast at the start and adrenaline was making me a bit shaky but we got into the 10:1 groove and stuck there for the majority of the race.

A few things to note - when a PA race says "4 miles of flat after the first incline" - what they really mean is PA flat - which translates into rolling inclines. There were not any completely flat stretches this whole race! I kept looking for them - espec. after those first 2 nervous miles consisted of some pretty long inclines!! I knew mile 6 & 7 were the "difficult hills" so I was hoping for flat in between to keep my legs fresh but alas, it was not to be had. Up - down a little - up some more - down just a tiny bit - o look we are going up again .... that was the first 5 miles lol.

Between mile 5 and 6 there was a KILLER hill - longer than the ones we've been training on but about as steep - yikes! I got up the majority of it and had to walk just at the very top. I told Lukas I hoped that was one of those killer hills they were talking about and not still part of the "flat" section haha. Between 6 and 7 there was an even worse hill and I just walked it - by that time my legs were feeling a bit like lead weighted jello from all the rolling inclines/hills and the killer hill before that.

We were smart and ran on the downhills even if I needed a break - but the downhill on this second killer hill was AWFUL! It was sooooooooooo steep and much further down than we'd gone up since we'd been going up and up and up throughout the race without as much downhill to compensate. My knees hurt from the impact and my chest hurt from all the shaking - not a friendly hill at all! I was pretty grateful when that one was over and done with!

As far as pace, we were doing pretty great for the first few miles. 10:45 was our average pace and we hit 3.1 around 33 minutes which is good for me espec. with 2 miles of inclines! After that point we evened out to a good 11min/mile pace and hit mile 5 in 56 minutes so that made me happy. We started slowing down as the hills got worse there in the middle and our halfway split time was 1:15:45 - still really darn close to our "super goal" of 2:30 so I was feeling a bit optimistic. When we got to mile 9 and only had 45 minutes left, I was a bit nervous about that time goal and when we hit 10 miles with only 33 minutes left for the last 5k I knew there was no chance of hitting that 2:30 anymore. My legs were beat from the first 10 miles of hills and I didn't have enough energy to push out at a 11 min/mile pace for the rest of the race, especially since it still had all those hills in it that we'd encountered in the first 3 miles of the race because we were retracing our path at that point! Not a big deal - just frustrating when we were soooo close the majority of the race!

I'd just like to say that whoever says "if you can run 10 miles, you can run a half-marathon" is a liar. I can WALK the last 3.1, that is for sure, but I sure as heck can't run it all after 10 miles are already behind me! We ended up walking so much that I probably did the last 5k in 37/38 minutes - lame but I gave all I had and just couldn't go any faster or walk any less, especially when the rolling hills just kept coming and coming!

Funny thing - sometimes you just need to beat SOMEONE in a race - anyone - and I found my target about halfway. There was a woman who was doing a really great 5:1 ratio of jogging/walking. We would pass her with her coach sometimes, then when we would walk, they would pass us, etc. They were running faster than us on the jogging parts so there were a few miles when they were ahead of us for a while. On that last 5k, following them and running with them really kept me going and eventually we were able to get ahead of them. I decided for the last 2 miles my focus was just to stay ahead of that woman and her coach and that would be the one person I would beat in this race. Nothing person, not being mean... it could have been anyone - but we'd been following them so long, I need to hold on to something to get me through those last awful couple of miles or I would just have walked it all and given up.

The last 2 miles were brutal - it was part of the longest 5k of my life and I was sooooooooooo grateful to have Lukas with me to keep me going. He didn't push, he didn't criticize, he just walked when I needed him to and jogged when I could. He is an awesome husband and running partner and I could not have had so much fun and done so well without him! I know eventually he will need to run on his own because he is way faster than me and could have probably finished in 2 hours without me, but I am so glad that for this first one he was there with me the whole time. Love that man so much!

I got super excited when I finally saw the line - but then realized it was the start line and I had to cross under that and go around the corner to get to the finish line - ugh! haha That was ok... we started to run faster for that last little section and looked pretty strong and happy coming around the corner and down to the finish line. Felt sooooo cool to have everyone saying "yay, you did it, congrats!!" even tho a lot of those people had been finished for half an hour or more already! At that point it wasn't about the time - it was about finishing something I've wanted to do for 18 months and was finally able to achieve, injury free!

We did it... 2:35:21 was our chip time - a bit off my original 2:30  "super goal" but my main goal was to finish and have fun doing it and for the first 10 miles I did have fun most of the time so I guess I am pretty dang happy with the way our first race turned out :)

We grabbed a little bit of fruit and some water - I accidentally threw my apple at another group of runners because a bee was trying to get me to get to it lol. I could have used some more food but when you are slow all the good stuff like bananas have already been eaten lol. Maybe next time I'll remember to bring a granola bar with me for afterward.

Lukas was good and forced me to stretch and use our hand roller a bit before we headed home. The outside of both of my knees was pretty sore and painful after the race and I had a few blisters on my right foot from my insoles being a little bit too short - but otherwise we made it through pretty well.

After taking some pictures with our medals and tired feet - we had to get one last pose - the sticking on of the coveted 13.1 magnet!! I've wanted one of these since we started training for the race last year and now we are legit and can have one on the car!! Woot woot! haha

I think Lukas was a little slap happy in the end - he had WAY too much energy left after that race lol - here is proof:

Love this guy so much - he got me here and through the race and I am soooo grateful for his support!!
After our 1.5 hour drive home I was going to make us some lunch but instead I flopped down on the bed, sweaty clothes an all, at 2pm and slept for 2 hours. My long runs usually kick my butt but this one especially did and I just had no energy left to do or care about anything. Lukas on the other hand was wide awake and walked the dog, did the dishes, and headed out for soccer at 5pm. WHAT?! Yes... he is insane lol.

We checked out the race stats after my nap before he left for soccer and realized it must have been a pretty fast race. We were 412 and 413 out of 448 and around 215 people finished under 2 hours - pretty impressive! I was atleast faster than 6 girls my age - that made me feel a tiny better.

Our next race will be flatter and faster in Rehoboth Beach, DE in 9 weeks so I'm hoping to get below that 2:30 time goal. We are going to take it easy next week with just some short runs and start training again after that. Keeping hill training in our routine even tho we won't need it - definitely makes us stronger on actual flat stretches which will help for the flatter race in Rehoboth. I am also going to start doing some leg exercises to get my quads and calves stronger so I get injured less and also because I hate that lead-filled jello feeling they get because I have no muscle!

... funny side story about leg workouts: Tuesday I was too nervous to have a good run on the treadmill. We did 4.5 on Monday after a lazy week and weekend (it was our 5 year anniversary - can't blame us for not caring about running!) and Tuesday I did 2.3 in the gym and finally gave up after that because my knees were still bugging me from Monday. Stupid me decided that doing some lunges and squats the week before the race, when I NEVER do them ever, was a good idea. I did 5 lunges on each leg, and 5 squats but that hurt my knees so I stopped - and that was it. Uhmmm... yea, my legs and butt were so sore for 3 days straight, it was awful lol. So I obviously need to get some leg workouts in this time around because that is PATHETIC haha.

Information I want to remember:

Breakfast: OJ, Toast, Milk - I hate toast.

Fuel: gu-chomps in the car before the race and then 1 vanilla powerbar gel between miles 4-5.
I didnt want anymore after that and I'm not sure more would have helped - I grabbed water about 4 or 5 times throughout the race tho and that helped a bit for sure.

Race: Around 1000 people total for the 5k and half marathon - the organization was great, they did an awesome job directing traffic and keeping us all safe and I really enjoyed it overall. No complaints - even if they hadn't been able to fix my tshirt issue I still would recomend this race to anyone looking for a fun local race. I didn't want a huge race for my first one and I'm so glad we chose this one - perfect location, wonderful weather at this time of year, and the scenery was gorgeous! We saw lots of cows, horses, donkeys, chickens - lots of farms - and even some adorable little amish kids sitting on their trampoline in the yard waving at us :)

Anything I would do differently? Nope - we had a good pace for the first half and didn't go out too fast. Going slower wouldn't have helped us on those hills - my legs would have been just as tired afterward so I'm glad we did what was comfortable to start. Just need to train on more hills - steep ones and long ones - and get my legs stronger for the next one. Fueling was good and I wouldn't change anything there - just gotta go with what I feel like and I really did not want the gel I had planned to eat around mile 8/9 and that is ok.

Happiest kid ever today and so grateful to have shared this experience and the last 6 months of training with Lukas :) Looking forward to re-starting our training and getting ready to run Rehoboth together in December!

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