I ran the Big Lake Half Marathon this morning. When I woke up 300 times between 3AM and 6AM (why, God, why??) the overwhelming focus of my senses was the sound of the pouring, pouring (and did I mention POURING??) rain! The forecast called for it so I can't say I was surprised. Better than snow, I guess! The problem with heavy rain and cool-ish weather is I never know how to dress. This became an issue during the race, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I went into the race completely unsure how I was going to do. It's not at all been a focus, since the next 26.2 is coming up in June. It was just a happy coincidence that I was scheduled to do 13 today anyway. After my beautiful 18 mile run last weekend in Boston (Oh, did I mention I LOVED running in Boston? I did? Funny that keeps coming up... big, melancholy sigh....) I knew this one would be a piece of cake. Silly me. Of COURSE it wasn't a piece of cake! I mean, distance-wise it was but I always forget that deep, deep down, I'm kind of competitive.
At any rate, in the last couple of days I determined 3 things: 1) anything slower than 2 hours was unacceptable; 2) I would probably run a 1:50; and 3) 1:45 would be a stretch goal. Since the marathon goal is 3:45 (Boston qualifying time) I figured I better be able to finish "just" a 1/2 marathon in a time that was quite a bit less than 1/2 of that ultimate goal time.
So, cut to today. I knew a couple of people running this race but did not make plans to meet up with them or anything. I'd like to think it's odd that I am a running lone wolf but let's face it - I run to get away from the Mommy Zone and I train alone... can't be too surprising that I end up at races alone. While in the inevitably infinite line for the port-o-potties, my friends John & Mandy walked by and we said a quick hello. Following the pit stop I found them in the school gym and we chatted until it was time to head to the starting line. I discussed with them my dilemma about what to wear.... And then I pulled out my cape.
"My what!?" you say! Well, see below:
My boys and Scott made this for me for Christmas. (And, yes, the gorgeous pic of me in the jammies and glasses is from Christmas morning. Yikes, huh!?) The text says, "My mom might bake you some cookies... after she runs her marathon!" Okay, you think it's an apron... And it is. But when I run races, I wear it so it covers my back and it becomes a Superhero cape. Awesome, huh?
John and Mandy (and their friend Stephen) were, to put it mildly, surprised that I was really going to wear it. I simply said, "It's my super hero cape and it's MOTHER'S DAY for the love of God!" How could I not wear it? In addition to that (because as cute as that cape is, it doesn't function on it's own) I wore wind breaker-type pants with no lining and and long sleeve technical shirt. The shirt was good but the pants became a real problem, weighed down by water. At mile 7 or so I pulled them up above my knees because my feet felt like they were carrying an extra pound each. Surprisingly, this kind of worked!
Oh, the race! Right! The race started out just as the rain started up again and I basically cruised the whole thing right around 8:00/mile pace. The course is very hilly... but not quite as bad as what I do around my own house. I kept looking at my watch and found myself surprised at the pace I was maintaining on the hills. (If my Garmin would upload properly I would have a lot more data to share... I'm dying to know how much my pace varied from beginning to end!)
As in all my races, I made it a point to thank the race officials all along the course and the volunteers who are passing out drinks and gels. I frequently "scold" spectators who stand and watch runners go by without clapping or saying anything.... I say, "Go me!" or "I'm Fred!" if they are holding a sign for, say, Fred. Yes, I try to shame them into cheering. To me this is amusing but I wonder how obnoxious it is the spectators? Hmmm... actually, I don't care. They SHOULD be cheering for everyone, darn it!
The only really tough part of the race came at about mile 10 when I started to cramp up. I was getting a little dehydrated, I think, but I didn't want to stop to walk for long as I drank (as I would on a regular training run) because, well, Competitive Phoebe was in charge at that point. Thank goodness the last 2 miles were a fairly smooth slope down hill. I was getting pretty pooped!
At about mile 12 I heard a car "beep" and glanced across the street.... Scott and boys made it for the finish! I was happy to see them but at that moment I was in a very-focused-on-getting-this-thing-over-with zone so I didn't give them the warmest greeting.
At mile 13 I saw the official race clock was at 1:45:20 (or so) and I said a very loud expletive, since I knew I was going to be painfully close to my stretch goal but I wouldn't make it. The race announcer said my name and hometown as I went by him, which was pretty cool... especially because a duo I had been passing and had been getting passed by for the last 4 or 5 miles was just ahead of me and the announcer said something like "John Smith and Joan Jones coming in now... a couple of great tri-athletes from New Hampshire." Cool. I finished right after a couple of great tri-athletes!
So, my finish time was round about 1:46... Despite my explosive curse at mile 13, I'm really happy with that time. I am impatiently waiting for the official results to be posted online.
Next up? Marathon in Niagara! Just six weeks away!!