Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Race Recap: Alexandria Running Festival Half-Marathon

The morning started off a touch out of sorts. Went to bed a bit late and woke up a touch early. My head was slightly fuzzy with a minor headache as soon as I woke up but judging by the rumbling in my stomach, my head wasn't going to be the problem on race morning! I popped some pretty pink pepto, ate a few tums and hoped for the best while I got changed. A few too many bathroom trips before leaving the house concerned me... but no big deal, I'd shake it off once I started running. Or not. We'd see.

Got to the race start (right outside the US Patent Office) and joined up with the Team RWB. If you don't know who they are - you should.

Go look it up and come back.

I'll give you a few minutes.

Welcome back. The mission of Team RWB, quite literally, is to enrich the lives of veterans through physical and social activity. A few people near and dear to me are involved and it seems like something I'd enjoy being a part of too!

Got together for a quick Team RWB picture which lead into a 25 minute delay in race start due to some unlawful parking situation that needed rectified prior to unleashing the masses. I.E. people parked on the course and their cars got towed.

...and Go time baby!

Lee immediately took off. Obviously. He's WAY faster than I. I started running at a seemingly comfortable pace but a quick glance at the watch a few minutes into the run revealed it was likely a non-sustainable pace. First mile was 7:10. I was hoping to hold a 7:37 pace that would put me at a 1:40 finish time (and also nearly a 3 minute PR), so I made a conscious effort to slow my role. I was able to hold a 7:27 pace until roughly mile 6. I had been running pretty well, I was trailing a girl going exactly my speed and every so often I was seeing Lee so I was pretty happy at that point. There was the occasional uncomfortable stomach feeling, but overall not bad considering how the morning began.

The course started intermittently changing terrain and directions with a bunch of out and backs and 180 degree turns. That didn't help with maintaining any kind of momentum! I was stronger than my unknown running friend on the "hills" and I'd nearly pass her but then my pace would quickly drop which made me nervous my legs wouldn't hold up. I dropped a gel somewhere in mile 6-7 and going back to get it as well as eating it added around 20 seconds and I guess my legs just figured it was time to check out and I never quite got them back.

My stomach really took a nose-dive around mile 8 - coincidently (or not) it was roughly around the time that my legs decided they were done racing for the day. I had a few spells of dry heaving and I only ended up eating 1/2 of the salted caramel Gu (my normal go-to flavor). My legs made a quick appearance after the Gu but it was short-lived. I knew I wanted the other Gu around mile 10, but I had a gut feeling (ooooh jokes!) that if I tried to eat it, I'd actually start throwing-up. I think the Gu would've made my legs feel better, but I'm pretty confident I made the right decision to abandon any and all nutrition.

The gatorade v. water debacle of 2015 was a little stressful on my upset stomach. Let the record state that I am not calling out the volunteers because those people are amazing and awesome for giving up their morning to help out. However, at each aid station, some people would yell "water" and I swear I actually saw their lips moving to form the word but then they handed me gatorade. I don't love gatorade when I'm running halves, I'd much prefer water. My turbulent stomach was also in favor of flavorless liquids. The fourth time this happened, I strongly considered having an over-the-top meltdown that involved chucking cups of gatorade and flipping over the cup-laden tables. I quickly reconsidered and continued running sans fluids. At the last 2 aid stations, I just asked for water and they found some quickly, so alls well ends... well, not well, but ends, sure.

The last two miles nearly ended me. I was silently willing my legs to continue moving forward but they felt like tree trunks taking root in the earth. I'd valiantly try to speed up and my lap pace would slow down. I looked down to make sure I hadn't started running backwards. I was confused. Um, hello, legs? Anything? Bueller? Okay.

Finally, I recognized the last bridge... curse you incline. As I tried to overcome the nearly stationary running position I was currently perfecting, I looked down at my watch and realized that 1:40 mark was about to fly past. I love re-evaluating goals with less than a quarter mile to go. Just get in under 1:41 - PLEASE!

The finish line appeared like a vision of water in the desert. Angels began singing. Maybe that was the music at the finish line. I'm not sure, toss up.

I got my medal, saw Lee and he ushered me onto the grass, presumably so I didn't throw up on any innocent spectators. I appreciated the gesture as I too wished to avoid public vomiting. After a few minutes that involved breaking a cold sweat while willing myself to keep my 1/2 Gu and undesired yellow gatorade in the tank, I recovered and rejoined the group.

At that moment, a lot of thoughts went through my head fairly rapidly as if in fast forward mode. Hey, a PR! Gotta be pleased with that. And no throwing up! And... and... aw man, 7th in my age group! Those girls are speedy! Chocolate chip cookies? Hell yes! Am I gonna throw up? Maybe! Okay, no more cookies! Water only forever!

All in all, it was a decent race but I didn't love the course. The weather however was BEAUTIFUL and it was a perfect morning for running. You don't get many of those perfect early summer mornings so I try to enjoy them when they sneak up on us.

End goal for the year if I run another half: break 1:39. 1:38:59. There I said it out loud, its official. No turning back now. Next race is the Grand Rapids Tri, T minus 3 weeks till REUNION. More on that soon.

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