Rock the Parkway 2012

It’s funny now that I’m repeating some races, that recaps now need to include the year.

In the days leading up to Rock the Parkway I began to feel anxious–something I haven’t felt before a race in quite some time. The last two halfs I did were both while training for my first full, so I didn’t have any ‘real goals’ for those races. When I ran my first marathon my goal was to finish alive (check) and my goal for the second was to enjoy it (check).

Last year, I set a half marathon PR at Rock the Parkway and I did, at 2:20:18. I didn’t break 2:20 but I was very satisfied with my efforts at that race. Every half I ran last year was slower than that time, ha! But it was because my goals had shifted to a marathon, which I run at a much slower pace than half marathons or any distance shorter than that. Basically, I had gotten really good at running slowly for stupid long amounts of time, but had to fine tune my speed before lacing up for RTP.

Friday night I fueled up with lots of hummus and a huge Greek salad at a new-to-me Greek restaurant with my friend Shelly to plan our trip to Minnesota next month for Med City (she’s on her way to running a half in every state)! It was fun and delicious, and I was at home in bed promptly passed out by 10:30pm. This is the first race I’ve been able to sleep in my own bed the night before in 6 months! It was glorious! I loved being able to set out all my things where I wanted, and not having to check out of a hotel at 6am.

I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to have for breakfast race morning, but 5am on Saturday rolled around and I scrambled up some egg whites and two slices of Genesis 1:29 bread, with a large iced coffee (which I NEVER do before a run) to get my nervous poop out, because I knew otherwise it wouldn’t happen. At 6am I was out the door and a good thing too, because though RTP is only in it’s third year, the popularity of it has grown exponentially! They had to cap the race at 4500 half marathoners, up 1000 from last year, and it showed in parking!

This was Jen’s first half marathon, and Bridget came down from Omaha so her family (who lives pretty close) could all finally see her race! They came in VERY handy too in cheering me on at the race course when I was feeling like death multiple times, but onto that later. After doing the standard 2+ pre-race potties, us ladies headed to the start line and said a pre-race prayer and were herded in like a bunch of cattle. Moooooo.

The forecast had predicted some possible storms for Saturday morning, and I prayed for no lightning and no hail. I should have been more specific and asked for no humidity too–I forgot I live in the humidity capital of the world. It was around 60* which was perfect, but about 85% humidity. You could cut it with a knife. We were also so packed in at the start line that we were very close behind the 2:15 pacers, which is what I secretly wanted. My baseline goal was to break 2:20, but if I could run faster than 2:15 I was going to be elated. It was ambitious, but I was willing to put up with the pain and effort to reach my goal.

Ten minutes into the race I was already sweating and running at a faster than what is comfortable pace, which I knew would bite me later in the race. I was with Jen for the first 5k, but knew she could pick it up and I lost her at a water station. I didn’t want to hold her back and knew that I needed to run my race. Regardless, I was still right behind the 2:15 pacers which I was okay with. Here for a portion of the run I just let my mind go. That’s one of the things I really like about running–it let’s me turn my brain off and I don’t think about anything. At all. Right after mile 3 there was a slight incline, but running around a 10:20 pace I was really feeling it. I thought several times, “There is no flipping way I can hold this pace for 10 more miles. No way.” But I couldn’t let myself get down about it, I just kept pushing.

We passed the 5th mile right before 53 minutes and that’s about what I run when I’m on my own, and the 10k mark at 1:03 which I was actually pretty proud of. They changed the course from last year and added a loop around a downtown park, which consequently added a couple of more inclines. I was silently cussing out the inclines and trying to keep from getting frustrated. I was giving it my all, but I still felt like it wasn’t going to be good enough, then I realized there was still half of a race to go which made me feel a little sad, I didn’t know how much more I had left.

Earlier in the morning I stuck a gel in my bra just in case I wanted to take it, and after mile 7  I was thankful for thinking in advance. At that point I would take any extra boost of energy I could get. By this point I was also ringing my shirt out of sweat, my clothes were absolutely dripping (literally, dripping), and made sure I took at least 2 cups of water at each aid station. The course is an out and back, a beautiful one, and at this point we were now on the ‘back’ portion, which was thankfully mostly flat. My aunt surprised me at mile 9 and it was so good seeing a face I knew, even though I could just muster out a ‘Love you,’ as I passed by, with a totally off center high five.

Three thoughts were going though my mind: “Four miles four miles four miles,” “I can’t do this. What was I thinking. Is this goal even attainable?? I’m going to die.” and finally, “Kelsey if you don’t freaking believe in yourself you WON’T reach your goals. BELIEVE in yourself, woman and get it!”

Honest to God, I took more walk breaks than I imagined I would (uhh…3 between miles 9-11) but was okay that I was moving forward. I had to convince myself that I would be happy no matter what because I knew I was giving it my all and leaving everything out on the course. A few familiar faces and cheers later and after the 10 mile mark, I convinced myself I just needed to run the last 3 miles as fast as I ran the first 3 and I would be done.

I allowed myself a final walk break up another dang hill at mile 11 and promised myself no more walking. I can go balls to the wall for two miles. Even if it means feeling like you’re going to pass out. I kept looking at my watch…I knew I was going to PR. I didn’t know by how much, but knew it was going to happen. After 12.5 I picked it up, and it helped to have other racers who had finished cheering me on because they could tell I was going for it. I ran harder in the last .6 miles than I ever thought I could–I couldn’t feel my legs, but I knew they were pumping. I’m not sure I was even breathing, I don’t really remember. My aunt snapped this beauty…how was I smiling while in so much physical pain?

I’m happy that at least my form wasn’t absolutely terrible. I don’t know how it wasn’t, but I’ll take it. And then I finished.

My head was spinning, I wanted to keel over, but knew if I could stay on my own two feet I would be alright. I got my water, timing chip off, and medal and then miraculously found my aunt and sat on a rock. I wanted to puke, every inch of my body was sweaty and I just needed to sit with my eyes closed. I missed out on the runners high on this one, and I wasn’t even as happy as I imagined I would be to have a new PR.

The one thought that can encompass my race was, “I have never ran that hard in my life.” And in that, I am happily satisfied with my new half marathon PR of 2:19:35.

Jen did amazing and pulled out a sub 2:10 for her first half, and Bridge gave her absolute best (overcoming injury, sickness, and oh yeah, she’s a mom too) and ran faster than her last half!

Then I realized I’m doing this again next weekend. Twice. Three half marathons in nine days…I clearly did not have my brain plugged in correctly, and sometimes I wonder if it’s plugged in at all. I’m gonna love it anyways! Maybe I can set a new PR next weekend too, ha!

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Heels, Hills and Him Half Marathon

This weekend I had a mini-vacation down in Texas, a vacation that included a half marathon. The first time I have ever traveled for a race! I had been wanting to drive down and see my brother + family for a while, and knew that if I were going to stick to my training plan and get my weekend long run in, I needed a race to motivate me to make sure I didn’t spend all weekend shopping and eating.

Why did I pick this race?

  • Location: it was close to where my family lives in an area that I am very familiar with.
  • Time: this weekend my training schedule called for a 13 mile run or half marathon so how PERFECT was it to do this race!
  • Course: there was another half in Grand Prairie but the course didn’t seem as appealing as this one.
  • Competition: I felt as though this was a race I could do well in.
  • Cause: the Heels and Hills is an advocate for women’s fitness and health in the DFW area which I loved, this was also a big event for Team in Training.
The race was the smallest half marathon I have ran (roughly 1100 runners) and about 90% of the race was on trails throughout Irving, which were well paved and shady but definitely NOT spectator friendly. One thing I though was strange were the pacers; there were 2:00, 2:20, 2:25 and on pacers but nothing in between. I started with the 2:20 pacers (and maybe I should have stuck with them) but I got in my own comfortable groove and got a good warmup in the first mile or so. I also remembered that I forgot to factor in the heat when setting my goal time. Slap in the face! It was kind of hot.
Running solo allows you to eavesdrop, and I heard a couple of guys talking something about a half marathon course that was only 12.5 miles, so naturally I inquired about this race hoping that it was the full distance. It turns out, one of the guys, Jason, is a 2:15 pacer for several Dallas half marathons (yesssss!) so I hung with them for about 5 miles, then Jason picked up the speed a bit and I hung back, and the other guy hung back farther than me, so there I was running solo once again. Honestly, I didn’t mind it; all of my long runs have been solo so I relaxed up and reminded myself that this was just a training run.
Apparently crazy people run half marathons in Texas. Right after Jason and I parted ways, I noticed this lady in front of me who was running in booty shorts (like you could literally see her cheeks) and matching bra, with a white tank top over it…which doesn’t make sense. But anyways, she was wearing headphones and carrying an iPod in her left hand, and waving her right finger like she was practicing telling someone off. Up came a curve in the trail and she started weaving which is very rude and annoying to do in a race. Then she cut me off and I didn’t say anything because she was too busy waving her index finger and probably wouldn’t have heard me. “Whatever,” I thought, some people just don’t know race etiquette. She started to slow down, so I went on her left to pass her…just like driving because we’re all Americans here…and after I passed her and was a decent distance ahead of her, I hear, “Oh well just go ahead and cut me off, that’s rude!” and I signed and thought “WTF??” I though of probably 8 things I could have said, but I just sighed and kept on my way, she clearly had problems. The next 20 minutes were the most awkward running moments of my life because she finally caught up to me and we ran side by side without a word for nearly two miles. I was keeping an eye out to make sure she wasn’t going to swing at my or poke my eye out with her index finger, eventually I let the woman pass me and I’m pretty sure she was cussing me out to herself whilst still waving her finger.

Then I was alone for what seemed like forever. Though there weren’t a ton of spectators, but many people gathered by the water stations and were very awesome at cheering us on…I loved it! They also had motivational signs every quarter mile or so which gave me something to read helped. After the crazy lady incident, I found Heather and JJ, both moms, both running slower than they wanted, and so we pushed each other the last 3.1 miles. It. was. awesome. It was so nice having someone there to chat with and to motivate/be motivated by. The Team in Training coaches also were cheering everyone on, not just TNT runners.

The last mile my legs were on FIRE…I just wanted this ‘training run’ to be over with. It was hot. It was 90 degrees when I was on the last mile. I made a mental note to race in Texas again when it is winter everywhere else. And then before I knew it…I was crossing the finish line. I can say that I loved the feeling of pushing through and sprinting at the end which is something I NEVER do on training runs. I sprint when necessary, only.

I wanted to set a PR this race, but didn’t because I (doh!) forgot that it is still summer in Texas.

I left the race happy that I had a solid run; I maintained a pace nearly 2 minutes/mile faster than my recent long runs which is right at my goal marathon pace. Later on Sunday night when the official results were posted…I found out I got second place in my division! I was ecstatic but wanted to curse when I saw that I was beat by 12 seconds. Naturally, I thought of all I could have done to have gotten first (pushed harder) but calmed myself down; I have never placed this high in a race in my life and I decided to be happy about my finish.

My awesome uncle, grandma and aunt who were waiting at the finish line!

What I have learned: sign up for small races with people slower than you. Then you can win every time! Ha!

I needed this race to break up my training, I’m finally more than halfway through! Also very much looking forward to this half marathon in a little over two weeks!

PS. THANK YOU to everyone who encouraged, supported and congratulated me on Sunday, it means more than you know and you are totally amazing 🙂

um, did I do that?


I made sure to attach a large photo so you could clearly see what I have done. My palms are sweaty and my heart is beating a little faster than normal. Did this really just happen?

When I got home from class this morning I was highly motivated to make a solid half marathon training schedule. And register in the same day? Gulp. My last half marathon I allowed myself a good 6 months of preparation, and most of that was mental. This half marathon? 72 days. Rock the Parkway here I come.

 

It looks like those big dreams I wrote about yesterday about are more real than I realized. This is just bringing me one race closer to the full marathon I plan to complete by the end of the year!

 

 

Question: Do you have any countdowns going on in your life? What for? Please share!