You always remember your first…
Bank of America Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon (March 27, 2010 – Raleigh, NC)
I’m proud to announce that I now – officially – am able to mark 2 things off my “bucket list”: (1) to run the HM distance to it’s entirety (check) and (2) run it in less than two hours (check). I’m still trying to process that last one…
Although I knew I wasn’t really supposed to, my co-worker run buddy talked me into taking a really slow 3-miler on Thursday and I couldn’t resist. The entire time, he kept me talking and scolded me for looking at my GPS too much and being too worried about pace – he encouraged me to make sure that I could talk and assured me that, if I did that, I would be fine and not to worry about the GPS.
I was so excited for this race – it was like Christmas for me. I couldn’t concentrate all day at work yesterday because I knew that, at 4, they were going to start giving out packets across the street and I was climbing the walls to get it. At 4:30, I left my office quickly and went down to get my packet. I couldn’t believe that they gave us the chip the night before! Amazing! I’ve never had that in a race before – that saved me some time this morning! I went grocery shopping and then went home to eat a hearty meal including egg whites (best protien option for a Lenten Friday), veggies, cheese and a little bit of pasta. I was in bed, head on pillow, by 9 PM and slept like a log most of the night (outside of a snoring dog!).
I woke up this morning about 10 minutes before my alarm (I was just that excited) around 5 AM and I jumped out of bed to get dressed, make coffee and gather all my things. I knew the battery in my GPS was getting low because it was a little touchy on Thursday, so I changed it. I have a charging station, so I just grabbed a random battery and put it in. I was so nervous that I had kind of an upset stomach – which worried me a bit. Once I ate, it seemed better, though, it still hurt most of the morning until I actually started the race. I ate a bowl of high-fiber instant oatmeal (2 packets) with blueberries (the magic formula for my 10-mile run) and alternated coffee with plain water and propel (ironically, all things that settled my stomach). About 15 minutes after the oatmeal, I had half a bagel with peanut butter and decided it was time to head out (shortly before 7 – race started at 8). I brought a banana with me intending to eat it once I got to the race, but ended up not eating it until after because I didn’t want to upset my stomach further. I got to the race a little after 7 and parked in the same parking garage I park in for work (the race started in front of my office building!) and headed over to the Marriott to use the bathroom (again!) and wait for the start. I must say, that is one of the things I loved about this race: REAL BATHROOMS! What a departure – and I got to actually wash my hands and not see, um… well, you know… I went back outside to take some photos, as I usually do to help me not think about the race so much, but decided to put it back in the car because I wasn’t sure I wanted to run 13.1 with it in my pocket (that, and it was FREEZING outside!) and went into the Sheraton to keep warm until the start.
Once it was close to time to start, I walked over to the corral and started my GPS and watch and… DEAD BATTERY on the GPS. Ruh-roh. Must have grabbed the wrong battery! Dang… My biggest worry in preparation for this one race was my ability to correctly pace myself at the start of the race so I didn’t burn it out too early and had trouble at the end and now, I had no way of really knowing how fast I was going. I’m the anal retentive type, too, who has to know – down to the hundreth of a mile – exactly how far I went (I think you guys may have already noticed that about me) so I was annoyed as hell that I didn’t have my GPS, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it at that point. I started my watch and waited for gun to start. Another key difference for me this time is that I intentionally placed myself in the back of the middle of the crowd and kind of to the right so I didn’t start too fast. I was a bit frustrated that I wasn’t able to start as soon as the gun went off, but I was grateful that I felt good at the start instead of working harder to catch my breath and not being caught up until I hit 1 mile. Thankfully, though, I remembered to set my lap for the start of the race, though it meant I had to remember to subtract 6 minutes for each time check!
The start was great – but very cold! I had my iPod in my left hand and a hand-held water bottle in my right. I don’t know what the temperature was (I forgot to check) but I thought it was freakin’ cold. I hate running with gloves, so I didn’t bother, but my fingers were like ice for most of it, making music selection a little tougher. Since this was the Rock and Roll and there were bands throughout, I thought I should at least pause my iPod when I got to the bands so I could hear, but my fingers were so frozen I couldn’t push the button to pause, so I ended up not hearing any of the bands! I didn’t take water at any of the stations (after running with that handheld now, I think I’ll always bring it) because I can’t drink while I run and I don’t want to stop – instead, I would squirt a little in my mouth and swallow a little bit at a time until I got it all down. I am a little surprised that I didn’t drink more, though – I didn’t finish the bottle (20 oz) I brought with me – I only ended up drinking about 2/3 of it.
I had run the first 5 miles before, so I knew that part of the course really well – the City of Raleigh has been doing construction on the main part of the run (Hillsboro Street for my fellow Raleighwooders) but didn’t finish! Yikes! So, the pavement was pretty uneven, but it was better than the potholes and missing sidewalks there before 😉 For the first five miles, I kept in mind what my co-worker told me: if you can talk, that is the right pace. Well, I didn’t really want to annoy folks around me, so I’d pick someone and pretend to have a conversation – “Hi, I’m Tobi” “Hi, I’m Bob” “Are you from here?” “No, I moved here…” blah blah blah. At least, however, I knew that if I was able to think about the conversation itself I was going the right pace. I have learned that if I start thinking about how hard it is to breathe or how hard this hill is or whatever, I’m running too fast. I didn’t check my pace (or attempt to do math while I was running) until I hit the 5-mile mark – and was pleased to see that I was running a little better than 10mm pace, but over 9. Exactly how much, I don’t remember, I just remember that calculation and felt great about it.
Then… we hit the hills, and this is the part when I reverse-split the bejeezus out of this course. Now, you guys know how I feel about hills – I gripe about them all the time. boo hoo – hills. boo hoo, it kicked my behind. Boo hoo – that was painful… yada yada yada. Well, inspite of my complaining, all those hills I’ve run in the past paid off in dividends today. It was the only place I actually passed people. We ran past Meredith college and then up Blue Ridge which is a llloooonnnnggggg hill – shallow, but never ending – I think I was able to keep a pretty respectable pace here because I found two girls who were about my height (albeit much, much younger) and had a similar running style that I kept up with during this section of the run. Then, we turned onto the Greenway at the museum of art and I just let go and opened the throttle. I’ve been on the greenway before and I remembered those hills as being steep and nasty, so I was psyching myself up for them, but I must say, my body just took over and told my mind to shut up and it was almost effortless going up them – it was like my legs were on autopilot. I was passing people right and left – folks I had kept up with or traded leads with for the first 7 – 8 miles and never saw again after that. Passing people was addictive! Once I got to the overpass (over 440) I had to make myself slow down because I was worried about my speed and wasn’t sure exactly what the milage was at that point and was worried I might have overestimated my distance at this point. Once we got back to Meredith College, though, I knew it had to be less than 5 because of where we were on the map so I looked down at my watch – whoah! Just over an hour? Really – for 9 miles? I think I even said it so loud the guy next to me could hear me even with his ipod in – lol. Could it be? Even if I did a 10mm pace, I’d still get back to the finish line right after 2 hours?!?!?!?! Holy cow!
As we got back onto Hillsborough Street, I realized I had 3 miles left and whoah! I finished that last mile a lot faster than I thought – even if I did 10mm pace from this spot, I was coming in UNDER 2 hours?! WHAT? I think I actually said out loud “no (expletive) way!” because I got another look from someone else. No… I must be reading that wrong… so I kept going. Then… I passed the sign for the 1 mile marker for the 5K and realized that I was actually going to make it under 2 – I rounded the corner back onto Fayetteville street and could see the finish line. Holy Cow – I did it! I couldn’t believe I was getting toward the end and was actually still running – I look down at my watch and see that (after I remember to do math) I am at 1:53! Get out! really? I approach the big clock and see it ticking about 45 seconds behind: 1:53:00, then :10, :20, :30 – I wasn’t about to let that thing hit 1:56, so I turned it out and sprinted. I didn’t think I had any sprint in me at all, but to my utter surprise, I did. I went like that for about .20 mile or so, but felt like my legs were going to give out and the last thing I wanted to do was wipe out and/or do a face plant in front of all those folks at .10 mile before the finish line! I slowed down to the pace I was going when I came around the corner (at least what it felt like I was going) and I crossed the finish line at 1:55:30! Whoah!! I’m still in shock!
After the race, I grabbed a sports drink that I downed in about 1/2 a second, went to my car to get a change of clothes & my banana (so I wouldn’t freeze and so my stomach would stop hurting) and then went back to get a Mocha at Starbucks (that was my reward – Venti!) and start letting everyone know how I did. I hung out for a short while (about 45 minutes or so) and then went back home to get a good meal in me and a shower. I swear, this is the longest I have ever had runner’s high – I was grinning like a cheshire cat until about 3:00 this afternoon – lol. It literally lasted all day. I can honestly say, also, that I haven’t been able to eat enough all day, which has never happened to me either. I wasn’t sore at all until I took a nap and now the sides and back of my legs are all pretty sore. Also, the tops of my feet (both) are pretty sore – maybe my laces were too tight??
I banned myself from searching for races today (I probably would have signed up for a full today if I hadn’t placed my no-registering-for-races-with-runners-high rule into effect), but I *ABSOLUTELY* want to do another one… though, it might be tough to top that benchmark 😉