This race was special to me for many reasons, but primarily because it was this race that made me decide to become a 50-stater: I have to have a long term goal to keep me running, I think. So… since my first was in my hometown of Raleigh, NC and my second was going to be in VA, I thought to myself: “there’s 2” haha. So, from now on, each Pikermi I run, I’ll start it out with the countdown…
2 down, 48 to go…
I will say that I am pretty happy with this race, especially considering the challenges I had with training. The biggest challenge for me, honestly, was all mental. My husband and I separated in June, and the time leading up to and shortly after was a huge mental barrier for me. It has been one of the most emotionally taxing experiences of my life after the passing of my mother. I honestly had days when it took all I had just to get out of bed and function well enough to get to work and back, let alone go for a run.
Additionally (and totally not helping the mental part) was the weather. My first Pikermi distance was at the end of March and the temperature at the start of that race was a smidge under 40. I swear, two weeks later, it was 90 and 90% humidity. It seemed like it stayed like that for months and I had a reeeeaaaallllllyyy hard time acclimating to that. I had a few really bad runs, which I think messed with me mentally and I gave up too early on the ones that weren’t going quite as badly, but still weren’t going well. I thank my lucky stars that I ran mostly on the treadmill the previous year because if I had run outside in those conditions the summer before, I most likely would have never made it to 13.1… or might have given up running entirely. I don’t know if it was perserverence, dogged determination, or a little bit of insanity (maybe a combination of all three) but I kept running into that proverbial wall day after day and went back for more until I broke through it. Now, because of it, luckily, I have running to get me through tough times.
Finally… the other big challenge I faced with the training this time around was scheduling and finding the time. In addition to the time I spent negotiating on the separation agreement, I had to work in running without having supervision for my weeks with the kids. That mostly entailed my either getting up before the rooster (which didn’t happen often, see first paragraph), running during lunch (hard to do with you work with folks in Pacific time who schedule meetings during that time) or after work at the gym (which made me feel guilty that I wasn’t spending time with them AND meant I had to run on a Treadmill, which I really started to loathe).
I did things to work around my challenges, and, although, I didn’t make all workouts, I found ways to make things work out as much as possible. To work around the time spent on the separation agreement, I just started doing that at work and worked at home at night after the boys were in bed. To work around the lunch runs, I put in a one-day-a-week Out of Office during lunch and roped in a co-worker to agree to go with me and keep me honest. Even if that was THE only run I did that week, I did it. To work around the guilt part – I started running on the treadmill at home one or two days while the little guys watched cartoons and ate their dinner. I took them to the gym one day a week (usually for the 90-minute cycle class) which they loved because the little one got to play computer video games and the bigger one got to play on the “inside playground” complete with climbing tree and slides, his favorite. The weeks the boys were with their dad, I felt like I had to “make up” for the training I couldn’t do when they were with me, so I joined the Tir Na nOg Run Club and went every other Monday (almost got that shirt!) and tried to take at least one more cycle class. I found yoga on the web that has worked well (though, I really want/need to do that more often). I still didn’t make 6 days a week of working out, but I think I have adjusted to my schedule now and will have to figure out a more customized plan for the next one… wherever that might be.
Virginia Beach is easy drive from my house and I heard a lot of great things about this race, so it was a real no-brainer for me. Additionally, it was attractive to me because (a) I was going to meet some folks from the Half-Marathon Trainers thread (b) I got to visit my uncle and cousins who I rarely get to see and (c) I got to go to the beach with my Dad and my boys. I decided to take Friday off so I could possibly make it in time to get the packet on Friday so we had all day Saturday to hang out on the beach. Good thing I did take the day off. I worked up to midnight the Thursday before, so I didn’t get a chance to pack or anything until Friday. Most of that week was just running around (pun totally intended) like a crazy woman shoving everything under the door at 11:59. We left Raleigh shortly after 3:00 and got to VA Beach around 6:30, just in time to get my packet and watch the rest of the clouds from Hurricane Earl roll on out of town. We picked up my packet, met my uncle for dinner and went to his house to settle in. On Saturday, my Dad, the boys and I went to the beach and just hung out all day. We met up with Megan, Paul and Lorie for a bit, then went back to the expo to look around, take some free samples and get out of the sun, but we were all getting tired and the boys wanted me to carry them, so I figured it was time to head back. I got the boys some dinner at a fast food joint (didn’t really want to, but they had to have french fries and I was too tired to argue) but I had to make a stop by a grocery store so I could get my usual pre-race dinner: rice, veggies and chicken! I brought some coconut water with me, so I ended up chugging that during dinner. The boys were pretty pooped early on, so we went to bed around 9. I must say, that was probably the hardest I’ve slept in weeks.
I had a couple of alarms set on my phone and had agreed to wake Dad up early so he could help me get the boys up, dressed and ready. He also offered to drive so he could just drop me off (thank God, because he never found a space until after I finished). I got up, made the coffee (we’re a bunch of coffee drinkers in my family, so I had to make a big pot) and ate my oatmeal and bagel, washed down with some coffee and coconut water. Got all the boys up (including the big one) and got them all ready, but I was reeeeaaaaaallllllyyyy nervous and my stomach was in knots. On top of that, I had a killer headache. I figured (because I woke up with a dry mouth) that I was just thirsty so I chugged more water with propel, hoping that would help, and went to the bathroom again. With my Dad’s help, we got the boys into the car and were on our way by about 6:20, a little later than I had hoped. It was cool out, but not as cool as I thought it was going to be, so I was starting to get worried about getting hot… which made my stomach go crazy again. We finally made it to the drop off point on 21st Street at around 6:45, and I had to decide whether or not to check my stuff… I didn’t think I had time so I decided to leave it. With that, all my boys wished me good luck as I hopped out of the car. During the ride, Megan sent me a text that they were all meeting for a group pic. I began to realize that I didn’t make it in time for the photo, but I thought I had time to go to the bathroom just one more time before start. I started to look around and chickened out on waiting in line for a potty – it was sooooo crowded that I worried that I wouldn’t make it back to my corral in time, so I thought to myself “once I start running, I’ll feel better… I’ll feel better”. With that, I took a quick swig of my drink and the announcements started.
I found corral 7 in just enough time to get in and find a space. It was already pretty full, but I managed to worm my way in to folks around me. I was smack in the middle of everyone, and from the smell of things, probably the only one who hadn’t run before the race, which didn’t help my stomach issues any. I spent the only couple of minutes I had sorting out my gadgets and assorted accessories. I had my Nathan Handheld bottle, of course, but I also brought my iPhone, but also my iPod Nano, intending fully to listen to the Nano while the iPhone tracked my run using the GPS and RunKeeper (by the way – my new favorite application… it is free and not only does it route for you, but it gives you current pace, overall pace, and the website shows you elevation, speed and pace overlayed on each other so you can see how hills affected your speed.. and my personal favorite, split speeds!!!) I untangled, plugged in, arranged, rearranged, checked, double checked, pinned, repinned… basically obsessed over everything, but somehow, between all the OCD activity, I did manage to shoot a photo of the sunrise with all the faster folks in front of me.
Then, they announce that the race is starting. I start thinking “I actually DID have time to go to the bathroom…”, but that quickly changed when they started race. This was my first wave start ever, and I must say I was impressed with how easy and quickly things went. It was only 6 minutes from the time Corral 1 left from the time mine (Corral 7) left. Corral 1, off… we move up… then 2, we move up, then 3, we move up, and so on. Only 6 minutes that I had to wait to start – nice!
The actual start was great – the route was good, not too crowded and I started off a little too fast, I think. I decided that, since I could still hear the band, there was no need to start the Nano – I’ll wait until I at least get to .5 mile… besides, the earbuds are wrapped and I’m still passing people, so I thought better of it. The next thing I know, we’re crossing the bridge – now, I’ll be honest, between my stomach and my pounding head, I really don’t have too many clear memories of exact mile markers other than the few I’ll mention specifically. I have no earthly idea how far it was from start to the bridge, but I remember thinking “well… that’s a hill – everybody told me this was flat” ok… that was pretty much the only hill, but I was actually glad to see it… kind of in my element – haha.
After the bridge, I check my pace (honestly, I didn’t look at my distance for a quite some time because I didn’t really want to know) and I’m going pretty slow – slower than I’d like to meet my sub-2:00:00 goal, so I try to speed up a bit (my 5k time was 27:38, and normally, I’m running about a 25 minute 5k). It was around this time, though, that we got to the highway. Keep in mind, I still have not put on my earbuds and I’m running sans “performance enhancing music”, which was actually OK considering I just wasn’t in the mood for anything I had, not even my new Beck song Gamma Ray…. and you all have no idea how much I absolutely love Beck… So… when I don’t have tunes feeding my brain, it starts to wonder around. I hate to admit some of the crap I was thinking, especially because I have told you all before that all logic is out the door when I run long and/or fast, but here goes…
“is that smoke – why does it smell like smoke?” (nope… just morningtime at the beach)
“good Lord… how many people cover Michael Jackson songs?” – (seriously, I heard about 5 or so on the route)
“Who is this covering Bad Criminal? It doesn’t suck as bad as I remember the original sounding – and who’s Eddie?” (still haven’t figured that one out)
“How many schools are here in this town? Are all these cheerleaders from different schools? I wonder if (my cousin) ever did this” (she did)
“I wonder how many people are actually in this today” (14,700+)
“how did these folks get Corral 7 and start walking inside of 5k?” (still curious about that one)
“another band? That wasn’t even a mile yet… or… was it?” (it was, I was just spaced out and deep in thought)
“Did I close the garage door? Of course I did… didn’t I?” (I did, OCD)
“Why did everybody make signs talking about kicking ***… Ooooohhhhh… I finally get ‘kicking ***’ – like you run so fast your feet hit your butt…” (yeah… has a bit of a different context here)
“I wonder if my phone battery will make it to the end of the race” (barely)
“ooohhh…. he’s cute” (haha – that came up a few times)
“What does that tatoo say again? You know… if I ever got a tat, where would I put it?” (still thinking about both of those…)
“hahahah – I love that I’m running through this guy’s legs – I wish I had my camera right now” (Megan got that shot – thank you!!)
“OMG… did I just ‘throw horns’ at a reggae band???” (sad to admit this, but I did)
and so on, until I got to about mile 7… that’s when my stomach issues arose again…. I thought to myself “ok, ok – you’re 1/2 way there, kid, you can do it… but if you see a port-a-john, don’t be afraid to stop”. I was, at this point, on target to come very close to at least my previous 1:55:30 time, and I really, really didn’t want to stop. My 10k time was 54:53, which was better than my official 10K PR time, so I was pretty happy with where I was… my stomach, on the other hand, not so much.
After leaving Camp Pendleton, I saw a few port-a-johns, but passed them by because I thought I could make it. Then, I had a stomach cramp that rivaled my only other 10K attempt – the Capital City classic that I had to run/walk the last 2 miles and almost quit – I didn’t want to quit this one. I had too much pride riding on it, and there were port-a-johns, so I thought “next one I see, i’ll stop”. Right after mile 8, there was a row of them. I lost about 2 minutes total, but I ran into one, went, and ran back out – it was kind of comical. I felt great right after and I felt like I was catching up to some of the folks I had been running with before – my 10-mile time was a respectable 1:30:18.
Kind of went down hill from there… by the time I hit mile 11, I was really dragging – this was after the bridge again and the sun was out… it was starting to get pretty hot and I could tell I was loosing steam. Worse yet, I knew I was only 2 little ole miles from finish… and back on Pacific. I just wanted it to be done. The run up Pacific wasn’t that bad, but the run back down Atlantic before we got on the boardwalk was just stagnent… I could feel the humidity beating on me and the radiant heat from the street – and it really wasn’t that hot. To make matters worse, I started to feel like I was getting nausea, and that is never good. The headache was gone, but the naseua was getting bad. My 11.4 mile time was 1:42:21, a full 12 minutes for less than 1 1/2 mile – and my 12.3 mile time was 1:51:43. All those negative splits were for naught. Finally, we rounded the corner and were on the boardwalk… I’ve never been so happy to see the end of a race. I remember the wind hitting me as soon as I rounded the corner and how good that felt – even for a few seconds. Then, I remember seeing the stage at 5th Street and thinking “only 9 streets to go” only to look up and I’m still only on 8th Street – wtf?? I thought I was running faster than that! What do you mean I’m only on 11th street? ugh… Finally… I see 14th street and I cross the line… amazingly, I actually had a hard time stopping – haha. My official chip time was 1:59:28, inside of my 2 hour goal, just barely.
oh… and I did the whole thing – all 13.1 – no headphones
I crossed the finish line, took as many free drinks as they would give me and got my medal (very pretty, these medals!) My first HM, my legs got very, very stiff right after, so I kept walking until I heard from my Dad. He was worried about the boys getitng away from him while i was running, so I was pretty happy to hear that he got the text messages that I finished and was right there with the boys. When I found them, he told me that he just parked and missed the whole thing – I felt bad for him because he seemed pretty disappointed that he missed it. Next time, we know better about transportation! We walked back to the car to get the bag I was going to check but decided not to so I could change my clothes – then it hit me… my stomach cramped worse than the Capital City 10K and I had to go… now. I ended up going to the medical tent so I could go and changed in the port-a-john after I went… but I just didn’t feel right. I tried eating some of the stuff they gave us in the bag (the fruit and the snacks) but my stomach was just doing summersaults and I was dragging. We went on the pier for a bit to sit down, which helped a little, but really just wanted some pasta and bread to settle things down a bit. I got a message from Katie that they were out on the beach and went out to look for them (near the family reunion section). My battery died as I was texting her back to find out where they were I wondered around looking for a purple shirt, but never found them – sorry guys! By this time, though, I was pretty sure I was dehydrated and I really needed some water and something in my stomach – pronto. We decided to leave the beach and find some place where I could get some spaghetti and breadsticks. I ate most of it and I’ll tell you this: that was the best I felt the rest of that day and the next morning. I ended up sucking down two more coconut waters and almost an entire 12-pack of the water bottles we bought the night before.
Overall, I’m very happy with my results: of 14,800, I came in 3,586 overall, 179 of 1,339 in Female 35-39 division and 1,145 of 8,500 for all women… not too shabby
I will say that I’ve learned a few things as a result of this race, though…
- Generally speaking – and not jusf for any race – I really need to be better focused with my hydration… I’m almost certain that was the cause of almost all of my stomach issues that day, as well as maybe a few other races. I’m making this my number one goal for the next handful of races. The one I did today (9/12) I felt good and well hydrated, but it was a 5k.
- I knew what to expect after the race this time, which, I think, made me a bit more nervous. I’ll have to try harder to keep myself calm and not obsess over stuff like I did this time.
- It is possible for me to run a race – and do well – without my music… never thought I’d say that. I’ll probably still bring it to the next one, though.
- I really love the 13.1 distance – and, having felt the way I did after this race – not sure if 26.2 will happen. Not ruling out… just want to get a few more 13.1s under my belt and feel good after before I make the commitment to twice that distance.
- I need to adjust my trianing to fit my schedule better – I think I got lucky this time, but I’m doubtful that’ll happen again… I don’t want an injury to keep me from my 50-state goal (plus DC – haha).
- I need extra battery power for my iPhone – the GPS is a battery hog!
I’ll keep you posted on my training and other races as I mull over my next hm… until then… I’m just runnin’ with it.