Thursday, January 20, 2011

September 5, 2010 - First Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran my first half marathon. My friend Jenny and I ran the Idaho State Journal Pocatello Half Marathon. It was a great experience!  I finished the 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 4 minutes, which I feel pretty good about.  The course had a lot more uphill than we expected and it was HOT for the second half of the race, but it was great. :)
We left home late on Friday afternoon and drove to Pocatello. First we got our race packets which were really nice! We each got a great backpack, our bib and timing chip, technical shirt, some flyers and samples, and a bag of potatoes!  We checked into our hotel room, drove to where we needed to catch the bus to the starting line the next morning just to be sure we could find it easily, and then went and had dinner at Applebees.
The car ride, the adult conversation and the dinner out, all without any kids was actually a really nice break. :)
We got our stuff set up for the morning and got to bed around 11pm. I got up around 5:15 and got ready. I was excited and somewhat nervous. I haven't been too nervous for other races, but I wasn't sure how my hip would do, I had never raced that long of a distance, and I really wanted to do well.
The air was chilly when we left at 6:15am, but it was warm enough that I could tell it wasn't going to feel chilly for long. We got over to where we parked and got on the bus that would take us to the starting line. It was fun to see all of the different people that were doing the race. If you've never been to a race it is really cool to see the variety of people that run these things... old, young, fat, skinny and everything inbetween! It was fun listening to coversations too. There were a lot of very experienced runners.
I have to say that that bus ride felt like FOREVER. We were cruising along at 65mph and all I could think was that since we started at the finish line, that we had to run all the way back. I kept wondering when he would stop driving us further away. :)
We got out at the starting line and everything continued to run really smoothly (the race was just super well-organized and well-run). They had plenty of port-a-potties at the start and a UPS truck and two UPS guys who were taking our race backpacks with anything we didn't want to run with back to the finish line. As we got close to the start I took off my sweatshirt and put it in the backpack and checked it in, and then put on my sunglasses  and got my music ready. My saw a couple of people we knew from home which was nice.
The race started right on time at 8am and we were off! As soon as I started running I felt a lot less nervous. When we started the weather was perfect. It was cool, there was no sun on us and the course was a slight down hill.
There were lots of people around which was fun, and it was motivating to pass people although we were trying hard to not start off too fast because we had a long way to go and wanted to conserve energy. Our first couple of miles were all at about a nine minute mile. (My goal was to be under 2 hours and 11 minutes, which would mean under a 10 minute a mile pace).
The course had a lot of hills! It looked pretty flat on the course map but we had quite a few long uphill pulls. Jenny and I train a lot on hills so we felt great on them in the race, but they definitely used up a lot of energy.
I had to run into a port-a-potty around mile six (which is right around when my stomach usually bugs me). Jenny kept running but I was able to catch back up to her pretty quickly. For the next few miles I felt really good. I was in a "groove", my stomach was settled, my hip wasn't bugging me, my legs felt strong and I was really enjoying everything. The sun came out though, and it just kept getting hotter. You could feel it just sapping your energy and slowing you down. Stupid sun! Somewhere in between the ninth and tenth mile  all of a sudden I was hit with a cramp "wave". My stomach cramped, I got the chills, and one of my calves cramped really bad. I have never had a calf cramp when I was running before. Luckily there was a port-a-potty super close so I ran into there quick, and then when I came out I stretched out my calves and downed some Gatorade super fast and took off again. (I had been drinking throughout the race and even had my own handheld bottle, but apparently I didn't drink enough to counter the sun and the heat).
I was afraid I wouldn't be able to run if my calf didn't relax and my body didn't bounce back, and I would be stuck walking the last three miles or so, but the calf loosened back up and for the last three miles of the race I felt awesome. I got a second wind and actually felt myself getting stronger and stronger.
Jenny and I stayed together the whole time, except for my two quick stops. I was able to catch her again each time, but right after I got my second wind she stopped at an aide station and I kept going because I just started feeling good again. I kept waiting for her to pop up again at my side but she said that while she could see me, she couldn't catch back up.
My marathon training book says that in an ideal race, you start off slow and get faster as you go, and finish strong. Well, if that is true, I did it right. My last mile was definitely my fastest, and I stopped counting how many people I passed when I got to 50 (there were also people finishing a full marathon, a 10K and a 5K at the same time as we all had the same final miles and finish line). I was really running hard and it felt awesome. I felt strong and fast. When I crossed that finish line it was awesome. I would not have been able to maintain that pace for even another half a mile, so I think I pushed it just right.
I turned around to cheer for Jenny coming in, and she was just two minutes behind me.
We got our medals and then laid down on the cool grass and took off our running shoes, which felt awesome.  We were both really happy with how we did. I know we both would have LOVED to have been under two hours, but we beat our goal and I am confident that if the conditions had been different (less hills and cooler temps) that we could have been under two hours.
And best of all, my hip felt fine! It never did hurt during the race, and after a quick stretch it felt just great. Both of my hips are tired today, but they feel good tired... like I ran hard and long, which I did, and not like "injured".
Gosh it was fun! We drank some chocolate milk and water, stretched, walked around, got our backpacks, took some quick pictures and then got in the car and headed home. Neither of us want to eat right after a run, but about an hour and half into the ride home we were STARVING. We found a truck stop restaurant and ate biscuits and gravy and hash browns (and Jenny had an omelet) and it tasted so, so, so good. I even drank a real Dr. Pepper. :)
I ended up placing 28th out of 63 women in the 30-34 age group, 75th out of all 238 women, and 149th out of all 400 and something runners (men and women). Not bad for my first half marathon.
I would definitely recommend this race for anyone in the area. It was really well run. Everything went smoothly! The course was nice (although not super easy or super scenic). The goodie bag was nice, the timing chips were nice (right in the number bib), the finish line area was nice, there were tons of aide stations and support on course... it was all really great. My only complaint was that I wish it had started an hour or two earlier. An earlier start would have saved us from the strong sun and heat.
Oh, and I really enjoyed my IPOD on this race. I haven't run with it in a long time and it was kind of a nice change (especially since I wasn't wasting oxygen to chat with Jenny much!) I got mad at Fergie when she sang "I can't go on any further than this" in Meet Me Halfway (shut up Fergie! You are NOT helping!) BUT, the song that happened to be playing during my last mile and when I crossed the finish line was MatchBox 20 "How Far We've Come".  Does it get any more perfect than that? When the lyrics said,
"Well I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend,
Let's see how far we've come
Let's see how far we've come" it was pretty darn cool!
We didn't get any before pics, but here are a couple of after shots.

Everybody needs a friend like Jenny. :)
IMG_3431
Yeah... this is super goofy.
IMG_3432
I will post the link to my race photos when they are up (if they aren't too scarey!)
Now I jump into week six of my marathon training... watch out Vegas, here I come. :)

No comments: