Tacoma Narrows Half Race Re-Cap

I almost don’t even know what to say.  Let’s start with I DID IT!!!!  I started, I finished, and I have an awesome new Half PR of 2:09:28…10 minutes faster than my old PR!  

Finally able to smile and enjoy the accomplishment!

The reality is though this is what the finish line really looked like for me…
The woman in the light blue shirt just behind me…remember her, she’s important!  

 Collin keeping me on my feet…I was not feeling well at all.

 Emotional fall-out!  Could not stop crying.

I was a little lost as to what my specific goal should be, and what pace I’d actually be able to do since I missed so much training with the knee issue.  After my 12 miler though it looked like something between 2:00 and 2:10 would be a good goal to shoot for.  So, I lined up right behind the 2:10 pacer and we took off. 
I felt really strong at the start and passed up the pacer pretty quickly, my plan at that point was to keep 2:10 behind me clear to the finish.  By mile 3 I was with the 2:00 pace group and it felt good…I didn’t feel like I was running faster than I should have been (I did freak out a little in my head though…who did I think I was running with the 2:00 group?!).  Even though I ran with my GPS I didn’t look at it once.  I have a bad habit of looking at the watch and getting stressed if I’m too slow, and slowing myself down if I think I’m going faster than I’m capable of.  I’m pretty even paced naturally (according to running buddies) so I decided to just go with what felt good.  (After looking at my splits for each mile I was running a pace that is good for me from the start.  I thought maybe I started too fast, but I really didn’t).  
I felt pretty great the first 6 to 7 miles.  I was getting too hot though and kept having to take my hat off and let the breeze cool me off, then I’d put it back on.  I thought about ditching it, but it’s Mark’s hat, plus my hair was a mess and even though I was getting way too hot I didn’t want my finish line photos to be with messy, sweaty, hat hair.  Stupid I know.  
Mile 9 I saw Dad for the last time before the finish and by then I was fighting to keep calm.  I was starting to feel sick from the heat, the only thing that wasn’t bothering my tummy was water, and my legs felt like bricks. It was a struggle at that point to keep going.  I almost started crying when I saw him, but managed to hold it together and after a short walk break with him/trying to get some electrolytes I took off again because the 2:10 pacer was right behind me.  Dad had my hand held water bottle, so I took it with me and figured maybe drinking water more often than the aid stations would help, but by that point in the race I was already in trouble, and the water bottle was so heavy my arms just couldn’t do it.  I ended up ditching it at the 10 mile marker.  
By this point it was a cat and mouse game with the 2:10 pacer.  I had to walk a few times to keep from vomiting and every time the pacer was catching me just as my tummy calmed down enough for me to run again.  I’ll tell you that last 3.1 was the longest 5k of my life, and the last mile I was pulling out every trick I could mentally to keep going.  But, with about .6 to go one of my legs locked and I almost fell.  I wanted to stop so bad but managed to stay on me feet and keep going, constantly looking over my shoulder for the pacer, she was so close! 
That’s when the lady in the blue shirt saved me!  As she was passing me she looked back at me, reached out her hand and said “Come with me, we will finish together, I’ll get you to the finish”.  She must have seen the panic on my face, I was so close to the finish and so close to loosing it all.  So I ran with her.  She talked to me the whole time and was so encouraging!  As soon as I could see the opening to the shoot I told her to go ahead and go (she still had a finishing sprint in her legs…I did not) and she asked if I was sure.  She wouldn’t leave until I promised her I was going to make it and not stop.
I’m glad Dad got that picture of me double over with her in it, because I was out of it, my vision was flashing black and I was dizzy…I had no idea she was right there next to me after the finish line…I would have given her the biggest hug if I had known.       
I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.  Everything was so overwhelming.  Every hug and every word of congratulations just made me cry.  Pulling off a PR when there were points that I didn’t even know if I’d be able to finish was just a lot for me to take in.  
I won’t be chasing another Half PR any time soon, maybe never, but for now I’m really proud of myself! While I had awesome support along the way I was out there alone for 13.1 miles, and I got myself through it…I didn’t let myself down and I’m really proud of myself for getting it done!  
A few things I learned along the way: 
-Races/courses run previously with a friend are a lot harder, and a lot less fun when alone! 
-While I’m super proud of accomplishing my goal…that is not the kind of running I enjoy.  I would rather run an easier pace and/or run with a friend(s) and enjoy it more, actually be able to smile at the finish.  
-The issues I have running in the heat are not just a fluke.  It’s happened enough now that I will most likely be skipping August races, or at least the half distance.  The shorter distances may be doable still.
Next up is the You Go Girl Half the middle of Sep which I’m actually dropping down to the 10K.  I need a break from the half, it’s not a course I like very much, and I need a 10K to PR, and this one is a PR course, so it all works out for the best.  
PR goal #1 for the year done.  Now, to go get #2…I actually think the 10K is the hardest distance for me, so will see what happens.  🙂
For now I’m going to enjoy this one for a bit, rest the legs this week and focus on some fun running before thinking to much about You Go Girl.  
All the photos are from Dad and/or Mark!

Race For A Soldier Re-Cap

My mind is a little bit all over the place with this race…lot’s of emotions and excitement about finishing and reaching my goal!

The facts:
-Well organized.
-Supports an awesome cause (PTSD treatment for soldiers).
-Challenging yet fun course.
-Plenty of bathrooms.
-While it didn’t start on time it wasn’t their fault…it was mother nature.  There was a downed big shrub/tree thing on the course that had to be cleared away.
-We totally got lucky with the weather, only a little bit of rain and only a few windy spots.  Was ready for it to be so much worse!
-Amazing community support with spectators and groups cheering you along the majority of the route.
-Parking is no fun, but that is the case with most races around here.
-Early bird registration is a reasonable price, even though I don’t remember what it was I remember feeling good about it.
-Free pacers.
-Love the heavy dog tag medal.

-This is a run every year race for me.  While it’s a really challenging course with one killer hill, and lot’s of other not so fun ones thrown in, the community support and beauty of running in Gig Harbor make it totally worth it!

Staying warm with throw-away shirt and blanket before the start.  Yes I know I look like a hobo.
It’s emotional because running a 1/2 is a still a big deal for me (actually running any race is a big deal still!).  It takes so much effort and determination to train, run the race, and finish that it feels like a major accomplishment.  Finishing this race was a double accomplishment because not only was I crossing the race finish line, but I was crossing the finish line of my running goal for the year…Half Fanatics!  
It’s official…registration fee paid and the sticker is on my car to prove it!  
The biggest reason I was near tears multiple times though is because I got to run all three races (and almost all the training runs) with Michelle!  Not very many people would go from “I’m going to run my first half and see if I like it or not” to “I’ll run 3 half marathons with my friend and be a Half Fanatic with her” at the drop of a hat!  Who does that?!  Michelle that’s who! 
It’s still amazing to me that we only started running a few years ago, and back then we only wanted to do 5K’s.  Running more than 3 miles was such a big deal that we would leave her car at one end of our training route and mine at the other, so we wouldn’t have to run an extra half mile or mile to get back to the car once we hit our 3 miles.  Now, we run 1/2 marathons!!!
The best part about yesterdays race was we went into it relaxed with the only goal being to finish.  Time/pace was a non-factor.  This last race was primarily about qualifying for Half Fanatics, and not about the race itself.  Totally took all the pressure off.  It was really nice to have fun, enjoy the course and the support, and accomplish a goal with my best friend.   
Thank you Michelle for being such an awesome friend and running partner.  2013 will forever be our summer of running!   
A big shout out to Elya who ran 30+ weeks pregnant!  Girl you inspire me.  I’m so proud of you pushing yourself to get through this one!  Now, rest and relax…Whidbey Island 1/2 training starts before you know it!  🙂
To keep this from getting too long and emotional Thank You to Mark, Bob, the kiddos, Dad, Fleet Feet Sports Tacoma, the Stroller Running Group, Yannick (was waiting near the finish with my 1/2 fanatic window sticker for my car…he is an awesome run supporter!), Amy, Jodi, Mom, Elya, Eleanor, Skinny Runner (perfect advice on how to handle the short time between race #1 and #2), everyone who posts on FB/Instagram/sends text messages/emails/calls offering support/encouragement/good luck.  It all helps get me to the start of each race and carries me through to the finish!   
Enjoying a rest day today…knees are a bit sore from all the hills…and then tomorrow starts a few 30 day challenges.  More on that tomorrow though.  🙂
P.S. This is so silly I probably shouldn’t even share it…I got to do two things I have always wanted to do at a race 1. Rip clothing off and toss it aside as I warmed up, and 2.  We got the silver space blanket things as we finished…totally made me feel like a “real” runner wrapped up in my silver blanket…because running a 1/2 isn’t real runner enough.  🙂

See Jane Run Recap

I’ll do an event review later, this is purely about race day and my/our experience.

Official time: 2:24:05…not 2:18 like I thought.  My watch tracks moving time and overall time.  Moving time was 2:18 which means I spent 6 ish minutes stopped in the outhouse and/or doubled over with hands on my knees trying not to throw up while wishing I could throw up and be done with it. 

And, that pretty much says it all about how it went down for me. 

Do you have any idea how irritated I am with myself for being the one to make Michelle miss the 2:20 goal by 4 f’ing minutes!  Like a truly good friend she stuck with me even though I know in my heart she was having a stronger run and could have finished under 2:20.  She stayed with me, talked me through the GI issues, the burning hot with the chills at the same time issues, and kept my feet moving. 

Before I get to the details overall I had fun.  Just want to be clear about that, I had fun running with my best friend.  Even though parts of it sucked, and I was the closest to DNF’ing (did not finish) I have ever been, I still had fun, and I’m looking forward to the next 1/2 in 3 weeks. 

Done and in the books. 
I was on the verge of tears the first two miles just being excited about if finally being race day, my knee not hurting, running with Michelle and it being her first 1/2.  The race started out great actually.  There was a long out and back, but because we had friends running as well it was fun to keep an eye out for them and give high fives and shout outs.  Once we passed all our peeps though it was not as fun.  I (and I’m sure every runner out there) hate knowing that every step out = a step back along the same path.  LAME!  The last out and back was by far the worst.  You run past the start/finish area, can hear all the fun and announcements, but have to go right on by and keep going for what seemed like forever before you turn around.  
That last out and back is where it really started hitting me.  My legs felt like lead, I was burning up hot and sweating like crazy, but every breeze and every patch of shade gave me the chills so bad that my legs were covered in goose bumps, and my GU was hitting me wrong.  I felt so bad that at the aid stations I couldn’t tell if I needed electrolytes or water.  I would take Gatorade because while my legs weren’t cramping they weren’t moving like they should either, but it was making my stomach feel so raw.  
At some point after the 10 mile mark Michelle suggested I take my top off and just run in my sports bra.  While I didn’t love the idea of running in my bra you get to a point that you are so tired, sore, ready to be done that you just don’t give a shit.  So I took the tank top off and it did feel a little better.  It cut down on the chills not having a soaking wet tank against my skin, and the breeze dried the sweat on my body instead of making the tank feel cold.  She also suggested dumping water on my head to help cool myself off.  Even though I felt cold I was clearly overheated.  At the last two aid stations I took water to dump and Gatorade to drink.  
That got me through to 13, and as soon as Michelle saw the finish line she hit turbo boost and took off!  I was hanging on for dear life to keep up with her.  I wish I knew what the pace was for that .1 (for some reason my watch only has the race at 12.89, and I could do some math and figure it out, but it’s beyond me at this point) because it has to be close to the fastest I have ever run! 
Almost at the finish line.
Good grief look at how white that stomach is!!!  And, really bad form on my part with the heel strike and my shoulders turning so much.  Clearly in the next few weeks I need to work on that during my training runs!  YIKES! 
I don’t really remember hearing or seeing anyone along the finish shoot.  I just wanted to hang with Michelle and be done with it. 
After water, food, chocolate and champagne, and putting my top back on we are both feeling much better! 
It’s hard to know what exactly contributed to my rough day.  I felt really strong going into this.  Our 12 mile training run was awesome, we ran the whole thing with no walking breaks, I felt like I still had 1.1 in my legs, and we kept a good pace.  I felt totally ready for this race. 
What I was not ready for was the heat.  I had no idea that my GU would not only taste terrible in the heat, but would be hard to swallow and hit my stomach like a brick.  I have trained with GU for over a year and never had any issues.  But, and this is a big but, this was my first run of any kind in heat.  Our long runs were all early morning, cool and our 12 miler we were rained on the entire time so our body temp was pretty perfect.  Clear blue sky and sunny hot weather is a new one for me and I didn’t handle it well. 
I don’t want to say it’s all the heat, because I did miss two training runs, ate a little differently the night before the race, spent the night not in my own bed, walked around a little in Seattle the day before…and on and on.  There are a zillion little factors that can add up to a really hard day.
But, I don’t feel like any of those little things are the “reason” why I almost didn’t finish.  I’m focusing on the heat issue, especially since my next 1/2 is most likely going to be just as hot, if not more so. 
Changes I have already decided to make:
-I’m getting a hand-held water bottle and running with my own hydration.  Nuun works really well for my and my stomach so that is what I will be drinking for the next one. 
-I will not be using GU in the heat again.  The Power Bar gel bites have worked well in the past so will use those next time.  They should fit in the zipper pouch of the hand-haled water bottle I want as well. 
-Zella has an open back tank top that I may get.  There would be much less sweat soaked fabric stuck to my back.  Fleet Feet also has some really light/see through tanks in the store that may work.    
-I’m going to do all my runs the next few weeks in low cut socks, no compression.  I have some wicked blisters that perfectly correspond to the stitching of the compression socks I was wearing.  So, in order to cut down on how much I’m wearing and help with the blisters I will run in low socks and put the compression on after to try and help prevent my propensity for shin splints.  However, if I find my shins start to hurt even a little I will go back to compression.  I can handle blisters, I can’t handle shin splints at all. 
-While I hate visors I may break down and get a visor.  Maybe shading my face from the sun a bit would help me feel less overheated. 
-Between Elya, Michelle and Dad and Val I have awesome support along the route for the next one.  I’m going to take advantage of every offer they have made to either run with me, or be stationed along the way with fresh socks, my 2nd pair of shoes, orange slices, or whatever else I may need.
I’m so thankful I was running with Michelle.  She gets all the credit for keeping me in this one.  She was calm, didn’t get upset when I had to stop or needed to walk for a few.  Each time I doubled over she made sure I was ok to keep going and then talked me through getting my legs moving again.  I really don’t think I would have tried to make it much past the 8 mile mark if not for her.  She pretty much ran for two the second half of the race.  I’m so thankful she stuck with me and that we got to finish her fist 1/2 together! 
We got a nice slow easy walk in this morning and we both felt better after.  My knee quite hurting after our walk as well.  Just had to get the blood flowing again I guess. 
Now for a few days of rest and then it’s on to getting ready for the next one! 
Anyone have any hot weather running/fueling tips?   
Race review/highlights of our day in Seattle tomorrow!