May 5, 2008

Vancouver International Half Marathon

Friday I felt anxious and generally a bit uneasy about the weekend. Work was stressful, I had to pick up a bunch of things after word for the weekend, the group was doing all sorts of hotel shuffling. Once I got home finally and packed up my things Kyle helped me think though my race plan which helped me focus and let everything else go. The plan was to warm up the first half mile then start picking it up into full pace, mile 2 through 6 I would go sub 8 min pace, then mile 6 and 7 ease up a bit to recover for the main hill. Run the hill strong - expect my pace to slow but stay strong. At the top of the hill pick the pace back up and enjoy the down hill. The last 4 miles keep my pace up and at or below 8 min pace. Finish strong! I planned to eat a gel before the race, mile 4, mile 7 and mile 10, and wear my fuel belt. The rest of the night I felt better and just knew what I needed to do - I slept well.

Saturday morning at 6:30a Kyle and I went for a short run to loosen up the legs. I took the first couple minutes easy then played with my leg speed with a few pick ups and then went easy the last couple minutes. I only ran 2.5 miles or so but it only took 17 min :)
We carpooled up to Vancouver with Coach Colleen, Bryan and Miss Piper dog. After checking into the hotel we got to the expo around 4p - the line to pick up the packets was crazy long - out through the lobby - it was messed up. Finally got out bibs and shirts and headed into the expo. We found that the running store that was at the expo carried Powerbar recovery shake - which had been discontinued in the US. So of course we bought 5 cases, and Bryan and Col bought 4 cases. It was cray the shop guys thought we were nuts.
The rest of the evening was pretty mellow - we found a yummy burrito place for dinner, I soaked in the hot tub just long enough to loosen my legs up a bit. Went through my race plan again in my head, including handing off stuff to Col along the course. Then laid out my stuff one last time and went off to bed - I wore my compression capris to bed - yes I'm a nerd - but it felt good. As always before a race I woke up a lot to check what time it was. look out the window and see the city lights.

Three alarms went off at 5:30a. I felt strangely calm still just got ready, nibbled on a bagel, sipped a doubleshot and put a little sunblock on my shoulders. We left the room somewhere around 6:15a to head down to the start. It was sunny out but still a little chilly so even I had not wanted to run I had to so I would not freeze. We got to the start with just enough time to find a good spot, have a gel, and a couple salts. Col took a couple cute pictures.

Then the gun went off and it was time to start. Kyle was out of sight with in moments, and I was surprised Bryan dropped in behind me not next to me but I just went with the flow of the crowd. It was weird it was so easy, my breathing was so calm that I was surprised when I heard other people breathing hard. I barley noticed when I went past the first mile. My legs felt great, I already had my gloves off. My only issue was that my fuel belt kept sliding up - so I finally pulled my shirt out from under it and then it stayed in place. I drank some cytomax just to stay on my plan and when I was putting it back in my belt I dropped it and had to turn and grab it. Bryan was a few steps behind me the whole time, I told him it felt so easy. lol I got right back in my rhythm. By mile 2 I already had my arm warmers off and tucked into my belt. I ate my gel at mile 4, took a salt just in case at mile 5.
I was so happy to see Col at mile 5ish and tossed my arm warmers and gloves to her. She seemed almost surprised to see me so soon but who knows. I was just happy I was on pace - actually under pace :) The miles just kind of flew by, I was always surprised to hear my garmin beep at me, and see the mile markers. Mile 6 I let my legs slow down a bit and almost recover a bit. Even so I kept both Mile 6 and 7 under 8 min pace. I took another gel at mile 7 to get ready for the hill.
I forced myself to not be scared or the hill - honestly I did not really remember what it was like from last year other than there was an aid station at the top. So I kept telling myself stay strong, use your arms, keep going till you see the aid station - then you know it is the top. Go figure there was no aid station at the top this year. As planned mile 8 and 9 were slower.
The run down hill was wonderful - I used it to help loosen my legs up and lengthen my stride.
Before mile 10 I ate my final gel and some cytomax to wash it down with so that I knew I would be good the rest of the way to the finish. I saw Col again just after mile 10 and tossed her my fuel belt - which felt great to unload. Though I had to consitrate on holding my lower abs in with out the belt forcing them in esp as I finished the last bit of downhill.
It probably was not till around 11.5 miles that I started to feel my legs a bit - it was still not bad but definatly not as easy at teh first half of the race. I switched teh view on my garmin from pace, and mile time to overall time and focused on keeping my pace up as much as I could. I knew I was on track but am horrible at doing math when running so I was not compely sure I would make my 1:45 goal for sure. I knew I would be close and kept at it.
The last little uphill is short - last year they had a great steel drum band but this year nothing.. But you turn the corner and there starts to be a crowd of people lining teh course. It is almost like a false finish because people are cheering and yet you still have just under a mile to go. I just trie dto keep my pace even. I did not want to overdue it and not be able to finish strong.
The last mile definatly felt like the longest - I kept checking my time just to be sure. I saw Col just outside the finish shoot and she was cheering and remined me to smile (I think). I knew I had it or would be very very close. I picked up the pace a little bit once I hit the finish shoot. Kyle was about halfway and cheered and told me to pick it up and that I did it. I just kept going and smiled. It was funny I almost cried I was so happy that I did it.
I crossed the finish line and the clock read 1:45:49 but my chip time was 1:45:06! My overall place 652, place in gender 173/3583, and place in age group 38/643. Which is so cool I was in the top 40 - that is huge.

Kyle and I waited for Bryan then we all headed into the stadium to get some snacks and meet up with Col. We all reached a PR for the day and we happy and tired.

I am definatly going to save the memory of how wonderful it felt to cross that finish line right on my goal time for those days when I struggle in training or durring a hard race. Talk about positive reinforcement. The best part is that I stuck with both my physical and mental race plan - I never really stressed out or went to a negative place. I just stayed focused on what I needed to do next and did it. I feel like I just started to find or tap into my potential or believe in it - everyone else semms to have known already. This was really the first race I really truelly enjoyed as a race with a time goal. Mentally I feel I have turned a corner and now I am excited about what the summer and the next coupel of years may hold for me. I feel like I can own my goals and believe in myslef to achieve them and it is not just about finishing anymore. I can race and have fun racing :)

I have to say a HUGE thanks to Coach Colleen at Tri-Style. Also thanks to Monique at Elements Pilates for making me strong, and of course Kyle for letting me chase him in training and for sharing some of his speed with me.

1 comment:

NW Firefly said...

You make your mother proud!
Love to you!