As I have said, working + mothering + running just doesn't allow for blogging, unfortunately. Wish I could update this more! Recap: the last time I wrote, I had just DNF'ed ("did not finish") the Run Like a Girl half marathon on October 5. Since then, I have had a complete work-up with a cardiologist, including another EKG, an echocardiogram, and wearing a Holter monitor for 48 hours. All of that amounted to.... nada. I am as fit as a fiddle. In other words, we probably will never know exactly why I collapsed at mile 11 of the race. The best that anyone can gather is that it was a combination of things... perhaps a virus, perhaps dehydration, perhaps low blood sugar. The bottom line is that I am allowed to run, and that makes me happy!
On to the present. Prior to running in the half marathon, I had registered for an awesome 4-mile race at my alma mater, Ohio State, which is being held today. However, after the half, all I could think about was finding another half to run in ASAP. I smartly chose to NOT run in the Columbus Half Marathon, which was 2 weeks after my race. I really don't think I was ready to run in another race at that point. I worked on getting my miles back up again, and found a race in nearby Granville, the Fall into Winter 13.1. I wasn't sure about this race at first. Granville is notoriously hilly (and we all know how I feel about hills!). However, two weeks ago a friend and I went out there and ran 12 miles on the trail where the race would take place, and realized it was on an old railroad line. Out-and-back, very slight incline on the way out, and then very slight decline on the way back. Gorgeous scenery, farms and woods with fall foliage abound... what wasn't there to love? Oh and did I mention that it was only $40 to register? Cha-ching! I signed up after our training run, and was ready to roll yesterday.
The strangest part about this race was the start time: 2:00 PM. I have ran a race at 6 PM, and many races at 7:00 or 8:00 AM. But 2 PM is just... weird. I had no clue how to eat the day of the race, and of course had the kids to take care of all morning (Joe was in Cincinnati with Joey at a flag football tournament all day). I ended up having my favorite breakfast (2 eggs scrambled + 2 pieces of toast), and then an early lunch of PB&J and a banana. In retrospect, I could have had a bit more to eat, but I was worried that might come back to haunt me, so I didn't.
I ran the race with two friends, Adele and Jeanne-Marie. Adele is the friend who ran the training run out in Granville with me two weeks ago. Her son and Joey are in school together, and we became friends a couple of months ago when our boys both joined the same select soccer team. She's a pro--has ran in halfs, fulls, and even a half-Ironman. Jeanne-Marie is in one of my running Facebook groups. We've ran a couple of times together. Like me, she's a relative newbie to racing, but she ran her first half in Columbus a few weeks ago and went 1:58, so she's definitely amazing! My race plan was to run with my friends, but to stick with my own happy pace. Goal #1 was NO miles under 9:00 for the first five miles. I feel that this was one problem at Run Like a Girl... I had planned on staying between 9:00-9:15 for the first five miles, but I started out at 8:57 and from there couldn't slow down. It sapped all of my energy. Jeanne-Marie can take things out strong, so I let her know that I was going to be sticking at my 9:00+ for awhile.
It was a perfect race afternoon on paper... 60 degrees (felt like 52 or so). Sunny and gorgeous. One factor that was not so perfect was the 15-18 mph wind that was hitting us from the south/southwest. When it picked up... brrr! And it was STRONG! The race was very very small. Less than 100 people running (about 2/3 of them were women). Because of the location of the trail as well as the size of the race, there was very little crowd support. I had decided at the last minute to run sans music. My friends and I did an easy quarter-mile jog to get warmed up, and then it was time to race! Both the start and the finish were on about .1 of a mile of uneven grass that led up to the trail. As we ran past the small crowd cheering at the start, I knew that grass wasn't going to be fun at the end of the race!
As predicted, Jeanne-Marie went out a bit fast, but Adele and I were able to settle into a comfortable pace. She has an incredible knack for knowing what pace we are running at without even looking at her Garmin, and is great about reeling me in when I get carried away (happens often LOL). So the first five miles went exactly as I had planned. Unfortunately, I had to leave Adele at around mile 4.2 or so, as she was dropping off of the 9:05-ish pace that we'd set. We had talked about it, though, and I knew she would be okay with it. I caught up to Jeanne-Marie at around mile 5. She wasn't in a good place already, I could tell. We ran together for about a mile, but again, I realized that the pace wasn't there for her, so I forged on by myself. The wind was definitely not helping matters. There were times when we would run by a corn field that was recently harvested and I thought I might be knocked over! It was all I could do to keep running, honestly. I kept waiting and waiting for the turn-around at 6.55 miles. It FINALLY came at 6.75 miles, which meant that the total race was going to be 13.5 miles, NOT 13.1 miles as advertised. To non-runners, .4 of a mile is nothing. To runners, that is a TON... a good 4 minutes or so of running for those in my pace bracket!
During miles 5.5-6.5, I kept myself mentally engaged by counting the runners passing me on their way back. I had gotten up to around 15 men and around 8 women when I hit the turn-around, and I was pretty pleased with where I was at. Feeling pretty good overall at that point. The first mile or so back toward the start was awesome. The trail was at a decline, there was very little wind, and getting to see my friends run by... I had to force myself to stay calm and not over-run too early. Reality hit me at around mile 9 or so. The wind came back full-force, and the decline was basically gone. I was focusing on picking off my competitors as well as gradually increasing my speed. Things were going well in this department till mile 11, when I started to get really tired, and my breathing got ragged. I was worried... would I be able to finish this race? I passed a girl who was in worse shape than me, and asked her if she was okay. We chatted for a bit... it was her second half marathon, and she had ran a 1:47 at her first. Can you say Speedy Gonzalez?!! She didn't have a Garmin, and the mile markers were few and far between, so I updated with where we were at for mileage and pace. She fell off the pace quickly, and I continued to try to do what I could to stick with my plan of negative splitting. I knew at that point that I was very likely going to be able to go sub-1:55, based on my splits. That definitely kept me going! My other big issue: at around 11.5 miles, my right calf started to "twinge", like it wanted to cramp up. If it had, I knew I'd have to walk, so I just kept praying it wouldn't. Thankfully it held out the entire way. I had been trying to pass one woman in particular for about 4 miles, and finally overtook her at around mile 12. At mile 12.5, we crossed a small road and the race organizer was there stopping traffic for us to cross. I yelled at him, "This is NOT mile 12.5, FYI!" My Garmin clearly read 12.9 at that point.
I contemplated stopping my Garmin at 13.1, but instead just looked at my watch and noted the time: 1:54:18. I had done it!!! A sub-1:55 half! I was still really annoyed that I had another .4 miles to run, though. Ugh, too far. It was never-ending, that last part of the race, but I trudged in on that grassy field and finally crossed the finish line at a gun-time of 1:57:57. My splits...
Upon finishing, I immediately started to cry from the pain and fatigue. Lots of emotion!!! After I had my mini-meltdown, I grabbed water and a banana and chatted with the other finishers about the extra .4 of a mile, which they all had logged on their Garmins as well (see, runners are obsessive!). Then I walked around and watched the finishers and waited for my two friends to come in. Adele ran in at around 2:08 and Jeanne-Marie came in a couple of minutes later. Jeanne-Marie had a really rough race and was not happy with herself, but I hugged her and told her it was all good... she had just ran a half three weeks prior, after all!
The fatigue and soreness set in immediately after my race. I was so thankful that I had brought my 110% compression sleeves and ice packs... they slide right into the sleeves, and it was heaven to get that ice on my sore calves. I made sure to foam roll when I got home, and took a nice Epsom salt bath. Even after all that, I am feeling it this morning, that's for sure! But wow, am I ever proud of myself. A six-minute PR! Amazing :) Overall, I was the 5th fastest woman, and I was 2nd in my age group (30-39 year olds). Granted, it was a small race, but that still rocks :) Only 12 guys beat me, also... go me!
So, what's next? I can tell you what is NOT next... I am not running in today's 4-mile race! Thankfully, a friend's husband bought my bib from me. I had considered walking the race, but glad I made the decision this week to just skip it. I will definitely run in it next year, as you get to run in the stadium--too cool! I have several friends who are running in shorter races on Thanksgiving, but I am not planning on doing any of those. There is a 4-miler at Sharon Woods (a local park) in December that I could possibly see myself doing, provided there isn't snow or ice on the ground (or that it's not sub-zero outside!). As far as my next long race... I am torn between running Cap City again at the beginning of May and going for a new PR (maybe sub-1:50?!!), or maybe... just maybe... running in my first full marathon (a whole 26.2 miles!) in the spring. There is a very flat race out in Toledo at the end of April. I am just not sure I can commit to the training needed to run a full. So we'll see how it all pans out. For now, I will just enjoy running with my friends on weekends, and try to fit in my runs on weekdays.... AFTER I recover from this race. :)