It’s been a while since I posted, but I was in a running funk and didn’t feel like posting much. I definitely over scheduled the races this year, and was feeling it. To be honest, I was really close to backing out of this race. I had race insurance and could have easily skipped it had I gone to the doctor with any one of the number of my legitimate aches and pains, and I know he would have written a note, told me not to run, and then I could have gotten my money back. It was certainly tempting. As I like to tell my friends who have a lot of confidence in me “you don’t know me, I’m a quitter.”
Because of a crazy race schedule and then a crazy personal schedule, my training was not as solid as I would have liked. That’s actually an understatement. I skipped or cut short lots of long runs and some of my 4-5 mile runs on weekdays ended up being 3, just because that’s more fun. My Hubs was away a lot for work, or had to go in early, so some weekday runs were on the treadmill and some were just skipped altogether. I think, had I been more excited about this race, I would have tried to make things work out a little better. But honestly I was just over racing for the year.
Encouraged by my friend Liz, I did manage to get in a 10 mile run 2 weeks ago. It was hard but not awful and that boosted my confidence that I could finish. There is a common theme in my life, and that is that Liz is always right. In all honestly, Wineglass has a 7 hour time limit for their half (because it’s point to point and the marathon starts behind the half) so I could have walked the whole thing and still come in under time. But who the heck wants to do that. I’d be out there ALL DAY.
I was also bummed about the race because two of my good friends were originally going to be there too, and for various reasons were unable to make it. I was lucky that I had some other friends that were still able to make it and Becca let me crash with them in their hotel room. This included our Ragnar team mates, Day and Bruno, who were staying in the room and running too. It was good motivation to be surrounded by people with big goals before the race.
I went to Corning the night before and hit the expo for a few minutes. Becca had picked up my bib, so I just wanted to wander and see what was there. Because the Pittsburgh Marathon expo has ruined all other expos (because it’s so awesome) there wasn’t much to hold my interest. I thought about buying something from the Another Mother Runner booth, but I stopped myself since I am trying to minimize what I own, not add on. In what is now a ritual, I bought new socks. I don’t know why, but I end up buying socks at every race expo. Now I feel like I just have to continue it. We walked around a bit and enjoyed the town. Day called it “precious” about 10 times and I have to agree with her.
We ate dinner at a little places call Louies which was located in Horseheads, NY. (As a side note, that town OWNS it’s name. There are horse heads everywhere. No whole horses. Just the heads.) Dinner was pasta and chicken and then it was time for bed.
The next morning we planned to be at the buses around 5:45. Wineglass requires that you take the bus to the start line. We were a little later than planned, but it was a good thing since it was COLD and any additional time was really just time to try to keep warm. Parking was fairly easy and for some reason they grabbed us and stuck us on a bus while we were walking by, despite there being other people in line.
After a short bus ride we arrived at the start and were allowed to wait inside the school that was there. We were required to be on the way to the start line by 7:30 in order to start the race. I made sure to give myself plenty of time to use the bathroom since I was in the porta potty when the gun went off at this same race last year. (Seriously, nothing scarier for your FIRST half marathon than to be not at the start line when it was time to go. It all worked out though)
I positioned myself between the 2:30 and 2:45 pacer. I don’t think it was as much wishful thinking as it was learning that going behind the 2:45 pacer often leaves me stuck with people who are walking from the beginning. There is nothing wrong with doing that, but it makes me go faster than I should as I get caught up in passing people. Also It can get annoying when you can’t get around people when you want to.
I probably had the 2:30 pacer in my sights for at least the first 5 miles if not longer. I started out feeling pretty good. I was going faster than planned, but I was feeling like it was an easy conversational pace, so I wasn’t too concerned. The first uphill at Wineglass has been a confidence builder both times I have been in the race. Since I live where you pretty much have to run hills if you’re going longer than 3 miles, they aren’t something that really intimidates me. This is especially true in this race where the uphills are really nothing compared to what I train on. As I went uphill, there were a ton of people walking, and I kept up my normal pace as I passed them.
I stopped to walk while I took a Gu somewhere between mile 5 and 6. I planned to stop at mile 5, but a song came on that was sent to me for my playlist by my friend Jeannie, and I couldn’t walk while her song was on. After that Gu I was good until around Mile 8.5. There was a timing mat around that point and once I crossed it I hit the wall, hard. There was nothing about the course that made it make sense. I think it was all mental. I had expected a 10K mat, and there was none, which for some reason made the milestone of crossing that mat seem mentally like it was less than halfway when it was, in fact, more than half way. I struggled, walked the water stops to drink, and honestly just was feeling awful. My paces slowed because I was walking water stops, but they never dipped all that low (at least not compared to my normal long run paces). There was a point around mile 11.5 where I could not remember how many miles I had run or how many I had to go. I had taken another Gu around mile 10, but it hadn’t kicked in so my brain was totally fried. I was afraid to look at my watch to see where I was, since if I was at mile 9 or 10 (which was plausible to my fried brain) I probably would have stopped to walk and been devastated. So I kept going and tried to occupy my mind with something other than the mental math I normally do with how long I’ve gone and how long I have to go.
When I saw the sign mile 12, I was SO happy. Not just because it was 1.1 miles to go, but because then I knew where I was mileage wise and that I was not in fact still on mile 9 (I feel like this could be a future recurring nightmare where I’m just always running mile 9 of a half marathon and never getting farther.) Once I hit mile 12, I realized a PR was an easy task at that point and under 2:40 was possible if I kept pushing. I was really excited and ready to do it until I saw the bridge. There is one thing that I have a completely unreasonable hatred for, and that is the final bridge. It’s less than a mile from the finish and after you cross it, you turn and are on the final stretch where you can see the finish line. That bridge is a minor incline, but it feels like the worst incline that I will ever run at that point. It’s small and a short distance, but sometimes my lack of mental toughness makes me curse at a tiny little bridge near the end of a half marathon.
Once I crossed that stupid jerkface bridge, I started getting a stitch. It wasn’t the first time that day I got one, but this one was different. It hurt more than any stitch I’ve ever had. As I turned to the final stretch, I could no longer take any sort of deep breaths. I was breathing like a woman in labor does in bad pregnancy comedies. Just short shallow breaths. I wanted to walk so much, but anyone that has run a race like this knows that there is no walking the final stretch. The sidewalks are full of spectators cheering you on, and honestly you just want it to be over. My legs felt like they wanted to sprint to the end, but I just couldn’t do it without being able to take any deep breathes so I just ran a slow steady pace to the end.
I crossed the finish at 2:38:36, which is almost a 7 minute PR for me. I was so happy to be done, but also so excited for that time. When I finished I went through the corral where this race has apples, bananas, chicken soup, veggie soup, bagels, and pizza. I grabbed a little bit of everything and went to go to the clock to see my official time before me and my fried brain went to try to locate everyone else.
Overall, I’m really happy with how the race went. Before I started, I really thought I would be running the slowest half I’ve ever done. I was surely not expecting to PR. If I’m honest with myself, my mental toughness while running is always a struggle. This time I was thinking of a friend who is inspirational to me and who also recently found out that she is fighting cancer. According to her, her prospects of recovery are good, but at the very least, she will not be running for a while. She always has said that we should think of the people who want to run and can’t and I kept that in my mind when I just wanted to stop. We had even written her name on our bibs and sent it to her so she knew we were thinking of her. This was also motivational to me. No way could I just give up while her name was on my bib. I’m not known for being emotional or for expressing my feelings all that well (or hugging) but this was honestly an emotional race for me.
As a side note, Day, Bruno and Becca all got big PRs, and a friend of ours ran the marathon and got his BQ time, so all in all it was an exciting day!