Thursday, May 18, 2017

Race Report: Brookings Half Marathon

The entire week (3 weeks, if we're being honest) leading up to the Brookings half, I was obsessively stalking the weather. It went from 40 at the start, to 42, to 45, to 50, finally landing on 59 degrees on race morning. Where is my crisp perfect spring morning? Why did summer come so abruptly?! Rude. I had a million race goal plans running through my head, but I was throwing any plans out the window. Including my warm up mile if my legs felt good. Why hold, back?! Let em fly. Spoiler alert: they didn't want to fly.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I woke up at 3:30am because I can never sleep before races. I made myself close my eyes until 3:50 and then toodled around the interwebz until my alarm went off at 4:20. Ollie was very confused as to why she was being woken up so early, but then her early wake up time included BREAKFAST so she was pumped. And then sleepy. I met up with Toni at 4:50 and we were on our way north. We were in Brookings in no time, I swear the trip felt like it lasted 10 minutes. We made our way to packet pick up quickly, pinned on our bibs, did our glute activation drills (fun fact: my computer always wants to right flute activation which makes me giggle. I'm way better at the flute than my glutes, sadly), and then jumped in the bathroom line before we lined up for our SFWR race photo.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that we did a rainbow color coordinated race photo, so I threw the idea out on Facebook sometime this week, and it stuck. And everyone just lined up in perfect rainbow order. And my dreams came true. Literally. These girls are amazing. Seriously. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have such an awesome running family and these are just a SMALL portion of the group. Insane.

I got in one more quick trip to the bathroom and it was time to start! I found my friend Sarah who had a similar time goal to me, and we were off. And we immediately lost each other. Because I always run way over in this race, I wanted to use my knowledge to the best of my ability and knew the first 3 turns were all to the left, so I found an opening and just went. Apparently I lost my buddy. And then she caught up and blew by me. Bye Buddy. :(

Right out of the gate, my legs felt like garbage. Super heavy and sluggish. I didn't get my shake out run in on Friday in favor of extra sleep because I knew Saturday morning would be an early one. I was maybe regretting that decision. My legs continued to feel really heavy with zero pep through mile 3. Uff. I kept telling myself that these heavy legs were still running a way faster pace than any half I've done recently, so if I was going to have a ho-hum day, we were still going to make the best of it! I took my first GU at mile 2 because my stomach kind of hated me (per usual) and I thought I could use some extra fuel sooner than normal.

Mile 1 9:47
Mile 2 9:37
Mile 3 9:44

During mile 3 there was a slow incline (that felt super hard, again super heavy legs) but when we were coming down the other side, my legs felt like brand new. WTH?! I'm not sure if they needed a warm up, or if the incline did something for my glutes but I was back in business. I had a lot of fun picking up my pace, and I ran by Kyle's mom so many times during this stretch! She seriously gets a gold star for spectating this race!

I carried my handheld because I knew the temps were going to be roasty, and I thought I could save myself some time (and tangent overage) by carrying a bottle and skipping the water stops. This was really nice, and I'm glad I did. I took a salt tab around 45 minutes. Somewhere around mile 5 or 6 I started getting a weird pain in my neck on the left side, and I suspected that the handheld was to blame. I took my second GU at mile 6. I found my mother in law shortly after this and tossed the water bottle to her. Correction: I know her son's abilities to catch (abysmal) so I shouted that I was going to toss it in the grass next to her, I didn't want to injure her as her Mother's Day gift. :P

Mile 4 9:16
Mile 5 9:17
Mile 6 9:24

Right around the halfway point I glanced at my watch and I was around 1:01:47 which was pretty spot on for my 2:02. Wahoo! I knew that I could run faster than my first 3 miles so I had it in the bag! Lolz. I started to feel really tired during mile 8. The sun was beating down on me, and I knew we were running a slow long uphill, but it just felt super duper hard. I usually like to start my "kick" with five miles to go, so it was a little disheartening to post a slower mile. The next mile was a slight downhill so I enjoyed that one and my legs felt back to life. There was also a beautiful beautiful breeze. Ahhhh.
Mile 7 9:21
Mile 8 9:40
Mile 9 9:32

The "big" hill (read: only hill) of the race is during mile 10. As I was turning into the park with the hill, Miley Cyrus came on my playlist: Party in the USA. Backstory: in my yoga classes, we do navasana/boat pose in every class. Well like 97% of them. I like to crank up an obnoxious song and we hold boat post for 5 long slow breaths, and for 5 sets. Lately I've been sharing my mantra that has stemmed from something one of my teachers shared in a class which is that we are meant to do hard shit. Our bodies are BUILT to do hard things. So instead of being scared of that, or avoid hard things, DO them, knowing that that's what we're meant to do. So back to Miley. I am a shameless Miley fan, and one of her songs often ends up as our navasana song in class. So it was kismet that she came on at this part of the race. I'm not joking when I say the strength of my yogis launched me up that hill, but it truly felt like nbd. I was up and over before I knew it, and had to resist the urge to "throw my hands up, they're playing my song" as that portion of the song came on just as I crested the hill. Whoooo.

Alright, after that hill we had a little over 3.75 miles to go. I kept calculating my finishing pace based on a 9 minute mile, and hitting a 2:02. Perfect. But somehow that 9 minute pace failed to reach my legs. I reviewed my race reports from previous years of this race, and knew that miles 10 and 12 were slow uphills, and miles 11 and 13 were slow downhills. And none of the 4 miles were shaded. And the sun was beating down on us. As each remaining mile ticked down, I told myself that *this* would be the mile I would drop to a 9 pace, and it never happened. While this might come across as a failure, I don't think it is. Because a Jeri of a year and a half ago or even last year, would've started taking walk breaks knowing that the goal was slipping away. Why make it harder, right? Nope. We're meant to do hard shit, and it certainly felt hard, so I kept going. I took another salt tab around 90 minutes and my last GU at mile 10.

Mile 10 9:49
Mile 11 9:36

Mile 12 was the worst of the day, both in how it felt and my pace. I felt like we were running on the surface of the sun, I was so thirsty (whyyyyyy did I get rid of my handheld?!?! where are the water stops?!?). I knew we'd turn at some point and then the race would literally be "all down hill from here". I swear to god, I saw mirages of people turning left, and I would get up to that corner AND THE TURN WOULDN'T BE THERE. Gahhhh! There were so many people walking at this point but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I finally found a water stop by the volunteers seemed confused by my request for water, unclear if they only had Powerade, and my stomach was already on the verge of being unhappy so I figured I wouldn't risk it with a mile to go. So thirsty!

The last mile. Ahhh finally my downhill. I tried to pick it up the best I could. I kept trying to find that magical extra gear. The sun was still beating down on us, but it was at our backs, so it was doable. I set my sights on people in front of me, trying to will my feet to go faster to reel them in. At the 26 mile sign I looked down and saw I was close to running under 2:06 so I kicked it in to high gear. Or whatever high gear was left. Which according to my pace, was actually something. So yay.

Mile 12 9:55
Mile 13 9:18
.18 1:24 (7:51 pace, 6:57 max pace)

I finished 13.18 miles in 2:05:44 for a pace of 9:33.

My 30th half marathon, fastest half in 3 years and my 12th fastest overall!

So very thankful for my running buddy Toni, who I did 98% of my training with and has been a HUGE reason why running has been fun for me again. Seriously. I forgot that training for a race is the FUN PART. It's been awhile, since I've been able to say that. Years, probably.

And my other training partner Jordanne, who rocked her first EVER half despite not being sure if she could run it because her leg was being a jerk the week leading up to the race. Miles flyyyyy by with these ladies. Running therapy. Love them.

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