Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Half

Today was the half. It was awesome.

We left the house in the dark thinking we had PLENTY of time 2 hours before the start. Traffic and parking were so lousy I got there with only 15 minutes to spare. No worries, though. I strapped on my water belt (filled with half water/half Propel--I hate race gatorade), sucked down a GU, herded in, drifted with the crowd up to the start, stomped on the chip sensor timing thingy, and was off.

I had a great start, but accidently downed my first GU at 2.5 instead of 3.5 as planned. Doh. The whole beginning of the race was easy breezy. I felt really strong. Around mile 5, my knee started getting weird. Made a mental deal with myself that if I kept running now, I could walk at mile 7 when I had the next GU. Made it to 6.5, which seemed like a fair compromise, and walked for a half a mile. Not gonna lie, in hindsight I'm disappointed in myself to have slowed down. I felt like I needed it at the time, (and maybe I did) but now that it's over, I think it was my head fucking with me. I had been staying aware of two girls with green shirts and a guy with a Mystic Pizza T, and a couple others from the beginning, and that was the last I saw all of them. I needed new focus and couldn't really find focus on anyone around me now. After walking, something was mentally out of whack. No longer feeling in the zone. I should never have given myself the option to walk, now it's all I want to do. Thank God, a water table. Dumped a cup of water down my back to try to shake it off.

My head was still a little fucked, but now at least my physical energy had returned. No more walking. I am a runner, dammit. My next mental deal was to make it to the Salonpas table between miles 9-10. If I made it there, I could stop for a moment to get my knees sprayed with that shit to see if it worked. Interestingly, it did. It worked really well, actually. My knee didn't bother me for the rest of the race. Once the annoying nagging knee pain was gone, my brain finally bounced back, too. I was locked in again.

Last mental deal: after finishing mile 10, I could take very short (like 10 seconds) walks at each mile marker until the end. (What is with all this fucking walking? I hate walking.) Right around the mile 10 marker, I heard someone calling me, and saw Amy from the Running Thread (who I have never met) cheering with a "Go Noelle Go" sign. all my 30-some years, I have NEVER had a sign made for me for anything. I know I sound like I'm twelve--I don't care. I fucking loved it. It was unbelievably motivating, and my deal with myself was no longer needed.

The finish was very cool. I had already picked up my pace since mile 10, so i was going pretty smooth and even. As soon as I could see the white arch of the finish line, I focused everything on my dead legs, dug in and crossed with 2:12 and some change on the clock. My goal was to finish under 2:15. YEAH BABY!!!!

I didn't feel as woozy as I did after the 10-miler I did in June. I felt kind of hurl-ish after pounding a glass of nasty ass yellow race gatorade, but other than that it was completely exhilarating. Joe met me at the finish, and that was really awesome. He was so excited for me, and so proud. He kept saying my time over and over, and how he couldn't believe how well I did, and for once it didn't feel like it was all about me. In a good way. :)

My official chip-time for my first Half Marathon -- 2:07:44.

Under a 10 minute mile pace. I rule.

Half Marathon Eve

Well, it's all over. I'll get to the race in just a minute. First, there was the night before.

Joe and I had reservations at Carmine's, but decided at the last minute to go to Tuscany instead (aka: didn't want to drive downtown). It was a little disappointing. Don't get me wrong. As far as Italian restaurants go, Tuscany is top shelf. My favorite fried calamari...the roasted garlic shmushed into the dipping oil...their Cipriani sauce (which is never as good in the jar, natch)...mmmm....however, my taste buds were horny for Carmine's and I did not deliver. So even though I had a great, indulgent meal, I didn't feel satisfied. I hate that.

On the bright side, since we were closer to home, we got back earlier, and I was able to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I needed to be up at 4:30 am, and I was super-paranoid I'd sleep through the alarm if I was overtired.

Of course, since I was so nervous, I must have woken up in the night 5 times to check the clock. I finally woke up on my own at 4 and didn't bother going back to bed at that point. Not before I had one crazy-ass dream about the half, though.

In my dream, I was running the race and it was being held indoors. The ground was covered with that green plastic grass carpet that people use in their screened-in porches. The mile markers and finish line were written in white on the ground. The rule was you had 3 hours to complete the race, and if you didn't, you didn't get a finishing time and therefore basically ran it for nothing. Of course, in the dream I was down to the final seconds of the 3 hours, and as I looked at the ground, there were 2 different finish lines. There were people all around counting down like fucking New Years Eve, and as they screamed "3,2,1" I crossed the first finish and stopped. Then the chef from Dinner Impossible came up to me and said I crossed the wrong finish line and my race was now invalid. I started screaming at him that he ruined my race and woke up.

I definitely watch too much Food Network.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Last run

So, my master plan for race week did not come about exactly as i wanted. I was already off a day, and then Wednesday I unfortunately had to attend a wake, and that eliminated my run for that day. I ran 3.7 Thursday, totally pain-free, and i'm going to walk 2.5 Friday and do a little yoga to loosen up my legs. Then I'm going to take Saturday off, and hopefully be ready for Sunday. Not much running this week, I hope all the rest-time doesn't do more harm than good.

Tomorrow I have to venture into the city WITH my children to pick up my race packet. Well, that just sucks some big ass. I usually have a good handful of sitter options, but they all fell through for tomorrow. I'm not throwing two little kids and a stroller on the Metra, so that leaves driving (which I hate). Driving results in the required "paying for parking" (which I hate more). And i guarantee my kids are going to NOT like being at a boring, crowded race expo, and will let me know, repeatedly, for the entire trip.

I need to start organizing my steady stream of bribery to get us through the process. Thank God i just bought Oreos.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My longest to date

Yesterday I ran 11 miles. That's the longest I've ever run. I didn't die. I think that's a good sign.

IT'S RACE WEEK!!! Here we go. I've been training all summer, and I feel very prepared, but I can't deny the butterflies. During yesterday's run, I felt good in my last mile, but I couldn't help but think: will I be able to do 2 more after this? Oh, and "good" is of course open to interpretation. By saying I felt "good" I really meant my knee was achy and my legs felt like lead weights, but I could have continued. I didn't HAVE to stop when it was over. I welcomed the end, but didn't collapse. Miles 6-8 were the toughest. I'll have to tell Joe to hang out where i can see him around the mile 8 marker. I may need the mental boost of seeing him.

Since I did Sunday's run on Monday, here's my plan for this week:
Wed--4 mi
Fri-- very slow, easy 2 mi (?)
Sat--DOR + a trough of pasta at Carmine's...mmmm
Sun--kick some ass!

According to Uncle Hal, I'm supposed to take Friday off too, but I don't think I will. The weeks I've had one day between runs, I've done better on all of them. This week I had a lot of rest, thanks to Labor day festivities fucking with my schedule, and I think my long run suffered. My time was fine, but I wasn't feeling as strong, and my concentration was scattered. Based on that, I'm going to plan a Friday run, but if I'm really not feeling it that day, I'll DOR.

Time is not really my biggest concern for the race. Since it's my first, I have no basis for comparison. I just want my first half under my belt.