Friday, January 12th- After a day of work, school and life stuff our family packed it off to catch our delayed flight to Houston and depart for our racecation. We flew out of Denver a little after 10:00pm. If you have kids around 4 and 6 years old, or have ever had kids that age, or were a kid yourself, you can imagine how that late night flight might have went. Fast forward to arriving at our hotel in Houston at 4am (my husband and I did all this with zero caffeine so we would be able to finally sleep once we arrived) Zzzzzzz…. Until…. 7am when my alarm (Owen had set it while playing with my phone on the plane) woke me up for the day.
Saturday, January 13th- After coffee and breakfast and an appropriate amount of digesting, I went for a shortish run (I got a little lost so it went longer than I intended) and then booked it over to check in with the elite athlete staff, uniform check, fluid drop-off, and technical meeting. A couple of highlights: I met a runner from Boulder, CO (it seems like everywhere I race there are tons of Colorado runners and I love it). She was running the marathon the next day, trying to qualify for the trials and seemed awesome. I forgot her name dangit, but I hope she made it!
While standing in line to pick up my bib, I was right behind Deena Kastor. I was a total coward and didn’t say a word although tons of other runners kept taking photos with her. Too starstruck.
We rallied hard after my meeting and drove about 45 min away to visit my husband’s cousins who live outside of Houston. She made us an awesome pasta dinner to fuel us up (her husband was running the full marathon the next day). Always nice to have friendly faces at your travel destination!
After I had set my things out for race morning, I lay in bed rehearsing my game plan. My ‘A’ goal was 1:13 which would be a 2:17min PR for me. It was a stretch and I knew it. A possible stretch, but one that would have to be a culmination of perfect conditions, perfect race strategy, and being fully recovered from my marathon a few weeks ago. I didn’t know if I was, I would find that out during the race. ‘B’ goal was to break 1:15 or just PR. It had been awhile since I’ve run a half marathon and I haven’t been training at that pace so I had to pull up a pace calculator and refresh on what that even meant per mile. In the end, I decided if I ran between 5:35 and 5:40 pace it would be a good day.
Sunday, January 14th- 4:30am alarm woke me from a deep slumber which is super unusual for the night before a race. I was clearly tired! Nerves usually keep me awake most of the night and I have NEVER made it to my alarm.
5:25am- buses departed for the race start line where we killed a bit of time in the warming tent. As we entered they were handing out gloves and I snagged a pair, unsure if I wanted to wear mine and possibly ditch them, or have a throw away pair that I would definitely peel off once I got hot.
6:20am- I started my warm-up, an easy 15 min or so (I failed to start my watch, not for the last time that day). Drills, stretching. I came back in for a little temperature warming in the tent and heard Deena (the same one, yes- now we’re on a first name basis 🙂 ask if there were still extra gloves. They were out, and I dug mine out and loaned her the pair I had grabbed and decided I wouldn’t use after all. Aw yeah! Spare gloves for the win. I can’t help it, she is amazing, she has had a long, full career of amazing feats and is a genuinely nice person. I’m in awe of her. Here is what happened post race on twitter:
I’m not even embarrassed even though I probably should be. I’m just going to own it, fast runners impress me and leave me a little speechless.
6:34am- race officials asked us to check our bags and make our way to the start line. It was pretty chilly and gun time was 7:00am so I was worried about staying warm. For whatever reason, it wasn’t bad for me. I saw lots of other racers shivering, but my body must have been running hot. A couple more strides, the time was passing quickly.
7:00am- My very favorite part of any race is right after the gun goes off, and for the first couple of miles all I can hear is just the pounding of hundreds of feet, breathing, and shuffling for a spot. I saw a girl get tripped up and really felt the squeeze of the pack. “Don’t trip, don’t trip” kept going through my mind as we clipped along, tightly packed up at 5:20ish pace.
The first mile seemed to last forever which surprised me. I kept thinking I should have seen a mile marker, or my watch would have “tapped” me. I finally glanced down at it and realized it had never started. My finger must have been too cold and not activated the touch screen. Bummer. I didn’t really know what pace we were at and that was a little concerning. I had clearly not noticed the first mile marker either so didn’t really have a good handle on where I was at. I focused on just settling in with the pack around me, it was still early and wouldn’t matter. I noticed the girl I had sat next to on the bus and had chatted with about race goals. We had similar intentions so I figured I was in a good spot.
I heard someone say “17:19 at the 5k”. That was thrilling to me and a little scary at the same time. First, that’s an unofficial 5k PR for me so the pace was obviously at the top of my game. Second though… I was feeling good and the point of this race was to push myself and see what I could do, so I was happy I was doing it (pushing myself) and still felt confident I could hold that pace or close to it until the finish.
Our little pack of about 8 women was rolling along together and working well. I love racing and working together with a group. It takes so much of the grind out of running and we cruised through the 10k in 34:44- another PR for me.
Mile 7- I got to see Ryan and the boys (he rented a bike and trailer to pull the boys around in). LOVE having them with me!
Mile 8- I started feeling some cramping coming on in my calves. Not horrible, just kind of my legs cautioning me that they were getting annoyed. From here to the end, I struggled quite a bit. My calves kept causing me trouble, I was definitely tired, I felt the marathon fatigue from 6 weeks ago creeping in. Our pack was breaking up now as well. I stayed with the main group, down to 4 now.
Mile 10- I reminded myself that I had done many workouts leading up to this and it would be unfair to my past self to give up now. I can do anything for 3.1 miles. I tried to speed up and it worked for awhile. “Fast and relaxed” I repeated in my head. “I can if I can” and “Define Yourself” (a mantra I had heard Deena Kastor mention on a podcast with Lindsey Hein and I saved for the last few miles of CIM back in December).
I came across the finish line in 1:14:30 and even though it was my ‘B’ goal, I am satisfied with my effort. I did my best, I carried myself through some tough miles, and a PR is a PR. I can be patient. 🙂
After crossing the finish line and being escorted into the post race area I learned that Molly Huddle had broken the American Record (previously held by Deena Kastor 1:07:41 since 2006) in 1:07:25 and placed 7th overall female. What an amazing race!
And now- off for more Galveston fun! So far we have taken a boat out (both boys’ first time), visited Moody Gardens, and plenty of beach time. Being near the ocean fills my soul. And dream up which race I’ll be doing next. 🙂