So, how did that half go after a 5K + 10K + 6 miles before, at the end of peak week?
That’s an interesting question, huh?
All weekend, I’d hoped I’d find someone to run with to the race, so I didn’t get lost. Luckily, the night before, Jocelyn and Jess both said they’d run with me, as they’re both running New York, too. SCORE.
We met in the hotel lobby around 6:45 and took off for the race. IT. WAS. COLD. I’d contemplated bringing the throwaway gloves I got in the swag bag, but I am an incorrigible packrat, and I hate parting with things. Even throwaway gloves. It should also be noted that it was dark, and this is the only time this weekend I did not wear my glow-in-the-dark jacket.
I should note here that in the cold, I could, um, feel that certain body parts felt cold, too, and it hurt.
Hills on hills on hills.
We reached the start about 15 minutes before gun time, and kept running a few more minutes to get up to 6 miles. I think we confused people as we ran against the crowds walking to the race, as we got some weird looks.
We ended up keeping a decent pace despite the hills and sleepiness. (GAP=Grade Adjusted Pace, according to Strava, which I’ve been playing with.) I took several Honey Stinger gels just before we started, as I try to “fuel” roughly every hour/6 miles.
I dressed much more appropriately for the weather on Sunday. I took off that long-sleeved tee during the race and was wearing a short-sleeved one and felt plenty comfortable.
We lined up with Meghan from Runner’s World at the 1:55 pacer. LOL. This was no Philly. I ran the first 2-3 miles with Jocelyn and Jess, but felt like I was expending an awful lot of energy to keep up with them, which I shouldn’t have been doing that early in the race. As we went over the bridge, I started hanging back a bit from them and eventually lost them.
After the last long run I’d thought had been too slow, Jess said to aim for my last one to be at a 9:45 pace or less. Usually when I’ve run races as part of long runs, I’ve been good at making myself slow down or being okay if I’m running slower, but during this race, I just kept feeling like I was running through quicksand and didn’t want to look at my watch to see anything other than distance.
Turns out my pace was just fine…until it wasn’t.
This course was pretty hilly, and each hill killed me mentally. I looked up each hill and just thought “ugh, are you serious?”
I pulled out every mantra: “it’s not supposed to be easy,” you can do this,” but no positive thinking could have saved me at that point.
I tried so hard to focus on the course around me, and not focus internally. There was nothing good to see internally, anyway. The beginning and end of the course took us through the areas of Bethlehem we’d run on our shakeout run and in the 5K/10K, but the middle miles took us through mostly residential areas, and the residents were awesome at coming out and cheering for us. Through one uphill patch, the Running Skirts folks had posters on the trees with funny and motivational quotes. It reminded me of a long patch during MCM where there were posters like this. After this hill, the Running Skirts people had a “twerk to win a skirt” contest, which was hilarious.
Around the hill at mile 8/9, my stomach also started bothering me, and I stopped to walk a few times. I saw a Port-a-Potty at mile 8 or 9 and thought maybe I could wait. I really didn’t want to stop. Once I got about half a mile past this, I regretted this decision and had to walk some more. Based on my paces, I must have stopped somewhere around mile 10. I felt like I didn’t have much left in the tank, so I also took a few more Honey Stingers at this point. We had a talk after the race about how long gels take to kick in, but I hoped for a placebo effect even if it took them longer to kick in physically.
After a bathroom stop, I felt better, and really wanted to try to redeem whatever was left in the race. I kept telling myself it was just a long run, but my ego kicked in. I was wearing a bib, and I wanted at least a semi-respectable time on my Athlinks. I reminded myself that whatever pain I’d be feeling after mile 20 of the marathon would likely be much worse, and I needed to keep practicing picking up the pace when I really didn’t want to. At some point, I saw the 2:10 pace sign. OH HELL NO. Sub-2 wasn’t happening, but I was not letting a race slower than 2:10 happen. I saw the pacer sorta far ahead, and I powered to and past the pacer. Okay, better.
While I definitely felt better and picked up the pace at the end, I was still struggling mentally. WAIT, 26.2? In two weeks? Umm…crap. Really?? I tried to not look at my watch at the end and just run by feel, which worked.
I’d planned on running 1 more mile at the end just to get 20 in, but I was SPENT at the end. When I ran into Jess, she said she was looking for me to tell me not to run the last mile, since the course (and the 6 miles before) had been so hilly. She told me I definitely got in a great training run, and lots of hill training. We added up my times, and they were more than 3 hours. Some training plans tell you not to run more than 3 hours, since studies show that the gains may be minimal and recovery time is lengthened. Either way, I was happy to not have to run one more mile.
Photo credit: Tina
I crossed the finish line – where I got a high five from the hot, hot Dave Willey and Mr. Bart Yasso – and ran into Tina almost immediately. Turns out we ran about the same time. Damnit! Wish I had seen her during the race! We walked into the Visitors’ Center, where we promptly sat down and did not move until we were forced to.
Photo via Ericka? I think?
We ran into the rest of our buddies, too!
Remember that pain from running over? Well, I got back to the hotel, took off my bra, and noticed some nice blood stains on my white sports bra.
Four lessons: 1. Don’t wear a white sports bra. 2. Get rid of that sports bra. 3. That can happen to women, too. 4. BODY GLIDE EVERYTHING.
I’m so happy that long, long run brought me into taper.
Thanks to Runner’s World for the comp race registration, transportation, lodging and meals. You guys rock.
Tell me about your roughest long run or race ever. This was one of mine, mentally.