As I geared up for yesterday’s half marathon, I felt ready. As ready as I did going into Mercedes last year when I knew I could pull a sub 2:15 out of my hat. And I did. I changed my race outfit from the norm… not running in a skirt, but shorts. Not running in a sparkle headband, but my Nuun visor.. and most importantly, no music.
I was picked up at early 30 with some fellow Resolute Runner’s and Birmingham Track Club members that were making the trek up there.
The race started, and while we had these massive chips on the bib, it was a clock time race. We started off feeling good. Halfway into the race, Coach Alex took my phone from me and started taking pictures.. and the man took a LOT of pictures.
We sort of started getting separated as the heat got to everyone, and for a while and it was just me and Alex… I’m not sure if he enjoyed it or not. I got really whiny. And then I started huffing and making weird noises and grunting. Yep. I became THAT person on the race course and I don’t even care. Then I became really mean and fiesty. Then back to whiny. And all the while, Coach Alex kept trying to talk to me. When I said “I can’t. Please let me walk” He would say “What would you say to your daughters if they said that?” Then he asked me what my PR was and I couldn’t even form thoughts. Then he asked me what I ran in Tuscaloosa and I responded with “something.” and he laughed.
The picture after this one is honestly my favorite, but I am flipping him the bird, so it’s not appropriate.. and neither is the cowbell lady story, but Alex is having a good time telling that one already!
While this race was not a PR and I didn’t beat my 2 hour goal, Coach Alex helped me to dig deep and not give up when I REALLY wanted to and was begging for him to let me walk. He literally had a hand on my back at times during the last two miles. This race was incredibly hot and I saw a LOT of people in need of medical attention on the course and after. When we came back into the mall area (that’s where the finish line was and a terrible idea, in my opinion), Alex was telling me to kick it up, and then I saw a girl I graduated high school with, who was at the mile 13 marker calling out times and she said “C’mon Rachel! You got this!! Kick it up, girl!” and since she ran me in for my very first 5K, that thought crossed my mind. Where I thought I was going to die out on the course of a 5K, and here I am, trying to reach a goal that was never on my radar. When I started running this distance, I thought a 2:15 half marathon was the very best that I would ever be able to achieve. Over the last two years, my dedication and pride in this sport, and who it has molded me into as a person, that all came back full circle for me. I will break 2. The weather conditions weren’t in it for this one and that is something that is completely out of my control. There are a lot of things you can control in a race, but weather isn’t one of them.
So, I will wear my 2:03:51 (official race time) with pride. I was 13th out of 79 in my age group and 288 out of almost 1,000 runners yesterday. That is not anything to shake a stick at. Looking at it like that, puts everything into a different perspective. So, for now, I’m putting the sub 2 on the back burner. It’s just getting too hot right now and I need to acclimate to the heat. It’s only going to get hotter in the South. I think it was mid 60′s at the race start and well into the 70′s but the time we crossed the finish line.
It was so hot and I was getting so dehydrated out there.. my fingers wouldn’t bend and they were sausages. My watch my tight on my wrist and when I crossed the finish line (The finish chute wasn’t near long enough, in my opinion), my arms went numb. I couldn’t get them to work to get water. That was weird and scary.
Notice anything? I’m not wearing my brace. That’s right.. first race without the ankle brace and it felt good, y’all. I’m officially back in complete working order! My dad and step mom were there for the start.. Dad really hates to miss me racing, which is nice, even though I’m a grown up now. J and The Red’s were there at the finish line.. I didn’t know they were coming and so that was a nice surprise.
Blood. And lots of it. I think it’s safe to say that the Nike in the wide isn’t working for me, with all the problems I’ve had this training cycle with blisters. I’m on the hunt for some new shoes now.
This certainly isn’t the worst race picture of me.. it’s actually probably the best. Want to hear something funny? After all the stress of this being my last 25-29 Age Group race.. they broke their groups down to 25-30. So I would have been in the same age group anyway!
I keep forgetting I’m racing this weekend. This week has been so busy and just coming off of vacation.. I just haven’t had the proper time to freak out about it. Which, is probably a good thing. We all know I’m a neurotic head case that can be a tad obsessive (don’t agree with me). I’m also sort of over the half marathon distance.. at least right now. It’s been a thorn in my side for the past year and I am ready to break 2 and move on from it… I reserve the right to change my mind on Monday.
Coach Alex is pacing me and a few others to the sub 2 goal on Sunday. I chatted with him last night about being sick recently and missing runs and the fact that I just don’t care about this race.. don’t get me wrong, I CARE, but I’m not obsessing… I mean, I keep forgetting about it!
My plan for Bridgestreet is this… to run through the water stations, which is not something I generally do since I’m scared to spill water on myself. That’s a weird fear, I know.. forget I said anything about it. I want to make sure I concentrate in the beginning half on keeping my shoulders back and my upper body straight because that’s where it gets me at the end.. My shoulders start killing me because I have been hunched over for 8 miles. And most importantly, I’m going to let Coach Alex do all the work… I’m just going to follow him and tie a rope to him if I have to. I’m going to treat it like a long run and keep up with the pack. I’m not planning on wearing music.. I never listen during training runs anymore, so why mess myself up during a race with it? All I do is end up getting mad at the words and start skipping songs.
This is it… the last half marathon before I turn 30… and I refuse to turn 30 without a sub 2 half. You’d think I would be a little more fired up about it, but I’m tired of psyching myself out about these things. It’s just running and I know how to do that. Why wear myself out mentally before I’ve even toed the line?
I got up at early-thirty to meet some peeps in Birmingham to drive to Tuscaloosa, where we met my brother in law, Jay who had our bibs and then continue on to the start.. parking was a breeze and we found even more people at the start.
We were all just standing around chit chatting and then all of the sudden all of the people started moving and the race had started.. Way to be prepared! We started out and were chatting and feeling good and just taking in the sights of everything and enjoying the gorgeous weather (Holy run on sentence!). Becca pulled ahead pretty early, but I could still see her and easily catch her so I wasn’t worried. The course weaved through some historic homes and I honestly hate courses that weave. Ann had a baby bouncing on her bladder and she had to make a pit stop around 4.5, and at the mile 6 water stop, I realized that I was probably in the long haul solo since I looked ahead and couldn’t see Becca any longer.
I started fading around mile 8, and probably should have taken a GU, but it was tucked safely in the car at that point and wasn’t doing me any good there. It was warming up and I wanted so bad to be able to rally, and I tried, but hills popped up out of nowhere and I could not make it. At the mile 9 hill, which was boring, long, and never ending, I had a Resolute Running teammate pop up and be all “Hey! What’s up?” and then he took off and completely made the hill his bitch.
Going into the race, I wasn’t looking forward to the Jack Warner Parkway and the River Walk portion, but once I turned the corner onto Jack Warner, it was a downhill and a nice breeze picked up and I start picking up the pace a little bit, making good use out of the downhill. I hit mile 11, right where we get on the River Walk and saw Hannah and was so happy to see a friendly face, but I already knew the sub 2 was far gone and so was a PR.
This race was a learning experience for me… sort of. I basically learned that I am a follower (not a HUGE newsflash, but always a nice reminder!). If someone sets a pace, I can run with them and chase them, but I cannot hold an uncomfortable pace on my own. I have lost the mental battle on the past 4 half marathons in the end… the 4 half marathons that I have tried to break 2. Physically, I felt fine, but mentally, I couldn’t force my legs to pick up the pace. I just reached a point where I was okay with what I was giving in the race, instead of pushing outside of my comfort zone. Somehow, I’ve to figure out how to push past that, because it’s getting really frustrating. I’m feeling extremely discouraged and ready to toss in the towel on this distance for a while, but not without breaking 2… the goal I have been chasing for almost a year.
I’ve got to give a blog reader a shout out– Kim came up to me after the race and introduced herself and told me what an inspiration I was and that she started running because of me and she actually ran her first half marathon in Tuscaloosa– a 2:43!! It was so awesome to meet you, Kim! I really appreciate your kind words and you are a ROCK STAR!! Please let me know how you are doing!!
Such a beautiful old bridge….
My Juan Pablo “eeeet’s okay!” I didn’t PR picture… also? Not really sure what’s going on with my leg. It seems to be channeling Elvis or something.
I have one more race before I turn 30 in April, and I am bound and determined to break 2 hours… so if you have some tips on breaking the mental barrier, I am ALL ears.
Saturday night was my normal pre race shuffle of laying out my outfit (had to decide what to wear first!), gathering all of my stuff to take, making my race playlist, etc.
When I got off the interstate, so much adrenaline coursed through me that I thought I was going to vomit. And they had roads closed that they don’t normally have closed, and so parking was super fun.
I found my C-town buddies staying warm inside Boutwell Auditorium.
We walked to the start line about 10 minutes before the race started and I lined up with the 4 hour marathon pacer. My plan was to stay with her, but keep an eye on my watch and stay as close to 9:05 as I could.
The gun went off and I had a brain fart and started my watch early… so much for it being time reliable at that point. After about 3-4 miles, I realized what a bad decision I made with wearing long sleeves.. should have done a tank for sure. I was feeling good though, staying with the pacer. She was a little fast, clocking those miles in the 8:50′s and between miles 5-6 and I decided to do what my coach told me, and back off. I still had a long way to go. I hit the 10K split in 54 minutes, which is a PR for that. I made through 5 points, no problem, but when I hit the Highlands, my brace came untied and I had to stop and tie it, and I basically lost all momentum at that point. I couldn’t rally. Miles 7 and 8 were my slowest. I switched my watch view to pace instead of time/distance so I could keep an eye on my pace. I tried to make up lost time on a hill (so smart! Not.) and told myself “do not let your pace get above a 9:30″ and I just watched it creep up and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I knew at that point, that the sub 2 was gone from my grasp.
I tried to hold on to the fact that I could still PR and I’ve never cursed anything more than I did running at mile 12. That last mile will get you. I crossed the finish line to cheers from some RR teammates and that made me smile. I PR’d with a 2:02:30.
I can’t say enough of the online support that I receive via Instagram and Twitter. You people rock!!!
I was so proud of Katelyn, who ran her first half yesterday and killed it.
It’s safe to say that post race, Katelyn and I had fun. This is basically all that we did. I told her we were lucky that her mom doesn’t know how to Vine or else there would be so interesting videos out there of our dancing.
I’m trying to be okay with not breaking my 2 hour time goal. I keep playing a lot of “what if” scenarios in my head, which makes it hard. I’m going to run Tuscaloosa in 3 weeks, so we are hoping it happens there. By the time I got home yesterday, Coach Ann had already sent me my training, so we’ve got some work over the next 3 weeks to prepare. I refuse to turn 30 without hitting sub 2.
I felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat after I got home yesterday. I took two naps. You know that achy-can’t-get-comfortable-feeling like you get with the flu? That’s how I felt. My lower back is sore from my phone in my spi-belt– I should stop running with my phone, honestly. My feet are ridiculously tender and I have blood blisters… thank the lord it isn’t flip flop weather! I also chaffed pretty bad in a area that no woman wants to be chaffed. I guess I will be spending some quality time with my foam roller this week since my hamstrings are like rocks.
I’m going to be honest. When I got home, and after I had taken my first nap and showered (in that order. Hubs called me gross.), I uploaded my splits and started looking and analyzing (what? C’mon. You know you do it too.) and I just started crying. I was so disappointed that I let it slip through my fingers.
Ever had a race like that? That just took a complete nose dive halfway through?? How did you recover?
This past weekend, my Twitter turned in real life friend, Jen came into town on her way to rocking New Orleans and I just had to drive down and have dinner with her and several of the Resolute Runners. It was great to meet some new people and see some “old” faces.
Jennifer is one of the first local runners I ever met on social media and she has introduced me into a whole new world of crazy with Resolute Running.. but it feels good to know they are other runner crazies out there and most even more hard core than me.
The man, the myth, the legend… Coach Alex.
After loading myself up on pizza, I met my Saturday morning crew at a ridiculous time of 5 am to get in 12 miles. With it being my last double digit run before Mercedes, I really wanted things to go well. Let’s just say… it didn’t. I felt tired, lethargic, mentally not into it. We looped back to pick up some more runners around mile 7, and were waiting on them to stretch and I think we cooled off and I just could not rally. The next two miles were miserable and I just headed back to the car. I couldn’t force myself to run another 3 miles. So I finished out with 9. I think I hadn’t had enough water and I think my Chick-fil-a addiction is catching up with me.. So, I’m vowing to give up Chick-fil-a for the rest of the month and also make sure I’m drinking enough water. This is going to be hard, y’all. Hopefully, I will see a difference in how I feel.
I will honest, y’all. I am tired of running in this cold. When 32 degrees is “warmed up”, you know it’s a problem. I’m tired of fleece lined tights, and Michelin man layers, and gloves, and ear warmers. I hate using up all the hot water trying to thaw out after long runs too. There. I said it. I’m not cut out for the cold. Give me heat, humidity and mosquitoes any day. Someone needs to remind me that I said that come August.
The start of February brings the start of my 5th month with the RR team. Mercedes will be the first race on a full training cycle with my coach. I feel stronger coming back and am really hoping for a sub 2 at Mercedes. I’m still running in the brace, but starting to come out of it. There is still the normal soreness in the ankle, but it’s always there and probably won’t go away for a while.
I’m trying not to get nervous and psyche myself out for this race, but I want to break 2, so bad. I’ve been so close in the past, so I know it’s there. I’ve put in some serious training in brutal conditions. Between wind, rain, wind, cold, wind, more cold… I’m just hoping for decent weather with no wind, please! I want to sign up for Tuscaloosa as a safety net race, but I’m not sure of my March work schedule yet, and if I thought January was busy… March ain’t got nuttin’ on it. It’s insane.
I’m ready to race in this shirt!
I hope you guys will stick around for the upcoming racing nerves… they are sure to be good ones! I’m hoping to knock out some projects with all that nervous energy!
I need to start thinking about my playlist… I hardly run with music anymore, so tell me what you’re listening to!
- Run/swim/bike a combined total of 1500 miles. Didn’t happen. I was right at 1,000 miles.. pretty far off.
- Run 3 half marathons this Spring. DONE.
- Complete 3 tri’s this summer. Only did 2.. stupid injury.
- Don’t die during the Ragnar Relay. DONE.
- Run a sub 2:15 half marathon. DONE.
- Cook dinner every night for an entire week. Totally forgot I set this as a goal..
- Grow an herb garden and use it! Nope. I have a feeling I will never do this.
- Balance between my goals, John’s goals, and what’s good for the girls. Reaching goals take sacrifice for all parties, and it’s very easy to become selfish with what you want, and not what’s best for the family. I’d like to think I did this!
- Take the girls on a weekend trip.. somewhere fun but within driving distance. DONE. The cruise counts, right??
- Be able to do the splits. This is laughable that I set it as a goal..
- Continue with cross training and weight training. DONE… Err… still a work in progress!
- Clean up my eating… being more mindful of what I am putting into my body. Still a work in progress…
- Go to a Pro Football Game. Another one that’s probably not going to happen.
I haven’t set my goals for 2014 yet.. I’m a little disappointed that I missed so many. Oh well! Let’s take a look back at how EPIC 2013 was.
We started off the year with C turning 4…
And then I ran Ragnar Relay FLK… I still can’t believe I did that.
We went to the National Title game… and I was photobombed by my brother in law.
I ran Mercedes.. and officially crushed my sub 2:15 goal.
And then 2 weeks later, I ran Tuscaloosa and PR’d again..
I went to Texas for the final BlissDom…
C discovered her love of a knee pop..
I went up to DC and ran Nike Women’s with Molly… No PR for me, but still was one of my favorite races.
I did another Tri.. this one with J and I placed in my Age Group again.
We went on a cruise… and had a fabulous time.
Tried some Energy Bits… loved them so much I became an ambassador. (Use RUNINHIGHHEELS for 15% off!)
I raced twice in one day.. Triathlon in the morning and a 5K at night.
Mom and I took Addy to the American Girl Store in Atlanta.
2014 has some big shoes to fill… Hope it can live up the expectations.
Are you sad to see 2013 go??
As you all know, I had high hopes for this race. I wanted to PR my comeback race… Well. Things didn’t go as planned. It was set to be SUPER cold.. in the 30′s and not warm up much. Good thing they let us hang inside and I got to meet a fellow blogging Bammer… BamaGirlRuns. I recognized her in her signature pigtails and houndstooth visor.
This was Robbie’s first half.. and he was a tad nervous.
Originally, I was set to wear a skirt and long sleeve top, but something told me because of the cold, that maybe I should pack a pair of pants. I was glad I did, because 10 minutes before the start, I was changing in my car… and then I got child locked in. Lovely.
Meredith found us before the start!
The race started late.. I have honestly never been in a race that the runners started chanting “start!” but now I have. It was so cold that my legs were involuntarily convulsing standing there. My plan was to start with the 2 hour pacers and then pull away after the half way point… did. not. happen.
I started with them and was running with a friend and we were just chatting.. and somewhere after the 10K split, I lost her through a water station. (I PR’d the 10K split.. 56 and change. A full minute and a half!) This was also where my hips started tightening up.. some slight discomfort and I tried to rally. Eventually, I realized breaking 2 was out of the question, and was fine with it. You reach a point where you become okay with all that you are giving in a race.
Here’s a lovely photo… if it had a thought bubble, it would say.. “Hey! I’m in immense pain!! But there’s a photographer, so smile, damn it!”
Around mile 10, I tried to rally again, but I always forget how tough this course is. It feels like a lot of uphill with no downhill. And once I hit 11, I was ready to be done. My hips were so tight, that with every step I took, I thought my hip flexors were going to snap like rubber bands. This is about the time that Sunny came up behind me. I have never been so happy to see a friend! Sometimes, it just helps to be able to vocalize your suffering to someone else. I also told her I wanted to quit. I have never had that cross my mind in a race. I have no doubt that I would have, if I hadn’t been within half a mile of the finish line. But I would have had to walk back to the finish anyway… Might as well get a medal for it.
Look at her face! I die. She’s so happy and I wouldn’t have traded all the PR’s in the world for having this with her. She kept saying “Look Mommy! We are running to the finish line! Do you see those pretty medals?”
After the race I could barely walk… I was almost in tears. I came across one of my coaches and he forced me to stretch my hips and ohmygod it hurt so bad.
We ended up eating lunch at Rojo, where we didn’t have the best experience, but we aren’t going to discuss that.
I am so proud of Robbie!! He killed his first half marathon!
After some long e-mails with my coach, I’ve decided that I am proud of what I accomplished out there. The headwinds and weather were certainly a factor. It was also a comeback race… one where I wasn’t far off from my PR. I finished is 2:05. That’s a 20 minute course PR for me. So, that’s definitely nothing to shake a stick at!
Saturday was my first Tri of the season. Philly did a team relay and he was the swimmer of the group.
I’ve decided I don’t like competing in things with my husband… he is very much on edge when I am not 15 minutes early and asks for weird “pump up” songs like “Deep River Woman”… Say WHAT?!
Upon arriving, I grabbed my packet and saw I was number 21.. umm what? No, thank you. That puts me up there with the “real” competitors and freaks me out, but gives me a nice spot in transition.
I don’t have any swim pictures.. sorry. Or bike pictures. But this is me in T2… Philly is giving me a run down on how I’m doing.
The run was mostly shaded and pretty flat minus one hill.
Here’s me coming into the final stretch…
Practicing my dance moves? I am not sure.But I look like I’m having fun!
John and his team.. came in 1st. Way to go, guys!!
Me? I came in 2nd or 3rd, however you want to look at it.
I was 2nd, in all of the preliminary print outs, and then when they did awards, some girl came out of nowhere and beat me and the chick in front of me. No. I think it was rigged… kidding! Sort of.
I think this is an excellent first time Tri for anyone. Pool swim, short run, easy course. They didn’t have water or Gatorade, therefore, some of us didn’t hydrate properly… Ahem… ME.
They also said they would be giving us swim caps, and they did not. Luckily,I had two in my bag and lent one out to a fellow swimmer.
My goal was to finish under an hour and I did… 58:41. Super proud with the first one of the season! Of course, my thought process was, “Wait. I want to do a half Ironman?!” Because, well, it’s just insane to think about.
Before telling you about my trip to DC, I think I will post my race recap!
FIrst off, the Expo, was sort of lame. You really couldn’t buy anything and it was just nuts. But, the packet pick up was separate and was a breeze, so kudos for that one. With all of the walking up and down hills, my calves were tight and I knew I wouldn’t be running on fresh legs.
I laid out all of my gear the night before….
The gorgeous sunrise heading into the city…
Molly’s husband drove us into the city, instead of taking the metro. He dropped us off about 3 blocks from the start line. It was awesome. I hope it was awesome for him too.
We entered into the 9:00-9:59 coral.. which, honestly, was completely pointless seeing as how they didn’t do a coral start.
We all just started out at once.. and we were behind the 2:10 pacer. I was NOT HAPPY about weaving around so many women in tight spaces. There were 15,000 runners, and a lot of them first timers, (I hate to stereotype..BUT) they probably didn’t know there are rules to racing. We spent the first two miles LITERALLY weaving in and out of people. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get pasted the 2:10 pacer. It cleared a little after mile 2 when we were crossing the bridge to Arlington Cemetery.
We finally caught sight of the 2:00 pacer on the loop by the Kennedy Center.. I knew then it was going to be tough to catch up. Around mile 6, my IT band started making its presence known and I got a side stitch.. I knew I was pushing it too hard. I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t injure myself over a sub 2:00 half. I would run what I could and give it everything I had and I would be happy. At this point, Molly was pushing me and I felt bad that I had nothing to give her except facial grimaces. It didn’t help that around this point, it was completely boring as we were running around the golf course. I tried to find funny signs to help me out. I never realized how hard it was to try to catch a pacer… the mental stress that just adds to the run. That part was misery.
As hard as I was running, this was a very cleansing run for me. I let go of everything else going on in my life, and completely concentrated on the race and the steps in front of me. It was just very… freeing. I had nothing to do but run like it was my job. We saw Molly’s fam around mile 10 and it was a nice change of pace. B got some pictures of us and I realized how bad I hunch my shoulders when I run.. no wonder my shoulder blades go numb!
Anyway, it wasn’t long after that, Molly lost me as I couldn’t continue to beast up the hill. I knew then that I wouldn’t break 2 hours, but I might could possibly PR. Heading back into the tunnel was awful and not near as exciting as it was at the beginning of the race. As we rounded the loop and I could see runners running towards the finish line, I got really pissed off because I HATE when courses do that. We made the worlds longest loop and heading back, I could see the finish line. So, I attempted to push it and completely ran out of gas because I misjudged how far the actual finish line was. At mile 12.5 I was really pissed off. But I got my phone out because I knew I would want pictures at the finish line, and saw all of the Tweets, FB messages and texts that lined my screen. I couldn’t believe it.
I crossed the finish line with my hands held high and a smile on my face and guess what? There won’t be any pictures because Nike didn’t have photographers!! WTF NIKE?!?!
Anyway, as I stood in line to get my Tiffany, I told the girl behind me (yes, I told her.) “Hey, I’ll take your picture with him if you’ll take mine.” She looked at me like a crazy person, but also a genius.
So, it wasn’t a sub 2. It wasn’t even a PR. But you know what it was? It was my 10th half marathon. And that is nothing to shake a stick at. I ran my 10th half in a time that I never thought possible. That’s 131 miles in half marathons alone. Not to mention training cycles and 5K’s and 10K’s. I celebrated on Sunday. Everything that I have been able to do because of running. It has changed me in so many ways. I cannot thank you enough for the support and encouragement that you have given me on the Internet. From those who wished me good luck, to those who actually tracked my race online, I cannot thank you enough. It’s amazing to have that kind of support.
Now for the bling…
Now, would I run this race again? This race was amazing. The course was beautiful. I did not care for the lack of coral starts. Or the fact that the 2 hour pacer can’t hold up her sign very well. The runner tracking was a complete joke. I want something that posts to Twitter, not Facebook!! The fact that there weren’t any finish line photos royally ticks me off. I also don’t like the lack of information out there from Nike. But, I feel like I got my money’s worth and everything was well organized. I heard there weren’t a lot of port-o-potty’s, but that didn’t affect me, so I am not sure.
I can tell you one thing… I’ve been wearing Tiffany since Sunday!