Last night, I found out through Tony that the Ottawa Half Marathon (May 27, 2012) sold out. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bummed. It’s a beautiful course and I would get to meet some awesomepeople.
I’m also a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I cancelled NOLA because of money. I got to put that money to some bills which was great. I got to buy myself a couple of things that I needed too.
Since I’m not going to Canada in May, I will save money on buying a passport, gas, renting a car, food, etc. All that money is gravy. All that money will be divided up and go to appropriate bills, Chicago and Soaring Wings.
Tony put it perfectly to me:
No worries man!! Your sced is packed this year! Chicago!!!!! Focus on that! That’s your A Race!
He’s right. That is my A Race. There will be other halfs. There will be a ton of training runs. I’m not bummed anymore. :)
Going into this run I knew I wasn’t going to. After Ironman (Aug 19th) every run was painful. Some runs the pain would stay for days. Just like I ran a marathon but the distances were not all that great compared to 26.2 miles.
My legs need a rest. I need to get in the pool.
Anyway off to the recap. I’m sure I lost most of you by this point.
I’ve been looking forward to this race ever since my first training run after the Army Run. I don’t know why, but my strength and speed jumped after completing that half marathon, and I was pretty confident that I could beat 2:20. I guess my enthusiasm got Kevin fired up – as if that guy needs an excuse to get enthusiastic about anything! – and he signed up for the race too. At work on Friday, he commented that he’d been getting a few suspicious messages from Tony and he thought we might have company for the run, to return the favour for this little stunt back in May.
Woke up before my alarm this morning, ate about two thirds of the potatoes I’d prepared for breakfast, then farted around on the Internet for a while to kill time. Andrea and Tommy finally woke up a couple minutes before I left, so I got some good luck kisses to start things off.
By the time I got to the race, I needed to pee so badly I was getting cramps, and then it took forever to find a parking spot and even longer to walk to the school and find a bathroom. Once that was taken care of I went all the way back to the car to grab the gloves I’d neglected to grab in my mad haste to find a toilet, then wandered back towards the starting area trying to find Kevin.
No luck there at first but as I was walking around I heard someone calling my name, and sure enough, there was Tony in his racing gear. We hung out inside the school for a while warming up and watching for Kevin, but eventually we gave up and started towards the start line. We finally found him and his family hanging out and did the obligatory fist bumps, group photos, etc, then with the seconds ticking down we started making our way through the crowd towards the pace bunnies. We hadn’t even made it to the 2:15 pace bunny before the race was started – with a fire engine’s horn, no less! (Not quite as cool as the artillery used to start off the Army Run, but still darn cool!)
Once things spread out a bit just past the starting line, Kevin and Tony took off like overcaffienated jackrabbits. Well, compared to me, anyway. Not surprisingly, after the first three or four minutes of the race I didn’t see ‘em again til the end of the race! That’s great for me though, if there’s someone with me the temptation is always there to try chatting instead of saving my breath for the running. Chatting helps keep me motivated for the training runs but it’s not so helpful for races!
I quickly made my way up to the 2:15 pace bunny and hung out right behind her for a few minutes, but about 8 minutes in, another runner caught up and asked her if she was planning to run continuously or take walking breaks, and she told him that she planned to just run straight through. By this point I was feeling really enthusiastic and decided that it would make sense to push the pace just a bit higher to stay just a bit ahead of the pace bunny but still be able to take my walking breaks.
So off I went, pushing the pace a little bit to make sure I was ahead of the pace bunny. I decided not to bother with the first break, and pounded on through to the 21-minute mark, where I slowed down to a walk right before a corner. Since it was a convenient time, I turned around and looked to see how far back my pace bunny was… and couldn’t find her amid the sea of people.
Realising that I had probably been going too fast, when it was time to run again I made myself set a comfortable running pace without referring to my Garmin. Once I was sure that I’d hit a comfortable pace, I looked down… and realised that I was just under a 6:00/km pace, which is a whole lot faster than I’ve run before. I figured that was a blip and ignored it, but when the next walking break arrived and my average pace so far for the race was in the 6:09 range, I decided to just go with it.
This was also the point where I started a game of leapfrog with a few people… There were 4 or 5 of us who kept getting ahead of each other as we alternated walking breaks or increased or decreased our paces, and I largely stayed with that group, passing a lot of other people along the way, until near the end of the race.
There wasn’t a lot of excitement for the rest of the race, really, other than a brief moment of excitement when I noticed that a friend of mine from university was one of the volunteers at a water station. I said hi briefly but continued on my way. I do remember that somewhere around the 13km marker I desperately wanted to give up, but some Gu distracted me for long enough for that to go away. And I also remember that at one point Pink’s F***ing Perfect popped into my head and made all my hair stand on end, which is a really odd sensation when you’re running and all this hair is standing up but bouncing around because you’re moving so much…
The farther I got into the race, the more confident I became that I was going to actually beat 2:15, but it wasn’t until the 18km mark that I realised just how much I was going to beat it by. I debated skipping my walking breaks at that point to see if I could beat 2:10, but I knew I wouldn’t really be able to sustain 3km of continuous running at that point, so I took my walking breaks when they came up.
The last 6 or 7 km of the run happens on a trail, and right near the finish line the trail crosses a few city streets. There were cops there stopping traffic so runners could cross, and there were a bunch of volunteers cheering on participants, and when I crossed the last street I realised that I’d gone from breathing hard to panting desperately. With all the excitement of everyone cheering me on, I was going too fast! I had to take a 20 second walking break to settle myself back down, then I returned to my run.
Finally a quick left off the trail and a right onto the street, then it was just a straight sprint to the finish line! By this point I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank for a sprint, so I settled for just jogging my way in. Then, just as I was about to cross the finish line, I spotted Tony and Kevin and his family hanging out at the sidelines cheering for me. After crossing the finish line I turned aside to go say hi, but one of the other finishers stopped me and reminded me to go collect my medal first. Good thing too, I would have been pretty pissed off to have missed out because of post-race stupids!
Anyway, Kelly was awesome and gave all of us flowers, and Kevin and Tony and I compared notes and congratulated each other on races well run (all of us hit personal bests today!) and then we sauntered back to the school. I left them in line to get food and I went back to my car to head home. I knew roughly what my finish time was, but it wasn’t until I checked on FB and found the official time posted to my profile that it really sunk home – not only had I beaten my previous best, I’d crushed it, big-time.
Prior to today, my best time was 2:21:18 at the Army Run. Today, I knocked that down to 2:11:12.
Apparently kevdoeslife and me, that’s who. Avg pace 6:03/km, which is pretty damn respectable! Well, for me. For Kev, that’s a casual stroll. But I’m still proud of myself. :-)
I’m really excited for this weekend’s half marathon… I get to spend the next couple days resting and relaxing and carbo-loading, woohoo! And then I have my mom’s birthday party and my birthday party and just all sorts of good times!
Oh, and the piggy socks worked wonders yesterday. Whenever I got particularly frustrated I’d stick my toes out at someone and oink and then I’d be in a great mood. Hooray for nerd socks!