Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ORRRC Half Marathon 2014



During the week preceding the ORRRC Half Marathon, I tried to nail down a pace goal.  I haven't been training for speed, but was pretty confident that I would beat my fastest half marathon time of 2:09:53 by a few minutes.  I decided that I'd try for a finish time of 2 hours and 5 minutes.  My predawn runner friend, Marcie, planned to run with me and help me reach my goal.

Marcie thought I should shoot for a faster time, but I was afraid to start faster and crash and burn before I got to the finish line.  I kind of like to choose goals that I know I can accomplish...which defeats the purpose of a goal but, whatever.

My brilliant husband said, "You really don't know what you can do unless you just go for it."

True, but the fear of failure remained.

My Thursday night Turtle running group pal, Angela, gave me an idea, "You'll probably hate this idea, but maybe you shouldn't wear a watch.  You seem to get stressed out about how fast you're running instead of just running."

She was right.  I hated the idea.  I'm a numbers girl.  I live for seeing the pace, the time and the splits.

As much as I hated the idea, it was exactly what I needed to do.

Thursday night, I made a new plan with Marcie: she can wear the watch, but will not tell me what our pace is.  She won't tell me to slow down or to speed up.  I'll run at a difficult but sustainable pace according to my body, not my watch.  I will finish when I finish and I'll know that I did my best and be thrilled with my time.  Marcie promised to email me our race splits after we finished so I could have my geeky numbers to peruse.

Plan made. (Remember the last time I planned to run without a plan?  Ooooh, foreshadowing.)


I had a small panic attack when I left the house Sunday morning while my Garmin sat on the counter.  My wrist felt naked, but I knew that this was the right thing to do.

If I'm being honest, I only tried to look at my watch bare wrist one time: before the start to see how many minutes we had until the starting gun.  Never again.  I didn't miss it.  Several points during the race, I was curious how fast we were going, but I didn't ask.  I was better off not knowing.

Soon, we were off and running.  I settled into a pace that was hard, but that was the point, right?  I was able to get out a few sentences at a time, but was running too fast to hold a conversation.  That's ok.  That's what Marcie was there for: to converse at me.

The first 5 miles of the course have rolling hills....I take that back, they don't roll.  They go up, flatten out and go up again.  Lucky for Marcie and I, we've been hill training.  The hills were giving my legs a good workout, but were nowhere near the size of the hill that we train on.

Around mile 2, Marcie and I ran into my buddy, Chris, who was running the full marathon.  He hung with us chatting with Marcie and I until the half and full marathoners split around mile 6.

Mile 5ish.  Photo taken and owned by ORRRC.

True to her word, Marcie sent me our splits (pace per mile) Sunday afternoon.

Miles 1-6:  9:03, 9:11, 9:06, 9:03, 8:59, 9:11

Side note: Marcie told me after we finished that she saw 9:03 as our first mile and she was a little worried, but she stuck to the plan and didn't say anything.  She let my breathing and my legs figure it out.  My body is so much smarter than I give it credit for.

After mile 6, we started seeing a lot of the half marathoners that were ahead of us, who had reached the turn-around point and were on their way back.  We saw a few friends and we waved and cheered for each other.

Marcie teased me, "You know everyone here!"
"Nah.  I don't know that guy."

Marcie and I reached the turn-around at mile 8ish.  When we turned around we found ourselves running straight into the wind.

Not.Cool.

Luckily, I was distracted from the wind by scanning the half marathoners heading toward the turn-around looking for friends who were behind us.  There were a bunch and, again, we waved and cheered for each other.

We turned a corner at mile 9-point-something and were sheltered from the wind.  Whew.

Miles 7-10:  8:57, 9:05, 8:57, 9:00

At mile 10, Marcie said to me, "Do you think you're up for a sub 30 minute 5K?"

Yes.  I was pretty sure I could finish with each mile being under 10 minutes.  I was also pretty sure that the past 10 miles were all done at a sub-10 minute pace.

Marcie said, "A sub-2 hour finish is in the bag.  Now, let's see how far under 2 hours you can go."

I started to get excited.

 Mile 10ish.  Photo taken and owned by ORRRC.
A little after mile 11, I was really feeling the fatigue.  I was on the verge of feeling nauseous from working so hard.  I have a strict no vomiting rule and needed a distraction so I said to Marcie, "Tell me a story."

And she did.  There's no way I could keep a conversation at this point.  I was pretty much speaking in grunts.

We turned the corner to head to the finish line just after mile 12.5.  Unfortunately, the road to the finish was uphill and we were back to running into the wind.

Seriously?

On our way up the hill, Marcie was a little ahead of me.

"Come on, Jamie!  You've got this!"

I grunted, "I want to finish ahead of you!"

"Well then get up here!"

She wasn't making this easy on me, was she?

I kicked it in high gear a sprinted to the finish.  Barely ahead of Marcie.

Miles 11-13:  8:43, 8:47, 8:34, the last .15mi was 7:49

I was beaming as I crossed the finish line.

Official time: 1:57:48

Holy shit.

I was shocked.  Completely stunned.  Speechless.

Then I cried.  (Of course I did.)

Marcie put my medal around my neck and hugged me, "I'm so proud of you!"

And all I could say was, "Holy shit."

That was hard.  I knew my legs would hate me the next day (they did) but I was thrilled and in awe of what I was able to do...and all I had to do was try.

Post-race selfie!
When we started, I was guessing that I'd finish in just over two hours.  I have been running hills... which have made me stronger and a little faster, but I haven't been doing any speed training.  None.  I wonder what I could do if I trained appropriately....

About the race...
The Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon and Half is held in Xenia, Ohio.  It's a small race, but growing every year due to word of mouth, no doubt.  This race is well-run, has fantastic post-race food and you seriously can not beat the price.

The course starts at the Xenia YMCA, runs through town on the roads, then onto hilly country roads before heading to the Erie Trail (paved multipurpose path) for an out and back, finishing at the YMCA.  The course is just challenging enough to make racers wish they'd trained on hills a little more.

Xenia is not a big city like Columbus and, therefore, does not have the crazy amount of spectators that Columbus has.  If you need cheering spectators to keep you going, this is not the race for you.

I, for one, will be back every year because I like the price and the challenge...and it's fun to see so many of my Columbus runner friends taking over the streets of Xenia.

Anyone else want to join us next year? (waggles eyebrows)