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Monday, April 14, 2014

Oshkosh Half Marathon Race Recap

Nearing the finish line
It's not a pose this year
I stalked the weather, as usual, for the 10 days leading up to the Oshkosh Half Marathon.  The changes were frequent and my emotions about running in the "current" weather swung as drastically as the forecast.  I rarely sleep well the night before a race, though I have to admit that is getting better, so it was no surprise that I listened to it thunderstorm most of Saturday night.  I'd already had a conversation with Dan about whether or not I'd run the half marathon on Sunday if it was raining.  When we went out for dinner on Saturday night it was POURING.  I had on the "rain coat" I'd planned to wear the next day and when we got back to the hotel I said "if it's raining like this in the morning I'm running the 5K" because we were in the rain for about 5 minutes and I was already FREEZING.  I knew that I wouldn't last 2+ hours trying to run a half marathon in the rain.  That thought continued running through my head all night/morning until about 6:35 am.  The race started at 7 am so it was time to decide what I was going to do - I decided to put on my big girl running tights and get ready to run.

Consistency.  For most of the miles!
My plan, as I noted last week, was to hang with the 2:15 pacer.  Apparently, there was no 2:15 pacer.  Ooops!  So, I paced myself.  The races (there is a half marathon and 5K) start at the same time since there are only 1200 participants.  The beginning of the course gets crowded with runners and walkers trying to get a good start.  I tried to remind myself to just be patient because the crowd would thin as the 5Kers turned left about a mile into the course.  I wanted to really use that first mile as a warm-up and just kept reminding myself how bad I feel later on when I go out too fast!

I'd planned to fuel about every 3 miles.  So, that's why mile 4 looks a little slower because I stopped to walk while I ate a couple of dates and drank some water.  Around mile 6.15 I picked up a half of a banana from the Fruitti Tutti station and carried it until I hit mile 7 when I stopped to walk and eat/drink, again.  I had a slight slow down through the park because there were a few spots that were totally under water so I was trying to get around them without getting cold feet, again.  I wasn't able to avoid some of the water on the Wiowash trail so my feet were already wet and I wanted to avoid any additional cold footedness.  Apparently footedness isn't a word but since it's my blog I'm using it.

I really wanted to hang onto my pace through the park.  I knew that last year when I ran this race I lost my pace group sometime before I made it back to the Wisconsin Street bridge (before the park) so I knew if I could hang on to the pace through the park this year that I'd be better off but as I crossed through the park I knew I was fading.  I reminded myself that Dan was going to be somewhere between miles 11-12 and that I'd probably walk a little bit when I saw him so I tried to keep going.  I started to run with two women wearing neon green jackets.  It was fantastic to have someone to run with for a little bit because we started chatting so I stopped thinking about my hamstrings that were hurting and my fingertips that were cold.

I wore a blue ribbon to promote Colon Cancer Awareness
As if on cue when he knew I needed him -- there he was.  I swapped water bottles with Dan and walked with him for about a quarter mile.  I could feel my legs starting to get a little antsy so I knew it was time to run.  I told Dan I had to go, he gave me some knucks, I shouted that I loved him and started "running".  I could feel my legs getting heavy and felt slow but knew I needed to keep moving.  I got to about mile 12 and my calves started cramping.  So I walked a little so I could drink some more.  I knew it wouldn't help me right then but I knew that I needed to get some fluids in me.

Around mile 12.5 I saw my sister, Brenda, and her friend, Jes.  They cheered for me and I wanted to run again.  I tried, made it about a quarter mile and felt my calf muscles start to protest so I walked a little ways.  When I got to the Main Street bridge I knew I had about a quarter of a mile to go and I knew that the faster I got this over with that the sooner I could stop and stretch!  So, I mustered all the strength I had left and started running.  As I got to the top of the bridge I saw my brother-in-law, Alex, and friend, Kristi, waiting and cheering.  I smiled and rounded the last corner to the finish chute.  My legs hurt.  I wanted to stop.  Then I looked down at my shirt and saw the blue ribbon that I'd pinned to my bib and thought of Judy, a friend who was recovering from surgery.  I realized that I had nothing to complain about and pushed through the pain.  I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:20:12.

Race bling!
I was pretty proud of my time since that's EIGHT FREAKING MINUTES faster than last year.  I was all proud of that until Dan reminded me that I was off of my half PR by less than two minutes.  I still consider it a major victory considering how difficult training through the Polar Vortexes (Vortexi?) was and finding safe places to run was much more challenging.  All in all this race was amazing.  I felt good through most of it and really enjoyed myself.  Apparently I enjoyed myself so much that I already registered for another half marathon.  In less than a month.

When I told Coach Barbara that I was going to run another half in less than a month she told me I was a bit of a loon.  Well... I did feel like I was flying through the half marathon.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

What'd you do this weekend?
What's your next race?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Oshkosh Half Marathon Goals

My "I'm going to pose like I'm running"
photo from last year
This year, I'm just going to run and not pose
It occurred to me a few days ago that I haven't really mentioned that I'm currently training for a half marathon.  I am!  It's in less than a week!  EEKS!  I'm running the Oshkosh Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  This training cycle has been ... well ... difficult.  Last year when I trained I was happily running my long runs on the Fox River Trail by mid-February.  This year, however, with the Polar Vortex that enveloped the region kept the trail frozen up until a couple of weeks ago.  I also spent more of my training season on the treadmill than ever before.  In short, I'll be happy when this half marathon is behind me!

However, no race would be complete without some goals, right?  So... in no particular order:

1)  I've started stalking the weather and it's changed from rain to sleet and snow.  So, my first goal is just going to be to finish.  Running in sleet or freezing rain for two hours is just not my idea of fun so finishing might be miraculous.

2)  Start with the 2:15 pace group.  This is who I started with last year but couldn't maintain the pace so I'd like to hang with them this year.  If I can't hang with them the entire race I want to at least hang with them through the park - around mile 9-10, I think.

3)  Relax.  I tend to get all worked up the night before and morning of the race so I'd like to just run and have fun.  That have fun part is going to be more difficult if there is sleet/freezing rain.

4)  Fuel appropriately.  My plan is to eat dates at the 3's (miles 3, 6, 9, 12) and drink some Nuun at this points, at least.

5)  Stretch after the race.  I usually don't feel like stretching after a half but my IT Band has been a little grumpy lately so I know that this will help me in the long run.

I know that all the hard work is done.  So, now I just have to run 13.1 miles.

If you want to show me some love how about a tax deductible donation to my NEXT half marathon?  Every single dollar helps! Donations can be made by visiting:
http://www.active.com/donate/napaIL14/ILJMcElro1