Monday, May 5, 2014

Whidbey Island 1/2 Marathon Race Report - Part 2

The start of a race is a bit surreal for me. It was only my second but it takes me awhile to absorb what is really happening. First, I can't  believe that I am actually doing this again! Lol! I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be running 1/2 marathons. Ever! But there I was again, with my wonderful hubby by my side. I really am thankful that I get to experience this in my lifetime. I realize that running is a gift and I have to treat it like that. I forget most of the time and think of it as a chore but when I think of it as a gift, it immediately feels better.

The first few kms are just about getting into a groove and a good headspace. I love feeling the energy of the other runners around me and use their energy to pull me along as much as possible.  Because there was no entertainment like the SeaWheeze, there was not too much else to focus on but myself, other runners and the course.

First hill coming up

The course was scenic and gorgeous but DAMN it was hilly. Especially in the second half. Those frickin hills were relentless!

I felt pretty much awesome for the first 10k. We stuck to our race strategy and as far as we could gauge by the mile markers we were ahead of schedule. The pace band was kind of useless now without a Garmin. Damn Garmin! But at 5k we were at about 32 mins and 10k we were at about 1:07 so I was really pleased. We were skipping lots of walk breaks on the downhill section and  were flying down them. The hills thus far were not too bad. We were also way ahead of our pacer.

At around 10k and on the wheels kind of fell off. We hit this beautiful straightaway by the water but the path was awful. It was made up of these uneven jagged, pebble like rocks. Not fun to run on. There was also this metal bridge covered in rubber that was extremely awkward to run on. It was at this point too that hubby started to have knee pain from his IT Band. He had to stop to stretch it every now and then. I would run on and he would catch up but it threw our rhythm off a bit. The long path was nice and flat but I was kind of done with it.

I spoke too soon because shortly after the path was a killer hill that we did not expect or see on our drive. It was steep, and long and seemed to go on forever. This is where the 2:30 pacer passed us and my heart sank. I knew that she did start a couple of minutes before us but it's still such a physchological thing to see her pass you especially on a steep ass hill that you have to walk. We ran as much of it as we could but it got to a point where we could have walked faster so that's what we did along with most of the other runners.

When we finally reached the crest of the hill, I could still see our pacer and I had my sights set on catching her! The next few kms were flat and we came so close at one point but I started to tire a bit. We were back at our starting point and almost ready to head into the last section which wound around a hilly neighbourhood so I decided to forget the pacer and just finish this damn race!

And lo and behold came another giant hill that everyone was walking again. Frak! This is when we started to pass the faster runners that were heading back the other way. I hope to be that fast one day... sigh. I was cursing this hill the whole way but knew I just had to dig deep and finish these last few kms. I had no clue where we were with time or if we even had a chance of meeting any of our goals. I just wanted to finish at this point. Poor Hubby was struggling with knee pain so I just wanted us to do the best we could under the circumstances. After finishing another hill from hell we picked up the pace again on the downhill. Thank god for the downhill! At around Mile 10/11 which was a flat part and then another hill, I was totally zapped of energy. I had been really stupid with fuelling on this race but I have learned my lesson. Just because I have energy at the beginning doesn't mean I shouldn't still fuel so that I don't run out of energy towards the end of the race. Dumb, rookie mistake. All I had was a water and a couple of Cliff Shot Blocks. I should have had a Gu gel earlier. Anyways I had some Gu at Mile 11ish to try to get me to the finish but by that time I'm sure it was too late to have much of an effect. Luckily the last 2 miles was mostly downhill and flat with one more hill. The downhill came at the right time and I was able to gain some momentum and energy from it before the last hill. We talked to some nice ladies on the hill and they told us were just about to hit mile 12 so hubby checked the time and we were at 2:15. We could still do it! We were still within our goals reach!

It was the final push to the end and I had some extra kick. I started to pass some people and Hubby was right there behind me despite the pain he was in. I expended so much energy trying to pass people that I had to take one final walk break before entering the park to the finish line. I managed to sprint it in with Jeff right beside me! I saw the clock say 2:33 so I knew our chip time would be close!
Plus the course was long at 13.4 miles instead of 13.1!

Poor Jeff was really struggling and looks like death here!

Sooo.. our official chip time was 2:31:17. DAMNIT!!! 

However, to be fair the course is long at 13.4 miles so we decided to take that into account. We calculated what our average to slower pace would be for that extra 465 metres. So at 7mins/km, 465 metres is about 3 mins 15 secs. If we were to take that off our time that would we 2:28:02. SO, we have decided to make that our official time! LOL! It's only fair right!? 

Therefore we definitely made Goal A and sort of kind of made Goal B! YAY!

Considering the very challenging, hell of a hilly course and Jeff's injury, we are very pleased with our results! Would I like to do a lot better? OF COURSE! But I will make sure to sign up for a flatter race to do that! I am very proud of us for conquering another race, for getting a PR and doing it on a course with lots of hills. 

Final thoughts:
1) I proved that I am not a one hit wonder
2) My husband is a strong, amazing man that can push through pain and injury to be by my side. I love him.
3) Whidbey Island is a gorgeous, scenic race but I won't sign up again because 6+ hills is just not my idea of fun.
4) I am stronger than I think. Although the course was challenging, I loved running it. Does that make sense?
5) I am determined to get an "official" sub 2:30 1/2 marathon time!
6) I am so proud of Jeff and I once again for accomplishing something we never thought we would do.
Crossing the finish line with him, no matter what the time, will be some of my greatest memories of our partnership together.