Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Results Part 2 - the emotions

So now that the math is out of the way we'll discuss the all the emotions of this race; the good, the bad and the really ugly!

I was not happy coming to the finish.
I'll start with the really ugly news. Loyal blog readers, I gave up on myself. This was a very hard race for me, and at one point I was ready to give up. I considered flagging down a police car or ambulance to take me back to the start, or just walking the rest and telling my time goal to bugger off. I did not feel like myself today. The bad news is pretty simple, I did not feel like me running today. My legs had more weight to them than usual and every step felt that much harder than usual. My tummy wasn't happy with me so my race cookies that usually power me on felt like stones in my belly and after 15k I couldn't even consider eating another bite of them. And some guy yelled "You can make it! It's only 3k and it's all downhill" at me when I KNEW for a fact a big hill was just up ahead. Seriously that pissed me off. I also, didn't want to hear all the clapping. I know it's nice to have the support from everyone, but when you don't think you're going to make your time goal it feels like someone is rubbing salt in your wounds. I was the same during labour - wanted silence to concentrate on pushing through the pain (I actually told a nurse to shut up but you can't say that to race supporters). I felt a lot of physical aches and pains in this race, from cramping, to losing my breathe, to headache, to flushed (maybe I got a bit too much sun), to dehydration (water stations every 3km my butt - 4 in the first 9 or 10k, and only one in the last 5k what is up with that??). Ultimately the weather was a factor in this run, and so was my body but at least I pushed through the pain which is something I can be very proud of once my legs stop hurting.

My husband was not happy about how cranky I look in his photos so he told me next time I run through a finish area I need to think "and smile damit" and do it too. (For those who don't know that is part of the warm up from the theatre group we met in - go FASS!)

Showing off my shirt and time!
The good news is a section that would have been very, very, small had my running bff/coach not called me to congratulate me on my run (thank you Cecilia). Despite all the horrible feelings, I did not give up. I did not allow my fears, my doubts and my deprecating thoughts to end the race for me. I pushed on for myself and for my daughter. I went into this race running it for Katrina and I could not let her down. I pushed through more pain than I have ever experienced in a race and I stand here today (well technically I'm sitting right now) stronger for it. People say that a large part of distance running is having the mental discipline to push through the hard parts and today I flexed that muscle as much as any of the ones in my legs. When I saw my pace time slowly climbing I wanted to give up, but the math voice in my head (which happens to sound a lot like Cecilia when I run) reminded me that the laps that were coming up as 1.05km would eventually result in a 0.8km lap which would make everything average out. I had to keep listening to that voice so I could push through, and it was right! Even at the end I hit my 19th marker and  had 15 minutes left in the race. I told myself I could do this and pushed on. I wanted to stop, I wanted to walk, I wanted to puke and pass out, but instead I put one foot in front of the other and kept going. Once I saw the finish line, I knew that I would make my goal (even if the clock was already at 2:22:18) since I had started at the end of the group and my garmin was only at 2:21:40ish. So I gave it everything I had (which wasn't much at this point) and crossed the finish line a very proud mama.

Left to Right: Alice and Denise
This race also meant something special to me because it was for St.John's Ambulance. I don't know if I've ever written about this before but I had an older sister who passed away at the age of 7, (I was 3) and I have a haunting memory of the ambulance lights flashing as the volunteer ambulance team tried to save her life. My father was a volunteer ambulance man, and so were several of his friends. She had a heart condition and with how much we moved it never really got diagnosed properly and it was the cause. Being the mother of two girls now is a daily reminder to me of how special sisterhood is, and how important my girls are to each other. My girls will get to have a friendship and bond, that I lost at a very young age and a lot of that was going through my mind on this run. I think that a lot of my pain, and doubt came from these feelings, since they we racing through my head while I was pushing against the wind. A lot of the things I strive for in my life, I do because I feel like I am making up for the things my sister will never do, and I need to live a full life for both of us. It's a lot of pressure, and I really felt it during this race. But I also felt her there with me when I felt like I couldn't go on. I asked her to stay by my side and to help me finish and I feel that she did.

So I may not have had my best feeling run, and I may feel the pain in my legs for the next week, and the memory of the self doubt that I felt on my own out on that cold, lonely, unforgiving road will linger with me longer than I'd like it to, but in the end I didn't give up, I gave it my all, and I achieved what I had dreamed of during all those long hours of training. If you set your mind to something you can achieve it if you're willing to put the work in, and push through the pain.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Race Results Part 1 - the numbers

I won't hold you all in suspense. I managed to run my half in the faster time that I had hoped for! I have a lot to say about this run, both for good and bad so I'll be breaking up the report of the race into two posts. Today I'll talk about the numbers, and only look factually. Tomorrow's post will look at the emotions behind those numbers since this was by far the most emotional race I have ever run.

My final time on my garmin when I crossed the finish line was 2:21:57 which means I beat my goal time by 25 seconds. Being the silly girl I am (and so filled with emotions) I hit lap instead of stop after I crossed the finish. Then I got my medal and told a nice ambulance man that I was fine (but that's for asking) and then realized my mistake and went to stop my watch at 2:22:46 but again hit lap instead. I didn't notice this until we were almost at the car. So I had to drop the last lap off my garmin, but luckily the settings let you go in and adjust things so I subtracted the last laps and all was well with the world.

My chip time was 2:21:56 which makes sense since I started at the back of the pack and took a while to get through the start line.  I crossed the finish at the official clock time of 2:22:29. See, Steve took a nice proof photo for me. My official race results are as follows and show a MAJOR improvement from 2010 when I ran the race after Lillian was born. (2012 numbers don't include people who didn't show but 2010 do).
  • 35/42 for women aged 20-29 (2010 it was 54/61)
  • 119/155 for women in the race (2010 it was 178/200)
  • 258/299 overall (2010 it was 338/364)
  • 2:21:56 finish (2010 it was 2:48:55)
So the timing for this race was fine. I fed the baby at 9:30pm last night and she slept through the night for me. I woke up at 4:30am because she peeped in her sleep and had to go to the bathroom. After that I fell asleep until 5:30am and then drifted in and out of sleep until 6:15am when I couldn't stay in bed anymore. Got up and ate the oatmeal I'd made last night, drank my tea, took my time and then went upstairs to nurse the baby. Since everyone was up by 7:15am my husband dropped me off at the race just before 8am and then headed home. I wandered around to warm up and hit the bathroom (twice - silly tummy and nerves). As the runners got ready I headed to the back of the group (as usual) and waited for the start.

The weather for the race was lovely. We had sun with no clouds, but it was chilly at the start, and then moved up to 11 degrees. The wind was not so nice. We had 25-30km/hr winds and they played a large part in my run.

As the race started I had to go slowly to get through the starting line. There were a lot of runners and not a very wide path for us all. Once I crossed through the start gate people spread out a bit but I still had to weave in and out of several people and was running slower than I wanted or planned to for the first km. After that I got enough room to run at the pace I had planned. You can see all my Garmin results at the bottom.

Kilometer 2-4 went fine but then when we turned a bend and disaster struck. We had to run from 4.5km-12.5km straight into the wind. Usually when I run my first 5k are my second fastest with the middle 10 being the slowest and my final 5k the fastest. This headwind took everything in me to keep at the pace I needed to hit my goal. It was brutal. It slowed me down despite the nice downhill sections. I had to really fight to maintain my pace. Last time I ran this race I needed to stop and use the washroom at 13km but this time when I hit that spot I looked at my watch and knew if I stood any chance of hitting my goal a pee break was no longer an option so I didn't go and kept running.

One thing about the race I didn't like was how off their distances were. I pushed lap whenever I passed a marker (and for the record markers 10, 11 and 12 were no where to be found) and had set my watch to automatically lap at 1.05km so if I missed one (or they did) I wouldn't lose a lap for my average lap pace calculations. As you can see from my numbers below they were off several times and the lack of signs meant that some km came up short because the lap was set to go off at 1.05km. It was nice to catch up on my average pace by having a few 5 minute times but I would rather they were labeled properly and I not had to deal with that. They also said water stations would be every 3km but around 10km I'd already hit 4 of them and then at the end the last one I remember was at km 16 or 17 so that was not pleasant.

Here are my Garmin results for the race. As you can see the time is a bit higher than my 2:21:57 above but like I said I hit lap not stop and then stood still while I got my medal and water from the nice ambulance man. That's okay since we all know I did it.