Saturday night I got everything laid out and ready to go... I broke a couple of rules... new shirt (thanks to the uber-quick service of Andrea at Running Chics
) and new skirt.
I had PR on the brain. I have never been so focused on a PR. I mean, I got a little crazy last night... I relaxed with a little Foot Therapy
, and I did a one mile walk (slowly) on the treadmill while visualizing the PR of the next day. Yeah, I never do that kind of stuff. I was weirdly focused.
Up at 5am and drove to the finish line (yes, finish). We got on the good ol' school bus for a trip to the starting line. Note... I'm 5'11" and 99% of my height is between my hip and my knee... so this is what happened:
My knees were beyond squished. I had to raise them high. Seriously, the space between the seats was about 4 inches short of fitting my legs. And the trip felt a little like Survivor... being dropped off miles from your car, and you have to find your way back.
But finally to the start. A photo with the group...
Let me introduce you from left to right... On the left we have Monica. Monica is a friend of mine that I have been helping to coach. Today was her first half marathon!!! Next is Elaine
, of course, my race buddy. Love cheering her on. Next is another Monika! Monika
used to be a co-worker, and finally headed to my side of town for a race. With her is "Flat Tom". Tom is a friend of hers deployed to Iraq that was supposed to run the race. She carried his face on a stick the entire race. Then me, of course. And on the right, the amazing and fabulous Robin who, once again, agreed to pace me... buuuuuut only if I agreed to go hard and try to PR.
The start in downtown Dallas...
Robin is all smiles before she begins torturing me...
(For the record, Robin hates having her photo taken, but I love this photo because when she smiles, it's infectious!)
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were at the start, so we had to get Flat Tom's picture!
It has been in the 80s here, but the morning of the race it dropped to 50 degrees. Which meant I was a little cold waiting for the start, but hello - could there be a more perfect race temperature? I think not.
And we were off. The plan... to run 10:15ish at the start and then 10s the rest of the way. The goal... 2:14:59. Actually a 2:15:29 would have made me happy (my PR from Oct 2010 was 2:15:30). The "probably not possible, but would really rock" goal was 2:11. I knew that wasn't likely, because even if I hit 10 min/mile, unless the course was the perfect length, I wouldn't hit 2:11. Anyhow... back to the story.
I call Robin a "passive" pacer. She doesn't vocally try to get you to go faster... she just barely runs at your front corner so you feel like you are constantly chasing her... and if you say "slow down", she pretends as if she didn't know how fast she was going. Yeah, I have her sneaky number. (Seriously, she's the best pacer ever...) The main quality that Robin possesses is that in all seriousness, she believes in what I'm capable of more than I do. She knows when to push and when to let me pull back a little.
Anyhow... with the typical excitement, we went out of the gate a smidge above the plan...
mile 1 9:56
mile 2 10:03
mile 3 10:01
What happened to that 10:15 plan? But I felt good, so I just kept trucking along. The course was a gradual uphill the first 7.5 miles and gradual downhill the rest. Sure, there were slight ups and downs in between... in the grand scheme of things the course was pretty flat.
mile 4 9:58
This was the only point I walked... for literally, less than 5 seconds, to get a swig of Cytomax from the second aid station. I didn't like it, and since I was carrying my handheld, I never stopped again.
Not long after this I saw Karen (Jason's wife) stopped for a potty break and not 0.25 miles later I saw Jason
wearing his El Fuego's (yeah, you didn't think I'd miss those, did you???) cheering us on. Thanks you so much Jason!!!
mile 5 10:02
My fabulous friend, Jenn
(who was supposed to run this race but has been injured) was waiting to cheer us on and grab some photos. Excuse the crazy looks. As you know, this was an all out effort for me... so I couldn't match Robin's relaxed cheerfulness!
mile 6 10:16
We were pretty consistent, and honestly, not sure how mile 6 got 16 seconds off. Can't recall anything in there that was unusual. Our pacing was a little messy since a lot of underpasses and between buildings killed our satellite reception.
mile 7 9:59
I remember at mile 7.5 struggling just a little on the last small hill and wondering if I could really keep this up. Mind you, this entire time, I'm telling Robin that I do NOT want to go sub-10s until after mile 10. If I feel good after mile 10, THEN we can push harder. And at this point, I was starting to doubt how I'd feel. BUT I was ridiculously focused on that PR, and I was mentally prepared to push through pain if I had to.
mile 8 9:55
mile 9 9:47
Um, where did that "no sub-10 until mile 10" rule go? At this point, we were over the last hump and I was feeling pretty decent, so I stopped studying my Garmin and let Robin lead me. She'd occassionally ask "do you know our pace?" (She knew, she was looking at her Garmin.) And I would repeat "I don't want to know, because if I see it, I'll want to slow down." I knew I was sub-10.
Let's sidebar for a bit... my half marathon PR was 2:15:30. That's a pace of 10:21 min/mile, and it was under perfect conditions and a real struggle. I have tried 4 times to see what I could do up against that PR and still couldn't break 2:18. Now all of a sudden, I'm on mile 9 and going sub-10s...
mile 10 9:42
Somewhere around here, I saw Jason
again. I gave him the thumbs up that I was on pace, and he gave me the cheers I needed. And then...
I'm feeling good and this lady starts to pull her car out of her driveway right into the middle of the race course. WHAT??? I yelled at her and said "You can't do that." She said something like "but I can't get out of my driveway." To which I responded in a completely understanding way with "I don't care." People started yelling "car car" and signalling for people to move. I refused (I wanted my PR and she was not going to make me expend one ounce of extra energy). I ran right in front of that car until a guy finally signalled her to turn down the next street. (Seriously... she was considering driving FURTHER down the course cause that's not where she wanted to turn.)
mile 11 9:30
Starting at 11.5 is where the final struggle started. The last 1.5, I couldn't even understand what Robin was saying to me. She was still happy and telling stories, and I was busy struggling to breathe. So I would just nod my head as if I understood what she said when really, I was convincing myself not to pass out considering I was now running the last miles of a half marathon at below my 10k PR pace (and I almost threw up after setting that 10k PR).
mile 12 9:34
This is where Robin told me this was my chance to beat her across the finish line... but if I was going to cross first, I had to earn it. I raised my eyebrows questioning what I had left. And she just told me as long as I sped up a little and didn't slow, I earned it. (Thank you Robin, for making me earn it.)
mile 13 9:23
last 0.14 8:12 pace
Remember my goals? 2:14:59 was a great day, 2:11 would be an absolutely amazing day... and I crossed in 2:09:17 (chip time). Seriously? Who was this girl? Where has she been? I was ridiculously emotional at the finish line and hyperventilating. I struggled to catch my breath, but finally did. Shew.
After getting out of my stuper, we started a slow walk back to find Monica. Based on her long runs, I had set a goal for her of 13 min/miles. Robin and I started walking back. We found Robin's husband hanging around the Longhorn band with her two girls. Both of our families are huge UT fans, so I took a photo of Robin's girls with the band.
Then we continued walking the course backwards until we found Jenn around mile 12.8. We stopped and watch for a bit with her... I saw Elaine
looking strong... and then Libby
Right as I decided to walk a little further along the course, Robin spotted Monica. I was not expecting her yet... wow... she was still trucking along. So we turned and started running with her (I should've had my Garmin on tracking the extra run). It was hard to run outside the fence and through the crowds, but we kept up and cheered her on. She finished in 2:44:57. WOW!!! First half marathon and with a long run pace of about 13:30-13:45 min/mile, she just totally blew it out of the water with 12:35 min/mile pace. I got emotional all over again and was so happy for her (you should've seen her husband beaming with pride).
Monica, Robin, and Me
Monica and Me
A great day for all!
I know this is the longest race report ever, but I wanted to mention that I absolutely loved this course. And while the ribbon was kind of dinky, the medal was pretty cool. And thanks to Aimee (who I FINALLY got to meet after finishing right near each other for several races but never actually crossing paths) for figuring out it is supposed to be the Ferris Wheel at the State Fair where the race ended. I was clueless.
I thought the signage at both the start and the finish was lacking. We had trouble finding bag check both times. There was plenty of water and snacks at the finish (and the aid stations on the course all looked well stocked and staffed, though I didn't use them). There were plenty of potties both at the start (never had to wait in a line... when does that happen?) and on the course.
I loved having the bands along the course... they seemed to come at just the right time (although I'm convinced Robin picked up the pace everytime we passed one). And I thought it was uber-cool to have the UT Longhorn band at the last quarter mile.
All-in-all I think it was a well-done race, and I will be running it again next year since I registered at the expo for $65 (I do think the full price $100 fee is a bit steep). And you can bet it'll be in my sites as a PR course again next year.