Monday, May 19, 2014

Race #7: The Second Time I Ran The Famous Potato Half Marathon

Awww! Am I really going to do this AGAIN?
   After running the Salt Lake City (half) Marathon a month ago, I knew I needed to have a great run this last weekend at the Famous Potato (half) Marathon.  I was really hoping to get in some great speed training and a few long runs to help me get my confidence back before tackling the half distance again. Then, life got in the way. Between rained out long runs, long runs cut short by family obligations, and bad shorter runs, I was terrified about my race prospects going into Saturday. Then, like life didn't believe I was worried enough, I got a migraine Friday night. Yep, that is what I needed. But I was also determined that I would do this no matter what. So I still showed up, after migraine headache in tow, to the buses Saturday.
More runner gone wild!
Mark, Darren, and I waiting for the start.
   While riding to the start line Mark asked me how I was feeling about the race. I actually said "Well, I have to do it now. The car is back at the finish!" We talked about our time goals and Mark promised me that if I got 2:45 or under, he would shave off his beard. It was all the inspiration I needed to decided I needed to push it as hard as I could. But, I knew it wouldn't be easy. The weather was going to he in the low 80's. That is pretty hot for this time of year. And I still had a headache. This was going to be a challenge.
   When we got to the top, I met 2 nice women who were running the marathon and we chatted about racing and different races worth visiting in the Utah/Idaho/Washington area. They were so nice about my running goals and gave me lots of encouragement. At the top, I also found my brother, Darren, who was running his first ever half marathon. He is a speed demon who ran in high school and while in the military who was coming back the the sport. I was so excited for him! This is a great race to get his feet wet with, so I knew he was going to do awesome.  
   The race started 10 minutes late, and I could feel my head getting worse, but the race energy got to me and I was ready to go when the time came. I always start in the middle to back part of the start and have to push my way around walkers, who for some reason, always line up near the front. Mark and I ran together for the first tiny bit. Then Darren caught up to me and we ran for a minute together before his long strides left me in the dust. I found a nice pace and tried to keep myself from running too fast at the first. This is the only somewhat downhill of the race and I knew I needed to have a good run then to pad my time for the 9 flat miles, but I also didn't want to burn out, so I found a good pace and kept at that. 
   I ran the first 3 miles straight, then decided to run 7/1 intervals so that I would have the energy to push through after mile 10 came. That is usually when I fall apart and need all the help I can get to finish. I checked my time and realized I had been running 10:30 miles, a lot faster than I probably should have been, but I was making great time! I also ran back into my two new marathoner friends and, since they were hoping for a 5:15 finish, I knew they were going the pace I should to get a 2:30-2:45 time, so I started pacing with them. One of them also lost her first born, so we talked about hoe running helped with loss, death and spirituality, and our precious daughters. Miles flew by and before I knew it we were at the mile 7 watering station. I knew I had to eat some fig bars or I was going to die at that point, so they ran on while I ate and walked an extra minute. I kept them in my view for another mile, but then my darn body started rebelling.
   I was given the tip to drink half a Five Hour Energy before the race and the other half half way through the race. So that is what I did. It actually did help my headache stay manageable, which was good. But between the heat, the drink, and a post migraine tummy, I started having tummy problems. I stopped at the mile 8 honey buckets, and waited 3 minutes to get in, but I knew I didn't have the time to keep waiting, so I set off again. I was good until almost mile 10 where I had to walk to the next aid station where the next bathroom was. All together I lost 6 minutes because my tummy was acting up.
   But I headed out and tried to keep up my 7/1 intervals, but I started falling apart. Unlike past races, I was unwilling to allow this race to break me, so I decided to run 3/1 intervals. This was actually a really good pace for me. I recovered just enough in those one minute walks to run even faster than I was able to go during my 7/1 intervals. And I knew that I was going to be cutting it close to my 2:45 time, but was probably not going to make it because of my 6 minutes of pit stops. But, I was going to run hard and try to get there. At the mile 11 watering station I ran into my niece and sister-in-law who were nice enough to volunteer for the race. After the necessary quick pictures, I headed off hoping to stay strong until the end.
Liz (one of my beautiful nieces) and I at mile 11. 
Karrie (my sister-in-law) and I at mile 11.
   I had been running with about 6 women since my mile 10 pit stop and our intervals were just off from each other. They would run and pass me, then I would run and pass them. Just after mile 12 I decided to really challenge myself and get ahead of 4 of them who were running as a group during my next running interval. Isabel must have liked the plan and played Pharrell's Happy for me. There is something about that song. No matter how tired I am, I just have to run my heart out to that song. So that is what I did. I passed them and didn't see them again until after the finish line. 
   Just before mile 13, the course goes over a bridge into Ann Morrison Park and at the bottom of the bridge was my brother Darren and the rest of his kids there to cheer me on. They may not have known it, but it was EXACTLY what I needed at the time. I was starting to fade and I was praying I wouldn't throw up. I just had to keep it together for .2 miles. I knew I was almost there and tried running a little faster. FINALLY, I turned the corner to see the fishiness and race clock and just about lost it. I saw 2:58:something. WHAT? How did I lose THAT much time? I slowed down and almost walked when I saw the clock click to 2:51:00. AWWWW! I was going to beat my 2:56 time! It was then I saw Mark screaming for me to run hard for a PR. I sprinted up and got a 2:51:25 finish (I think that is the official time. The website has also said 2:50:something. It has changed a couple of times). I was actually pretty happy with that.
Selfie with the medal.
We finished!
   The course is a mostly flat course. There are a few little hills and some decline at the first, but for the most part, you better be ready to be the driving force for the race. It can get boring running a flat course and Mark really struggled with it this year. The heat was pretty bad too. But the race is so well organized and cheap, we can't help but so it again and again. I really love this race.
Mark showing his last two race medals to Isabel.
Showing my medal to Isabel.

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