2011 race season has begun. I can’t say it started off on the best note, but the first race is crossed off the list.
My day started at 0445. I was up early to walk and feed the pups, make some coffee and breakfast for my cheerleader and for myself – hydrate and fuel. We left the house shortly after 0530. The race is about 45 mins away and well, finding parking will be a bit of luck. And since, I am part Irish – luck was on our side. We found parking with little effort and close to the start, yet closer to the finish line.
I signed up for corral 1, which was for runners with an excepted finish line time of sub 1:50. The keyword in that statement is “excepted”. Finding the corrals was not a problem at all, just slide in line and follow the mass of runners ahead of you. The wind was very active and since it came off the ocean (the start is only 2 blocks away from the beach) it was cold. While fighting the wind all the runners packed closely together and played our parts as the announcer talked, pumped us up and gave the countdown, just after the National Anthem.
What you may or may not know. The Hampton Roads Area is a highly military populated area, so it would not be an event without honoring our men and women and Old Glory.
The first several miles went well. At the 5 mile marker I was at 42:07, which is a 8:25 minute mile, half marathon completion time 1:50:25. Great, one of 3 groups of 5 completed. I breakdown the 13.1 miles into 3 sections, 2 five milers (total 10 miles) and a 5K (3.1 miles). I was feeling great, strong and confident.
Remember that wind while waiting to start the race. Well, the wind was not much an issue during the first 6 miles, give or take some meters. The wind was blocked by a good amount of trees surrounding the road on both sides. It wasn’t until we hit mile 7 shortly after making the turn into Fort Story that I noticed some cool refreshing air. The road we were on while inside Fort Story is parallel to the ocean with the ocean on the left side . Yet, has the ocean straight ahead. The road curves around to the right as it continues through and exits the base. This makes it so ocean the is always on the left, but that’s not until traveling about a mile 1.5 run, again give or take some meters, straight into the winds coming off the oceanfront. Fun times! I maintained pace, I live by a riverfront, which is just as windy, so I was prepared for the wind. It wasn’t a wind that makes your feel like your ‘running in place’, but it was gusting. I ran most of that leg enjoying the view of the waterfront. It’s a calming part of the race for me. I look out to my left side and see numerous cargo ships coming in or out and the various wildlife in the sky or on the sand-mounds. (I don’t call them dunes, because they aren’t that big to me). Of course, I passed some military members cheering us on or just guiding us through the base.
I passed mile marker 7 and 8 feeling great. Then heading out of the base around mile 9.5. I started to have a mental block that was building in the back of my thoughts and noticed some discomfort in left calf. At mile 10, this discomfort came straight forward with a sharp “quick” cramp in my calf that shot right up to my hamstring. The words “crap, shoot, dang it” (formatted for PG-13) came to my mind.
I fueled with GU chomps at the last 2 water stops. GU Chomps require 4 chomps to make a full serving. I break it up into 2 since its difficult to eat or swallow 4 chomps at a time. Unfortunately, as of right now, these chomps are the only item I have tried out of 10 that does not make me sick/upset my stomach while running.
I had to slowdown and stretch, getting hurt was not an option for my first run of 2011. At that point, I decided to make it to the finish line with very little stops and problems. I continued through mile 10 with a pace of 9:05 and at mile 11 I was at 8:47 and feeling alright. I just wanted to get there, so I picked up my speed and fought through mile 12. When I made the final turn on the broad walk, I pushed my pace to finish strong or as strong as I could.
I crossed the finish line at 1:54:31. Not the time I wanted, not the finish I wanted, but unlike the others who don’t have the courage or guts to make it to the starting line or quit during the race — I crossed the finish line. I felt pretty proud of myself. I have replayed the race over and over again. There is nothing different I would have done. I ran the race, I trained for. Sometimes, there are unexpected things that happen that make runners have to dig deep and realize that today was just not the day.
So, my lessons for my next half marathon on May 15th. Is to find a different fueling product, go out a little slower to be able to power through the mental block that may come up. I will train with more confidence, a few new mantras and the knowledge that sub 1:50 is in reach. Oh, and the next several weeks of training with require some massive hill training. The Marine Half in Fredericksburg as some nice big long hills. The hardest ones are at mile 11, nicknamed “Hospital Hill”. There is a hospital at the top, hence the nickname. The last battle is within the last mile a runner will have to re-climb the hill they enjoyed some much in the beginning of the race — getting to the finish line will be earned.
Below are some images taken during the race.