Monday, September 19, 2011

Fox Cities Half Marathon Recap

The morning started like any other race morning - with a predawn wake up call.  I rolled out of bed at 4:45 AM, took a quick shower and put on my race clothes.  On the way to the start line shuttles I ate a Clif Bar (one of the only things I can tolerate eating that early in the morning) and chased it with water.  Unlike last year, we made it to the shuttles without incident.

After we arrived, The Husband and I staked out some space and began warming up.  My legs and hips were really tight and my mind was so chaotic, so I opted for a couple of yoga vinyasas which worked wonders. By the time I finished, my tight muscles had relaxed and my racing thoughts finally shut up!  We checked our gear and made our way to the starting corrals.  It was time to say goodbye and good luck. The husband was in Corral A (predicted finish under 2 hours) and I was in Corral B (predicted finish of 2:01-2:30).  As I've explained, I didn't expect to do very well today due to my lack of training over the last month, so I seeded myself just in front of the 2:15 pace group with the goal of keeping them behind me.

The gun went off and the race was on.  I started off a little faster than I wanted to (10:00), but figured it wasn't a big deal since it was pretty cool out and my breathing was really even. By Mile 3, my pace has dropped into the 9:40's!  I started to wonder how long I could hang on to that pace and made the decision to see how much of a cushion I could build up in the early miles since I know that that last 5k of this course is particularly tough for me (2 bridges and a very psychologically tough last mile). Before I knew it, the Mile 5 water station was coming into view. I ate my first GU of the race, washed it down with a couple gulps of water and kept moving.  Over the next 5 miles, my pace varied between 9:26-9:53.  I wasn't exactly sure where this burst of speed was coming from, but I was definitely not complaining!  I only had a 5k left to run.

The last 3 miles of this course are, in my opinion, the toughest. It involves 2 bridges and then a run past the finishing area before looping back to the finish line.  The first bridge was okay, but my pace started to suffer.  Mile 11 was completed in 10:05.  The second bridge, has been my nemesis for the last 4 times I've raced here and the 5th time was no exception.  In addition to being a rather steep bridge almost 12 miles into the race, I got to contend with rotor wash from a helicopter landing at the hospital next to the bridge.  All that wind kind of brought back memories of The Bridge From Hell at Mile 17 of the Green Bay Marathon.  I cussed my way up that bridge, muttering 'Effing Bridge' under my breath.  I made it to Mile 12 in 10:02.  At this point I knew I had 1.1 miles standing between me and that finish line and I swear it was the longest mile of my life. My crazy speed burst between Miles 6-10 was starting to catch up with me.  I was running out of  I hit the 13 mile mark with a pace of 10:24 (my slowest mile of the day).  At that point, I flipped over to the total time elapsed on my Garmin and knew that if I started my closing sprint at 13.05 miles that I would likely finish around 2:10 and beat my PR by almost a full minute.  Then I had the crazy thought that maybe I could come in under 2:10.  That's when the crazy took over.  I dug way down deep and started my closing sprint a little early.  I poured everything I had into that last tenth of a mile, while simultaneously praying that I wasn't about to throw up or pass out.  My foot hit the timing mat and I reached down to hit the stop button on my Garmin.  It showed a total elapsed time of 2:10:03.  I wasn't sure what to think since it always take a couple of seconds to hit Stop, so I would have to wait for the official chip time to be available.

A race volunteer put a mylar wrap around my shoulders, another one handed me my race shirt and another hung my medal around my neck.  I was kind of numb as I meandered through the food tent where I managed to snag a bottle of water, a chunk of blueberry bagel and a really crumbly cookie.  Once I cleared that area, I located The Husband (who eclipsed his PR by a minute and two seconds - set the same day as my 2:21:49 back in 2008).  I noticed that there were volunteers with laptops nearby that were able to check official finish times immediately.  I didn't have to wait for them to published online.  Score!

Nervously, I gave the woman my bib number and she asked if there was a number I was hoping to hear.  I told her I'd be really happy with anything under 2:10:00.  She smiled and told me that I had finished in 2:09:56!  I had taken almost 2 minutes off the PR I set at Full Moon in August!  I thanked her, turned to walk away, and damn near cried I was so happy!

So I guess this is the race where I get to say, "Oops...I Did It Again!"

The Bling

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'Twas The Night Before Race Day

The drive is done.

Lake Butte des Mortes

This highway has been under construction for the last 5 years!

The swag bag has been picked up.

The bib has been pinned to my shirt.

The chip has been attached to my shoe.
My race gear has been assembled.
I'm ready.  Bring on half marathon #10!

Monday, September 12, 2011


Have you ever had one of those days?  The kind of day where you feel like every time you cross one item off your Things To Do List six more take it's place?  The kind of day where everything seems to be happening at once?  The kind of day where it feels like you either need a personal assistant or to be reincarnated as an octopus so you have enough arms to juggle all the crap going on in your life?  Yeah, I thought so!

So here I am, 6 days away from the Fox Cites race (no where near ready), 2 weeks away from a vacation (that I planned back in January, but still could be canceled at the last minute), and 3 weeks way from what a coworker and I affectionately refer to as Hell Month at the office.  I'm not even close to ready to deal with any of it.  So yeah, you could kind of say I'm having one of those days for the next 2 weeks.

I'm sure the fact that I'm a control-freak, type A personality isn't making me a lot of fun to be around right now, but it sure is helping me keep track of all the stuff that has to be done before each of these events. To give you an idea of how OCD I am right now, I will confess:  I have a spreadsheet that details every chore/errand/personal appointment that I have between now and the day we're supposed to leave for vacation.  I have a 2 page list on my desk at work that seems to grow daily, but has to be completely finished before I go! 

I'm guessing I'll feel a lot better once the Fox Cities race is done and I can focus on all the other stuff.

What's your method for dealing with your life when it's out of control busy?

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Change of Perspective

I can't believe that less than 2 weeks from today I'll be running my 10th half marathon.  In some ways, I'm having trouble caring.  After my unexpectedly spectacular performance at the Full Moon Half Marathon, I've been suffering from an extreme lack of motivation.  For the entire month of August I logged a total of 58.40 running miles, which is pretty low.  I did put in another 29.45 miles on the bike, but those workouts were mostly for fun.

I think my motivation problem is actually two problems.  First, I've already met my goal: To Take Down My Old PR of 2:21:49.  I intended for that to happen at the Fox Cities race, but it happened at Full Moon. While I'm beyond elated by the new PR, it tanked my desire to run, much less my desire to push myself to run faster.  Second, I've been in training mode almost non-stop since January 1st. I'm burned out both physically and mentally.  Running has stopped being fun.  It's become a chore.

I've really been struggling with what to do about these problems and today, while out for a 10 mile run with The Husband, I think I finally came to a conclusion.  I need to shift my perspective on the Fox Cities Race.  I know that there's very little chance, given my lack of training in the last couple of weeks, that I'm going to run anywhere close to my new PR and I'm okay with that.  I love the half marathon distance, so I'm going to do the race and try to have fun with it.  My new goal is to run the best race that I'm capable of that day, rather than to push to the point of misery while chasing a PR. The second conclusion that I came to is that I need a break.  After Fox Cities I will continue to run, but I'm limiting myself to lower mileage runs and giving myself permission to slow the hell down and enjoy it!  I'm want to incorporate more trail running, more cycling and possibly some hiking into my fitness routine as well.  Hopefully that will alleviate some of the boredom and burnout I've been experiencing.

What do you do when the things you usually love to do stop being fun?