Or…. An Unexpected PR
Or…. Blogger Meetup Extravaganza
First off, I am WAY behind on blogging. I’ve tried to keep up. Really, I have. I have 3 drafts that I started during the week, but never finished. The problem is that I would start them at about 9PM and then promptly fall asleep at my computer by 9:30. These morning swims and long work days are catching up to me. Thankfully, this is my first recovery week, so maybe I can finally catch up. Expect complete and total randomness post-wise this week.
Ok, onto the main attraction.
Race weekend started on Saturday when we dropped Bailey off at my Mom’s house for the weekend. We had originally planned on brining him with us, but it just wasn’t going to work out logistically. Thankfully, my mom was more than happy to dog-sit.
After that, off we headed to Toledo. The drive, included lots of this
It rained nearly the entire drive. Lovely. Thankfully, the forecast called for rain only on Saturday and none on Sunday.
Pre Race Blog Meetup
We made great time and got to the expo where we were going to meet up with everyone – everyone being BigDaddy Diesel, MattyO and his wife Heather, and Colleen and her husband Tom. We arrived first so Jennie and I quickly got our packets. Jennie decided earlier this week to do the 5k because she wouldn’t be tied down with Bailey. Because of the late registration she got stuck with an XL shirt. When she tried to exchange it, the
bitchy stern, nope, bitchy was the right word in the first place, not so nicely told her that wasn’t possible. Oh well, yet another shirt that she can never wear.
We stood around for a bit sort of wondering how we were going to find everyone. BDD is infamous for not ever being caught in a photograph so we had no idea what he looked liked. I had the best idea of what MattyO would look like because he posts the most pictures. We eventually found Colleen and BDD after looking at each other for a bit trying to figure out if they looked familiar.
We did a quick pass through the expo. Nothing really exciting. The Grand Rapids Marathon had a booth setup which was nice to see. The also had a booth for something called the Elliptigo an elliptical, bike hybrid. They had a spot to do a test ride, but non of us were brave enough to give it a go.
We took a quick group photo and then headed off to dinner (I’ll come back and post a copy once I get one from Colleen). BDD, our fearless race director, found some great options and he ended up making reservations at Rosie’s for some great Italian food. Dinner was awesome. The food was great and the conversation was even better. We all exchanged war stories, training tips, and embarrassing first race experiences (I’m looking at your MattyO). When we got back to the car, Jennie looked at me and said, “You guys are all crazy.” I couldn’t agree more! haha
After dinner, we’d headed out. MattyO and Heather were gracious enough to let us crash at their place along with BDD. When we got there, we got to meet Frank and Sophie (the dogs) for the first time. They are the coolest dogs out there (with the exception of Bailey of course). We are totally teaching Bailey how to high five now.
We headed out at about 5:00 and arrived at the race just after 6:00. There was still plenty of parking but it was getting super crazy so it is good that we got there when we did. We made our way over to our meet point – the port-a-pots. It was absolutely miserable out. Freezing cold and windy as all get out. As we huddled around, we were all questioning our wardrobe choices. I had on shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I wish I had gone with tights or at least a hat and gloves.
Luckily we didn’t stand around for long before lining up. As I lined I saw Jenny A (not to be confused with Jennie N), a girl that ran on my college’s cross country team. She was running the full and shooting for an 8:00 pace – she ended up rocking a 7:35-ish pace! I really wasn’t sure where to line up myself. I really didn’t have a firm goal for this race. I figured a safe bet was a 1:40. I did 1:41 and 1:43 for my two Cupcake Marathon runs. My half marathon PR was 1:34:58 from back in October. So, if I felt really good, I knew that I could try and get close to that. I decided on lining up between the 7:00 and 8:00 pace groups. I ended up finding MattyO lined up in the same area so we decided to start together.
Miles 1 to 6
And we were off! Let the weaving begin. KNOW YOUR PACE PEOPLE! Thankfully, we only had to weave for the first half mile or so. Despite the fact that there were 3,000+ runners, it wasn’t very congested. We spent the entire 6 miles chatting. MattyO will be the first to tell you that he is a chatty runner – he talks to anyone and everyone. It really helped pass the miles and distract me from the pace we were keeping. I was seeing our time at each mile and I knew we were pushing a hard pace. They also had volunteers at each mile calling out what your overall pace was relative to overall time. I did my best to block them out because I don’t like focusing too much on my pace, but it was hard. Through mile 6, we were holding a 6:56 pace. I was shocked by this because despite the fast pace, we had been able to keep chatting and I wasn’t gasping for breath.
Around mile 5, MattyO said that he planned on pulling back at mile 6 because he was feeling some tightness in his Achilles which he has been struggling with. That was fine with me. I didn’t think I could hold the pace. So, at mile 6, MattyO wished me luck and I thanked him for the push before parting ways.
Miles 7 and 8
I latched onto another guy after that. I had actually chatted with the guy a bit around mile 4. He asked if I like my Kinvara shoes. I told him that I love them and that I actually think I am going to start to phase out my Brooks and run solely in the Kinvara. He was running in the Fastwitch and was thinking of trying out the Kinvara. We started running together and I realized he was running with his son who was in high school. He was actually paying his son to pace him for the race. The son had done 12 miles total the previous day and his track coach told him he could run the race as long as he didn’t race it. So, instead of “racing” he was pacing his dad at a 7:00 min pace. Crazy. The kid ended up finishing sub-1:30. Not bad for “not racing”.
We chatted for a bit and he gave me some pointers as to what to expect on the course. I did my best to keep up with him, but at that point, the wheels were starting to come off. I hit 8 miles in under 56 minutes which is faster than I have ever done 8 before. I was doing my 8 mile training course once a week during the off season and the fastest I got was just below 58 minutes and I only did that once.
Miles 9 to 12
Also know as the “just hold on” miles. I was hurting at this point. For the most part, I ran in solitude. I played leap frog with a couple of people but never could really consistently run with someone. This part of the course was on a bike path so it was a long, straight, flat section. While it was kind of boring, it was peaceful and quiet. I just kept telling myself to keep pushing, less than 3 miles to go, less than 2 miles go.
The Final Stretch
Based on my conversation with the guy earlier, I knew to kick it into gear after we got off of the bike path. Surprisingly, the strong winds of the day hadn’t been much of a factor so far. I kept waiting for them to smack me in the face, but it seems like they were either always at our back or blocked by a fence/tree line. After leaving the shelter of the bike path, I was hit by some serious winds. When they were at by back, it almost felt like I was getting lifted off the ground. But then when we turned into them, it felt like I wasn’t even moving.
During the last mile, a guy caught up to me and I tried to hang with him. He was bare chested, which was crazy enough considering the weather, and wearing bunny ears and cotton ball tail. I looked over at him and said, “Oh crap, I can’t let the Easter Bunny beat me.” He laughed. I’ve got no shame though. I got beat by a guy dribbling two basketballs at a marathon last year. I did my best to hold on, but in the end he pulled a way from me.
The race finished on the University of Toledo’s football field. As soon as I entered the stadium, I was able to pick Jennie out of the crowd. I smiled (or at least tried to) and waved to her as I crossed the finish line.
Official Time: 1:32:15 (7:02 pace) for nearly a 3 minutes PR! Woohoo! Fast enough to earn my 14th out of 116 in my age group and 63rd overall out of 1709.
My splits ended up being: 7:09, 6:57, 6:47, 6:58, 6:50, 6:57, 6:59, 7:08, 7:13, 7:09, 7:08, 7:06, 6:53, 7:01 (final .1)
I am super happy with this race. It is the longest I have ever held such a fast pace. It was a huge confidence boast that my training is paying off. Couldn’t have done it without such an awesome pacer for the first 6 miles though.
First off, Jennie had a great race. Not quite a PR, but she had a huge mental win by pushing through to the end even though she wasn’t feeling it.
After finishing, Jennie and I headed out to watch everyone else come in. I’ll leave the details up to everyone else to tell you – I’m not going to ruin their fun. I will share some quick pictures though.
MattyO and Colleen were the first to come in. MattyO pumped up the crowd while Colleen slowly backed away and disavowed any connection to him. haha.
After seeing MattyO and Colleen, we started to walk back to the car to grab our jackets. On the way, we saw Heather kicking it in for a strong finish.
When we got to the parking garage, I saw a guy wearing a finisher medal. All of a sudden, I realized I didn’t get a medal. I asked him where he got it and he said I was the second person to ask him that. Apparently, when I came through, they weren’t handing out the medals and instead just had table off to the side where you were supposed to pick them up. I’m just glad I realized it before we left.
After grabbing our coats, we headed back to collect my medal and get some post race beer and pizza. All finishers get a beer mug (it is the Glass City after all), so I headed over to get that filled up. MMMMmmm Michelob Ultra – you taste so watery.
And finally, the moment you have all been waiting for, the unveiling of BDD. Is he real? Or a myth. Well, I now have photographic proof that he is indeed real. And not only that, but he completed is first ever half marathon. Here he is charging to the finish with a huge smile on his face.
(scroll down to see the picture.
I understand if you don’t want to see it so that you can keep the mystery alive.
If that is case, just close the window now.)
|Age Group Place:||14/116|
|Run Pace:||7:02 min/mile|