So it’s done! The Flower City Half Marathon has been run. By me. And 2,364 other people too.
My day started dark and early around 5 AM. I spent the early morning hours puttering around the house getting ready to go – putting together things for Zak, the kids and my mom who would be coming along later, and packing up my own bag too. The race started at 7:30, so I had a little something to eat around 6:30 to give myself an hour for digestion.
A banana, a couple of the direct fuel bites I’d made the day before plus a few ounces of coconut water. I aimed for something high in carbs (the banana and dates in the direct fuel bites) with a little bit of protein and fat too (coconut oil and walnuts). During breakfast I filled my hand held water bottle with coconut water and put three direct fuel bites the zippered pouch wrapped in a small piece of wax paper.
The friends I was driving with came to pick me up around 6:45, and as I was climbing into the back seat I said “I think I have everything! My bib, my sneakers – what else could I need?!”
Ummm, how about your watch, lady? The one you put on the charger this morning and were going to be sure to remember before you walked out the door?
Except I didn’t say that to myself. And nobody else said it either. It was a Forehead-Smacking, Flopping-Back-and-Groaning moment when I realized I’d my Garmin behind – but it was too late to go back now, and I immediately decided that it wasn’t a huge deal. I didn’t need it to run, and if anything, it gave me good reason to practice staying completely present, focusing on how I was actually feeling to gauge my pace (imagine that?!) instead of relying on my watch to tell me how I was doing.
I probably went out a little fast at the start, it’s easy to get swept up in the pace of the other runners. I was feeling good and breathing normally, but I knew I was running faster than usual. I was definitely curious to hear the time announced at Mile 1 to know what my pace was, but somehow I completely missed the announcer. (I found out later he was there, but on the opposite side of the road as me, announcing the time without a megaphone… the pack was still really thick at that point and we were also in a throng of spectators, so I didn’t hear him.)
Around Mile 2 the 1:50 pace group caught up with me. I kept the pace with them for a while, but I had already accepted that this year wasn’t going to be a PR for me, so I eventually eased off and let them pull ahead. They were probably running an 8:20/mile pace and it was too fast for me to hold on to knowing we still had 11 miles to go.
At Mile 4 I spotted a spectator wearing a watch and asked him the time – he said it was 8:04. Doing the running math in my head – 4 miles in –> 34 minutes from the start = about 8:30/mile average pace. I was feeling good, being mindful of my toes and feeling very glad that I wore a short sleeved shirt even though it was a chilly 50 degrees at the start. I was plenty warm now!
At the 10K mark I noticed a man check his watch and asked him the time. He said 53 minutes. (6.2 miles, 53 minutes, an average 8:31/mile pace.) I was a little shocked I was still comfortably running an 8:30. I figured I wasn’t going to be able to hold on that pace for much longer, but it made me realize I could definitely pick up the pace during my week day runs here.
I spotted my family just before Mile 7 and swooped out of the pack for fly-by kisses and high fives for everybody.
At the 8 mile mark I asked another watch-wearing spectator the time, but before he could answer a runner behind me told me we were 1:13 minutes in – I knew I was now at about a 9:00 minute pace. We had just finished the hilliest portion of the course, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I’d slowed down some. I then figured out that with 5.1 miles left, if I held on to my 9 minute pace for the rest of the race I could potentially finish in under 2 hours. I had some hope, but knew I would be cutting it really close to the 2 hour mark and started to reconcile that I would probably be finishing after 2 hours.
That thought was confirmed when I was passed by the 2:00 pace group a few minutes later. I tried to keep up with them but I was losing steam. I had eaten 1 direct fuel bite about 5 minutes earlier, and decided to eat another one before I felt like I had even less energy. It’s best to eat something BEFORE you feel like you need it. (Looking back I should have gotten a direct fuel bite out when I ran through the gel stop at 10K mark – I wasn’t thinking about it though because I was focusing on running up our first of four big hills!)
At Mile 10 a spectator told me it was 9 AM, so that meant we were 1:30 minutes in. With 10 miles behind me and 3.1 miles left to go, that would mean 10 minute miles for the last three miles to finish in under 2 hours. It seemed possible, but doubtful – I was really starting to feel tired now.
Around Mile 11, one of my friends caught up with me. I was so happy to see her and was glad to have her to chat with for some distraction for the final miles. I was TIRED and very ready to Stop. Running. When I asked her the time she said her watch had died at Mile 10, so our finish time was still a question mark! We passed the Mile 12 sign and I was so glad to be in the home stretch. With half a mile to go we passed an analog clock in front of a building and I saw the time was 9:30. I remarked that we weren’t going to come in under two hours and she said light heartily ”no big deal! it’s been a great day!” and I knew she was totally right.
When the finish line came into sight, I could see that that clock said 2:0-something. We picked up the pace for the home stretch and the time was 2:03 when I ran underneath it.
My official time was 2:03:38. An overall average pace of 9:26/mile. 72nd in my age group (F, 30 – 34) and 1132 out of 2365 runners. Top 50 percent! I’ll take it.
Although I’ll admit it’s a bit of a bummer that it wasn’t even close to the 1:51 I ran in both 2010 and 2011, I truly am happy with the way it all worked out. Kaz was 10 months old yesterday! I was definitely not in half marathon shape 12 weeks ago - it was well worth all the effort of the last 3 months to cross the finish line with a big smile on my face.
(I was also reminded of the thought I had exactly 10 months ago yesterday as I finished – “I Am So Glad That is Over”. Big races and child birth definitely have some things in common.)
Other noteworthy items?
The Best Signs Made By Spectators
“Pain is temporary. Your time will be on the internet forever.”
“Worst parade ever.”
Local Celebrity Sighting
I ran the entire race with Bob Lonsberry , a radio personality from Rochester. I had no idea I was running near him until someone shouted out his name around Mile 5. I unintentionally ended up staying with him for the rest of the race, and got a kick out of all the people who recognized him and shouted out “Bob Lonsberry!”, “Let’s go WHAM 1180!” and “I’m going to be your first caller on Monday morning!” He was friendly and responded to everyone who called out to him. (and I finished 22 seconds ahead of him! WOOT!)
Post Race Food
At the finish I ate a banana and a couple Barenaked smoothie samples, and by the time I got home I was more than ready for breakfast.
A spinach, mushroom and red pepper omelet (that fell apart) with leftover sweet potatoes – it is not a mystery to me why food tastes even better after a big long run!
If you made it this far through my race recap, allow me to hang a medal around your neck! Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, both online and in real life. If you’ve got a half marathon or any big race coming up soon, good luck to you! And be sure to remember that pain is temporary, but your time will be on the internet forever.