This past Sunday (Nov 14/10), I ran in the Last Chance Half in Calgary with one of my Runner Girls, J. We had signed up a month before we did Nike Women's Half on the premise that if we were going to spend the bulk of the year training for something, why not run another one while we had that training in the bank! Seemed like a brilliant plan until the hills in San Francisco killed me! LOL
Following our return from SF, I really only managed a couple of 14K runs in preparation and J joined me for one of them (being her only run). We were going on a wing and a prayer. My only goal for the race was to significantly beat my Nike time, which wasn't going to be hard because it had taken me nearly 3 hours to run that one. When a little birdie had tweeted that there were finishers medals at this half, I knew I had something to chant in my head when the going got rough! My usual mantra of "Coffee and a Cookie" was replaced by "Gonna get a medal"
Start time was 10 am, with an option for a 9:30am early start. All of the documentation we got at package pickup said that if you were planning to come in later than 2:30, you should consider taking the early start. We were torn because we knew we'd be on the cusp of that, but decided to start at 10 anyway.
And start we did...way too fast. J wanted to go at a run 20, walk 1 and we'd agreed to stick to a 6:15-6:30 per Km pace. Well, every time I glanced at my Garmin, it was blinking 5:30 or 5:55 but we were feeling ok so we went with it for a while. I made it on the 20:1 until the 50 min point where I sputtered out "Go on without me - I need to scale back to 10:1 so I don't die!" J promised that if she felt herself running out of steam, she'd drop back to rejoin me.
I found myself falling into a nice and easy 6:45 pace and figured I could maintain that for the rest of the race. By the time I hit the turnaround point, I was still feeling good and it looked like I could still hit close to a 2:30 finish. Another of our Runner Girls, K, was meeting us in the last half to run us in and as I came around a bend, I could see the two of them ahead of me. I tried to turn up my speed to catch up with them but spasms in my quads pulled me up short. Slowing down got rid of them immediately so I took it as a sign that I was meant to keep to my own pace. It was right around this time that I was running right near Martin Parnell (The Marathon Quest 250 guy)...I cheered him on a bit and then he pulled ahead of me and was soon out of sight. It was still super cool, though. That guy is a real inspiration (and so tall)!
Around another bend, I suddenly ran into them. J's back had started spasming and it was killing her to run. K said she'd stay with her and we'd meet up at the finish area. As it turned out, for the last 8K, we leap frogged along the path. She would run when she could and my pace started to really fall back.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I was in the lead, but I didn't know by how much. For at least the last K, I was running 9 min/k and seriously dragging! I collected my medal and a bottle of water and pulled out my camera so I'd be ready to snap J as she crossed...its a good thing I did it then because she was only 34 seconds behind me!
My finish time: 2:31:14!!!! A PR by 20 mins and 16 secs!!! WOO HOOO!!!!
And my medal:
Finishing this half was much easier on me than Nike was. When I finished Nike, I went through a really rough mental patch that it took almost 2 weeks for the darkness to lift. It was finally on one of those 14K training loops of the reservoir that the darkness fell behind me and I knew I was up for the challenge again. This time, I was elated and could enjoy it more. I was stiff for 3 days after, but now I am looking forward to getting together with my Runner Girls again tomorrow and taking it easy fr the rest of the year. I have 2 5K fun runs on the schedule for December but I won't do another longer race until 2011. For now it will be all about the coffee and a cookie with friends after the run :)