Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wounded Warrior Half Marathon - Race Report

What a great event! This is the inaugural year of this event and as such, it's one of the smaller races that I've run in with close to 1200 runners. Definitely a different experience from the two mega-halfs that we ran earlier in the year (Disney and Rock N Roll, both of which draw 10,000+) - but it was really cool. They had good entertainment after and plenty of food, water, Powerade and even wine and champagne after, along with massages and a chiropractor. With the smaller field, it was cool to see the same people that you ran with wandering around the finisher area.

We were sadly under-trained for this, and it's June in Texas (hot, humid) - and we ran the Komen 5k event yesterday, so we went out just planning to run this one conservatively.

Of course, I am a runner, so there is that little psychotic voice in my head that likes to remind me of my PR times before any given race. (My PR is 2:26 for a half - in March though, NOT June.) So I just happened to line up near the 2:20 pace group. You know, just in case.

I kiss my husband, tell him to have a good race (we no longer race together - he's faster and besides I like to know he's watching me finish.) ;) and turn on my iPod with my special race playlist - made just last night. With such embarressing, but inspirational tunes as the Glee cast version of "Don't Stop Believing". I know, I know - but I can't help what inspires me.

Mile 1 - I am following the girl in blue who is holding the 2:20 pace group sign. It's warm and humid, but not full-on HOT. I'm feeling good - hmmm... if I just stick with her, just maybe...

Mile 2 - The girl in blue gains a little space, but she's still in my sights and I can still hear her talking to the girl next to her. (Mostly because my left earphone decided to die, and I now only have tunes in the right ear.)

Mile 3 - If I squint, I can still see the girl in blue and her pace sign. At least I think it's her. I'll just take this mile easy and turn up the pace a little later to catch her.

Mile 4 - We enter the park and I'm thankful for all the trees and the shade they're providing. No sign of the girl in blue. I realize that it's not a PR day. I need to just worry about finishing. Period.

Mile 5 - We're going by the equestrian center and they have one of those huge crop sprinklers going. I wonder how long of a detour it would be to run across the field and through it. Nah... extra mileage is a really bad idea at this point.

Mile 6 - We're still in the park and I notice (slightly panicky) that the police/medical support is rather um... sparse. There are water/powerade stations every couple of miles, but no medical tents. I tell myself that if I'm going to collapse I need to be strategic about it and wait until I see a police officer, EMT or something - so I have a better chance of getting quick help. (Seriously, this crossed my mind.)

Mile 7 - The sun is out and SWEET MOTHER, it's hot. There is something dripping down my back. Sweat from my ponytail. Gross. The 2:30 pace girl passes me (bitch!) - she's all by herself. I wonder if she needs some company and briefly consider trying to keep up with her, but I just don't have it in me.

Mile 8 - Ahhhh, there's a police officer on a motorcycle so if I go down right now, I should be ok. As I run by in a pack of 2 other struggling runners, the officer yells at us, "Remember - You signed up for this nonsense!" Thanks, Dude. Just to show him, I WILL NOT collapse in front of him - I keep going.

Mile 9 - The water station is out of water. And Powerade. But they have icy papertowels. I take one and squeeze the icy water all over me, then put it on my head.

Mile 10 - I stop looking for places to die and decide that for the rest of the race it's one mile at a time. I pass through the water station and there is a man with a sprinkler who asks if I want to be sprayed. Yes, please! He's very enthusiastic and even manages to soak me down my shirt - front and back. But it feels great.

Mile 11 - At this point I can taste the finish and I wish I could see it! Toward the end of this mile there's a photographer, so I manage to straighten up and I sprint by her with a huge grin, no doubt looking like one of those cover girls on the front of Runner's World. Or something.

Mile 12 - Between ice towels, water and sweat I am literally a soppy, drippy mess. But it's mile 12 and in the words of Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now! Cuz I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball..." Uh huh. That's what came on in my right ear during mile 12.

Mile 13 - The home stretch. Some kind soul was at the "half mile left" point with water (not an official stop - just some kind-hearted person). I drank and decided that was it - sprint time to the finish.

Finished in 2:43 (or something close - I barely glanced at the clock and forgot to stop my Garmin at the finish.) Still waiting for the official results.

Even with as under-prepared as we were and how hot it was, this has been my favorite event so far. Well organized, cool medal and how inspiring and humbling to see all of the current and former members of the military out there running, cheering, volunteering and supporting. Awesome!!

ETA - Official results are in and I was actually a little faster than I thought: 2:41:52. Sweet!

Friday, June 11, 2010

During an otherwise uneventful run...

So I started this blog and then almost immediately ignored it. Sorry about that! Here is where I should promise to be better about writing regularly – but that will probably just set me up for failure. So I’ll just do what I can do and hope someone out there reads it besides me!

Enough of that – I came here to share a funny/feel good running story from my run yesterday.

I leave the house about 7:30am hoping to beat the heat. It’s only about 75 or so degrees, but the humidity is up around 80%, which is really incompatible with breathing when you’re NOT running, and just a killer when you ARE running. So the plan is just to take it slow and walk if I need to. Around mile 1.5 I am really feeling gaspy – despite running straight through someone’s well-timed sprinklers – so it doesn’t help in the slightest when a little white-haired old lady whizzes by me on her cruising bike… this thing has a basket on the front for crying out loud! I push her out of my mind and tell myself just to concentrate on my run.

A half a mile later I make a turn and head toward the golf course. Up ahead I see the little old lady stopped at the side of the path. As I approach she flags me down, so I stop.

“Have you seen an old guy – my age – on a bike?” she asks me.

“No, I haven’t…” just then a sputtering white-haired guy piloting an identical cruising bike, basket and all, emerges from the same path I’d come from.

“Harold! There you are! I was getting worried.”

“God damn it, May! It’s f***ing HOT out here, and I’m out of water and you’re going too fast. I can’t keep up!”

I can’t stop myself from grinning as May says, “HAROLD!”

He sees me, blushes and says a little sheepishly, “Sorry about that, Young Lady. Good morning!”

“No worries – good morning to you too,” I say, “Can I see your water bottle?”

He looks a little confused, but hands it over. I had my amphipod hand-held water bottle still ¾ full of water, so I refill his bottle from mine. (I was pretty sure he’d have turned me down if I’d offered, so I just did it.) I hand it back to him and he thanks me. We chat a couple minutes and I turn to go. Though I’d turned down my music when I first stopped, I still had the earphones in my ears so maybe they thought I couldn’t hear the following exchange as I’m jogging away from them:

“See Harold? You meet nice people when you get out and exercise!”

“Yep, cute ones too…” Harold attempts a half-hearted whistle noise.

“Oh for christsake…” I can practically see her eyes rolling.

This little encounter cracked me up and made my day. And Harold? Don’t tell anyone, but I think you’re kind of cute yourself. Happy exercising!