Thursday, May 10, 2012

Diva Half Marathon

It is the best feeling in the world to look over at the column on the right and see PR's in all 3 distances for the year! I've been working hard and it's so awesome to see the results of all that hard work.

You know how things work for me, I see a brochure for some race and I think that looks like fun! That's how I happened upon the Diva Series. I had a flyer for it in some race bag and held onto it. I knew I wanted to do a Half this year but wasn't sure when or where. I went back and forth about a lot of events. I knew the best thing for me was to do an event in the Spring once I was done coaching and through the bulk of my volunteer responsibilities at the school. A Diva race sounded fun, all women, a cute medal and champagne at the end! We all know I run for champagne. I managed to convince a few other friends to sign up and before I knew it we had over 20 friends signed up for the race. It was fun along the way to see people training for it. Several of us were following the same training plan so it's always fun to commiserate over your long run or how much your taper run sucked.

I had a lot packed into the week prior to the race and by the time Friday rolled around I was feeling the pressure of not being able to get everything in. For the first time ever, I experienced pre-race crying! I was in tears 3 times on Friday, not what I'm used to but maybe that was better than a nervous stomach for 2 days prior to the race. Once I made it over to Burlingame on Saturday I was feeling better. I could now focus on what I needed to focus on and seeing friends lightened the mood.

Andrea flew in from New Orleans to run with us, so Mary Sue, (I've done more races with Mary Sue than anyone else!) Andrea and myself headed to the Expo.

Packet pick-up was very easy and the Expo was set up nicely. After the Expo for the Oakland Running Festival which was so junky, this was a relief, and no I wasn't offended by all the pink. After we left the Expo we headed out for some shopping and lunch in Burlingame. It was such a nice afternoon that I almost forgot we were racing the next day. Later that evening Molly, Andrea and I headed out for dinner. It's no surprise that we all ordered salmon for dinner! As we walked out one of the waiters said "nice shirt!" Of course he was commenting on my  shirt!

Fast forward to race morning and I managed to get my usual chocolate cheerios and  non-fat milk down before I headed out. There was not a cloud in the sky and I new it was going to make for a very hot day, yet I was hopeful that there might be a breeze from the bay. There were a ridiculous amount of us running and I managed to see almost everyone before the race start. Several of us lined up at the 10-11 minute mile marker. I knew I would be running in the 11's but lets be honest, in a race full of Diva's I was pretty sure no one was paying attention to those signs. We were lined up for what seemed like forever when I really just wanted to go, go, go! The race started late which was disappointing since it was already warm out but soon enough we were on our Divalicious way.

I had a goal of a 10 minute PR which I knew was 100% achievable, but I had a super sweet goal of a 20 minute PR that would make me really, really happy. When Molly mentioned that Mary was aiming for a similar goal I settled on a 15 minute PR as my goal. I knew what overall pace I needed to run at to achieve this goal and engrained it into my brain. Of course there is so much excitement as you start out and I used a lot of energy at the start dodging around people but I felt good, it's possible that around mile 4 I was having too much fun with it and realized I needed to dial back a little. I carried my own water and gel but grabbed water at aid stations along the way. It was hot and there was no breeze after all, so I really focused on staying hydrated. My game plan had been to not stop for a port-a-potty. I had stopped twice in Las Vegas and apparently didn't really need to. So while I was determined to finish without having to stop it did cross my mind that with the amount of fluids I was taking in I might have to. I tried not to think about it, because you know, once you think about it you can't stop thinking about it!

I believe it was around mile 6 where I felt the heat, I was sweating a lot, but I was following my race plan; nutrition, hydration and walk intervals to a tee. It was around this point that I grabbed Gatorade because I didn't see water and as I passed I realized that there wasn't any water. The Gatorade didn't sit with me well and I tossed it. I still had water in my bottles and was hopeful that by the time I came around the backside of the aid station there would be water again. When I hit the turn-around it for sure felt like a milestone. My average pace was looking good, so good that I knew there was room if I hit a wall later to still achieve my goals. At about mile 7 I started to experience significant Achilles Tendon pain. I had experienced some mild pain during training but nothing significant so this was a little bit of a surprise since the rest of legs seemed to be holding up rather well. I tried to ignore it, if I ignore it, it will go away, right? As I came through the back side of that aid station at mile 8, they were still out of water. "Are you kidding me I said?" I saw some firefighters and almost felt like telling them to keep their eyes peeled for for folks who might be experiencing dehydration due to lack of water. The course was way too hot to go through two aid stations without water. I bit my tongue and pressed on and was thankful for the one bottle of water left on my belt and just hopped it was enough to get me to the next aid station. I continued to try and change my foot strike or gait to lesson the pain in my Achilles Tendon, eventually something worked or ignoring it worked because the pain ceased. Crisis averted. As I reached the next aid station I took some time to fill both water bottles and took a cup to go. I took a few sips from the cup and threw the rest of it down the back of my shirt, ah, that felt really nice.

I had the screen on my watch set to intervals, so that's what I watched for most of the distance, occasionally I would check pace or mileage to be sure I was still on track. It seemed like mile 11 came really fast which was awesome, until it took forever for mile 12 to come! I think their signs were not placed very accurately since it appeared I had been running the course short (which seemed impossible with all of the negotiating I had been doing) and then when mile 12 finally did show up all of a sudden I was running the course long! It was difficult for me to estimate how much further I actually had to go and when to pick up the pace. The spectators was starting to grow thick so I knew we were getting close. I took an extra walk break to try and pull myself together, by this point I felt like I had a blister on the ball of my right foot and my left calf was pretty tight. I regained my composure and told myself I had nailed a PR already and the rest was up to me. As I approached the pink boa and tiara station I tried not to make eye contact, I would not be slowing down to grab anything as it would only be a distraction from getting to the finish line. I breathed a sigh of relief as I rounded the corner into the finish chute and the finish line was now visible. There was a woman in front of me who I decided needed to be passed. As I approached the finish line there was no one in front of me except for the two photographers waiting to catch my expression as I completed 13.2 miles. I did my best to smile and be proud of of finishing my second half marathon distance.

I looked at my watch to see that I had earned a 19:10 PR. I did it! I knew for sure 10 minutes was achievable and I was pretty sure that I could get a 15 minute PR if everything went my way, but a 19 minute PR meant that all of my hard work and preparation and my race plan had paid off. I was rewarded with a red rose and huge medal by a shirtless supposed "firefighter" but I have my doubts that they were real firefighters. In my post race "what do I do now" self, I wandered over for a photo before Molly found me and shepherded me over to the others who had already finished.

Overall it was  fantastic day for me, but I must admit it was a lot of hard work out there. I remember mile 10-12 being so hard in Vegas, the distinct feeling that an epidural would be fabulous because everything from the waste down hurt like hell. While I had some serious aches and pains it was definitely a different type of pain from my first half. More of an earned pain than a I just need to finish pain, if that makes any sense.

Super stoked to cross the finish line

TriSports in a sea of pink
Just a few of the amazing ladies that I ran with. Thanks Mary for the photo!
Overall time was 2:31:00.

Thank you TriSports for supporting me in yet another PR for the year!


  1. That was a fun read! Congrats on your excellent PR :)

  2. Congratulations on your PR! You look so happy and proud. Awesome moment.

  3. Awww, you got some GREAT finish photos!!! My Achilles has nagged here and there lately, I've been learning how to stretch it well and doing my ankle stretches often. You did a fantastic job pacing yourself and pushing through for a HUGE PR and you know I"m so proud!!!! The 11 mile marker was at 10.6, so it came totally early :) We were hoping no one would be disappointed when it took frisking forever to get to 12!