Monday, September 17, 2012

Park to Park Half Marathon, 10K and 5K

I let Michelle talk me into things that my rational mind screams at me not to do.  This is one of those things.  Last year, Michelle ran the 1/2 marathon at this race and I ran the 5K.  It was a great race.  Everything was done the right way and we all had a lot of fun.  I PR'd that day and even placed 2nd in my age group (something I had never done before).  Michelle kind of egged me on and got me to agree to do the 1/2 marathon this year.  At the time, the race was so far off in the future that I didn't really think much of it.  I made a semi serious attempt at training for it including running a few 10Ks.  At the Beed Lake 10K, I felt pretty lousy at the end and remember thinking to myself the last few hundred yard that I didn't want to run a 1/2 marathon if it meant that I was going to feel this badly 6 miles in.  Never the less, I have this thing about not letting Michelle gloat so I kept it to myself and told her how ready I was for the Park to Park.  I think she knew the truth anyway.

The day of the race was actually cold.  I had to wear a hoodie just to stay warm.  However, as big as I am, the colder the better.  I placed myself way back in the pack thinking that I would stay at about an 11 min/mile pace.  When the gun went off, the professional runners (there were about 25 of them there) took off at what ended up being slightly less than a 5 min/mile pace (the first 10 finishers crossed the finish line before I hit the 6.5 miles).  However, my goal wasn't to compete.  It was to simply finish.  Having never run more that about 8.5 miles in practice, I was worried about how I would finish.  I knew I would finish but I wanted to finish on my feet, not crawling on my knees.  Over the first couple of miles, I realized that I had started out too slowly.  I spent a good bit of time weaving in and out of slower runners so that I could find some room to run at the pace I wanted.  My goal for the race was to finish in 2:10 but I knew realistically that I would be somewhere in the 2:20 range. 

Over the first 5K I felt great.  The cool temperatures were helping to keep my core temp down and that was allowing me to work harder.  By the time I hit the half way point, I was starting to hurt.  My hip flexors were on fire as was my left foot.  As I have become a better runner, my stride has changed and I have gone from a shoe with massive heel support to a more neutral shoe.  As I was running I realized that I still had too much support and needed to go to an even more neutral shoe to avoid the pronation that was causing so much pain in my foot.  I kept thinking to myself that I was going to hit the wall any second and that I probably should stop and walk for bit but other than my hips and one foot, I felt great.  So I kept on running.  Michelle met me on the trail at about mile 12.  I was really hurting by then but how can you stop with only 1 mile to go?  I decided at 12.5 to push myself and finish as strongly as I could.  I ran through the UNI drum line (they were providing some on course entertainment) with about 0.4 miles to go and just started to pick up my pace from there.  With about 0.2 miles to go, the crowd started to get thick and their enthusiasm was contagious.  I began running even faster.  Now my lungs hurt, my knees hurt, everything hurt.  I began passing the people in front of me and by the time I rounded the final corner to the finish line, I passed the fifth person in front of me.  As I sprinted to the finish line (I'm sure it wasn't much of a sprint, but it sure felt like one to me), I saw the clock and it read 2:10:01.  I crossed the finish line at 2:10:08.  The feeling of crossing that finish line was pure exhilaration.  A race volunteer leaned down to snip off my timing chip while another one gave me a gatorade and another yet place the finishing medal around my neck.  I did it.

Finished! What a great feeling.

I was feeling a bit woozy here.

Done, rehydrated, and ready for some pizza.

Usually when I get done with a big race, I am not in the mood to even think about doing it again.  However, almost immediately, I told Michelle that I will be doing more 1/2 marathons.  I like the distance and with a little more structured training, I think I can pull my average pace from a 10:00 minute mile to an 8:30-9:00 minute mile.  What a great race.  My ankles are still a bit sore but with an additional loss of 20 pounds, that will take care of itself.


Jess and Jen said...

I read this earlier in the week but never offered my congratulations. Impressive what you and Michelle are doing with your feet. And I guess your brains, since it would take some pretty fancy convincing to make runs like this. -Jester

Jason said...

I think it is funny that Michelle felt she needed to try to generate comments for my post. I keep reminding her that I write these posts so that in 5 years I will remember what I was thinking and how I felt. She thinks my feelings are going to be hurt if no one comments - they're not.
Good job on your 5K. 28 minutes for your first race is great.

The Duke said...

I can't tell you how impressed with you and Michelle! You are truly inspirational to all of us. Congratulations to you!! Way to go! Yahoo!! I could dance around and jump up and down if I could jump) :

So darn proud of you.