Posts Tagged With: PR

Myrtle Beach 1/2 Race Recap

Race weekend started just after noon on Friday.  My sister picked me up and we headed 90 minutes south to Myrtle Beach.  The first thing we did when we got there was go to the convention center to pick up our race packets.  The expo was set up nicely and pickup was easy.  Sis was racing the 5k that evening and I was racing the 1/2 on Saturday morning.

The 5k was pretty awesome. They had glo sticks and glasses, plus glowy alien antennas for the participants to wear. The music was great, the finish line was lit up with neon lights, and my sister rocked her race.  We were off to a good start!  We went to Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery so I could get my pre-race burger and her a post-race meal. Yum.

Having a little fun before the 5k.

Having a little fun before the 5k.

I was watching the weather forecast closely the entire week and just Thursday, all of a sudden, there was a chance of rain. I had been running in the freezing cold rain for the past week, so it’s ok, but I was just tired of it and didn’t want to have to deal with rain for a race.  When I got out of bed at 4:45 am on race morning, I immediately checked the forecast and thought this: “FUUUUUUDDDGGGGGEEEEEE”  when I saw this:

Um, yeah, we were going to get wet.

Um, yeah, we were going to get wet.

I was pissed. Really? Of all the $hitty weather we’ve had the past few weeks and then we get THIS to race in?  I can run and race in the rain. I’ve PR’d in the rain before. But it sucks, makes it less likely/more difficult, and I wasn’t prepared as I totally forgot my poncho. My main concern was to keep my shoes dry and I had no way to do that, PLUS we were running from the hotel to the start. Oy. My head was spinning with swear words but I maintained my calm.  There’s nothing you can do about the weather, so there’s no reason to let it ruin your race.  It is what it is, right?

There were three of us who were going to run from the hotel to the start line together, so we gathered our flimsy little garbage bags and posed for a picture while we all had feelings of dread as we watched the cold rain fall.

Me, Kristen, and Wendy

Me, Kristen, and Wendy

We ran to the shelter of a gas station that was conveniently located right by the start line.  We waited there until just a few minutes before the race started and then headed to get our place at the start. My PLAN was to get to the start line 30 minutes before race time so I could use the bathroom.  You runners know what I mean when nerves get to you and many times, you just have to go. And to those of you (not me) who drink coffee, wow, you go A LOT 🙂  I really don’t know how you do that.  Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to hit the can before the race would start so as I was standing there, all of a sudden, I needed to go. I decided that I would just go with my pre-race mantra, “Never trust a fart”, and suck it up, so to say. Thankfully that didn’t backfire on me, no pun intended.

Evidently there was an elephant at the start, but I couldn’t hear nor see anything that was going on and all of a sudden, they were counting down from 10 for the race to start. I started my music and got ready to go. The 1/2 and full marathons started at the same time but at different lanes of the road, so that decreased the crowding.  I thought it would be a slow start, but I found that I was at the pace I wanted right from the beginning and didn’t have to dodge a lot of traffic.

Thankfully, the rain stopped right before the race started, and I was very careful to avoid stepping in any puddles. My shoes were slightly wet, but I didn’t feel it was going to be an issue.  At about 1.5 miles, we turned into the wind.  And this was no breeze either. I’m guessing at the time, it was a good 15 mph sustained and gusts up to about 30.  After about three miles, I had kept my pace of about 7:45, which was :10 faster than my race plan. I was good with that.  My breathing felt good, legs were strong, and at that point, I knew I was going to PR, it was just a matter of how much.  My mind wouldn’t focus on my music like it normally does, and I found myself distracted.  By what, I don’t really know, but I was irritated. The wind was annoying, the guy who’s spit blew onto my leg was annoying, the ocean wasn’t pretty, the girl who passed me and then went right in front of me to just slow down annoyed me, but the girl who had spare change jingling in her pocket made me the maddest.  Why on EARTH do you need spare change in your pocket while running at least 13.1 miles? I don’t get it. I almost pushed her.

Around mile 6.5, we turned and were gifted with wind at our backs.  It was great. My pace decreased slightly and when a gust of wind blew, I let it take me.  At some points, I was at a 7:10 pace, which made me feel very happy.  As happy as I could be for being unnecessarily grumpy anyway. I was trying to do the math to see about where I would finish, but I didn’t know what a 1:44 half pace was, so I didn’t know how much leeway I had.  I used how many minutes/seconds I was under an 8:00 pace.  That used up some time since still, I just can’t do math well when I run.  It only took me about five minutes to figure out what 8 x 8 was and be comfortable with my answer.  (It’s 64.)  I knew my pace was decreasing since the “leeway” I had for under an 8 minute mile was increasing.  I wondered if I was close to a sub-1:40.  I gave it as much as I felt comfortable giving that race.  My knee was bugging me, my calf was a little tight, and I felt a different kind of hot sensation on the ball of my right foot.  Was that a blister forming?  I’d never had one but I hoped it wouldn’t cause any pain before the race was over.

At mile 9, I was spent.  I was going under my planned race pace, but I knew I needed to keep going or I’d have regrets. I got my Gu with caffeine out and ate most of it.  THAT had to be fun to watch.  I bet I looked like I was either going to gag or barf, or gag THEN barf.  But it got most of it down, just so I could have a little sugar for the remaining four miles.

“Come on, Kelli, you’re doing it, you’re pushing yourself harder than you’ve ever done before, you knew it wouldn’t be easy, you’re strong, you CAN do this, make yourself proud, make all your training worth it.  Right Now.  This is your moment, this is your race, don’t regret your decisions now.”

Somewhere between mile 11 and 12, we had to turn into back into what had to be a 30 mph wind and head to the finish.  I felt the energy just being blown away by the wind.  My pace slowed and I was royally pissed that I saw an 8:15 for my current pace.  I tried, I pushed, I said “shit” about a hundred times as I fought into it.  “Do NOT let this MFing wind beat you now.”

Almost at the finish.

Almost at the finish.

I turned the corner to the finish line and saw the official race clock turning over to 1:40.  I knew I wasn’t going to be making that ultimate goal of a sub 1:40, and it pissed me off. The MFing wind. BUT, I was thrilled though, to accomplish a big PR (about a 4 1/2 minute PR) and race the half in 1:40:15.  I finish 6th of 284 in my age group, 41st of 1623 females, and 180th overall of 2893 runners. The training was working, was worth it, and then I cried, partly in happiness, partly because I missed 1:40 by a sliver.  Competitive, aren’t I?

PR 1:40:15

PR 1:40:15

So a few days post-race, I feel that I would totally do Myrtle Beach again. The route wasn’t really too boring and the weather, well, the weather is just the weather. The race was what I consider to be expensive for a 1/2 marathon, but the swag was good and it appeared the post-race setup was really nice (We left before we could really enjoy it).  They had warm chicken noodle soup for us cold runners, lots of food offerings, sports drink, water, chocolate milk, and some other things that I didn’t pay attention to. I think there was a band and they gave us tickets to the post-race party at the House of Blues for that evening. We were cold and wanted to head back to the hotel, so we finally made it back, and it was just after 9:00 am. Wow, what a day already!

I look back at the race and feel that I did what I came to do. I probably could have pushed a little harder, but I didn’t want to hurt myself.  This is not my “A” race, it’s a prep race for Boston.  I learned to not eat late and not give myself enough time to truly wake up before having to head to the race start.  I also learned that we can give our runner power to the weather if we choose.  It was truly terribly windy (so thankful I didn’t run the full marathon), but I came out and conquered my goal.  I didn’t let it mess with my head.  The owner of my training group, Without Limits, actually won the full marathon with a PR in 2:30:05.  That just goes to show that you can accomplish amazing things when you may not expect it; however, you must still believe in yourself and just go do it.

Today is Monday, and I had an 1850 swim on schedule. I did NOT want to do it.  I woke up with a sore throat, was physically tired, and well, didn’t want to deal with the water aerobics people (sometimes the perfume is gaggingly overwhelming). But I also realized that had I skipped workouts prior to Myrtle Beach, I wouldn’t have been as successful.  So I got my gear and headed to the pool. Performances like Saturday’s don’t happen when you skip your training.  No excuses, no fear.

My Medal

My Medal

View before my 5 mile recovery run on Sunday.

View before my 5 mile recovery run on Sunday.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hells Belles Do B2B

Yesterday, I ran 1/2 marathon as a part of the Hells Belles relay team in the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 iron distance race.  It was amazing beyond belief.  Because there were so many facets to yesterday, it’s hard to even know where to start, so I’ll just start at the beginning.

First thing Friday morning, I had a nice 30 minute shake-out run while my swimmer, Randee, tried out her wetsuit and unexpected cold temps.  While I was THRILLED at  the colder air, she was facing swimming in an environment she wasn’t used to, which isn’t something you usually want to do on race day.  Let’s say she wasn’t thrilled about the temps.  The B2B expo was next.  We picked up our packets, went to the mandatory meeting and walked around the expo.  I ended up buying an outfit I can wear swimming and in triathlons.  If I wasn’t already planning to do the B2B 1/2 next year, there’s no way I could come out of that expo NOT wanting to do one, that’s for sure.  I was humbled by the people there and what they were preparing to put themselves through.  Me, I was “just” running a 1/2 marathon!!

We were ready to go.

We were ready to go.

I ate the same sort of foods I would in preparation for a full marathon, just not as much.  The issue was that my stomach was being a little grumpy.  It’s not normal for me to feel like that before races, and I’ve done plenty of them, so I knew something else was going on and that I needed to be extra careful.  I had dinner with my teammate, Wendy, and we were both tired but really excited for the events Saturday.  After I got home from eating, I got all my race stuff together, set my alarm, said goodnight to my family, and went to sleep.  Well, I did after the stupid song I had in my head all day left my brain.  I was teasing my son by singing and acting along to the song “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips like the friends do in the movie Bridesmaids, so it circled for a while.  Annoying.

I got up pretty early to the text, “Wakey wakey” from Randee.  I silenced my phone and went back to sleep for another hour.  When I did get up at 6:30, I knew I was in for it.  My stomach was pissed.  I’ve never had a GI problem during a race, and I certainly didn’t want to make this the first time, so I stayed home and just followed my eating plan. It’s a good thing I didn’t have an early morning race, that’s for sure.  Why am I including this little “TMI” segment?  Well, because this is a blog about running and runners talk about stuff like this.

I was pacing when the race started for Randee.  I waited and waited and then tried to track her progress.  Nothing.  What happened?  Where is she? WHAT IS GOING ON?????  I found the live cam from the swim finish and watched and watched for her.  Then it quit streaming.  I waited a little longer and texted her husband to see if she was done.  She was.  Wendy, our biker, was on her way to me.  I had three hours to get ready to run.  Butterflies!!

We didn’t know exactly where we were going for the exchange point and we didn’t know what the traffic/parking situation would be like, so we headed to downtown Wilmington early.  I’d much rather be there early than to be scrambling around and late.  Thankfully, my stomach settled down, and I had a feeling I needed to eat more.  I kept my coach’s words in my head, “Be sure to eat enough so you won’t want to eat other runners, but not enough that you’ll shit yourself”.  Good advice, Kristen, good advice.  My go-to pre-race meal emerged a few years ago before a marathon, so we stopped at Burger King and I picked up a double hamburger, of all things.  But when you find something that works, you do it if it feels right.    We got there in plenty of time, had no trouble parking right by transition 2, and found our way to the relay transition point.  Randee showed up after showering up after her swim, and we saw some fellow teammates from our mutual training group, Without Limits.  We cheered, we waited, and at the time that would have been Wendy’s best finish time, I got ready to go.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

I waited in the transition area for about 30 minutes.  Five minutes before that, I got butterflies.  I got nerves.  I thought, “Wow, I don’t feel like I’m going to run 13.1 miles in just a few minutes.”  Maybe it was because my mind was ready.  Maybe because I didn’t have a huge amount of pressure on me – my only goal was to finish in under 2 hours.  I don’t know what it was, but when Wendy came into view, I was ready to go.

IMG_1278

I yelled, “STELLLAAAAAA!!!”

 I gave Wendy a hug, got the timing chip around my ankle, started my watch, and took off.  Boy, did I feel good.  I didn’t look at my watch for a little bit, and when I did, I was shocked to find out that I was going at about a 7:30 minute mile.  I knew I’d crash pretty quickly if I kept that pace up, so I slowed down.  But I felt soooo goooood!!!  My pace was even, my steps were quick, and my breathing was slow and steady.  I slowed up to an 8:15 minute mile, which was 45 seconds a mile faster than my plan.  I honestly tried to slow down.  I really did.  I knew that I could end up crashing.  But I wanted to go for my best time, because I knew “that” feeling, that wonderful “this is awesome” feeling, and I was having it right then.  I also didn’t want to derail at mile 6, so I had to be smart about it.  I knew I would end up feeling uncomfortable, and I knew I was comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It was time to act like a runner.

After being out of speed work, hill work, and tempo running for a full month because of my severe shin splints and calf tightness, I was expecting my leg to start hurting.  Yes, I felt some discomfort, slight pain, and I shoved it aside.  I was elated to be running to my potential without pain, the first time in a very long time.  Finally!!  In a race too!! The crowds along the first two or so miles were amazing.  There was music, there were Without Limits people yelling at their teammates, there were strangers yelling, “You’re looking strong, keep it up!” and “Go Hells Belles!!!”.  I was running my first big race without my iPod, so I didn’t know what to expect after the crowds thinned out and I was alone.

About a mile into the race.

About a mile into the race.

The course was out and back, so I was able to see runners as they were on their way back towards the finish.  So inspiring!!!  I kept passing runners and honestly, I felt bad since I knew they were the ones who had swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles already.  I had an “R” on my calf, so at least I knew they could see that, know I was part of a relay team, and know why I had so much energy.  My pace stayed steady between 8:10 and 8:20.  At about mile 6, I noticed that my watch stopped beeping when I passed the mile marker.  Hmmmm.  I’ve run in races where my watch shows I’ve run less distance, but not a course with such tight corners and basically no margin of error.  Did they measure the course wrong?  The first time, my watch showed I was .10 miles off.  Then it was .2 miles off at the next mile marker, then .3 miles.  I thought that it would be pretty crappy to be a marathon runner and find out the course is measured incorrectly.  But other than that, I was floored at how much I DIDN’T miss my iPod.  Sure, it would’ve been nice, because the course was quiet.  Besides the water stations and beginning/end, it was extremely quiet.  But I didn’t care.  I listened to my breathing, I listened to my steps, I heard the rustling leaves, I heard other runners.  I was in my own world, my zone, my happy place, my happy pace.

The miles ticked down, and I got closer to the finish.  My lips were dry.  I was getting tired, breathing harder.  My coach saw me along in there somewhere and yelled, “KELLI YOU’RE AWESOME!!!”  I kept at it.  I repeated to myself, “You are uncomfortable.  Get over it.”  I wanted my chapstick.  Three miles to go, two miles to go…. crowds were starting to form again.  I was close.  I heard the music, the crowds thickened, the atmosphere….awesome.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks.  Tricky when you're tired.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks. Tricky when you’re tired. And no, I didn’t hold my arms up the entire race.

I tried as hard as I could to finish strong.  I saw the finish line.  Wow.  I know I hadn’t done the entire 1/2 iron distance, but really, any finish line is emotional.  I found my two teammates, who joined me so we could finish together.

The Hells Belles

The Hells Belles

Once we crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch.  Holy shit.  1:44:08.  An unofficial PR by 7 seconds.  Granted, my watch showed less than 13 miles, but I had to give that up to the Garmin gods.  I did it.  I had an absolutely amazing race.  Randee swam it.  Wendy biked it. I ran it.  PR or not, official or unofficial, I ran my best race, it felt AWESOME, and I had fun.  I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Me, Wendy, and Randee

Me, Wendy, and Randee

After the race, we collected our awesome medals, pajama pants, and food.  My husband (Sherpa) and I sat down and had a beer while listening to the post-race music, then headed to our favorite hangout to watch runners go by and hang with the other Belles.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I'd taken it myself, it'd be of my hand.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I’d taken it myself, it’d be of my hand.

I’m intimidated by completing a 1/2 iron distance next year, which is exactly the reason that I plan to sign up and do it.  Two huge boxes checked off a life goal list in 2014?? Boston Marathon in April, check.  B2B in October, check.  Heck yeah, why not??!!

How can I describe yesterday?  Awesome? Amazing? Inspiring? Yes, yes, and yes.  And as I watched the full iron distance runners continuing to run after being at it for over 10 hours at that point, I thought, “Well, maybe that’ll be me some day.”  And today, as I think about it, I know it will be.

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance.  Can you say INSPIRE?

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance. Can you say INSPIRE?

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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