02 December, 2013

Space Coast Half Marathon Recap

If your birthday happens to be 3-3-79,
then this is almost the most perfect race bib ever !

Thirty-eight hours ago, I was waking up for the Space Coast Half Marathon.  Of course, like most pre-race nights, I had been up just about every half hour all night looking at the clock.  Around 1 am I woke up with a headache at the base of my skull that hurt so bad my first thought was "I've cancelled training runs for headaches that hurt less."  I didn't have any ibuprofen with me - they say not to take anything but Tylenol within 24 hours - and Tylenol doesn't really do much for me, so I went back to sleep rather than get up and take pills.

When I woke up for real, it still hurt, but not half as bad as it was at 1.  And my face felt hot.  And I stumbled when I got out of bed and started walking.  I thought maybe there was something wrong with me.  I also figured there was NO WAY I was going to bail on the race, so I got up and dressed and out the door.

Mom and I were staying at the Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach.  You know I'm not one to name-drop random hotels, but I cannot say enough about the hotel.  The room was spacious and clean (though it smelled vaguely of feet), and the staff was wonderful.  The morning of the race, they had to-go bags with bottled water, an apple, and a cereal bar.  I had my own pre-race food, but appreciated the extra boost.  We took the 4:15 shuttle to the race site, and then played the hurry up and wait game until "blast off" at 6:00.  I was trying to keep my spirits up, but my headache was weighing my spirits down and I was worried about a weird twinge I kept getting on my right shin.

Side note: they were having audio problems, and the microphone kept cutting in and out.  During the singing of the National Anthem, the crowd just started singing along whenever the audio stopped.  It was kind of awesome.

Before this race, my goal for the whole race season was to finish a half marathon in under 3:15:00, which is a 15 minute/mile pace.  Since this course was flat, and the weather was cool and overcast, I thought it might be a remote possibility if my body aches and pains quit.  I pointed out the lady holding the sign for the 3:15 Galloway pace team and told Mom that I'd probably finish a little after her.  I also lined up in the corral slightly ahead of her, but well behind the 3:00 pacer.  When the race started, I figured I would just run at whatever pace was comfortable until it wasn't comfortable, and then I'd slow down.

At the 5k point, I was running directly behind a lady with a bib on her back indicating that she was a 3:00 pacer.  I made the conscious decision to stay behind her, because I knew I couldn't keep that pace for the whole race.  At the 5 mile mark, I was still keeping pace right behind the same woman, but staying behind her was slowing me down.  And so, I passed her some time before the 6-mile mark and waited for her to pass me.  I never saw her again.

I had a total mind-screw right after I passed the 10K timing mats.  For some reason, I was convinced that 6.2 miles was the halfway point, and I couldn't understand why we were still going straight.  Where was the U-turn?  The distance from 6.2 to the actual turnaround was (I'm guessing) less than half a mile, but I struggled the whole time because I was mentally already half done and resented having to keep going.

After the turnaround, my mood picked up and I started looking at RunKeeper in disbelief.  At mile 7, my average pace was still 13:34 (I think - I didn't take a screen shot). I knew my 5 mile run the weekend before had good numbers, but that was only 5.  Here I was 7 miles in, feeling strong, and running FASTER?!?

...and then disaster struck.  I grabbed a handful of Craisins and popped them in my mouth during a walk break.  I'm not sure what happened, but all of a sudden I took a sharp breath and was pretty sure I inhaled one.  I had a pretty wicked coughing fit, but when my interval timer beeped I started running again.  The coughing made my throat feel raw, and I had that "you might puke if this keeps up" feeling.  The persistent scratching in my throat wasn't getting any better...and then *cough* there was a cranberry in my mouth that wasn't there before.  Oh was stuck in my throat!  Problem solved?  Not really.  Another few minutes of running and walking, feeling like crap and I did that sinus-clearing snort thing and HEY! Another cranberry!  It turns out the second cranberry, which I hocked into the grass as if it were a loogie, was the source of my discomfort.  Instead of inhaling it down into my lung, I somehow snorted it from my mouth up toward my nose.  Once it was out, the pain was gone.

That's a first!

By the time I hit miles 8 and 9, I actually pulled up the calculator app on my phone to see what time I'd finish if I maintained a 14 minute average pace.  I also realized that I was most likely going to finish well ahead of my original 3:15 goal.  AND I realized that Disney was requiring proof of time if you thought you were going to finish the Princess Half in less than 3:15.  I sent a text to Scott that said "holy [redacted]. Gonna have a sub 3:15 to submit for Princess."  (I love that my phone knows that Princess a proper noun in my world) I also sent one to Mom right at mile 8: "5 mi to go. Pretty sure fkonosh b4 3:15." I don't know if she understood what I was saying, but it wasn't really important.

At mile 11, I sent another text to Mom saying "mile 11. c u in half hour."  That's right, even though my legs were starting to scream during the last 5k I knew there was no chance I was going to slow down to a 15 minute pace.

After mile 12, the lead runner for the full marathon passed me.  I took a picture as he went by, and tried to run along with him during my 20 second run interval.  Boy was he speedy...but when else would I ever have the chance to say I ran with a marathon champion 25 miles into his race?  Plus, all of the other marathoners running the opposite direction were cheering and it was easy to pretend they were cheering for me.

The last stretch of the race was on brick, and full of people cheering.  As much as I wanted to run and smile with them, the best I could manage was to maintain my intervals. As I passed a race photographer, I did my patented fake run pose.  A volunteer mimicked me and asked what I was doing and I laughed and said "fake running for the camera!"  He laughed, told me that was awesome, and gave me a high-five. One turn before the end, I saw Mom videotaping, and I figured I had to run for that.  I smiled and waved, turned the corner, and there was the finish.  So I ran straight on to the end.  I even managed to get my arms mostly up for the finish line photographers.

check out those post-race sausage fingers!
The "RaceJoy" app posted to Facebook that my finish time was 3:16, and I was heartbroken.  I couldn't figure out how I could've lost so much momentum in the last two miles.  And I was disappointed that I didn't have a proof of time for Princess 2014 after all.  And I was mad at myself for not being over-the-moon thrilled at coming in 15 minutes faster than my time from Princess 2013.

After I reunited with Mom, got my big cup of beer, a banana, and a bottle of the most delicious ice cold orange juice in the history of mankind, we took a few pictures of the "sweaty delirious girl with new bling" variety and then shuffled to the hotel shuttle, full of oh-so-stinky runners.

On the bus, I took a look at my RunKeeper, and realized that the time/pace posted to Facebook must have been the clock time and not my chip time.  I realized that for sure when I saw it had my 5k time as 49:50. My mood definitely improved, though I wasn't sure when I would find out my actual time...and the anticipation was killing me!

Eventually, while enjoying my post-race bubble bath, I logged back into RaceJoy and found my unofficial chip results, which turned out to also be my actual results:
What? You can't read this GIANT text?  See below!
Clock Time: 3:16:42
Chip Time: 3:10:26
Pace: 14:33
Overall Place: 2261/2937
Division Place: 195/259
(not pictured: Previous PR: 3:31 -- that's a 21 MINUTE improvement!!!!!!)

I have almost nothing negative to say about this race, but here are the only critiques I've got:
* The expo was CrazyTown.  You had to go through 4 different lines to get your bib, race bag, check your tag, and then go to the back corner of the expo for your shirt.  The first 3 lines were in the small circular entryway of the expo hall, and my inner crowd-phobe freaked the heck out during the 15ish minutes we were inside.
* The shirt is white and fairly sheer.  I'll wear it for early runs around the neighborhood when it's more important for me to be visible than for my bra to be invisible.  But I love the logo on it, and would wear it out if not for the modesty factor.
* The RaceJoy app was a massive disappointment.  Supposedly there was a way to have race updates texted to people, but I could only figure out how to post updates to Facebook.  And as I already said, those updates were based on clock time and not chip time.
* Supposedly there was Gu available around mile 8, but I never saw it.  I can't imagine how I missed it, but I guess I'll chalk it up to my own flakiness.  I'm glad I had my Craisins and wasn't relying on it though!
* Twice in the last 5k, I encountered residents leaving their driveways and driving onto the race course.  The first was right next to a cross-street, and was only on the road for a few seconds basically long enough to make the turn. The second was driving behind me, and I was so pissed off I refused to move to the side of the road.  I also trudged nearly a mile behind two girls in jeans and sweaters who had apparently been cheering for someone and were moving toward the finish line.  They were walking faster than I was able to run, so they weren't actually in my way, but other runners did have to run around them.  It would've been nice if a volunteer had told them to GET OUT OF THE WAY.
* I was disappointed by the weather.  I had hoped to snap some spectacular sunrise-over-water pictures, but it was gray and overcast...

...which is an excellent point to carry into the list of awesome things about this race:
* The weather!  Though the sky was depressing to look at, I was so happy to be running in cool temperatures with a pleasant breeze...even when that breeze turned into a headwind around mile 7 or 8.
* The course is beautiful.  It's an out and back, with lovely houses on one side and water on the other side.  The road curves a lot, is pretty flat, and the field of under 3,000 half marathoners was spread out enough that I never really felt like I was part of a herd.
* The volunteers at the water stations were great.  There were a lot of kids/teens, lots of costumes, and I never had to stop to wait for a full cup to be put in my hand.
* The residents of the neighborhood we ran through were good sports about being trapped at home.  Lots were out sitting in lawn chairs watching the spectacle.  Some had signs and were cheering.  Some even had their own water stops set up.  I took a cup of water from a little girl who couldn't have been 4 or 5 and told her that her family was the awesomest on the street.  I also saw a family pouring beer into little paper cups and another with a hot plate cooking something that smelled awesome and something that looked remarkably like bloody mary mix and a stack of paper cups!
* The post-race amenities, including pizza, beer, pancakes, juice, and fruit - plus plenty of space to spread out and enjoy them - were fabulous.  Now I know why people get so annoyed with Disney for charging extra for similar stuff after their races!
* And last but not least, the finisher medal is spectacular!  It's huge - even bigger than my Princess medal - and more importantly, absolutely stunning.  Pictures don't do it justice.  The shuttle is silver-tone, and all of the white and colored areas are sparkly.

I'm almost certain I'll be back to run another Space Coast Half.  I had an amazing run, and can't imagine another race comparing!

* one large blister (the size of a lima bean) on the outside of my right big toe, and several smaller ones that aren't really worth mentioning
* immediately after the race, both of my big toes hurt under the nails.  thanks to the dark nail polish (which you can see at the bottom of the picture above), I don't know if there's any visible bruising.  but they hurt WAY less today.
* I'm having difficulty lifting my left leg in front of me.  I can do stairs just fine, but the range of motion of lifting my leg straight out is only about 1/3 of what my right leg can do.  While I don't generally do kick lines, this motion is apparently used getting my pants on and off, and is therefore an issue.
* General stiffness in my hips and thighs. other words, wow - I'm practically fine!!

Split Paces: 
(according to RunKeeper...which also thinks I ran 13.55 miles at a 14:06 pace, so take these with a grain of salt)
mile 1: 13:05 min/mi
mile 2: 13:39 min/mi
mile 3: 13:39 min/mi (even split!  woo!)
mile 4: 13:42 min/mi
mile 5: 13:55 min/mi
mile 6: 13:43 min/mi
mile 7: 14:11 min/mi
mile 8: 14:07 min/mi
mile 9: 14:16 min/mi
mile 10: 14:24 min/mi
mile 11: 14:41 min/mi
mile 12: 14:35 min/mi
mile 13: 14:54 min/mi

Of course, I'm going to have to do a delicate balancing act of babying and pushing myself this week, because the Orlando Half is coming up this Saturday.  I plan on doing short slow runs tomorrow and Thursday mornings, as well as plenty of walking on Wednesday.  I feel really good and strong, which boggles my mind, and am really confident that I'll do fine on Saturday.  My plan for that race is to take it easy, listen to my body, and hopefully finish in about 3:15.  I do not expect to PR again without adequate recovery time, and it's also going to be warmer which will probably slow me down.

It may slow me down, but it won't stop me.  I'm feeling pretty unstoppable today!


wickedmess said...

Fantastic job, Jamie! I'm so excited for you and I know you have to be very proud. YAY!

mamajoy said...

That was soooo fun! Loved your recap! and I understood your text-in-motion!