I signed up for the Lake Country half-marathon as another stepping stone to the Philly marathon this november. Several of my friends were also signed up so it looked to be yet another awesome race day. The more the merrier when it comes to pre and post race antics! Amy (freezerpop), dave and I all planned on heading up together.
I typically have this thing against car pooling. I'm coming around and I'm not such a hater anymore but it definitely takes some convincing to get me to share a car with anyone pre-race. I just really enjoy my (bad) music rock out sessions in my car - and I'm cognizant enough of my utter lack of skill to know not to inflict that sort of pain on anyone. I once let my guard down during a work trip in Tampa (powered by cuban coffee AND an espresso) and treated my two camera guys to a back seat concert of Celine Dion. I have never - and will never - live that down. (how is it possible to hear celine dion and NOT belt out along with that canadian song bird? Granted - I probably get closer to a canadian song raptorsaurus but hey, we can't all be multi-talented with our own cirque styled show in vegas.)
What was I talking about?
Oh right - so Freezerpop asks to carpool. Immediately I think Heck No! I have some new Justin Beiber songs downloaded just for the ride! But then she mentioned that she had these super delicious cookies from the OutPost for after the race and I immediately agreed. Man I'm easy. Rode up with FreezerPop and we listened to that classic country station on sirius - I ended up belting out "The Race is On" (yea, you know you love this song too)
I put her in charge of navigating us to the race and I asked her to plug in the address to my GPS. She goes - oh wait, watch this! she grabs her phone and tells it the name of the church we're heading to fully expecting it to take us there. What's amazing about this is that she was serious. She truly believes her phone will obey her every command. (what's weird is it totally didn't work -who knew?!?!) Dave and I had a heyday with this later - "Dear phone, will you do math for me? Dear phone, will you please make me breakfast? Dear phone, will you go the bathroom for me?" I don't know that we'll ever be able to stop asking our phones for favors now.
I've been dealing with weird calf thing for the past two weeks so I really haven't been running much at all. In fact, I haven't run for over a week. I've done some pool running but absolutely no impact on the leg. I probably had some minor tearing on the side of my calf a few weeks back but I developed a hematoma over it and it HURT. No fun. But I've been rocking the compression socks and that's been helping out a ton.
In fact, I have an ode to compression socks in the form of a haiku that I'd like to now share.
Oh compression socks
Squeeze my leg and hug it tight
make calf feel all right
I am thinking about forming a fan club for compression socks. I LOVE THEM. Wow. They have made a huge difference for me this week. I'd also like to issue a formal apology to all those I may have mocked for wearing them in the past. (I mean, come on, they still look awfully stupid) I am a convert! Sign me up for the services at the church of compression. I'll put my dollar in the collection basket as long as they keep cranking these bad boys out. (Do they make full body compression sleeves? Interested)
Before the race, there were the ritual potty stops. The first time we stopped, it was still early, still sort of dark out and there wasn't really anyone around. I was waiting impatiently for FreezerPop and I hollered to the porta-a-potty "You done yet?" and she responds "'I'm just wiping!" A guy happens to walk by right at that moment and yells to her "That's good, hygiene is important!"
Basically my warm up consisted of gingerly heading out for a run, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't bother me. And PHEW - all clear. little tiny twinges but nothing compared to how it had felt. And it ended up not bothering me in the race at all. I was very, very relieved. I had been to the doctor on wednesday and she said it was fine to run as long as it wasn't too painful - I was just worried that if it WAS painful, would I be strong enough to fight through it. quite glad I didn't have to cross that bridge.
The other part of my warm-up consisted of realizing i FORGOT MY WATCH!!! Ahhhhhh!!!! Ok, normally, this wouldn't be a big deal to me but I had signed up for this race specifically to test my ability to take it out nice and easy to practice what the philly marathon pace should feel like in november. Gahhhhh.... not as in lady gaga. More like Gaaahhhhhh, idiot! I decided to place myself by the people in the 9:00 group and just see if I could sort of pace myself off others.
As I was waiting for the start, all I could think about was 'could this day have been any more beautiful?' Wow. After a pretty brutal summer of heat and humidity (and skeeters the size of wooly mammoths) this day was such a relief. Definitely chilly but it kind of felt fantastic. The only thing was that after a summer of such intense heat, I had completely forgotten how to dress for cooler temps. I kind of dinked around in the morning with what to wear and couldn't quite figure it out. Complicating the issue was my desire to lessen the nerd look of my one compression sleeve.
So I'm digging around my closet for a tech tee, deciding I don't want long sleeves because I would get too hot. So I pull out this shirt I got at the beijing olympics and have for some reason never worn and think hmmmm... today at the Lake Country Half Marathon, I shall represent Team China! And if anyone asks why I'm wearing it, my answer will be "well, because CLEARLY I'm chinese!"
I start out nice and easy but I'm just going by feel so I really have no idea if my pace is nice and easy or if I'm just feeling nice and easy. I did this same thing at Green Bay where I was feeling fantastic doing 8:11-8:20s until I hit mile 8 and everything sucked donkeyballs. I'm not very good about going by feel yet but I felt like I was probably maintaining a sub9 pace and that was just where I wanted to be.
They were calling out splits at each mile and I finally listened at mile 3. I pretty much am terrible at math so I think it took me until Mile 5 to do the calculation in my head and realize that I was right around an 8:45-8:55 pace for those first 3 miles. I was trying to figure out if I was under 9 minutes so I had to first multiply 3 by 9. I was literally doing that hand trick you do to multiply 9's - where you put up your hands and put down the finger that you're multiplying 9 by and then you have your answer (27) So there I am running along, looking at my hands and trying to figure out which finger goes down. I must have looked awesome. (I mean, really, if I'm representing Team China, you think I would be better at math)
My calf was feeling just fine but at around mile 3, the bottoms of my feet were screaming at me. I think my shoe just doesn't have enough forefront cushioning (so I went and bought new shoes right after the race) This same thing happened to me in Green Bay and my quads ended up hurting like crazy after the race. I don't really know what happens there, the bottoms of my feet really don't bother me in long runs or when I train so not sure why they bothered me today and at GB - oh and at Cudahy Classic too.... hmmm, maybe there's a pattern? I should probably figure it out. Hopefully the new shoes help.
But besides the feet thing, I felt great. Lots of energy, I felt really strong and like I could keep up this pace for awhile. So that was reassuring. At around mile 10, I started trying to increase the pace just a bit. I felt great up until around 11.5 and then I started feeling not so great. Legs were starting to seize up a bit - but it was the quads which annoyed me because that's not normally a place that I have problems with. But my quads apparently REALLY like racing because every time I do it, they just have to jump right in to get a piece of the action. Gah, they're so needy.
So now I'm tantalizingly close to the finish and I look up - ok. whoever decided that a mile long hill at the end of the run would be fun - I spit in the general direction of your face. So MEAN. Ouch! That didn't help the quads out at all.
Came to the finishing chute and was pretty relieved it was over. Had a little left in me to sprint a tiny bit at the end.
Found the donkeys who had all had great races - awesome job guys!!! I walked around a bit and wow, my legs were jiggly-wiggly and threatening to give out on me in a fell swoop should I look at them sideways. Hopefully the added support of the shoes in the front will make the balls of my feet less like a fiery orb of pain which will then make my quads back the f off! sheesh.
I finished in 1:55:08 which is five minutes off my best time of 1:50:14 - but I don't know that I necessarily needed to go faster today. I'll likely go a bit slower in philly and this was a really good test for me to just take it easy. I've totally failed at that lately. And while I'm not thrilled with how beat up my quads felt after the race, I think I'm A-ok with how I ran this race. I just need to get this forefoot/shoe thing figured out before november. I'll have another chance to test things out in october at the Wisconsin dells half marathon. Knowing that I CAN pace myself makes me think that maybe I'll actually 'race' that one.... eh, we'll see. Main goal is still just to get myself to the start line of philly without being (too) injured.
Oh and I probably need to put some Celine Dion on my ipod. But that's a given, right?