Monday, February 17, 2014

Heart Breaker Half Marathon - Race Report

I started this recap post yesterday, but I was seriously out of my gourd by the end of the day yesterday and finally just got too tired to finish writing!  It was a long day for sure!

I didn't have the greatest start to the morning yesterday, but it was totally my fault.  I relented and let Molly sleep in the bed that night, and she was a complete butthole the entire night.  She woke me up almost hourly by whining and touching me with her nose.  I don't know why she does that sometimes when you try to let her sleep with you, other than she is a menace to society.  I was too tired to get up and throw her out even though I should have, but it was incredibly disruptive and I got a crappy night's sleep.  She is for real banished from sleeping with us now!  And you know how before the Louisiana Half I had all of my stuff laid out nicely the night before?  Yeah that didn't happen.  I hung out with some friends all day the day before, and by the time I got home that night I was pretty tired and didn't bother getting my stuff together.  When I finally got up, my "getting ready" consisted of pulling random running items from the pile of clean clothes in the corner of our room, shoving things into my race pack, and praying that I hadn't forgotten some vital thing.  Luckily for me the race was pretty close to my house, so I didn't have to drive far especially since I still had to pick up my bib!

I honestly didn't feel well at all before the race.  Not to skeeze my guy friends out, but let's just say that I didn't have the ideal situation that a woman wants to run in due to a "pesky visitor", and I'll just leave it at that.  I was almost doubled over in pain by the time I got to the high school where the race start/finish was and I was like, "I'm a psychotic person who actually PAID to be doing this on a Sunday morning when I could have been sleeping in."  I was so ill that I couldn't stomach the thought of breakfast, and all of that coupled with about 3 hours sleep, and I was a wreck.  Seriously, if it hadn't been for the entire world knowing that I was supposed to do this race, I would have just blown it off.  Damn accountability!  Then as I was walking to the car it hit me that I needed to potty and I needed to potty immediately.  I mean seriously in that moment, I would have disowned family, stolen the Hope diamond and kicked a kitten just for the opportunity to go to the bathroom, and luckily there were nice clean indoor ones at the school!  Lucky for me I did that, because as I found out, there were NO bathrooms on the course.  Yes, the half marathon course didn't have a single porta-potty, but more on that in a moment.

I made a huge error in judgement that morning and decided to wear a short sleeved tech shirt because I didn't want to be hot, and let me tell you, I definitely wasn't hot.  It was about 36-40 degrees over the course of the day, and I freaking froze my butt off the entire race, but I was especially miserable standing at the start line waiting for things to get going.  The one thing that held out in my favor is that it was supposed to rain, but it totally held off and was even sunny for parts of the race.

The race was interesting.  We did this same one last year except we did the 5k version.  It's a very small race and I wasn't sure what to expect from the half course.  I guess I will start out with a positive, which is that the course was really beautiful.  It was all back roads and rolling farmland, which is right up my ally.  It was sort of like a super freezing version of the Helvetia Half, especially since I think some of the same roads are on the Helvetia course.  I didn't grab a ton of pictures, but here's one of the ones I took:

The reason I didn't take many pictures is that everything pretty much looked like this, so it would have been redundant.  Very pretty and peaceful!  You can't really see it that well, but if you look closely between the evergreens to the right, and those scrubby looking stick trees in the middle, there is a road with runners on it.  Basically where I was was at the top of a huge hill that you eventually went down.  The course was very, very hilly, which I was not a fan of, though I was able to handle it much better than I did San Francisco.  I guess as a play on the Boston course there was a "Heart Breaker Hill" which sucked massively, and there was some sort of contest where they were separately timing how fast people could do the hill.  Um yeah, I was not a contender for sure.  :P  I took a picture going up the hill, but it didn't do it justice to how steep and painful it was.

Despite how I felt that morning, I honestly felt pretty great for most of the race, really until about mile 8.  I was shocked at how energetic I felt considering the lack of sleep and how bad I felt when I got there, plus I hadn't eaten breakfast.  I even did my first mile in 11:11, which was a huge improvement over my times at the end of last year.   But the constant climb in course elevation got to me, my hips really started bugging me, and my legs felt sluggish.  BUT, there was one thing that really kept me going the whole race, and it's also one of my race tips to you if you already race, or should you be considering doing one.

You see each race I do, I pick a nemesis.  I pick a person in my speed range who for some reason annoys me or just generally gives me that "Oh HELL no that person isn't going to beat me" feeling, and then I do my damnedest to not let them finish before me.  I know that's terrible, but it truly does work, especially when you are bored or struggling for motivation.  My nemesis for this race was a couple who was annoyingly just in my pace grove for the entire race, and were arguing for the entire race.  The entire race.  Loudly.  And I'm not talking annoyed snapping, they were literally yelling at each other.  The crux of the issue is that apparently they wanted to finish together, but he was pissy that she wouldn't run continually, and she was pissy that he kept nagging her to keep running.  They literally had more fights during that race than Eric and I have had in our entire 8 year relationship.  It was everything I could do at certain points to tell the guy that if his girlfriend/wife wanted to take a walk break, to shut the F up and let her take a break.  I mean, here are my thoughts on the rules of racing with your friends or loved one.  Either say "have a nice race", do your own thing and pick a meeting spot for after, OR if you must all finish together, then everyone has to agree to run at the slowest person's pace.   Period.  You don't shuffle along and get in a rolling fight in front of the world for God's sake!  Anyway after about an hour of that, I had made up my mind that even if it made my heart explode and made me have a stroke that I was going to beat them.

I'm also pretty sure that they had picked me as their nemesis.  Every time I'd pass them, the guy would get really urgent about nagging his girlfriend to run, and then they would painfully shuffle past me, then she would whine about needing a walk break and they'd stop running.  It's like, really dude?  I am quite sure he didn't want the "fat girl" beating them!  I was honestly trying my best to get away from them so that I could have a peaceful moment, but they kept lock step with me the entire race.

So craziest thing about the course was that there was not a single bathroom.  I do you have a half marathon course with no bathrooms?  I definitely needed one more for lady issues than I did to actually use the bathroom, but I finally realized by mile 9 that there were none and I just had to deal with it.  (PS, just now read on Facebook that there were supposed to be portas, but the company was a no show that morning.  WTF!!)  Other crazy thing about the course was that half of it wasn't closed to traffic.  You'd be going along, and suddenly there would be a truck barreling towards you and you'd have to hurry to the shoulder, which was gravel and at a slant.  I could have stretched my arm out and touched the cars, that's how close they were to me.  Definitely not safe, and I was feeling pretty anxious for the last half of the race.

The last 4 miles of the race were pretty torturous.  My energy levels were fine, but with all the hills my legs were absolutely shot.  But that couple was constantly behind me or right in front of me arguing away, and as we came to a steep downhill, I knew I finally had to make my move and get away from them.  I ignored the pain in my legs and started running again as hard as I could.  I'm quite sure I surprised the couple, especially since fat girls can't sprint right?  I looked at my Garmin once and saw that I was running at an 8:56 pace (!!!) which is probably the fastest I've ever run.  I would stop sprinting when it would get somewhat flat, and then in downhills I would sprint again.  I seriously somewhat know how Olympians feel now, but instead of fighting with all of my might to medal for my country, I was fighting to defeat this couple's douchiness.  I kept glancing over my shoulder and was thrilled that I was putting more and more distance between us.  I also realized that I was going to PR for the race if I kept going the way I was.  I wasn't sure by how much, but I definitely was going to PR.  Amazing what having no bathroom breaks will do for your pace.  ;)

The end of the race was disappointing despite my PR.  You finish up on the track at the high school, which is a tiny bit bizarre.  As I came through, there was not a single spectator or fellow racer standing out there, so there was no cheering, no excitement and no encouragement.  There were literally 2 people at the finish line, and they were the ones operating the timing equipment!  To top it off, Eric couldn't make it out to the race, so I didn't have him to cheer me on.  Finishing with a PR was a bit anticlimactic even though I am pretty proud of myself, but it kind of sucks when no one is there to share it with you.  

Well there it is!  I PR'd by 14 minutes (based on my San Fran race), which is definitely exciting.  It was hard to miss a sub-three finish by that small of an amount, but it does give me hope that I could do a sub-three in May at the Hippie Chick.  Hopefully that course is flatter!

The medals were an odd deal as well.  You had to pay extra if you wanted one, which I thought was kind of douchey, but of COURSE I paid the extra.  When you got to the finish, you were told to go inside the school to get your medal.  After wandering around for 10 minutes I finally found the booth that had the medals, which they just hand to you, so there is no experience of having a medal hung around your neck.

They are actually very nice medals, so I don't regret paying the extra really.  I am also not sure why that picture has a weird, hazy, 80's porn vibe to it other than I think some Gu gel may have gotten on my phone camera when it was in my race pack!

Afterwards I came home and met my aunt/uncle out for a nice sushi lunch, then we went to this fun candy store and I picked up some retro colas and a couple things of candy to enjoy at home.  I also stopped at the liquor store to pick up some stuff for cocktail recipes I'm testing for our upcoming Oscar party, so I had a nice celebratory evening with cocktails and coconut candy while binge watching Southpark!  A pretty nice but tiring day!  

Oh, and I beat that arguing couple by a long shot.  ;)


  1. Way to go! I never thought I'd run more than a 5k, maybe a 10 k, but now I'm thinking a half would be kind of fun. Except I need to get better with the whole running thing : /

    1. I used to be terrified at the thought of a half, but ever since I did my full marathon, halfs feel completely in my reach. I say go for it!

  2. awesome PR. sorry about the lack of porta pottys. :( not cool. but you made it.