Saturday, October 20, 2012

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Race Recap

Last night I went to bed at 9:30 pm with the hopes of sleeping the whole night through without any dreams about running or worrying about not waking with my alarm.  I woke up at 3:00 am and was afraid that was going to be the end of my sleep, but I was able to fall back to sleep and slept until my alarm at 6:00 am.  

Even still a little caffeine was required.  I can't NOT have my Diet Coke.  Not because I think it's appropriate pre-run fuel (I don't), but because I don't want to wind up with a headache from not drinking the caffeine my body is accustomed to.  Tracey made fun of me.  Shouldn't you know by now Trace?  

The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is a small race, capped at 1000 people.  So, there is no pre-race day pick up.  We arrived to pick up our packets by about 7:30 am and it was so, so cold.  Ok it was about 40, but that felt freezing to my now Texas blood.  Even Tracey was cold. 

The other girls used the trash bag method to stay warm.  

Barb, Michelle, Kristy 

Despite the cold, and joking that we all wanted to go drinking or eating instead, I think we were all really ready for a great race.

I was particularly in a good mood this morning, which is so NOT like me.  I'm definitely not a morning person, but today I just felt happy to be out with one of my favorite friends!

We strapped on our timing chips and made our way towards the bus, which would take us to the starting line.

The bus was so warm and toasty so we were eager to get on....

... and get out of the cold.

Once we got to the start line we had about an hour to wait.  We jumped in the potty line and were in and out in 5 minutes or less.  You know what happened then right?  After about 15 minutes we decided we had to go AGAIN and got back in the HUGE lines which took us almost 40 minutes to get through.     Nevertheless, we were still able to line up with just 8 minutes until start time.  I hugged Tracey, told her she could do it (1:50 was her goal), and moved WAY on back.

Barb couldn't get her Garmin to start and she said she'd stick with me so she'd know her pace.   I told her I was going for about a 2:15 finish and she agreed that would be nice.  Before I knew it we were off.  Barb and I were side by side and, as per usual, the start was fast.  I looked down about 1/4 of a mile into it and saw our current pace was under 9:00.  At that point I also realized I had forgotten to start my Garmin.  Sonofa!

A guy heard me yell that I had forgotten to start my Garmin and said we were 3:20 into the race.  There was no start mat in this race, which means we were all going on gun time.  I made a mental note to add 3:20 to my time.

We spent the first mile or so looking for Kristy and Michelle and before I knew it Kristy was right behind us.  She and Barb got ahead of my and slowly inched away.  I kept telling myself there was no need to keep up with them and that I was running my own race.  I told myself not to worry about them. After all there were 100s of people in front of me, not just Barb and Kristy.

I was running fast (for me).  I could tell by my breathing that I was running fast, but told myself it was just the beginning of the race and figured I would settle in to my comfortable pace by mile 3.  I only allowed myself to look at my pace as I hit each mile mark and not in between.  I made myself let my body dictate my pace the rest of the time.

Mile 1:  9:17
Mile 2:  9:51
Mile 3:  9:52

The first 3 miles passed and I realized my pace was slowing just as I thought it would.  I'm settling in to my 10:15 pace I thought.  I did feel a pang of disappointment as part of me did get excited that my body might just like this quicker pace.  I reminded myself again that this race was a training run and I was there to enjoy myself and the scenery.  I had absolutely nothing to prove to myself and anyone else today.

By the just about the 4 mile mark I was absolutely STARVING (damn you Diet Coke for not being appropriate fuel) and I even though I had planned to Gu at mile 5 I Gu'd at mile 4.  I REALLY needed it.  I just felt like all my energy was waining due to being so hungry.

I saw this "couple" that both had on Pittsburgh Marathon shirts from previous years.  I dubbed them Mr and Mrs Pittsburgh.  We kept playing cat and mouse.  I could tell they were the ones running a steady pace and I would would slow down or speed up based on my mood.  I figured if I could keep them in my site or a little behind me, I was doing a good job.  Mostly they were a few feet ahead of me.

About the 5 mile mark it seemed as thought he Gu was kicking in and by mile 6 I felt like I was just cruising along.  I passed Mr and Mrs Pittsburgh and felt like I was getting the energy I really needed.

Mile 4:  9:46
Mile 5:  9:40
Mile 6:  9:27

It was after I saw that mile 6 was a 9:27 that things in the race started to change. I realized I had run almost half the race at a 9:40 average.  I thought hmmmm that's less than my PR (personal record).  Maybe I could PR today.  I quickly shrugged off the thought of a PR and reminded myself I was supposed to just be running a training run.  That only lasted about 60 seconds and I realized my competitive nature just wanted me to go for it.  Why not?  I had come this far with pretty much ease.  I should just go for it.  So I decided I would.

At about mile 7 though I started feeling really hungry again and I was overtaken by Mr and Mrs Pittsburgh.  They really gained a lot of ground on me and I wondered if they were picking up the pace or if I was losing ground.  I feared it was the latter.  I told myself not to obsess about it.  This race was either going happen or not and it really didn't matter.

By mile 8 I took my second Gu to prevent my stomach from eating itself.  I told myself I just needed 10 to 15 minutes and it would kick in and I'd be able to kick it up a notch.  I decided right then it was PR or bust.  I was going to push myself to get it.  It DID matter to me and I was going to make it happen.

I started feeling really great again and I caught up to and passed Mr and Mrs Pittsburgh.

Mile 7:  9:45
Mile 8:  9:56
Mile 9:  9:33

No sooner did I overtake Mr and Mrs Pittsburgh and they caught back up to me again.  I wondered if THEY had realized we were playing cat and mouse the house race and so I decided to talk to them.  I politely asked them to just stay behind me and we all got a good laugh.  Apparently they were just jogging along with no particular goal in mind.  Meanwhile, I was working my tail off.  

It turns out they weren't a couple at all and had met on a running trail and train together on the weekends.  We chatted for miles 10 through 12 and it was nice to have a little distraction from the task at hand.  

At mile 11 and half or so I kind of realized I needed to pick up the pace a little and pulled ahead.  I heard Mrs. Pittsburgh tell the Mr that she was going to go.  He wished her well and she settled in next to me.  I told her not to stay with me that if she wanted to go to go.  She said she was waiting for the 12 mile mark and then she was going to drive it home.   

Mile 10:  9:38
Mile 11:  9:50 

Mrs Pittsburgh apparently had a lot left in her tank and she took off.  I decided I'd go for it too, I took my last Gu and picked up the pace the best I could.  Pretty soon the Mr was passing me and I stayed on his tail the best I could.  There was one steep, short hill coming off the trail and back into town and I promised I wouldn't let Mr Pittsburgh lose me.  I stayed 4 steps behind him the whole time.  When we got to the top he started walking.  I yelled to him that there was no walking and I cruised on past him.  I was going to bring this home!  

The last mile just flew by.  I told myself to run as fast as my legs would let me.  I was so close to a PR (my previous record was a 2:07:22).  I was having trouble adding those 3:20 to my time and I just wasn't sure if I was going to make it or not.  I decided to not let my mental math fail me and just push as hard as I could to make sure that PR was mine.  

Mile 12: 9:13

The next thing I know I was coming down the home stretch and I was determined to finish as strong as my legs would let me.  I knew victory was mine, but I wanted it to be as sweet as possible.  Tracey and Kristy cheered me in....

... as I made my way... 

... to a PR baby!

Mile 13: 8:54

Total:  2:06:17
Average: 9:38 

Of course it didn't take me long to find the food.  I picked up a bottle of water, some pizza and some other stuff too.  I was still so, so hungry.  I really need to eat a more substantial breakfast before races.  A 200 calorie bar and a Gatorade Pre-fuel is apparently not enough.

I walked right up to Tracey and asked her how she did.  I knew she was going for her A goal of 1:50 and a B goal of less than 1:53.  I had no doubts she had done it.  Turns out Tracey ran herself to a 8 minute PR and soared across the finish line in 1:46.  I am beyond proud of Tracey and know that hard work, dedication and determination got her to that PR today.  Way to go Tracey, once again you amaze and inspire me.

All the ladies had a great race today.  We all finished strong and most importantly with smiles on our faces.  Way to go Barb, Michelle, and Kristy (the girls in orange?  pink?  orangish pink?  coral?).... anyway, you all rock and I thank you for letting me be part of your accomplishment today!  So proud of these veteran ladies who make it look so easy!

Tracey has already told me that this course is where I will finally break that elusive 2:00 mark.  1:59:59 next year Buffalo Creek.  It's on like Donkey Kong!  


Kortni said...

I love reading your recaps. You remember so much detail. I am so happy for you. Your splits are so awesome and FAST! Way to go for it and push to the end!!

tracey smith said...

Great recap Susan- and, as always, thank you for the kind words. What a great race- you amaze and inspire me too.

Courtney Tobin said...

Wow, so awesome!!! Great job!!!!

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