Sunday, October 19, 2014

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Race Recap 2014

This will probably be a hard post for me to write and it may be long.  You've been warned.  Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is a great race.  It is known as being flat and fast and it is the course where I got my current PR, which is 2:06:20.

I've been wanting to run a sub 2:00 half marathon for a VERY LONG time.  I felt like this year at Buffalo Creek was my big chance to hit my sub 2 hour dream.  You might remember I did a lot of speed work at the track this summer.  It was all about making my big goal.  I did my training runs and heading into the beginning of the school year I felt really great about my chances of hitting my goal.  Tracey made me a really great training plan to use to hit my goal.  It included weekly speed work and long runs with miles at race pace.

The life happened and my focus shifted somewhat.  I still had the strong desire to run a sub 2:00 half marathon, but I also wanted to step it up at CrossFit.  I started stepping it up and going to CrossFit 4 days a week and I won't like, my weekday runs suffered.  I'd sacrifice runs to go to CrossFit, but doing CrossFit is what REALLY made me happy.  I was able to get in my long runs on the weekends, but for whatever reason we didn't seem to be ding a lot of race pace miles.  Some runs I struggled on and even a 10:30 pace seemed hard.

STILL I thought I could run a sub 2:00.  Naive?  I don't know, but that was my feeling.  Then about a month or so out, doubt started to creep in my mind.  It happened right about the time I ran the Steelers Gatorade 5K.  I started expressing my concerns to Tracey and I got he feeling she was having some doubt as well.  Her doubt (she never came out and directly said it) got in my head and I was all over the place with my feelings for awhile.  Then I talked to my friends Bianca and Kortni about it and they both had so many encouraging things to say to me.  Bottom line... I TRY!  I'll never know if I could do it if I didn't try.  I got focused.  I started trying to run some faster miles during our long runs and what weekday runs I did get in, I tried to run at a faster pace.  My confidence grew.

Ok so that's the back story.  Now for the day of the event.

I, of course, got a horrible night's sleep.  I didn't fall asleep until almost 1:00 am and was awake and tossing and turning starting at 4:45 am.  I finally got up at 6:30 and was out the door by 7:00 or so to get Tracey.  It was odd, however, because I woke up eerily calm.  I was able to eat breakfast and I was not consumed by nerves at all.  I was WAY more nervous for the 5K back in August.  I took this as a good sign.

We got to the shuttle area pretty early and it was cold and rainy.  We sat in the car for a long time until we finally bit the bullet and headed out into the cold to get on the bus to be shuttled to the start.

Once at the start we focused on two things.  Bathroom and keeping warm.   We had about a half hour or so before the race start and it seemed like it took forever.  Luckily I have these ladies for support.

Me, Charlene, Kim, Tracey, Kate and Tiffany 

So the racers and the goals:

Moi:  Sub 2 or die
Charlene:  Sub 2 but she's done it before
Kim:  Running her first half.  Finish and be happy
Tracey:  The PACER
Kate:  1:55, but anything sub 2:00
Tiffany:  Sub 2

So you see a theme here.  We all had sub 2 dreams.  Charlene was able to run sub 2:00 at Buffalo Creek last year.  Obviously Tracey wasn't racing, she was pacing us.  Tiffany had her doubts about going sub 2, but Kate was confident she could do it.  We all agreed to just give it our all and so it began.

The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is run mostly on the Butler Freeport trail. In fact, the race itself is to support the trail.  The 2 miles leading to the trail is all down hill.  Pretty significantly so.  Generally you start off pretty fast due to the normal adrenaline and the generous downhill.

I felt so great when we started out.  I felt relaxed and happy and VERY confident that I could make this dream come true.  We were all right together and I was keeping up.  Imagine!  What I didn't tell anyone was that almost immediately after we started to run, I got a horrible side stitch.  I've had side stitches before, but not for a long time and never like this.  It was so painful and it really messed with me mentally.  Still I made it through the first two miles.

Mile 1: 8:49
Mile 2: 9:15

By the end of mile 2, I was falling behind by 10 yards or so.  Tracey held up and waited for me and I told her what I was going through.  She told me to focus on my breathing, which I had been doing, but nothing seemed to help.  I was so frustrated, but I decided I could NOT let this get into my head.  I had to keep pushing.  The pain was temporary.  I had a really slow third mile trying to deal with my stitch. 

Mile 3: 9:32 

Charlne, Tiffany and Kate were just up ahead.   I felt like if I could catch up with them I would make up my time I had lost on mile 3. Tracey kept trying to hold me back and told me not to try to make it all up in one mile.  I was focused on getting the job done and I did. 

Mile 4: 8:52

I figured I was pretty even at this point and decided to not worry about keeping up with anyone else.  I wanted to run MY race an no one else's.  Charlene, Tiffany and Kate were ahead of us, but we had them in our sites the whole time.  Clearly they were running sub 9:00 miles and I just couldn't keep up (and that was NOT my goal).  

Miles 5 to 7 are kind of a blur.  I swear up until mile 7 felt so fast.  Not as in I was going so fast, but the time went by so quickly.  I realized during this time too, that I set my new PR in the 10K distance during this half marathon.  That was exciting and was good at keeping me going.  

Mile 5: 9:08
Mile 6: 9:14
Mile 7: 8:57

The half way point!  We were right on track, but we did NOT have a lot of time to spare.  My side stitch finally started to feel better too.  I would say at this point, it was mostly gone.  

Right at the Halfway Point 

Miles 8 and 9 are also a blur, but I know one thing. After completing mile 9, I was really started to feel exhausted.  I had felt fairly well up until that point, but at mile 9 it started to feel hard.  

Mile 8: 9:15
Mile 9: 9:03

From here on out, I focused on one thing and that was the suck.  Tracey and I had caught back up to the other girls and around mile 7.5 or 8.  Kate and Tiffany both tried to talk to me, but I couldn't even talk.  I just had to focus my energy on getting the job done.  Just put in the work is all I kept telling myself.  I pushed where I could and backed off when I needed. 

Soon Kate took off and Tiffany was just ahead.  Charlene, Tracey and I were chugging along.  

Mile 10: 9:01
Mile 11: 9:07

Tracey kept trying to encourage me.  She told me I needed to push if I was going to make it because we were REALLY close.  I moaned and groaned and told her how bad I felt.  I told her to keep the pace and I'd try to stay just 2 steps behind her.  She kept pulling away from me and despite my best efforts, I just could NOT keep up.  I swear I gave these miles everything I had, but I was merely in survival mode and it wasn't pretty.  

Mile 12: 9:19

At the end of the race there comes a big hill as you leave the trail and head into town.  I knew it was coming and I didn't know how I would keep pace going up it.  I asked Tracey if she thought I should walk to save energy and then sprint to the end.  She told me no.  I wasn't to walk, I had to give the hill all I had and then still sprint at the end.  So I did, I gave the hill all I had, but it wasn't much.  I literally grunted and swore.  I was breathing so heavily I was wheezing.  It was horrible.  Dramatic I know, but I could NOT breathe.  By the time I got to the top I had to recover for 30 seconds with a jog before I could even think of sprinting to the end.  

13: 9:31

As I'm sprinting down the hill and can see the finish line I still didn't know if I was going to make it.  Tracey said it was "so close" but as we got really close to the finish, Tracey realized her garmin was over on the mileage.  We hit 13.1 miles (under 2 hours mind you) but we were NOT at the finish line.  Tracey was REALLY upset, but I told her not to worry about it.  I was nonchalant at that moment.  Focus, focus, focus on getting to the finish.  As I approached the finish line, I saw the time on the clock 2:01:46 and I knew (even with my personal start time, I had not made it).  I knew it didn't take me that long to cross the start mat.  

.25: 8:21

Garmin Result:  13.25 miles, 2:01:09, 9:09 pace
Official Reullts:  13.1 miles, 2:01:09, 9:15 pace 

I crossed the finish line and grabbed my medal.  I honestly didn't expect to have the reaction I did.  I didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone.  I just had to walk away.  I walked and didn't know if anyone was following me.  I started to cry and I didn't want anyone to see me.  I just walked and cried and finally made it to the park and called George.  I just need to get it out and I felt like he would make me feel better.  He did.  I got the tears out and then felt really stupid. 

The Face of Disappointment 
I made my way back to the girls and grabbed Tracey's arm and looked at her Garmin.  2:01:09.  Seriously? 69 seconds?  I was really disappointed, but I also knew I had given it everything I had.  I fought for it, I prayed for it (literally), but I know I ran as fast as I could.  

I made my way back to the finish line to cheer Kim on to her finish.  It felt so amazing to see Kim's face as she was coming down.  There was no look of disappointment.  There was nothing but pure joy as she smiled all the way to the finish.

I am so proud of Kim and how far she has come in her short 10 month running career.  5k, 10k and now half-marathon.  Way to go Kim.  You're an inspiration to so many, including me.

I faked a smile 
Congrats to Kate who did manage to go sub 2:00.  She really poured it on in the end and kicked butt.  Tiffany, Charlene and I didn't quite make our sub 2:00 goal, but Tiffany was even closer than I.  She was just 51 seconds shy of her goal.  And even if Charlene didn't make it this year, she did it last year, so she's still a rock star.  Congrats ladies!  I didn't get a picture with all the girls at the finish because I was busy sulking when they took a pic.  Sorry girls.

I'm not going to lie about the way I feel.  I feel like a complete failure.  I don't know why I feel so badly about it because I did give it EVERYTHING I had.  I know I tried as hard as I could,  and left it all out there.  There isn't a point in the race where I can honestly say I wish I had done more or I could have done more.  I ran this race a fast as I could, but I just came up short.  I'm pissed, like really, really pissed, but that's life and I'll get over it.

A huge thank you to Tracey for pacing me on this race.  She told me a week before the race that she was 100% confident I could do it and she never gave up on me out on the course.  She encouraged me and told me how strong I was.  I know she wanted it for me as much as I wanted it for me.  I guess that's another reason it hurts so much.  I wanted to make Tracey proud.

I will hold on to this experience despite the result.  This was the first time I ever even had the courage to attempt a sub 2:00 half.  Just a month prior I almost gave up on myself and didn't even want to go for it, but I tried.  I would never have known if I could have done it if I hadn't tried.  I may have tried and failed, but that was better than not having tried at all.  

The end 


Renee said...

I have these shoes and really like them! Some great upgrades from the 17s!

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