Monday, January 26, 2015

3M Half Marathon Race Recap

For those of you who don’t know (eh hem those not following along on Instagram @momswimbikerun) I went to Austin this weekend to run the 3M Half Marathon.   This is my recap and most likely it will be long winded.  You've been warned. 

You might remember back in October, the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon and my sub 2:00 hopes and dreams crashing and burning to the tune of 2:01:09.  Well, 3M was to be my redemption race—the race where I’d FINALLY run a sub 2:00 half marathon. 

Of course as time got closer and closer, I began to doubt my abilities to run sub 2:00.  You may or may not recall, but I made a conscious decision to put running a bit on the back burner in hopes of improving my CrossFit game.  Basically, since Buffalo Creek (October), I’ve been running just once per week.  I would do one long run on the weekends and that’s basically it. 

Having said that, I was still doing CrossFit 4 days a week most weeks so I wasn’t exactly sitting around eating Bon Bons.  Even still, a sub 2:00 half means running about a 9:07 pace.  That’s fast (for me) and I didn’t know if I could do it.  All my long runs had been at a slower pace too.   It just didn’t seem likely.  My friend Kortni was coming up from Houston to run with me and when I told her of my doubts, she told me I had to at least try.   Try I would. 

As I thought about the race throughout the weeks leading up to it, I wouldn’t allow myself to really get nervous.  I would just push all thoughts of it to the back of my mind.  Even on Saturday (the day before the race) I wasn’t nervous.  That was because I just didn’t allow myself to think about the race.  When I woke up Sunday morning, however, my nerves were a wreck.  OF COURSE, I couldn’t eat and barely drank and I realized I’d forgotten any fuel for the race course.  Doubt was no longer just creeping in my mind, but rearing it’s ugly head. 

Trust me, I’m all about believing in yourself, but you also have to be realistic.  I mean the likelihood of running sub 2:00 when I hadn’t run anywhere near that pace for 3 months wasn’t looking good.  I had to try. That’s what Kortni said and I didn’t want to disappoint her.  I also didn’t put THAT much pressure on myself.  Sure I wanted to do it, but I promised myself if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be disappointed.  

When we got to the race I lined up with Val and Kortni with the 1:55 pacer.  I knew we were not going to run a 1:55, but I really didn’t want to waste any precious time weaving around anyone slower.   Let’s face it, I needed ALL the seconds I could get.  Time wasted on weaving could NOT be tolerated. 

We started off running and right away I looked at my watch every 5 seconds.  Are we on pace? Speed up, slow down, what’s my average. Everything was racing through my mind.  I quickly realized that was no way for me to run the race and I told Kortni to set the pace and promised myself to only look when we hit the mile markers to make sure I was on track. 

Mile 1: 9:04 
Mile 2: 9:03
Mile 3: 9:02

Everyone was going exactly according to plan.  Tony (Val’s husband) had picked up Nicholas to come cheer us on and I knew they were going to be at mile 4. Mile 4 came and went and no Nicholas. 

Mile 4: 9:11
Mile 5: 9:04

At about mile 5.5 we finally saw the boys and it felt good to get a little cheer from Nicholas.  He told me “Don’t fall on a banana (like Idid the last time I ran this race) and I got a good laugh with that.  It felt good to see someone I knew and it was a nice boost. 

At the next water stop, I got water and slowed a bit and Val took off.  I thought to myself, “oh no I’m falling behind” and saw Kortni was waiting for me.  She told me Val had to use the restroom and she was running ahead and would catch back up.  I was relieved that I hadn’t actually slowed down that much. 

Mile 6: 9:12
Mile 7: 9:01

I really don’t remember much about this portion of the race.  I know I started to hurt around mile 6.  MUCH earlier than I had anticipated.  By mile 7.5 I just felt like I was done.  7.5 miles in, that means 5.5 miles to go and I was done. NOT GOOD. 

We wound up seeing Tony and Nicholas again at mile 8, but I hadn’t expected to see them again before the finish and barely caught a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye. 

Mile 8: 9:07

Shortly after mile 8, Val caught back up with us.  I was so happy to see Val again, because I didn’t want to finish this race without her.  Val seemed to be in good spirits and seemed to have a lot of energy.  I, however, was dying.  I told Kortni that I was finished talking and really just needed to focus on running and nothing else. 

Kortni was reminding me to breathe as my breathing got labored.  She reminded me to use my arms to help get me up the “hills” and told me how great I was doing.  Even though I wasn’t responding, I was internalizing everything she was telling me and it was definitely good advice and good motivation, but my energy was waning. 

Mile 9: 9:04

By the time I got to mile ten Kortni was really pouring it on. If I slowed just a tad she’d tell me to pick it up.  At the water stations, she’d tell me there was no time to slow down.  She was focused and keeping me on task, but she kept asking me to give more.  “Are you ready to pick it up?” she’d say, “Let’s go.”  I had nothing to give.  I was fighting back tears.  

Mile 10: 9:07

I think it was just after the 10 mile mark and Kortni was riding me hard (as any good pacer would).  She was the time keeper and she knew it was VERY close at this point.  We were just over a tenth of a mile ahead of the race course so my average had to be even lower than 9:07 to make it under two hours.  I HAD to pick it up if I was going to make it, but everything in me told me I couldn't.  Then Kortni looked straight at me and said, "You need to decide right here and right now if you're going to do this.  If you're not going to do it, then we're quitting right now because I'm not going like this all the way to the end just to see you not make your goal."  Oh yes she did and I was MAD!  

I wasn't mad at Kortni, I just got really mad when she said that.  I even said out loud, "I'm f#$%ing mad now," and I took off.  So did Val, apparently she was scared of my response.  Ha!  For the rest of the race, I didn't look at my watch.  I believed Kortni when she told me I was going to do it, but she really kept pushing me to give it ALL I had and wouldn't take lightly to me trying to slow down.  

When hills (slight upgrades) came, she'd tell me to be consistent, but to be prepared to pour it on when a downhill came.  She coached me through every portion of the last 5k of this race.  I wish I could eloquently put into words how much I loved and hated her both during that last 5k.  

Mile 11: 8:59
Mile 12:  8:56

One thing I do know is I was giving it every last ounce of effort.  I would groan and say I couldn't do it.  I couldn't go faster and I had nothing left to give.  Kortni just kept telling me I COULD do it and I was doing it, but I HAD to keep it up.  I remember asking her around mile 12.  "I'm going to do it right? I'm going to make it."  She answered, "Yes, you are but you need to go faster."  I didn't know how I would or could.  I figured my pace was dropping by the second.  I figured my dreams were crashing and burning.  I looked at my watch and saw we were at mile 12.6.  We were over so I figured we had about .7 miles left to go.  I felt like I could collapse at any moment.  I felt like I wanted to literally just cry.  When I looked at my watch, my average pace seemed as though we were going to make it, but the way Kortni was talking, I knew it was so close.  I envisioned not making it and I imagined doing it.  I mentally prepared myself for both.  

I was making the last climb up to the last turn before the home stretch.  Kortni was pulling ahead of me and yelling at me saying "let's go Susan, faster, faster."  I swear I told my legs to go and I felt like I was walking through sand.  I finally made it to the top and rounded the last corner to the flat straight stretch to the finish.  Kortni was saying it again, "let's go."  I finally said, "I can't go faster."  She said, "Yes you can.  You have 1 minute to get to that finish line."  1 minute I thought and it seemed like the finish line was way at the end of a tunnel.  I told my legs to go.  I wanted to run faster, but I swear I couldn't.  I was giving it everything I had and praying I would cross the finish line in less than 2 hours.  Finally Nicholas bolted out from side and seemed like a rocket running just ahead of me. I finally got some energy and surged for the last 20 yards.  

Mile 13: 8:53
Mile .1  8:28 pace 

Total Garmin: 13.22   Offical Total:  13.1 
Total Time Garmin:  1:59:40  Official Time:  1:59:38 

When I crossed the finish line, I knew I had made it.  I saw the time on the clock said 2:01:something and I knew I was 2 minutes behind the clock.  I knew I'd made it and I collapsed to the ground from physical exhaustion and from being overwhelmed with emotion.  Kortni tried to tell me I needed to keep moving, but when I just fell to the ground and started sobbing, I think she knew I needed the moment.  

about ready to die 

Looking at my watch to be sure I made it 
realizing I HAD made it 

Thank God! 

And thank Kortni!  
I was just overcome with emotion because I had just spent the last 2 hours running as hard as I could and not knowing if it would all be for nothing.  I mean I only had 22 seconds to spare.  That's the difference between walking a water stop (which by the way wasn't allowed as per Kortni.  Hell slowing wasn't even allowed) and not.  

I know one thing for certain and that is I would NOT have been able to do this without Kortni by my side.  Yes I ran and I did the work, but I wouldn't have been able to push myself without her words.  I wouldn't have remembered to simply breathe and I wouldn't have used my arms to get me up the hills and I certainly wouldn't have been able to run sub 9:00 minute miles for the last 3 miles had she not told me to "decide."  

Running a sub 2 hour half marathon has been a long term goal of mine, but for a long time was only just a dream. I thought I'd be strong enough to do it this year at Buffalo Creek, but I came up short.  I didn't know if I'd be able to do it this past Sunday, but I was brave enough to try.  Try I did and I FINALLY did it!  

A huge congrats to all the ladies who ran.  You all kicked butt, especially you Chrystal!  

Thanks to Val for running with me too.  I know you could have gone faster if you weren't staying with me.  I'm inspired by you and all you've been able to accomplish in your "short" running career.  Love ya girl!  


Kortni said...

I love anything that makes me cry and laugh at the same time or within a few moments of the other. Mission accomplished with this post. I am so proud of you! Wear that medal proudly!!!

Kristy said...

So so happy for you! Loved this recap! What a great pacer you had, I'm glad you didn't give up. Running is just as mental as it is physical. Great job! 1:55 at Buffalo Creek! :) (Or Deckers Creek in June, it's a SUPER fast course).

Sarah Kerner said...

Such an amazing story! I am in the Kohls FB group with you and I hope to run a sub 2:00 half this year too. I don't think I'll have a pacer so I am really going to have to train at race pace and push myself on race day.

Susan Tirch said...

Good luck to you Sarah. You can totally do it without a pacer if you train for it. That's a super fast pace for me too so it was extra hard. Keep me updated. When is the half?

Susan Tirch said...

Thanks Kristy. Is Decker's Creek really a trail race?

Susan Tirch said...

Thanks Kort! xoxo

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