I went to bed around 9:45 on Saturday night and set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., but ended up waking up at 4:45a.m., so I tiptoed out of our bedroom to the spare room where I laid my clothes out the night before.
I quickly got dressed, brushed my teeth, and got ready so I could get on the road. I had packed my bag and food in the car the night before so I could get on the road by 5:30 a.m. I was pretty hungry on the ride to Lowell, so I ate my peanut butter Clif bar and sipped on some water.
I arrived in Lowell at 6:30 a.m. and quickly found the garage I wanted to park in. We were strongly encouraged to arrive 90 minutes early due to traffic. I was able to get a prime parking space since I didn’t park at the Tsongas Arena parking garage. I got my back and set out on my 1/2 mile or so walk to the Lowell High School so I could warm up. The school was already buzzing with energy as there were quite a few hundred people already gathered in the cafeteria and the hallways. I wanted to get in line for the bathroom so I didn’t have to use a port a potty outside, but after waiting in a line for 30 minutes only to reach the front and find they were out of toilet paper AND paper towels, I ended up in a port a potty. I also made a last-minute decision to switch from shorts into my CW-X tights and that was one of the smartest decisions I made since it was pretty windy and cold outside.
I made my way to the right hand side of the street when the half-marathoners were supposed to start. They didn’t have official time corals which made things a little unorganized in the small area that was designated for us, rather they had signs for 6:00 pace, 7:00, etc. My goal pace was to stay in the 8’s as much as I could, so I lined up in that 8:00 corral towards the middle. I did my dynamic stretches, ate a Gu and wished for the best. After a moment of silence for those affected in the Boston Marathon bombings, we were off. It took me about 45 seconds or so to cross the start line . Mile 1 was pretty good, while it was congested in the streets because of the sheer number of people and the fact that the lanes we had to run in were small, I was thankful for the slower start. I have tendency to go out faster than I should, so even though I kept telling myself to slow down, I was happy for the crowd of people who wouldn’t allow me to speed ahead. My calves felt tight, but not awful. While I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I had in the past 2-3 weeks of training, on a scale of 1-10, I was probably at a 6. I was constantly reminded of them with every step, but as I looked down at my Garmin, I was surprised that I was maintaining a pretty decent pace.
The course itself left something to be desired. It was a double loop. While I have never done a race with a course like this, I can now say, they are not my favorite. Seeing an area and knowing I wasn’t even halfway done is not something I enjoy. It was also tough to see signs saying mile 12 for half marathoners when you are just on the first loop is tough. The terrain of this race is touted as flat, however, there are definitely at least 4 hill climbs that I can remember in this course, especially as we ran the bridges crossing the Merrimack River.
However, while the course wasn’t ideal, the spectators and the volunteers were UNBELIEVABLE!! We couldn’t have asked for better, seriously, those kids who were handing out water and Gatorade at the stops and all the people who were cheering everyone on, not just their loved ones were amazing! I was so thankful to have them there cheering for me like I was the one they were there for.
My goal prior to my calf problems was to run a sub 1:50. I ran my last half marathon in October 2010 (I cannot believe it has seriously been 3 years since I have raced) and finished with a time of 1:55:57. I had the perfect training plan put together to achieve my new goal, but, I had to modify my expectations going into this race. So, my revised goals were to run a sub 2:00 (with the hopes of every mile being in the 8’s) and not stop running. Simple goals that I hoped I could accomplish. Below is a shot from my Garmin Connect of the race.
Overall, I am fairly happy with how this looks given how I felt. I can’t say I am thrilled, because I am disappointed I had to readjust my expectations, but such is life. I stayed pretty consistent in my pace throughout, although I wish miles 9, 10 and 13 didn’t have 9’s in the front, but what can you do? Between mile 7 and 8 we had to stop running due to a medical emergency. The cops wouldn’t let us pass as they kept the road open for the ambulance to show up and pass through. I think it had to be someone on the full course as we had split from them around mile 5. Nevertheless, I estimate I lost about 30 seconds, but you can never anticipate these events from happening and I hope whoever was in distress is okay. I was really hurting when I hit the 10 mile marker. I had taken Gu’s at miles 4.5 and 8.5, so I was hoping my last Gu would kick in, but I never felt that surge I was hoping for. I just kept telling myself only 3 more miles to go. The last few miles were the toughest. I was tired, my calves and hip flexors were tight and I just wanted to be done. When I took the final left turn to the finish line I was so happy to be almost done. I passed through the finish line as fast as my legs could muster and was immediately given a bottle of water and my space blanket and walked a little further to get my medal. My official time was 1:56:16.
Not a PR, but I was nonetheless happy I finished, I ran a sub 2:00, I didn’t stop once (with the exception of a forced stop) and almost all my miles were in the 8’s. That is something to be celebrated!
I made my way down to the food area, even though I didn’t think I could do anything but sip a little bit of water. I was FREEZING though, so I grabbed a hot bowl of minestrone soup to warm up (what a perfect post race idea) and grabbed a PowerBar for later. I tried to stretch, but at this point walking was enough. My calves were tight as a rock and trying to stretch them was too much at the moment and my hip flexors were also really tight. I decided to just head back to my car for the drive home. After sitting in the car for an hour, I thought I was ready to consume a bit more calories, so I stopped into my favorite place for a tall, non-fat, sugar free Salted Caramel Mocha.
Ahhhh, it hit the spot. When I got home, I was greeted by my two favorite guys. I got some snuggles and kisses before Ash took his nap and I took a glorious shower, iced my calves and got caught up on a few of my favorite tv shows! I finally felt like some food around 2:30 p.m. so I had a snack and then we went off to pick some pumpkins. All in all, a great Fall weekend!
Question of the day
Do you like to eat immediately or do you need time before eating post race?