Saturday, October 15, 2011

ING Hartford Half Marathon

Waaaaay back in August, I bought a Runner's World magazine.  It just happened to be their half-marathon special.  It just happened to have a 10 week training plan in it.  I just happened to figure out that if I started training the next week, I could totally devote 10 weeks to training.  This just happened to bring me right to the time of the Hartford Half Marathon.  Dad had run the full marathon in Hartford in 2008 and 2009.  I had run the 2008 half-marathon, which was fun because the half and the full run the same course for the first mile.  Then, we split and I went one way and he went the other.  In 2010, he was injured and couldn't do the Hartford Marathon.  Instead he headed out to the Linear Trail for what ended up being his last run. 

So, I decided I was going to do the half-marathon for my dad.  I couldn't commit to the full because I only had 10 weeks, school was starting, and I hadn't run more than 7 miles at a clip since 2008.  My training started off just fine.  My "long" runs were 4 miles.  I could totally handle that.  Then as my mileage started creeping up, so did my self doubt.  There were a variety of factors involved.  Like, deciding to indulge in too much food and drink the night before a 7 mile run.  BIG mistake... All I can say is, thank goodness there was a port-a-potty at a construction site along my running route.  8 miles was easy.  I went just before dusk, so I was calm, cool, and collected.  10 miles just so happened to be when the humidity was about 100%.  I made it about 7 miles then had to walk and run the (mostly walk) the last three.  I was so disappointed in my progress.  Up to this point, I also wasn't drinking during my runs.  I know.... not smart... But I didn't want to stop and drink.  And I did realize that this was contributing to me puttering out as I ran, but I kept coming home disappointing in my progress.  So, for my 12 miles, I put a cooler with water outside to entice myself to stop.  Except, I ran 10 THEN decided to stop to drink.  *sigh* Too late.  So those last 2 miles were torture.  The last long run was 9 miles.  Again, I put the water outside.  This time I ran 7 and stopped for a drink.  My boyfriend came out while I was chugging water and said, "Well, you only have 2 more to go!"  At this point, my eyes started to tear as I whimpered, "But I'm so tired and I don't think I can do 2 more!"  He told me to stop then, but I knew I'd feel even WORSE if I stopped.  So I ran/walked the last 2.  Oh, I also forgot to mention that running routes around my condo and my boyfriend's house have some seriously gnarly hills.  I had gotten to the point where I just wimped out at the hills.  After mile 6, I wouldn't even attempt the killer hills.  I'd power walk to the top. 

This all meant that I wasn't feeling so confident approaching my half-marathon.  But I had learned some important lessons (even though they are quite obvious).  Drinking alcohol and running long distances= bad news.  Eating terrible food and running long distances= bad news.  Too much ruffage and running long distances= you guessed it... bad news.  Waiting too long to drink water= bad news too.  And boy oh boy was I getting down on myself.  I don't why, but I was trying to be FAST.  I'm not quite sure who I was competing against exactly.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot why I set out to do this in the first place.  That's where my boyfriend came into play.  After my last long run, he could tell I was feeling frustrated.  He reminded me that I wasn't competing against anyone and that I had set out to do  what my dad hadn't been able to do the year before.  I was doing it for him and he would be proud of me regardless of how long it took.  My boyfriend reminded me that running was fun for me, and that I hadn't been having fun once I started to focus on my times (oh Garmin, why are you so evil?). 

After that, I did the rest of my short training runs with a new attitude.  I did love to run.  It was fun.  I needed to have fun while I was doing it.  Yes, I still wore the Garmin, but just to see how far I was going.  While I was running, I tried to slow my pace enough that I was still having fun and enjoying what I was doing.  I finished my runs feeling invigorated, not exhausted.  Maybe I was ready after all... I just needed to remember this on race day. 

I paid close attention to my diet the week leading up to the race.  I didn't have a drop of alcohol the night before and stayed far, far away from high fiber foods (which my boyfriend says I'm addicted to).  I even ate *gasp* white pasta (a total no-no for me).  Ah, and no salad the day before and frozen yogurt instead of ice cream (a great sacrifice since Friday night is ice cream night).  I was ready!

I have to admit, I felt gooooood running my half today.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  Upper 50's/ Low 60's. Slightly breezy.  White puffy clouds.  Dad was definitely looking out for me today!  I was also good about hydrating.  Starting at mile 6, I made sure to have a drink at every station, which ended up being about every 2 miles.  I started with water, felt brave and had a sip of Gatorade at the next one, felt good about the Gatorade and had another sip at the next one, and chugged and chugged and chugged water after I finished the race.  Right before the end, my mom and boyfriend spotted me and were cheering.  That gave me a great boost!  Prior to that, a girl my age had spotted my shirt and tapped me on the shoulder as she passed and told me I was doing great.  I had taken a picture of dad in the 2009 Hartford Marathon and put "Doing it for Dad" on the top with his birthday and death date on the bottom.  This was also to remind me why I was taking on the 13 miles.  I almost starting crying after her encouragement, but her words helped me as I was closing in on mile 13. 

I ended up finishing (unofficial right now) in 2:04:09 or a 9:30 mile.  Not too shabby for me!  I thought I killed my 2008 time, but looked it up and realized it had done it in 2:05:35 three years ago.  Most importantly though, I had a wonderful time.  Running the 13.1 miles was almost effortless.  I was calm and comfortable the entire time.  Dad must have been there pushing me along. 

Now after the race was a different story.  I felt sick, sick, sick and sore.  A banana and half a bagel later I felt a bit better.  I am sorry to say though (and I apologize to my father) that I did not use my free beer ticket after the race.  I just couldn't stomach the thought of it.  I'm sure he understands though :o)