ANYWAY, since there was no packet pick-up on race day (kind of dumb, but that's a rant for a different time), Dr. Z. and I headed down to Albany on Saturday afternoon. I wasn't in too much of a rush since judging by the website the expo was going to be really small (which it was). I basically got there just in time before pick-up ended.
Afterwards, it was dinner at P.F. Chang's, which I love way more than I should for a chain restaurant. Their lettuce wraps and Mongolian beef are like crack to me. This is a decision I would regret.
After dinner, it was time to tuck in at the hotel. It was so weird - I hadn't done a running race in a couple years and compared to a triathlon there just isn't much to prepare. I laid out my outfit . my Garmin, and my running belt and was kinda, "Ummm...am I forgetting something?"
Unfortunately I did NOT sleep well. It wasn't nerves - running is my comfort zone, I'd done a half-marathon before, and I wasn't even going for a PR. It was HEARTBURN. For reals. Like I'm 60 or something. Not sure what caused it - I've eaten at P.F. Chang's before without a problem. Anyway, slept fitfully and reminded myself that not sleeping well the next before a race wouldn't have that much of an effect.
RACE DAY - PRERACE
Grabbed my usual coffee, bagel (instead of toast) and Gatorade from Dunkin Donuts. (America LITERALLY runs on Dunkin!)
Got dropped off at the start since I missed the bus, and hung around FOREVER waiting. Boyfriend drove back to finish line to park and get on his bike. It was my first point-to-point race and the logistics are definitely more complicated.
Ate an apple about half an hour before the start. I decided not to warm up since the first four miles were going to be my "warm up" and I wanted to keep my core temperature down as long as possible.
I had been laughing at my ridiculously high HR during the pre-race meeting and waiting for the gun to go off, but quickly realized it was no laughing matter once we got going.
It would NOT stay in Z2. When I saw that my HR was 170 while going DOWNHILL at a 10 minute pace, I knew I had to adapt the game plan. Decided to go by the paces +15 seconds or so (to play it safe) that I'd usually hit at each zone.
First four miles (Z2): Stuck to a SLOW pace - hit the 4.4 minute timing mat at 44:04 - 10 minute pace. Literally got passed by hundreds of people and only passed one walker. Felt ridiculously easy. My boyfriend met up with me on his bike at around mile four.
Miles 4-10 (Z3) Stuck to around a 9:30 pace, which would usually be Z2 on this course. STILL felt strong and was holding myself way back, even at the end. Started passing people, which was fine. I was all smiles and not even working that hard despite my still-elevated heartrate. It was really heating up at this point but a cup of cold water on the head at every aid station kept me comfortable.
At one point I had tucked in behind this really tall dude. When I passed my boyfriend I told him I had found me a "Pacer stud." I then passed said stud, at which point my boyfriend said "and now he has pace booty!' LOL!
And this is where my boyfriend took tons of photos of me in my hot weather "Pace Booty" outfit. It was literally a record high 82 degrees so I wore as little as I could without getting arrested:
Miles 10-11.5 or so (Z4): Brought it up to a 9 minute pace - closer to a Z3 pace. Still felt great, believe it or not. REALLY started passing people at this point. It's funny - I'd get up to the next person, settle in behind them, and half the time I'd have to pass them because although they had shot way ahead of me in the beginning of the race, they were going at about 10:30 pace or so now. Kept having to pass more and more folks.
11.5-13.1 (Afterburner time): This was the first time it really began to hurt, believe it or not. My engine, endurance, and even the pace felt fine. What was giving out were my quads, just like during Tinman. Was tempting to walk at several points, but was determined to make it 13.1 without walking for the first time. Got to the finish chute and saw that the clock said 2:04 and change. I REALLY wanted that sub-2:05, so somehow found another gear and FLEW through the finish line. My Garmin says I hit a top speed of 5:02! Holy crap!
Right after I came down the finish chute I had half a dozen ask me if I was okay. Why? Because this is what a 5:02 pace after 13.1 feels like for me:
I really WAS happy with my performance though:
I was way off my 1:55:45 half-marathon PR, but this was literally the first time I've ever run 13.1 without any walk breaks. I finished very strong (aside from that final sprint) and am happy with going from NO running at ALL in February to a 2:04:16 half marathon where I didn't start hurting until mile 11.5.
As I've been continuing to build my run back up I am positive that I can PR at Cowtown in February. Going from zero running for five months to a half marathon PR in a year would be AMAZING and a nice celebration of recovering from my IT Band injury.