Sunday, October 19, 2008
Stomp the Grapes 1/2 Marathon
I will start by saying...I PR'd and I felt decent for the entire race with no nagging aches or pains...and from there it was uphill (which to a runner is not good).
I arrived at the race around 8:15am to discover that I would have to park about 1 mile from the vineyards and ride the bus to the start. I asked the lady parked next to me if they had a gear bag drop at the start as it was cold and walking around with a tank and shorts pre-race did not appeal to me at all. Luckily, the answer was a yes. There was already a bus waiting to take runners and spectators, but not wanting to forget anything I opted to double check my pack job and wait for the next bus. I made my way across the parking lot and waited in line for about 10 minutes for the bus to show up. It was a little after 8:30am now and I was getting nervous. Should I have just run the mile to the start? Finally, it pulled back up and about 30 or so of us boarded. The driver however, did not pull out. He decided to wait for a minute, which turned into another minute and another. WTF?!?! It was getting later and later. One guy came runnning to the bus and informed us he had a few friends he was waiting for and the damn bus driver waited. It was 8:52 by now!!! Pull out for God's sake! Three non-runners finally boarded the bus and we pulled out. I was so frickin' pissed. I knew the race wouldn't start without us, but how much time would we actually have when we got there?
The bus arrived and dropped us off at the entrace to the vineyards. We had about a 200 meter walk/run up to packet pick-up and the drop bag area. I asked an official if we would be starting late and we would have time to get ready. He nodded and said "yes." I sprinted up and hit the porta-john and dropped my gear, when this woman told me to "hurry up" as they were going to start. I retorted that maybe they should get there buses to the race on time from now on!!
I began running back up the driveway to where I had seen the group of runners, but they were gone! An official told me to turn left and go up the road a quarter mile to get to the start. This was my warm-up. I saw a crowd of people up ahead and breathed a sigh of relief. I had made it. However, they were walking toward me. I aksed a man where the start was and he replied that it had already started a few minutes ago. What?!! "This is bullshit!" I said and kept running. I arrived at the start only to find one of the officials was about to remove the mat. He stopped and I asked him to confirm that my time would not start until I crossed. I was correct. I hit my Garmin and crossed over the mats. There were no runners in sight. I had no idea how many minutes behind the clock I was. I was furious. I ran about a quarter mile up the road to see to cycles "sweeping" waiting for me on the side of the road. I was angry and wanted to yell "don't worry it wont be long before you can follow someone else!!" I continued to run alone and then at about .75 miles in I caught my first walker. I started counting people as I passed, but when I hit 50 by mile 1 I lost count and had to focus on maneuvering passed runners and conserving as much energy as possible.
I made my way passed more and more people and was starting to settle in, when I unknowingly dropped a glove out of my pocket. Thankfully, a guy I had passed picked it up and ran it over to me as I slowed and turned back to grab it.
I continued on, but there were more mishaps to be had. The first water stop was at 2-3/4 and then there would not be another until mile 6, so it was important to take in some fluid. As I came upont the aid station a gentleman was yellling "water, gatorade." I yelled, "Gatorade!" He pulled one arm back and just as I went to reach for the cup he pulled that back too and threw out his other hand. CRAP! I missed the cup. Arrrgghhh!! Was I going to get a break today?!!!
We moved on down through some neighborhoods before the first relay exchange point at mile 4. I refused to look at my Garmin and when I saw their clock for 4 miles it said 33:48! I knew I was not running that pace, figuring I had about 2-4 minutes on the clock. The next section of road was a bit windy and I was still easily passing people, which was a good sign that I was safely under 8:00/mile pace. I did catch this one guy that I had seen at the Huntsburg Pumpkin Run, whom I believed to be a NERC member that absolutely did not want to get passed. As I passed him, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he dropped his head down and seemed to dig in like a bull and sprint up ahead of me about 10 meters. I thought nothing of it at first, but when I caught and passed him for the second time, he did it again. This occurred two more times and on the third pass he grunted loudly and pushed ahead. I debated telling him that I had 3 minutes on him anyway and he was just blowing himself up before the race was half over, but stayed silent as I did not feel obligated to provide advice to any runner today, but myself. I knew he wasn't going to be able to fend me off any longer and as I passed him on the fourth try I ended this cat and mouse by surging letting him know he should forget trying to catch me and focus on his own race. I never saw him again until he finished when I congratulated him as I was going back out for my cooldown.
I continued to advance my position runner after runner. I saw to my right that runners were already coming back along the towpath and new I was still way behind.
Mile 6 was at the start of the towpath and so was the aid station. I took my first gel and some water, hoping to keep my energy level up. I was just getting my gel down and dripping water from my mouth and chin when I noticed a photographer taking pics. Oh geez, what a Kodak moment that will be!!
The towpath was beautiful I must admit, covered in colorful leaves of fall (there was some horsey dung too, but that wasn't really pretty). It felt great on my feet and legs and I was still passing people, but fewer and not as quickly, so I knew I was A) tiring or B) catching those near my pace. I was of course, hoping for option B. I came upon the second course clock at mile 8 and forced myself not to look at it or my Garmin. I still had no idea what my pace or time was and I didn't want to know now for fear it would be disappointing or I would run too hard too soon.
Just as we hit mile 10 I hit the 3rd aid station and took my 2nd and last gel. I had heard the last 5k of this race was the hardest part of the course and I wanted to be as ready as possible. Mile 11 started with a HILL and ended with a HILL. It was tiered and just kept going up. I could see a few people walking up ahead and there was girl I had run behind on the towpath passing guy after guy going up this hill. I focused on her and began taking the same guys down one at a time. After what seemed like forever (as it turns out forever is 8:16). I finsihed the hill and mile 11.
The wind picked up a tad coming down Carmont before making the turn onto the last street and there were rollers the entire way back. By this time I was pooped. I was wheezing and realized I had left my inhaler in the truck. I wasn't really worried about having an attack as my wheezing was minimal and consistent. I have been able to really put the hammer down the last 3 miles of my races lately, but today the hammer had put me down. All I could do was hold pace and focus on markers up ahead every 200 or so meters, a mailbox, 5 telephone poles an intersection. I forced myself to push on the downhills in hopes it would negate the uphills. I was ecstatic to see mile 12 just past the crest of a hill.
I had less than 10 minutes to run. I could do this. I was hurting and losing focus. I told myself you ran hard for 12 miles, don't give up. Everybody is hurting now! You are not the only one...MOVE!! It is this moment in a race where you must decided to push or hold on. I pushed. All these days of training needed to be worth something. I hit one more freakin' hill before you could turn into the driveway and head for the finish and pushed passed one more guy. I ran with everything I had until I hit the mat.
Total time was 1:44:50: Garmin and Net time was 1:41:12. I had PR'd by over 15 minutes in the half and on a hilly course!!! I quickly threw my finisher's medal in my bag where it is still sitting unopened today, drank some water, took an endurolyte as I was crampy, and headed back out to cooldown and run in with Jules. I found her about 1.6 miles from the finish. I chatted with her and KZ all the way back to the finish. I had hoped to get in 20 miles today, but with less than a mile warm-up and the trashing of a half marathon I only managed 17.
We hungout and pigged out on Subway, bananas and wine before heading home. I was extremely happy with my performance all things considered. I had really hoped to be 1:40:00 or faster, but after hearing from Daisy that it was definitely hilly, I knew it was going to be a little bit harder.
I got home to find out that even though the race was chipped you were still ranked by your total time and not your net time...Sh*t!!!
I was ranked 66th overall, 17th for the woman and 6th in the 30-34 women.
My net time ranks me 55th overall, 12th for the woman and 5th in my age group.
I am really happy with my performance, but all these mishaps and rankings irritated the heck out of me. I am glad I did not run a net time to place in my AG or OA as I would have felt cheated. I know as a runner things happen, so I am going to chalk this up as a success and assuming I park at the vineyards where I don't have to catch a late-ass bus if I ever run this again...it shouldn't be too shabby of a race.
1 - 7:38 (angry about the start of the race)
2 - 7:35
3 - 7:25
4 - 7:32 (still angry)
5 - 7:25
6 - 7:34 (and still angry)
7 - 7:40 (maybe not so angry anymore)
8 - 7:48
9 - 7:49
10 - 7:57 (definitely not angry)
11 - 8:16 (big hill)
12 - 7:53
13 - 7:47
.1 - :45