Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Youngstown 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

The course was either harder than I had imagined or I wasn't in as good of shape as I had hoped. I did not taper for this race, but I didn't run it as a training run either. The idea of paying money and not running the best I can, just seems silly to me. The idea was to re-enter the world of running/triathlon and guage my fitness level in hopes it would project a time for my upcoming marathon that would make me kind of happy.

It didn't quite go that way though. Ultimately, the course could have been 13.1 miles of uphill and I still would have been disappointed with my time (ridiculous, but true).

I had hoped to run as close to 1:45:00 as possible. I wore my watch as is standard for me with my less than reliable dinosaur Garmin 201. I didn't trust it to keep a signal through the park, the unit was being held on the band by electrical tape and after my wet 9 miler on Sunday, I couldn't even get it to turn on!! Not to worry though, there were mile markers and most other people had garmins (right?).

I started somewhere in the middle with Solar and JP, but they pulled away from me almost right away. I was running what I thought was 1/2 marathon effort for me and trying to get my focus on the "race" mindset. Everything seemed correct by my internal gauges (breathing, effort, stride frequency), but twenty minutes had gone by and I hadn't seen a mile marker yet. Some runners also sandbagged for over 1/2 the race and then hammered it or started off way too fast and with the hills position changes were occurring more than usual in a race of this size. Finally around 41:xx I saw a mile marker. I thought I would be relieved but it was number 4!!! It took me a split second to realize that was over a 10:00/mile. Frustration washed over me and I was angry. Angry, at the course, but mostly at myself for not running my goal pace (or anyhwere near it for that matter).

I spent a large part of the race trying to convince myself that the most important thing was to keep going and if this was Boston what would I do in the race, just give up on myself, slow down. -- No, I would keep going and that what I would do now. The topper to my race was the difficulty breathing throughout the race I was having. My airway felt narrow and I was wheezing on and off. I hadn't really had this problem since my iron levels had returned to normal, but today it was happening. I had been taking my iron pills regularlyl, so I was just dumbfounded as to the problem. I got to the race's 6th mile marker and my watch showed my split around 58:xx. I wasn't ignorant and accepting of the split, of course, but I had resolved not to let myself be swallowed by the negatives this race was pouring on me.

Somewhere, after that I saw the leaders coming back and was glad to see NC and e-speed running as the one and two females and in the top 10 overall. It was a nice distraction from my less than stellar performance. It occurred to me that maybe I was a little fuzzy as to what 5k, 1/2 marathon and marathon effort felt like after being away from racing for the last couple months. Perhaps, I had become a bit of a sissy...

But that seemed impossible to call yourself a sissy on a course such as this with it's 19 hills. Speaking of hills I hit one somewhere around eight or nine (I think that was nice and steep that gets your heart rate up and then sweeps to the right only to offer a second tier. As I passed a guy near the top he said "what a hill?" I laughed and asked him "which one?"

As I continued on, I saw a familiar figures almost trotting in front of me. It was GD. I knew something must be wrong because he is significantly faster than me and although he forgot his chip and started the race two minutes late, he still should have been way farther ahead of me. Just before another hill started I caught him and asked if he was ok. He said "yeah, I just can't breathe." Now, that is an oxymoron to me. If you can't breathe you are not okay!! He slowed to a walk and which made me even more worried. I asked if he wanted me to get some help or if he wanted me to stay with him. He said "no and waved me on." Before I became a nurse I always worried and stopped to check on people, but now I felt it my responsibility to always provide care if needed on or off the clock (like it or not I am an RN 24/7). I tentatively continued on and to think about him for a bit trying to ascertain if I had missed any signs that should have led me to believe something more serious was going on. I have had that "gut feeling" nurses refer to when something is really wrong before and I didn't have it now, so I pushed forward.

I was huffing and puffing on and off wondering how could I be so slow, what the hell is wrong with my breathing and thank goodness I was getting this all out today instead of at Boston in April. 

Towards the end of my race (not that I knew that then -- hehe) I started this tiered long climb that seemed to last for an hour.  I had seen e-speed and NC coming the other way for their cool downs and I hoped it was an indicator the end was near.  It was but not as near as I had hoped, those two had run out farther than I thought and dashed my hopes of a quicker and less painful death, errr, I mean finish.  My watch passed 1:45 and I thought if it takes me more than 30 minutes to finish this motherf*cker, I am quitting and getting a ride back!  I rounded a familiar corner to the right and there it was a few hundred meters in front of me up a nice little incline, the finish.  I was wheezing and according to GA, swerving all the way to the line.  I thought I heard him say "your all right" because I was wheezing uncontrollably, but apparently I am hard of hearing when running.  He really said "your almost there."  I finished in 1:50:01, another :01 finish.  Sheesh, what is it with me? 

My recap and confusion about the mile markers got a good laugh from everybody and while I was a bit disappointed I was glad to be back and it was awesome to get to spend the morning with my SERC pals and JP too.

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