Saturday, May 11, 2013

Longest Marathon Ever

It only took me a week to run a marathon. You see 13.1 on Sunday at Pittsburgh + 13.1 today in the Walnut Creek trails = 26.2, no? Okay, okay, so maybe it doesn't work that way, but you have to admit that's quite a bit of racing over the span of a week.

I initially registered for the Bedrock Trail Half because it is the 2nd annual race, and although it was rough last year, it was put on by a small local business. And who doesn't like supporting local businesses? Especially when they give you awesome race swag!

Not hipster enough.
Bedrock Sandals is company that creates a "lightweight minimalist footwear" in the form of--you guessed it--sandals. Hop on over to the link to check them out. They're actually really neat--the company has been in business for about 2 years now, and the idea behind the sandals is to be able to run and be active in them as you would any other minimalist footwear. If you're still skeptical, note that they actually have an ultra-marathoner who tests out the sandals. I've run in Vibrams before, so I'm on the minimalist bandwagon, but still have yet to get a pair of Bedrocks. I'm just afraid for my toes, knowing my luck!

I prefer shoes, I think.
So like I said, this was my 2nd year running this trail half--fail on linking to last year's recap, as it was only a mention. Clearly I was slacking on the blogging last year, but what can I say? I was preoccupied with the job hunt and other frustrations at the time. But to give you an idea of how I faired last year, I was 2nd overall female (in an inaugural race) with a time of 1:56:43. To give you a little perspective, there were 17 male runners and 23 female runners last year. Not a large race in the least, but also keep in mind this is a trail race, so you don't necessarily want too too many participants.

This go-round it was a very male-dominated race, but I happened to see a couple familiar faces from last year. I convinced my friend Megan to run as well, so it was nice to have someone to wait out the start with. And then we ran into my friend Meryl, who I had no idea was running! Naturally, we had to capture her FIRST HALF MARATHON! Woo, get after it!

I promise my eyes are open! 
As 8:30 approached, we all headed toward the starting line, where Megan insisted that "the champ"(her words, NOT mine) get in the front of the pack. And yet she wouldn't follow suit, but instead documented my hesitance.

And yet enthusiastic.
Within a minute of that picture being taken, the Bedrock bandana was waved (in lieu of a starting gun) and we were off. I gained a first place position within the first minute, and I kept telling myself to remember last year, since the course hadn't changed by much. The first half had significantly more elevation gains than the second half of the race, but despite this knowledge, I didn't pace too well. After the first 3 miles, I lost my lead. Then I just started feeling crappy in the next couple of miles. I hadn't run all week, but had instead cross-trained to prevent overuse injuries and to recover from Sunday.

The odds just were not in my favor aka I'm full of excuses--it had stormed the night before (and there were even periods of rain during the race) so the humidity was high, I had just done a "shake-out" leg workout not even 24 hours prior, and my dinner made me sick the night before so I was already at a calorie deficit. Mentally, I was just not in the game at all. I contemplated tapping out numerous times. I kept telling myself, "The next time we cross the road (there were 2 or 3 road-crossings), I'm giving up. I'll just tell them to mark me DNF..." Not my normal thoughts at all. Aside from my first swim meet in high school when I was put into the longest distance swim (I believe 800m) and was a ball of nerves, I have never bowed out of a race before. I certainly have done no such thing in my years of running, but I just felt like I signed on for too much too soon.

Lucky(?) for me, by the next time we crossed the road, we were already at mile 9 (although I was told mile 10). By that point, I had already fallen once, and that was what I needed to snap back to reality. Who falls in a race, doesn't injure herself badly, and refuses to finish? Not this girl! And not to mention that I was 9 miles in. I'm not giving up all that work just to bail. I kept trying to remember the year before in terms of how much I had left to run but to no avail. When the last turn came, I could not be more happy to have the finish line within view. 2:03 and change. And I really could care less as to what the exact time was. I finished, and it was within a few minutes of last year. I finished, and the weather conditions were a heck of a lot worse than last year. I finished, and I'm in the middle of effing competition prep this year! I could have faired a lot worse. I'll take that 2:03:... (my slowest half yet) and own it proudly.

After rehydrating, I immediately took off my shoes (stupid stream crossings make for wet feet) and trekked back to the finish line to cheer in Meryl and Megan.
Pale and blinding, just how I like them.
Meryl's goal was to finish under 2:30, and she did!
All smiles :)
Megan finished under 2:45, but was preoccupied picking out a new pair of running shoes in her mind.
Apparently the sole of her shoe pulled away from the actual shoe during the race, yikes! After coaxing her over, we got an appropriate "Yay for finishing!" pic.
This girl is 3 for 3 in 3 weekends!
We all survived!

Takeaway from these past 2 weekends of racing? I want more races! No halves for me before the bikini comp, but I'd love to pick up a few 5ks if I can between now and then. Definitely after. And the idea of a full marathon is still in my mind, so I may start training for one post-comp. That's one long and careful decision I have to make, as to which to run. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too hilly, not too flat. The answer has to be out there somewhere. Until then: 7 weeks out from the stage!


  1. Nice job! In terms of the marathon, it all depends on if you want to run a Fall or Spring marathon...I've done them both, but let me tell you that training in the heat of summer here SUCKS balls. Especially when you get up to the 20-22 mile runs. Richmond Marathon is close and in November so not hot...but heard it's flat as a pancake (I've never run it). I'm partial to running your first in a BIG one, they're just so damn fun, seriously nothing compares. The big fall marathon registrations have already passed though :-/ Baltimore Marathon in October might be just the ticket

    1. I hear ya with that one. Can't say that I'd enjoy training in the middle of summer. But I think late-Fall would work. I think I'm going to check out Baltimore! Pittsburgh was THE perfect half for me! Just "hilly" enough for this Charlottesvillian.