Saturday, September 18, 2010

Race Report: MDI Half Marathon

I think you can tell by this photo that I had a good finish today... but let's back up a little.

Conditions were perfect for the MDI Half.  This is my third year running the race, and every year we have had a real September stunner of a day, crisp, sunny, and perfect temps, between 55-60 degrees. 

Jen, Susan and I drove to Bar Harbor at 6:15 this morning and got to the MDI YMCA in plenty of time to get our bibs and shirts, to stretch and chat with the other runners we knew.

I can't say today was an easy race.  I had to work hard through almost all of the course and never just coasted through any of the miles.  But I did learn a lot, as I do in every race.

I learned that while most people perform better in races because of the push of adrenaline,  I've decided that I can actually run better/ faster/ easier in training runs without the excitement of a race.  I get myself worked up with adrenaline at the starting line and my breathing never totally settles down. 

I also learned that my running is solid enough that I can have a day that doesn't feel great, and still hold onto a reasonable pace.  Reed is sick with some nasty congestion and cough, and I felt some twinges of it myself today, some tightness in the chest.  I also had some sharp knee pain that came and went.  But still,  I wanted to stay in the 10:15/ mile range and I did okay with that goal.  I'd like to tell you that I'm confident enough in my half-marathoning abilities that I never had any doubts or bad thoughts or wanted to quit.  Someday, I'll be able to tell you that.

There are three hills on the course.  The first one is at mile 2 and lasts about 1/2 mile.  After mile 3, the course hops onto the Carriage Trails, a wide groomed dirt path that wraps around Eagle Lake.  It is really so gorgeous and I wish I could show you some photos.  The next hill is a full-mile gradual climb at mile 7.  I stayed with Jen and Susan until mile 7 and then we ended up spreading out. I took a one minute walk break up the hill at mile 7 as my knee was really bothering me.  Mile 8 is a long, lovely gradual down hill and it felt soooooo good.  The Carriage Trails end at about mile 10.5 and it isn't long until the worst hill, a fairly steep grade at mile 11.  At 11.5 you crest the hill and then it's down, down, down all the way until the end.  At the 13 mile marker, you turn onto the YMCA's soccer fields and into the finish line chute.

Sam and the kids arrived in time for the finish.  Sam got a great shot of Susan cruising in, wearing her classic black and white attire.

I have to say, it makes me really happy to see smiling photos of myself running, a reminder of how much I am getting out of all of this effort, and a nice change from the looks of misery I've seen in running photos before.
This photo cracks me up.  It looks like I'm about to flash the spectators.  Actually, the officials were yelling:  "WHERE IS YOUR BIB NUMBER?!"  And so I was pulling up my long-sleeve shirt to show them, and sent my ipod a-flying. So graceful.

My time?  A new PR!
That's a 2 minute PR from the Salt Lake City Half Marathon last April, and a 9 minute PR from this same course one year ago.  Considering it's a hilly course, I'll take that! 

I missed Jen's finish while I was wrangling kids, and I felt doubly bad because she has plantar fasciitis, a very painful running injury in the heel.  She was hurting pretty badly, but was putting on a brave face.
Love these girls. 

Here are the Garmin stats!


Mile 2:  Uphill.

Mile 7:  ALL uphill and a one-minute walking break.
Mile 8:  ALL downhill. 

Mile 12:  Big hills, losing steam, and 2 short walking breaks.
Last mile:  Lovely coast down.

Final Pace:  10:22

Calories Burned:  1573.

And now, here's the best part of today's story.

My friends Nancy and Alan, who surprised me in Vermont to cheer for me in the marathon, were running their VERY first half today.  Nancy started running from scratch 10 months ago.  She started with Hal Higdon's 30/30 plan and worked for a few months to get up to running for 30 minutes without stopping.  Last summer, together, Nancy and Alan plotted out a 10-month training plan, built up to a 5K, then a 10K, and all the way through half marathon training.  They were incredible in their perseverance and determination.  They even had a really cute count-down-to-MDI calendar in their kitchen.

And then one and a half weeks before the big day, Nancy was diagnosed with Shingles and Alan got a bad chest cold.  Nancy was on pain killers and anti-viral meds and missed work and was really miserable up until Thursday, as in 2 days ago.  But you know what?  They ran the race.  Neither of them felt great, but they did it.  And it was a sight to behold:  Parents and kids and friends with posters and cowbells and cameras.  And when we got word that Nancy was getting close to the end, I ran back onto the course to find her, said to her:  "Let's finish this up!"  and I proudly and very emotionally ran with her to the finish line.

I can't look at this without crying.  Just thinking about how hard Nancy worked and how she had every reason to NOT run it today, and she finished with a smile.

Walking off with her awesome family:
HUGE congratulations to Nancy and Alan, and thanks to the whole Marks/ Soule Family for all the cheering and love along the course.

I know these two are wicked proud, and they absolutely should be.  It was a joy to witness their feat today.

We spent the rest of the day on Echo Lake with some old friends.  That post will have to wait.  I'm about to sit down with Sam, watch Red Sox, and eat a big plate of Phad Thai and drink a beer.  Happy Weekend!


ajh said...

Great job! It sounds like everyone did great. I too am suffering with PF. Good job on your friend for making it!

Carly said...

Congrats on the PR!! It has been a perfect fall weekend here in ME, hasn't it? :-)

Tiercy said...

I have very emphatically decided that you really don't overstate the significance of running. It it were easy, everyone would be doing it. I still thank you so much for starting me on this journey too. Reading this makes me anxious for my second half in october. Great job on MDI and a FABULOUS finish time.

Michelle said...

Woo Hoo! Great PR!!
So proud of you!

Nancy said...

Oh Em, I love how you downplayed your role in my adventure. You skipped the part where you held my hand and got me running again for the very end, and oh yeah, the part about how YOU INSPIRED ME to become a runner in the first place! Thank you so much for all you did yesterday and throughout the last 10 months or so. I was too emotional yesterday to spit out any of that but I mean it with all my heart. You are awesome and inspiring and wonderful! Thank you a million times over.

Carver Fam said...

I LOVE the first finish picture of you. You look happy, long, lean and like you just kicked that course's ass.

I was bummed to miss it and not be finishing with you but my sick body needed by bed badly. I will get you next time.

And Nancy, CONGRATULATIONS!! I had no idea you were on the road and I am so proud of you!!!


Laura said...

I ran the MDI Half this year (my first half ever!)

I posted about my day here:

I've already signed up to run the Maine Coast Half in York on Nov 7th.