Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Report: Maine Half Marathon 2011

Oh man.  It was a wet one.  I knew going into this race that it was going to be raining, but the forecast called for showers and what we got was a downpour for almost the entire race.

This is not one of my happiest race reports.  Just a warning.  It was about 15 minutes before the start of the race when the above photo was taken.  That is Kate, about to run her first marathon, Libby, one of my former students who did the marathon as a relay, me, and Susan.  We'd been standing out in the rain for about a half hour at this point, and well, we were wet and cold.  Right after this photo was taken (Thanks, Tony!) I left the group to go check my bag and it took so long to do that, that I didn't find them again until well into the race course.

I managed to get to the starting line about 15 seconds before the canon fired.  The crowds were thick and the runners were weaving all over the road to avoid the puddles, which is hilarious in hindsight, because there was no avoiding the puddles.  It had been raining the whole day and night before.  There were little rivers running along the roads.  I think by mile one, both of my feet were fully immersed.  It was hard to find a pocket of space to run, but I finally settled on running along the yellow lines which was the highest point of the road.  By mile 3, I could feel a big, mean blister starting on my heel.

My goal for this race was to run the whole thing at an average pace of 9:50 which would have given me a 2:09 finish time.  I might have started out a little too fast, but I was on pace and holding fairly strong through mile 9.  (I hate going back through my Garmin after the race and seeing the exact moment that things fell apart).  I can't say I was really having a great time running, but I felt strong and steady.  I never got my ipod on because my hands were too cold, so I ran in the quiet for the whole race, just listening to the rain and the people sloshing in puddles. I tried to enjoy the ocean views and the bag piper and the nice volunteers.   At the turn around I saw a lot of friends, lots of friendly waves and high fives, saw many familiar faces in the crowds on the side lines (may God bless you if you were a spectator on this most miserable day). Except for the oppressive rain, it was kind of uneventful.

At mile 10, I started to feel just plain tired.  I did the "there is nothing you can't do for 3 miles" pep talk, and yet there went my pace.  I felt the energy drain away.  I slowed down by about 40 seconds per mile.  Susan caught up with me at this point and knew I couldn't talk, so she stayed with me, just a few steps ahead of me, and tried to pull me to the finish.  (She's such an amazing friend).  The last 2 miles are so freaking long and torturous because you can see the finish line from about mile 11 and it looks soooooo far away.

I wanted to quit, cry, or walk as I realized that my goal was slipping away from me, but I didn't.  I held on and stayed in the 10s for the last stretch.  I crossed the finish line with nothing left.  At least I can say that.  I left it all out on the course, as they say. According to my watch, I finished in 2:13 something and the course was 13.3, which is just mean.

When I got my medal and some water and got in line to get my bag back, I looked at my left shoe.  The blister was bleeding and had soaked through my sock AND my running shoe.  It was a total Curt Schilling.  It looked gross and impressive and tough, and I intended to take a photo of it for you, but by the time I waited in the highly inefficient line to get my bag (40 minutes), the rain had washed all the blood away.  I'm trying to make this story as sad as possible.  How am I doing?

Susan and I were near hypothermic by this point, shivering violently, and when I got back to her car, the tears came.  I was frustrated and just basically miserable.  Susan knows this about me, the post-race cry thing, and just lets it happen.  It's not a race unless there are tears.  That would make a catchy t-shirt, no?

After I pulled it together, I said:  "You know, the thing is, I still learn something during each and every race."  She said:  (this is so Susan):  "Oh yeah?  So what did you learn?"

I have no idea.  I'm too busy complaining about my blister.  It really freaking hurts.

But I'm working on it, and I'll let you know in a few days.  I'll also tell you about my friends Cate and Ben who took such good care of me all weekend and post about that soon.

Let's end this on a positive note, shall we? 

We showered and changed and went back to the finish line to catch our girls, 4 former students, cross the finish line for the marathon relay.  How cute are they?

It was worth it all to see these girls for a few soggy minutes.  So much love.

Okay, I'll pull it together and write a follow up soon.  I hope everyone who was there yesterday has successfully warmed up and dried out.


Jen said...

I DID look for you yesterday! It was so hard to find anyone/anything in all that rain.

We're stronger for running in such horrible conditions, right? And the bag check just sucked!

The Finicky Farmer said...

Sending hugs, if you'll have them, and healing energy to that gnarly blister. Feel better.

Also. I'm glad I'm not the only one who cries after races. Great races or bad ones, the tears always follow the finish line.

What *is* up with that?

Jamie said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile now but I haven't commented yet. I'm from Maine, near Bar Harbor actually, and I love reading about all the Maine races! I haven't raced there yet, but I will someday.

Great job getting it done in the downpour and I agree with a previous poster you are stronger for running in those conditions!

Pattie Reaves said...

Tried to see you yesterday but I'm sure you were far ahead of me at the start and long gone by the time I finished. :) What a miserable day for a race! But I figure, after running in that, you can run in anything ....

The captcha for this comment is "ouchi"! That is so how I feel right now!

Eileen said...

Wow. I had a very similar experience this weekend, though it sounds like the rain through my half was more of a steady icy drizzle than a downpour.

I, too, shivered violently at the end. I actually felt OK, relatively, but never have so many strangers asked me if I was all right!

I love your race reports. You deserve a really perfect half-marathon.

Hanna said...

I'm Hanna from Finland and have been reading your blog awhile now. I like your blog posts and loved your "sad story" race report =o). I've started training for my second half marathon which is on Finnish Independency Day in December 6th. I ran my first half two years ago and haven't done much running since, well except now. I'm trying to learn to love running and I hope I'll reach that goal =o)