Saturday, April 7, 2012

Race Report: Race the Runways Half Marathon

This morning was the Race the Runways Half Marathon on the Naval Air Base in Brunswick, Maine.  Last year, it snowed a foot the day before this race and it was frigid and windy.  This year, it was much better, mild and sunny, but still quite windy.

I had an early start this morning and drove down to Brunswick with this cast of characters:  my student Ashley, my former student Rachel, and her dad, my friend and running coach, Roger.  Roger has been training for Sugarloaf with me but is injured and taking a short break to heal, so he couldn't race today.  He kindly drove us down and then took photos for us while we ran. 

After I left my house this morning, I realized I forgot my Garmin.  Usually, this would have sent me driving back home in a panic, but today I thought:  "hmmm... maybe it will be kind of nice to run without it."  The more I thought about it, the more I felt liberated by not having it.  I haven't run a race (or any long run) without it since I got it 2 years ago.  I figured I'd just run by feel and see what happened.

Silly girls getting ready to run.

Freezing our butts off on the runway (whipping wind!) while waiting for the start (which was delayed by 17 minutes!).  BRRR.  We huddled close to stay warm.  I did not have a watch to start as I crossed the starting line.  I was totally calm and relaxed.

Ready to start!  Finally!

Once we got moving, we warmed up and the temps were actually perfect for a race (40s).  The first part of the course was a double loop, which meant I got to see Ashley and Rachel 4 times during the out and backs, plus I saw lots of other friends and blog friends and former students.  It was really fun to run past someone I knew every few minutes.  My race went like this:  Go Jen!  Looking good Ashley!  Go Rachel!  Hey Casey!  Hey Christine!  Hey Amy!  Jill!  Stacey! Karen!  Pattie!  Carrie!  Sara!  Brianna!  Mariah!  Guy from Hampden whose name I can't remember! 

 I just ran at a comfortable pace.  I kept going to look at my wrist out of habit,  but felt kind of relieved to not be seeing my splits.  I was pleasantly surprised at mile 6 to see I was running under 10 min pace, and had a little talk with myself.  Together, myself and I decided that yes, I could hold this pace.  So I did. 
These are from Mile 9... everyone is looking good!
I love how Rachel looks surprised to see her dad. 

I have to say that I like to see photos of myself running happy.  It feels like a big relief.  See?  I do love to run.
When I got to mile 10, I was still under 10 min pace (1:38) and knew if I just kept cruising, that I'd PR.  The wind on the runway was fierce and strong, and we had to run right into it for the last mile.  I just dug in and kept moving forward. 

Roger got everyone coming across the finish line.  Ashley is looking tough.  She ran her very first half today and finished in 1:52.  How awesome is that???

Rachel finished strong and under 2 hours despite foot pain, and is all smiles at the end.
I was working hard at the end, but still feeling good.
Running without my Garmin, I ran a PR by 2 minutes.  2:09:something, a 9:50 ish pace, which means I FINALLY, after years of trying, broke the 10-min-pace barrier in a half marathon.  Sweet Jesus.  It felt good to PR.

Here is something else cool.  Roger coached me last summer to help me meet my goal of running a PR at the Maine Half Marathon.  We did speed work at the track and he wrote my training plans up until the race.  My goal was to run a 2:09 half, and then on race day it was cold, and rainy, and I struggled and cried and totally didn't meet my goal.  Remember this sad race report?  So, to run an unplanned 2:09 half today, at a pace that only Roger believed I could actually hold for 13.1, when he was there to see it was a pretty awesome thing for me.

But I worked for it and finished hard and then got really dizzy as soon as I stopped running.  I swear I almost passed out and my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I sat down on the runway for a few minutes and then I was okay.  

Ashley was waiting for me when I crossed.  I love this photo.
Sitting under the tent (hence the weird light) and recovering, we are showing off our medals.  This was my 14th half marathon, and no, it doesn't get old and I still love my medals.

Roger and his girls.

Holding up their medals.  Poor Roger:  no race, no medal.  :(

So, here's the crazy thing.  I think I do better without my Garmin.  I find that weird to say aloud, because I love that thing and thought that I couldn't run a race without it.  I did miss being able to look back after the race and see my splits, so it made me wonder if I should just clip it onto my camelbak so I could have the data but not be so glued to looking at it while I run.

And here's something else:  Last time I bought bras at Victoria's Secret, it was St. Patrick's Day, and with my purchase, they gave me a free pair of bright green underwear that said "Feeling Lucky?" on the butt.  I wore them today and had a great race, so I guess I was feeling lucky.  I don't think that's what Victoria's Secret meant though, do you?

I think I have my new race plan:  lucky underwear and no Garmin.  Go figure.

I am very happy about my PR and had a wonderful day with friends.  I'm going to bed wearing my compression sleeves, but I feel good from head to toe.  

So great to see so many friends today.  I thought the race planners and volunteers did a spectacular job.  I hope everyone had as great of a day as I did.


Lisa said...

PR's and medals never get old! I felt your excitement in your post - great job!

Unknown said...

1) a personal coach i know is a great believer in lucky underwear. i've tried having lucky underwear, but to no avail. (i do have a lucky number, though)

2) i got a garmin not too long ago, and don't think it's really that great. i've been running for years with just a wristwatch, and honestly, that works just fine. it probably does help you run by feel.

3) have you seen Ridiculously Photogenic Guy?

jenn said...

I love the natural freedom you have found without the Garmin strapped to your wrist. Sensing your rhythm and listening to your body are wonderful skills for any runner!

Congrats on your PR!

Carrie @ Maine Mom on the Run said...

Congrats on your PR! Seeing everyone on the out and backs was so much fun and made me pick up the pace! Have fun next week in Mexico!!!

Emilie said...

That photo is hilarious!!

Emilie said...

Thanks Lisa!!

Emilie said...

Wanted to meet you, Carrie! Next time!

Pattie said...

Congrats on your PR! :)

Sara said...

I saw you finishing on the runway when I was coming up on mile 10 and thought Wow, she's running fast!

rowgirl08 said...

Oh congrats on your PR!! Yup, I take my watch out now a days to make sure I'm running slow enough on my long runs, but everything else is by feel...after 14 races and all the training for them, you know yourself well. Trust it.

rowgirl08 said...

Ahhh, Mexico is next week? Have FUN!!!!

Lloyd said...

Congrats on the PR, Emilie. Running against unobstructed wind on an airfield sounds brutal. Well done!

The Finicky Farmer said...

Woot! Congratulations on the PR, Emilie. And enjoy a fabulous time in Mexico...!

middleagedrunner said...

WOW nice job, grear run!
I love all the photos- looks like all of you had a really successful day. Congrats!

Susan said...

Hi Emilie-
I just recently found your blog and I want to congratulate you on your PR! I was a volunteer at the finish line at Race the Runways and it was really fun to be on that side of a race and see all of the emotion as people crossed the finish line. I was handing out the heat shields so I very well may have given you one :) Good luck with the rest of your training for Sugarloaf!

Emilie said...

Thank you, everyone, and thank you Susan for volunteering! The finish line seems like it would be the most fun place to work. Everyone was super friendly and the race was very well run, so nice job!