Well obviously I had a really freaking busy week - AGAIN - resulting in a total lack of posting or much internet time at all. And that's cool with me.
In the days before this race I was waging war inside this brain of mine over what I should set out to do. Should I really push myself and lay it all out there? Just go for a PR? Should I just run a leisurely run and enjoy the sights? A little of everything? Admittedly, I was getting a little nervous on how I'd do because my last couple of tempo/speedwork runs were kind of "meh" and I wasn't totally confident that I'd be able to hold a 7:30-7:40 pace for 13.1 miles, as the plan had been. By the end of the week I'd decided that I was going to start out slow, but within PR range (under 8:19 pace) and just see where the day took me. I felt pretty good about that decision. I didn't have to worry about killing myself over a pace I wasn't certain I could sustain and I'd still come out "winning". But my inner goal maker did still have those 3 goals in the back of my head - A: 1:40, B: 1:45, C: PR.
Then Friday night hit. Of course Sarah Heinz House decided this was the perfect night for the Family Fall Festival, so we had a later than I would have preferred bedtime. Oh also, my husband and all 3 kids have been passing around some plague of snots and coughs that *knock on wood* I've been able to stay clear from. BUT, this makes my husband a noisy sleeper and he snorted, snotted, coughed and flopped around the bed all night long. Calloway was also having an overly lovey and needy night and was unhappy being anywhere but in my face or trying to lay across my ankles. I couldn't breathe with him in my face and it hurt to have him on my ankles, so I kept kicking him out of bed. He responded to this by licking himself very loudly. This happened on and off all night long. My Neighbors. Oh my skinny jeans wearing, jagoff, 20 something, shouldbelivinginafrathouse neighbors. They thought this was the perfect evening/night/early morning to throw a big drunken party, be loud and obnoxious and keep me up all night long. When my alarm went off at 5:45 AM I rolled out of bed not having slept even an hour. Honestly. Not one stinking hour. I was exhausted and felt like shit.
So, I stumbled up to the bathroom and just as luck would have it I earned a visit from a raging Aunt Flo as well as wicked diarrhea. These events have coincided since my last c-section where I was sewn back together in abnormal fashion due to extreme adhesions and unexplained bleeding. Pretty simply put, a lot of my innards are "stuck together" so they work in crazy ways now. I spent most of the time I wanted to spend getting ready for the race sitting on the toilet. Fun! All I could think was "well, I'll be lucky to even PR now"!
I ate my CoCo Wheats cocktail from times of old (haha). I know I haven't been doing this lately, but I've had it before the previous HMs and I couldn't bring myself to do something different. I did have a couple swigs of coffee as well, but here's a little tip: Do not even bother trying the "Vanilla Heat" coffee creamer, even if you typically like the spicy pepper and vanilla deal. It takes like you put freaking cough syrup in your coffee. Nasty. I didn't finish my cup because I thought I was gonna hurl.
Thank goodness I'm anal retentive and had a list made the night before and most everything already laid out because I was really pressed for time and starting to stress. I wanted to make it up to Lernerville early because I'd heard horror stories of lines waiting for busses if you got there late.
I made sure to keep sipping on water and Gatorade on the trip up, but my tummy was still in knots and all twisted up. I didn't feel really well. Thankfully when we pulled into the speedway, there were lots of busses, and I was able to get my things together, give everyone hugs and kisses and hop right on a bus. The bus ride was short, taking us up to the Winfield Fire Dept where the starting line was.
The race organizers really knew how to take care of the runners. They opened up the fire dept so we had a nice big heated building to stay in until the race started at 9. There could have been more porta potties available, but a few of us discovered a hidden gem inside the actual building that no one knew about (well, until word got out - but at that point I'd already been able to go and was ok). There was also water available. I chatted with a few people and when it was around 10 minutes to gun time I headed outside.
I also give the organizers credit for the corral set up. They had signs for lineup, and this is shocking, but people were actually honest about where they should be because this was the absolute smoothest start I've ever been a part of. I had to do very little weaving in and out. Yeah! I pretty much set myself up right beside the 1:45 or slower sign.
As the race started, we almost immediately went down a big hill. It was like being on one of those roller coasters where you come out of the gate and just drop down the hill with little warning. It was very hard to slow down - everyone was flying. I overheard two guys just ahead of me talking about how their goal was a 1:45 finish and I figured I'd make sure I was in their vicinity to keep myself honest about my pace if they were running steady. Due to all that downhill, Mile 1 was ridiculously fast. I had to slow down for Mile 2, but so did just about everyone else, so I didn't feel too bad. Because it was the hill and not because I was pushing myself, I really didn't feel like I'd expended very much energy.
The 1:45 guys were keeping a pretty steady 7:45-7:50ish pace and I was happy with that so I stuck with it. My tummy was feeling a bit better and maybe I was finally waking up or catching a second wind or whatever but I didn't feel nearly as exhausted. I did eventually officially "group up" with the guys a bit and start chatting. We talked about how gorgeous the trail was, how the downhill grade felt great, snakes (I'd seen a copperhead on this trail just the day before), other half marathons, full marathons, and other things you just get to talking about while running. The miles passed by quickly and easily. I felt like I was just trotting along at an easy comfortable pace. Definitely not slogging, but most certainly not "racing". A few parts of the trail were slippery and uneven and I almost lost my footing twice, but I was able to steady myself and keep going.
I took a Chocolate Raspberry Roctane at Mile 5 as always, even though I'm not feeling the need to anymore at this point (maybe I could stretch it out to 6 sometime?). I also did what worked before at the Pittsburgh Half - I alternated water and Gatorade at every fluid station. I had considered taking my Amphipod handheld due to not knowing or being clear on where the fluid stations were and what they were serving, but at the last minute I decided not to because I didn't have it in me to carry it. (Lazy!) I'm glad I didn't have it because the fluid stations were just fine. Something I did a little different though was made sure I slowed down enough or even walked a couple steps to make sure I actually got to gulp the fluid down instead of just splash it on myself and hope a trickle got in my mouth. This seemed to work well.
Around mile 8.5 the trail goes across a road. Here, my family was waiting for me with big neon signs that said things like "Go Mom GO" and had smiley faces on them. I was able to say hello and give my youngest a high five.