Monday, October 21, 2013

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon 2013 Recap

Where to begin with this...

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.

My husband loves the look on my face here.  He snapped this pic as I just realized the kids signs and I was just beaming.

Seeing my family really pumped me up.  I already felt very good (the stomach issues of earlier were gone and I didn't feel like the walking dead), but after seeing them I felt amazing.  It was like the kick in the pants I needed to go from "eh, I'm just going to shuffle along" to "Ok, let's really think about this".  I started to want to push ahead of my new running friends (they were starting to struggle a bit, as the last mile had been a bit slower than we'd been doing) and see how I'd do.  By mile 9 I'd left them behind after a fluid stop.  I took my Espresso Love GU at mile 10 and started to push to the pace where if I'd actually been racing the entire time I would have started with.  I was just trucking along, very strong and passing everyone who was burnt out by starting out faster.  Soon I found myself at the trails end and at the last water stop before heading into town.  I grabbed a quick drink and then headed out onto the road, anticipating this "steep soul crushing hill" I've heard so much about.

WHAT HILL?  Ok, it was a little bit of an incline, but nothing like I've experienced in other races and certainly nothing to write home about.  Or maybe I was just that strong at the end of the race?  At any rate, I believe the words that came flying out of my mouth at the top were "you call that a ***** hill?".  ha!

The downhill that continued into and through Freeport was awesome.  I just kept picking up speed and passing a whole lotta guys.  I didn't see many women once I was out of the trail itself, which was odd.  One dude, when I came up beside him said "Hey girl - look at you showing all us guys up".  To which I replied "aw, come on, I'm just havin' a little fun".  Another older gentleman started chanting "get it girl, get it get it get it" after I passed him.  That was a little weird.  lol  

When we made the turn onto Riverside Drive I put down the hammer.  I could see the gazebo and finish line up ahead and I couldn't believe it.  The race seemed to have flown by, and while I was (finally) at the point where I felt like I was working, I still felt ridiculously strong.  Nothing hurt, nothing was overly exhausted, and I was in good spirits.  Then the "Hey girl" guy went speeding past me.  I sped up again and we had a nice little race to the finish.  He just got me by barely a second!

I crossed the finish line smiling and feeling good in 1:39:55.  Yeah, 5 seconds faster than my A goal.  After getting no sleep, getting the period from hell and terrible diarrhea, having very little coffee, and running over half the race at a comfortable pace and not pushing myself until the last 5K.

I was ok after the finish until about 15 minutes went by and then I started freezing.  Nick texted me that they were stopped on the bridge in traffic and missed my finish but would be there soon.  I told him to please bring my hoodie from the van because I was freezing and was starting not to feel my fingers.  I was so happy when he brought it to me - my lips were purple by the time he got to me!

This was a very well put together race that I am honestly already looking forward to for next year.  The trail was gorgeous, it flowed nicely, the organizers and volunteers were all super sweet, and the crowd that it drew was great too.  There were a lot of first time half marathoners and it was such a positive experience for everyone involved.  The finish line area had a great assortment of food - hot apple cider, chocolate milk, fruit bars, cookies, pizza, fruit, etc.  This was actually the first race where my stomach was too touchy afterward to eat a whole lot.  I had a half cup of chocolate milk and some apple cider.  Then I ate a little fruit bar and half a banana because I felt like I needed something, but that just did not sit well.  I seriously felt like hurling.  I'm guessing it was a variety of factors, including all the intestinal drama I had going on first thing in the morning.  I didn't even eat a lot the rest of the day, really.  Usually I'm ravenous and wanting to eat the world.  I made sure I drank a bunch though so I didn't get dehydrated.

This is me a little further down before I saw my family.  I was high fiving all the little kids.  If a kid has their hand out for a high five, I don't care if I'm trying to PR or whatever I WILL high five that kid.  It's like if a toddler hands you a ringing play phone you answer that thing and have a full conversation.  You just do it.

My fourth time running the 13.1+ distance, and I am so blessed!  Yes, that's my post race hoodie I'm rocking there... ;-)

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