Monday, January 28, 2013

Vancouver Lake Half Marathon Race Report

In my mind, this half marathon was my official comeback race. I’d had this race in mind since way before Penelope was born. She is 6 months old now and I was finally ready to race a longer distance and give it my all.

I had high hopes for a good finish time based on my recent 10k PR. That time (46:16) predicted a half marathon finish time of 1:43:09- and my PR from way back in 2007 is 1:43:40. I ran this race back in 2009 and finished in 1:49:02. One last bit of background- I haven’t actually ran a half marathon at all since June of 2010!

With the baby and my new stay-at-home-mom lifestyle and schedule, training was pretty moderate. I did get several long runs in, including 2 12 milers. I ran about 20-25 miles per week the last few weeks, except the one week that I was super sick. I also raced that 10k which went surprisingly well.

I planned to stick with my strategy of running without my watch, so I would have no idea of my pace or time until I crossed the finish line. Big gamble, but it had worked before and was worth a try. I know it’s not news to anyone, but I really discovered just HOW mental racing is. I get really psyched out when I see my pace (either disappointed if it’s slow, or scared if it’s fast) and that never has positive results. I need to stay OUT of my head as much as possible. So I didn’t have a specific time goal for the race, just to give it my all. I knew in my heart I could have a really good day.

The race started at 10:00 which is awesome! It was cool (38 at the start) and cloudy, and stayed dry until the last couple miles. Perfect racing weather. The course is pancake flat and has a super fast field. Perfect conditions all around. I carried a single Power Gel and no water. I did wear my Garmin to record my splits but turned it to the watch function and didn’t even look at that.

Besides running “by feel,” my only means of guessing my pace was judging the runners around me. And you all know that is a dangerous game! I started pretty close to the front and tried to hang on to some girls that looked kinda fast. They dropped me. Over the first few miles I got passed a LOT. I figured I started way too fast, but I was worried when “not-fast” looking people whizzed by me. Old guys, Clydesdales, older gals… I was convinced I was moving at a snail’s pace. I knew I was working hard though, and knew I couldn’t pick up the pace yet so I just hung in there.

Eventually, I stopped getting passed so much. I tried to hang on to a few people around me, and that worked pretty well. I saw Zach and Penny several times because of the out-and-backs on the course. He gave me a thumbs up so I took that to mean I was doing good, although I don’t know if he even was watching my time. I had a good playlist going (first time ever listening to music in half) and that was motivating.

Finally, around the 11 mile mark, I decided to give it everything I had. I picked a couple of ladies ahead of  me and passed them. In the last mile, a woman caught and passed me and we raced it out to the finish. She got away from me but it was very motivating to chase her! I was so tired, and was leaving it all out there. I was running through the park and saw the finish line… seeing the digital clock was the first indication I had of  my pace for the entire race and I was shocked.

Official finish time: 1:42:20 (7:49 pace)

6/38 30-34 AG
31/208 Females
115/425 OA

When I saw the finish clock I yelled out and pumped my arms. I believe I said “No fucking way!!!” and had a Huuuuuge smile on my face. Zach was right there and was smiling too, watching my reaction.

That’s a 1 minute 20 second PR. So freaking cool. It was the greatest feeling. That moment of joy makes it all worth it! All the suffering and the bad runs and the agonizing over training… SO worth it. I’ve only ever had that feeling a handful of times in the 8 ish years I’ve been running and it’s just the greatest. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little things: a beautiful trail or a fun run with friends, but these HOLY SHIT YAYYYY moments just blow that all out of the water.

I feel like at the top of my game right now. I honestly thought all my PR races were behind me, and I’m loving this. I know I won’t stay motivated to push myself like this for long… I’ve been through this before and it’s not sustainable. Chasing the PRs, the BQ, etc… It gets old fast. I am letting myself go with it for now though. When this phase is over I’m sure I’ll know.

I don’t know why I suddenly got faster- I haven’t been training that much or doing any speedwork. It’s got to have something to do with having a baby, but not sure I really see a connection. Something about pain tolerance? Not caring as much? It’s weird and I’m not worrying about it.

Like I said- I’m going with it. I am going to try to work in some speed work and see what else I can do. I think I’ll go back and try for a faster 5k next! Part of me wants to go whole hog and try to BQ, but I don’t know if I can swing it. That’s a lot of work for this busy mom. Plus, it’s still a long shot. Another factor is that Zach has some big races this summer and we are kind of alternating “key training” phases and it’ll be his turn soon… so we’ll see. I’ll let you all know, of course!

Here are my splits: Kind of an afterthought since I didn’t even see them until I got home and downloaded them, but cool to see. I like racing “without a watch” but love looking at my splits after! I did start off fast like I thought, slowed a bit in the second half but had a fast finish.

Garmin stats:

Mile 1 7:24
Mile 2 7:38
Mile 3 7:52
Mile 4 7:50
Mile 5 7:45
Mile 6 7:43
Mile 7 7:48
Mile 8 8:01
Mile 9 8:07
Mile 10 8:05
Mile 11 8:00
Mile 12 7:56
Mile 13 7:40
Last 0.7 (6:49 pace)


  IMG_5798 IMG_5803

IMG_5794IMG_5781 IMG_5782 IMG_5783 IMG_5785

And Hi from Penny!



Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

WHat an awesome race for you, Jen! I don't think I've ever ran a race without a watch, but I like the idea of it. You really are getting speedy, mama. And I like your shorts/compression socks look. I want some more compression socks that I could run in (white or black) as I feel that my pink or bright yellow ones are just a bit loud. ;)

Cate said...

Congratulations!! I think having a baby has some magical effect on running speeds. It's pretty awesome!

Anonymous said...

Great run Jen. Way to go. S

Ewen said...

NFW!! Wow. Brilliant race Jen. You're my 'run by feel' role model.

Amy - the gazelle said...

Nice job, Ms. Speedster! You are amazing!

Susan - Nurse on the Run said...

Congrats on the PR!! There's something about increased blood flow/blood vessels/something like that developed during pregnancy that does help in post-baby running. (I should know that for real...) But physiology aside, congrats on the PR! You still have to put in the work and adjust to new life with a baby, which takes more work than some new blood vessels to overcome and PR!

Alisa said...

That's my IronJEN!

I think you're in a groove and are ready to tackle whatever goal you put your mind to. I definitely think you found a racing strategy that works for you and an attitude that matches not only your capabilities but also your life as a mommy!

Way to go lady. Maybe one of these days you'll feel like running slow again and we can do a neighborhood run :).

Carolina John said...

Very cool! that's great PR. And well earned. and congrats on the new sahm status! my wife sahm's and loves it most of the time, but the kids absolutely appreciate it. Anytime it gets tough and you want to reach out please do. It's not easy.

KK said...

Congrats, Jen! That is so frickin' awesome! I am so very happy for you!

A friend of mine told me something about "mommy juice," referring to the inexplicable thing that makes us women faster post baby. I have no idea if there's any scientific basis to that theory, but what I do know is that any race pain pales in comparison to child birth. Way to rock the mommy juice! (P.S hate the word mommy, I am merely repeating someone else's words...) :)