JUST ANOTHER TRAINING DAY
Grand Rapids Half Marathon, Oct. 18, 2009
Sunday was version 3 of the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. It wasn't a PR, but I didn't expect it to be and would have been greatly surprised if it had been. I did, however, do exactly as I planned to do. My long training day the day before (6.5 hours) made me wonder if I even would be able to move, let alone run 13.1 miles. In fact, I had considered NOT running it, just so I could focus more on training, but then better judgment got ahold of my mind and made me realize I still would have to do the run, so why not have it course supported? Besides, I did not want to lose the $90 entry fee. And my training program for the day of the race actually was for a 3 hour run, so I knew I would be running more than 13.1.
This year, the weather was again cold at the start, but warmed up nicely, compared to other years. I really think this might have been the best weather yet. Even though it was only 30 degrees at the start, at least there was no wind or snow like we've had in past years.
My plan was to run to the start of the race from my gym (3/4 mile away) as a warmup, so I waited until 30 minutes before the start to head over there. Then I ran into a group of ladies I work with who had trained all summer for this as their first half marathon, so I chatted with them. I was not nervous in the least. To me, it was another training day, that's all. I was more anxious to get started.
Before we even started, I realized I didn't really know the course, since they changed it this year, but eventually realized it was a course made up of routes I pretty much train on all year, so all of it was familiar. The only thing I did "wrong" was totally forget to do my run/walk thing in the first 2 miles that I find works best in training, because regardless of whether this was a race or not, it was only training for me. I felt so good at the beginning that I just got caught up in the moment, and it wasn't until after the 2nd mile that I caught myself from continuing on with that madness. No matter how good I felt at the start, I knew it was not likely to last, and I also wanted to more closely simulate training rather than a race.
By the time I got to 5 miles, the half marathon winners (male & female) were heading back. At first I thought they might be relay people, but relays were marathoners, and it was too soon for that. This year, the female first and second place winners were 3rd and 5th overall. Pretty impressive.
The only spot I felt slowed me from my predicted pace was at 7 miles, where, even though I knew the course, I felt like someone had thrown a hill in there. Once I got past that and on to 8 miles, I felt a lot better, even though from 7 through 9.5 we had some hills. Nothing serious, but a lot of people were walking here, as I went motoring on past.
One guy at the turnaround who was walking totally bypassed the turnaround and cut that off. No race person was there, so I'd like to think he didn't see it, but he did see me and another woman do it, so I'm pretty sure he just ignored it. He was walking at a fast enough clip that once I decided he was not going to get ahead of me, it took almost 3 blocks to shake him! He passed me again between 11 and 12 miles while I was struggling to get a Gu packet open, but again, I stalked him until I passed him and I never saw him again.
I can't say this was easy in the sense that I just floated through the miles, but it was considerably easier than I expected it to be, and while I was almost 3 minutes slower than last year, my pacing was right on to what I planned to do, and I was able to pick it up some at the end without my usual "I think I'm going to throw up" feeling. In fact, once I got to the finish line, I saw Don was there handing out mylar blankets with another guy we know, and I gave him a hug and said no thanks, I've got to keep moving.
The post race food/party consists of chili and beer, the usual bagels, bananas, oranges, yogurt, and apples, and this year Culvers frozen custard. I grabbed a banana and a chocolate custard and a spoon and headed back to the gym at a slow trot to get the rest of my miles in, for a total of 14.6. That was enough. My feet were killing me actually, so I was glad to stop.
Next on the training agenda was a 1.5 hour swim. I stretched for a while, ate my frozen custard, got some more water, and then headed to the pool. I wasn't that hungry. I felt a little slower than usual, because my legs were a little stiff, but what really got to me were cramps in my feet! I now know why they do not have you bike, run, and swim in that order in triathlons. I'm sure lots of people would cramp up. I have never had feet cramps this bad ever, to the point where my feet looked deformed and one felt like it was paralyzed. It took me 3 or 4 minutes to get that worked out. After that, I made sure I stopped after every quarter mile to drink water and stretch my feet, even though I had intended to swim straight through. It was either that or I would never get done!
All in all, it was a pretty successful training weekend. And I got some nice bling besides!