This morning, I ran my second metric marathon, and my first road race with Kara. For the first metric marathon, I got a text 3 or 4 days before informing me I'd running it, and I had no idea what a metric marathon was. This time, when I found out about the race in an email four days prior, I knew a metric marathon was 26.2 km, or about 16.3 miles.
Kara informed me we were keeping a 9:20 pace for this race. I was pretty nervous about whether I'd be able to keep that pace for 16 miles, and as much as I wanted to stay with her, I didn't want to slow her down.
The race was a super small event put on by the Annapolis Striders. There were maybe 100 runners. Races like this are fantastic because you can park right at the start, use the bathroom without waiting in line, and just generally not worry about logistics.
It was hard to believe just last Sunday I was doing an open water swim, because this entire race felt freezing. It was probably 40 degrees colder than last week. The good thing about freezing your ass off at the start is it means you can't wait to start running.
Kara decided the theme of this race was to run by feel, not by Garmin. I was totally into it because my Garmin (while I love it to death) can stress me out completely.
We started out and I was feeling pretty good. I wasn't looking at my Garmin, but I had a sneaking suspicion that we weren't doing 9:20. The pace was challenging, but we were holding a conversation, so it wasn't too fast. The course wasn't easy either, filled with rolling hills. At least it was nice, quiet, country roads - a pleasant break from the traffic and dead rats that usually keep me company on my runs.
It seemed like forever until we got to the turnaround near mile 9, then started an ascent back towards the finish. Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 I had a mental breakdown - my heart rate was way up, I couldn't catch my breath, and I had no clue how I could possibly hold this pace for more than five more miles. I told Kara that I couldn't hold the pace anymore, and that she should go ahead. I was a little afraid of the inner race bitch attacking me, but she just calmly told me that I'd held it this far, and we were "almost there". Even so, this may have happened:
|You said 9:20, DAMMIT!|
Once we got to the top of the hill, I walked through a water stop, my second Gu kicked in, and I didn't want to look like a baby, so I managed to stick with her. Also, my fear was, if I lost her, there was really nothing stopping me from just laying down on the side of the road, or (more likely) slowing down to 11 minute miles. Once again, a friend's confidence somehow got me to run faster then I thought I could.
While the first 11 miles were spent chatting, thanking volunteers, cheering on our fellow racers, and generally having fun, the last 5 were just grim panting. I specifically remember one guy saying something encouraging as he passed and neither one of us even had the energy to spare to give him a grunt or a wave. Oops.
Still, while it was tough, once I got through that rough patch I felt confident. It was that good "Wow, I'm pushing it" feeling rather than "Wow, I'm about to die" feeling. To further illustrate, I've created this picture to show how I felt.
|The purple X marks my feelings for the majority of this race.|
The last two miles were pretty rough, but overall it seemed like this race flew by, especially since the last five miles there was no music, no conversation, very few other runners, and basically nothing to distract me. Oh, and Kara saved a dog's life. I'm sure she'll tell the story much better on her blog though. I did probably boost my average pace and distance when I helped her out by sprinting away from the dog.
Despite all odds,
we crossed the finish line ran through the cones next to the clock together!
|Once again, Aspaeris Pivot shorts made me fast|
My average pace? 8:33! (If you're on Daily Mile and are wondering why Kara's is faster than mine, it's because she ran circles around me while I walked through water stops. I told you she's hardcore). The slowest mile was the first (8:57) and the fastest one was once again, the last, at 8:11!
This really surprised me, I wouldn't have thought I was capable of holding that pace for 16.1 miles of hills. Kara really executed a perfect plan by lying to me about the 9:20, because I am sure I wouldn't have driven an hour to this race if she had told me we were running that fast. I'm so glad I faced my fear of running a road race with her, and so glad she pushed me like that - no way I would have been this speedy without her!
|It doesn't matter if you can't stand up and might puke, a good blogger immediately gets photos at the finish line.|
In other news, there were bagels at the finish line, and Perry won his age group!
|$5 race = flowers for a prize|
We said goodbye, and I couldn't get to Starbucks fast enough for some coffee and dry clothes. I changed in the bathroom as soon as I got there, but I was so cold that people in line were turning to stare at me because my teeth were chattering and I was shivering uncontrollably like I was in the North Pole, instead of a pleasant, temperature controlled coffee shop. The whole way home I blasted the heat, yet somehow I forced myself into an ice bath. I knew I had to, my muscles were tight when we were taking pictures after the race, and freezing while driving for an hour made it so much worse. I stayed in for a record 20 minutes.
As Eric sat on the toilet to chat with me while I sat in a bathtub of ice water, I wondered, "what do other couples do to spend time together on Sunday afternoons?".
I also went to yoga tonight. It wasn't as easy as I would have liked, but doing all sorts of warriors and chair poses (essentially, holding squats and lunges) after a tough 16 mile race is part of recovery, right?
Official Results -