Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My First Half Marathon

I finished my first half marathon!!! It wasn't pretty, but I'm okay with that. I also read in the local paper that this course isn't certified (for distance), and that Sunday's race was likely more than 13.1 miles. Woohoo! Here's my race report:

Race: Vancouver Lake Half Marathon
Location: Vancouver, WA
Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Time: 02:53:55 (pace = 13:17 min/mi)

Pre-Race: Due to a persistent knee injury and a recent bout of strep-throat, I spent the last couple of days debating whether or not I would actually participate in the run. I finally decided that I didn’t want a “DNS” next to my name. So I would start, get through the first couple of water stations, and then decide if I wanted to continue or not.

I woke up early, ate a PB&J on whole wheat English muffin, downed some coffee, then tried to hydrate and get Ken out of bed and moving. We carpooled to the event with a bunch of people from the gym in the official “Headhunters” van. It was so much fun pulling up to the parking lot and everyone staring at us.

Warm Up: It was just over 30 degrees, so we huddled in the van and breathed each others CO2. I had Denise (coach) tape up my knee. Then did a couple of "warm-up jogs" to the porta-potties.

Run: My friend Mark signed up to do the run with me and said he would go at my pace the whole time…even though he typically does 8min miles. On a good day I can barely pull a 10:30 pace out of my legs, I was expecting more like a 15min pace today. We got out of the bathrooms with 5 seconds to spare before the gun went off. We started in the back to be out of everyone’s way and in about 30 seconds we were all alone.

The course begins with a short out-and-back, passing back by the start line around mile 3 (with the first aid station) for a longer out-and-back the other direction. This makes it boring for us, but fun for the spectators to see us several times. I came through that point feeling a bit winded, but the knee was good. I shed some layers and continued on.

The next aid station showed up around mile 5. This is where the knee started to throb and my gait fell apart. I really just wanted to quit here, but reasoned with myself that almost anyone with 2 legs can get through 8 miles, even if it means walking. Mark kept me running to the final turn around at mile 8.3. As the first runners started to pass us from the other direction, we clapped and cheered them on. Only the first place male and the first place female acknowledged us. Mark and I turned it into our little form of entertainment -- we counted over 40 people before we got another response from any of the runners. Not even a smile! This was surprising, as even though those people were fast, none of them are fast enough to have that big of an ego.

At the turn around we walked for about 5 seconds to take some Gu and water and I realized that walking was way more painful than running. Short of hopping in the sag wagon, there was no other way to get back to the finish line except to suck it up and run. Well, running may be an overstatement, but I did maintain a solid waddle.

Mile 11 and 12 were really long, as was the last half mile. Every time I started to complain, Mark interrupted me with a silly story to take my mind off the pain. As we got closer to the finish, we could see the parade of cars leaving the event. It was a bit demoralizing, but since it was cold out and they had probably been finished for over an hour, I couldn’t blame them. When we approached the finish line, all of the Headhunters were there cheering us on and chanting my name. It was so motivating that I managed to sprint in the last 20 yards. It felt like a sprint anyway. I was thrilled when I looked up and saw the clock was under 3 hours!!!!!

What would I do differently?: I really did just about everything I could considering the circumstances. When my knee was injured around the first of the year, I pool ran 4 days a week. When I got strep-throat last week, I stayed in bed and rested as much as I could. It took a lot for me to just get out to the starting line.

Warm Down: Walked to the cookie table and inhaled a bunch of goodies as I hobbled over to the finish line to cheer on the last few folks. Then off for burger and beers. Mmmm...

Event Comments: The course was flat flat flat – perfect for my first half marathon. It did get a bit monotonous, but my body couldn’t have handled any hills, so I was grateful to at least have company for the entire run. The volunteers were awesome, especially since it was freezing temps. I was at the back of the BOP and made sure to thank them all for staying for us stragglers. And whoever baked all of those cookies did a fantastic job!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I've always been determined when it came to things like learning to tie my shoes (I still do it wrong), talking my parents into buying me something, getting through college, teaching myself to knit, etc. Not so much when it came to exercise. As soon as I became injured or sick, I gave up and quit going to the gym. Times have changed it seems. I have recently been dealing with a pesky knee injury. And this past week I ended up with strepthroat and the hint of ear infections. While nowadays this wouldn't be a huge issue, this week is different... I have a half marathon coming up. TOMORROW actually.

I haven't ran on pavement since New Year's eve (see earlier blog), but have been doing my pool running religiously. Four mornings a week you'll find me "running" lap after lap after lap. Talking to anyone who will listen just to quench the boredom a bit. Monday morning I headed outdoors for a test run. I wasn't feeling too great but figured I had just lost a bit of fitness over the past few weeks. When I got home and my temperature was 102 I felt totally defeated.

Five days of bed rest, lots of ibuprofen, and a whole heck of a lot of determination -- I'll be at the starting line tomorrow morning. I may be the last person to cross the finish line. Hell, I may not even get to the finish line. But I will NOT have my first "did not start" next to my name when the results are posted.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Scale

I'm not sure when it happened, but I'm comfortable talking about my weight. Really, I look the same to you whether I say that I weigh 120 or 220. I had to laugh yesterday when taking out my drivers license. The photo doesn't look much like me anymore. I weighed close to 215 pounds when that picture was taken, yet my license declares that I was 160. Silly, huh.

I honestly don't know what my heaviest weight was. I put the scale away at 208 because I just didn't want to see those numbers anymore. And I did keep gaining for a bit after that. So I estimate 215 was the top end. I rang in 2008 at 176.

Tonight before my workouts I stepped on the scale again in the gym locker room. I put it right to 176 and it wasn't level. Dang it! Nudged it up to 177 and it still didn't budge. My heart sank as I kept moving it until it hit 180. Then a light bulb went off -- "move it the other way!". Today I weighed in at 174.

The best part about that? Only 24 pounds until I get a new tri bike. :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Two 5k's on New Years Day

I didn't want to start off 2008 like all of the others -- hungover. So I signed up for the First Run in downtown Portland. It started at midnight and was only a 5k. I had also commited to swimming a 5k at my gym on New Year's morning. Here are my race reports...

Race: First Run
Location: Portland, OR (downtown)
Distance: 5k (3.1 miles)
Time: 00:32:45 (pace = 10:32min/mi) -- a smokin' PR for me!!!

Pre-Race: I had read in a reminder email that there would be a prize for the best costume. I looked at last years photos and didn't see anyone in costume, so I asked Nadine (who had done it a couple of years ago). Her reply: "oh yeah, there are TONS of people dressed up. Yeah, yeah, you'll see lots of crazy stuff." I was super excited, so I pulled out my hot pink tutu, matching wig, and pink/black bustier and headed to downtown Portland. My super sweet boyfriend, Ken, came with me (I couldn't talk him into running it thought) and tried to convince me that everyone on the Max train was staring at me because they thought I was pretty. We showed up at the World Trade Center around 10:30pm and the place was already packed. Yet, not a single person was in costume!

Warm Up: Sat at the WTC and shivered and answered questions about why I was wearing a tutu.
Run: It took me over two minutes to reach the starting line, but it was a chip timed event so my finish time is accurate. After crossing the line it took awhile to get past the walkers and slower (than me) runners. After about a mile it cleared out and I could run my normal pace. My HR was pretty high, but I didn't feel like I was working too hard. It must have been the "pink tutu" power. The best part was all of the drunk people on their way home giving me props for my outfit.

What would
I do differently?: Not forget my matching pink ruffled panties. They probably would have knocked another minute or so off my time. :-)
Warm Down: Waited for the Max, drove, home, crawled into bed.

Event Comments: Super fun way to ring in the new year! The only bummer was that I was cold and couldn't really enjoy the activities before the race and had no interest in staying afterwards.

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Race: Sharky Swim
Location: Lacamas Swim & Sport, Camas, WA
Distance: 5k (3.1 miles)
Time: 1:40:00 (pace = 2min/100m)

Pre-Race: Stumbled out of bed after only a few hours of sleep (I did the midnight 5k run to ring in the new year), shoved a PB&J english muffin down the hatch, and headed to the gym. Ken came to count laps. What a guy!!!

Event Warmup: Nothing -- I didn't want to waste a lick of energy. I really was scared that I wouldn't be able to complete the distance.

Swim: We had 4 people in our lane and kept a pretty good rythm. We would each pull 100m and then fall to the back of the line. The pace was a bit slower than I would have liked, but when it was over I felt like I could swim another 5000m.

What would I do differently?: Other than have our group keep a faster pace? Nothing. But I loved the ladies I swam with, so it was great.

Warm Down: Ate a ton of food, drank a couple of mimosas, and took a long nap.

Event Comments: 5000m in the pool gets a bit dull. But this was a great New Year's activity and served its purpose of keeping me from the party scene.