Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The first race of the season is out of the way. Now it's time to get serious about training...

Race: Vancouver Lake Half Marathon
Location: Vancouver, WA Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Time: 02:28:00 (pace = 11:18 min/mi) Despite my huge amount of under-training for this event, I PR'd the distance by over 2 minutes and beat last year's time by about 26 minutes. Woohoo!

I've struggled with the motivation to run ever since the Portland Marathon back in October followed by a half marathon 2-weeks later. As a newcomer to endurance sports, I often have difficulty finding a happy and healthy balance between obsessive training and couch potato. The past 3-4 months have definitely leaned towards the couch potato side of the spectrum. Suddenly I found myself 2 weeks out from the first race of the year, completely undertrained and even less motivated to start running again. The only thing left to do was make the most of it and try to enjoy the experience. And let it be a (painful) lesson learned.

The day prior, a few of us played hooky from our Saturday workout and went snowshoeing instead. It was a blast, but I woke up on race morning very sore with blistered feet. And...an inch of snow on the ground. My warmup consisted of ibuprofen, bodyglide, poptart, coffee,and huddling around a propane heater. The race:
This event is quite small, and most of the participants are members from the local running clubs. They are mostly fast. The winner usually knocks out just over a 5 min/mi pace. So, just like last year, my friend Mark (who is significantly faster than me) graciously decided to run alongside me and keep me moving forward. But, unlike last year, we were not left in the dust within 30 seconds of the horn going off. Yes, we were very clearly in the caboose, but not dead last. This was a nice start to the run.The entire race was fairly uneventful for me and was actually relaxing and peaceful. Those are two words that I rarely use, okay...never use, to describe running. The snow on the ground muffled neighborhood noise and made everything extraordinarily pretty to look at. Mark kept me company with many funny stories and pushed me just enough to be out of my comfortable sluggish pace. Around mile 8 we realized that we could probably break 2:30, which I had never done before. (Hey! No laughing!)We picked it up a little and by mile 11 I was very much ready to be done. I was convinced that we couldn't break 2:30 anymore and I was plenty vocal about it. Finally, Mark said to me "I have no patience for your negativity". We agreed for me to shut up and for him to continue making me laugh. Which he did. I was laughing so hard that the next mile disappeared. With big ol' grins, we sprinted in to the finish line in 2:28:00.
As usual, I ate about 5 too many cookies (cookies are so yummy!) and downed a bunch of water. The crew from my gym had a tent set up with heaters and a propane stove/oven. There is nothing better than warm turkey noodle soup, hot cider, and freshly baked cookies right after a snowy race.

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