I ran my fifth half marathon this past Sunday in Tulsa. It was a good experience all around: the race itself and a road trip weekend with a friend. Stephanie and I drove up Saturday afternoon in time to go by the expo to pick up our race packets and jackets.
Here are the memorable things about the pre-race:
1. We stayed at a hotel that was part of the Route 66 Race so we would have a shuttle to the race. This was definitely worth the discounted price. After we checked in, we ate at the pasta buffet at the restaurant. It was a good idea: we didn't have to drive anywhere AND it was yummy!
2. Then we just hung out in our room watching SNL clips until it was an acceptable hour to go to bed. I don't think either of us slept great; I think we had pre-race jitters.
3. The hotel provided a box breakfast for all runners. It had a variety of food so we both got to eat something that worked for each of us.
4. I realized how cold it was on the shuttle. As I waited for the race to begin, my hands and feet went numb. A woman at the start line told me this year was much colder than the prior year. A man gave me one of those warming packets you hold in your hands. I used it the first few miles alternating it in my hands warming them up. Then I stuck it in my pocket. Good thing. At the finish, it was still warm and helped to warm my hands up again while I waited for Stephanie.
During the Race...
1. It took about 3 miles until I could feel my feet again. This was the coldest temperature I had ran a considerable distance. At the end of the race, I was coughing a bit from the cold air, but it wasn't too bad.
2. I realized about a kilometer in that my watch was set on kilometers. I had done a speed work out on my last run and forgot to change it back to miles. This actually might have been helpful for me. I paid attention enough to know I wasn't going too fast at the beginning watching my kilometer times. I would see mile markers and check my overall time, but I wasn't obsessed too much about the time. Mainly because I couldn't convert km pace times to mile pace times effectively in my head while I'm running a half marathon!
3. Around mile 6 I was feeling good. I could tell my training was paying off. I was handling the hills just fine. Six months ago, those hills would have really slowed me down.
4. I had this ankle-calf cramp off and on the entire race. I think it was from the cold. At mile 10, I was tired. And so cold. And hurting. Not as bad as I was during my last half marathon, but still ready to be done. This was the point of the race that I start to have these thoughts:
What the crap was I thinking when I thought running hills in the cold was a good idea?
Why in the world did I think I'll ever want to run a full marathon? There's no way.
I think I'm slowing down too much. There's no way I'm going to make my two-hour goal.
I have discovered that part of running is the head game you have to play with yourself. I started reassuring myself that it was almost over and that I had this. Towards the end of the race, other runners are even more encouraging. I had a nice female runner yell out encouraging words as I passed her on the road. I was actually surprised when I crossed the finish line and saw my time.
Though I was hoping for a two-hour time or less, I was happy with my PR. It was a rough course that morning: rolling hills and cold temperatures. I could tell my training had paid off.
Recently, my fast friend Pam told me, "I run because it isn't easy. It's about getting out there and doing what you can with what you got."
I couldn't have said it better myself.