Friday, February 24, 2012

Marathon Training: Week 8

I promise that I have a recipe that I’ll be posting next week, but I wanted to update you all on how training for Flying Pig was going. Tomorrow, my mom and I are doing our longest run to date: 14-15 miles (depending on how early we get going and how fast because I have a dentist appointment at 10 am!). I will admit to being more than a little afraid since it will be the longest I have ever run, and my first run over the half marathon distance (except for the extra .5 mile in the Middle Half course). But we’re running it on a really enjoyable course through some of my favorite parts of Nashville, and we’ll just keep it slow and steady.

A couple of weekends ago, we ran the Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon, but I didn’t take any pictures because it was miserable. However, my mom did win 3rd in her age group and got this cool trophy.


Somehow, I had it in my mind that it was a relatively fast course and began to fantasize about it being a PR race for me, particularly after reading about Cate’s awesome half marathon PR. I had been feeling really strong, and sub-2:05 seemed within my reach. However, as the race approached, the weather forecast deteriorated, and we woke up on Saturday morning to 20-25 mph winds, temperatures in the 20s, and flurries of snow. It was the coldest day of the year, and due to our mild winter, the weather conditions felt brutal. Kelly also alerted me to the fact that it was indeed hilly. Maybe not a PR day after all…

The start of the race was at 11 am, which was a little strange, but also allowed me to sleep in. When we got there, just under an hour until the start, we missed getting a close parking space by one car. This meant we had to park a 1/2 mile up the road from the staging area. Eventually, we abandoned the warmth of the car and trudged down to the heated (!) building where we got our bibs, T-shirts, etc. The sun showed a promise of peeking out, and I was actually a touch warm standing at the starting line.

We started off up a hill, but my first mile was right on target for a PR and I felt okay. I took my gloves off and shoved them in my tights and zipped down my jacket. Second mile also looked good, but then we hit an awkward gravel road where it was difficult to fall into a rhythm. After three mentally exhausting miles of watching my footing like a hawk so I didn’t face plant, I was thrilled to hit asphalt again and took off after the 10K aid station. That lasted all of about, oh, a quarter mile before the next big hill. Additionally, I was taking my gloves off and putting them back on depending on whether the sun was out or we were getting blasted by an Arctic wind or it started snowing on us.

The wheels started to come off around mile 8 (yay! Only 5 miles to go!). I would’ve curled up in a ball by the side of the road and cried, but I probably would’ve died of exposure. No one around us seemed to be having a lot of fun either. The last aid station was supposed to be around 10.3 but was closer to 10.6. It didn’t help when the volunteer cheerily encouraged us that we had “just over 3 miles to go!” Um, no. The next two miles were along the side of a highway straight into said 20-25 mph winds. So much pain, so cold, so miserable. Finally, we turned back into the state park for the last little bit, and we ran it in to the finish line. The final time was not important except that it was my slowest half marathon since I started seriously running.

One of the parts I love about races is using other people as carrots to give me motivation. On the last hill, Mom and I decided that there was no way we were going to let this woman in pink fuzzy socks and frilly shorts covered in hearts beat us, so we blasted past her (and by “blasted,” I mean, “shuffled by her at about a 11 min/mile pace”).

We got water and pizza and Diet Coke and hung out with people while we waited for the results. I probably ended up with some mild hypothermia since I didn’t change out of my sweaty, wet clothes because getting to our car would’ve involved going outside and moving my legs more. It took me forever to get warm even once I was home and showered.

It really would’ve been a nice race if the conditions had been favorable. It was a good size at about 500-600 people and very low-key (low entry fee, no medals, no course protection since it was in a state park, no rock bands at the mile markers, etc.). I suppose the name of the event should’ve given me pause, but I laughed when I signed up because it had been such a mild winter. “Ha ha!,” I thought. “It’ll probably be 60 degrees at the finish line!” Boy, was I wrong.