Sunday, November 14, 2010

Strength in Numbers

Summer training can be especially brutal in the Midwest. It is disgustingly humid & temps can be 80, sometimes 90 degrees, by mid-morning. With fall's arrival the runner is pleasantly surprised at how effortless a once fast-pace run can feel after the temps have fallen & the humidity has let up. The fall racing season is now upon us & I wouldn't miss it for the world! Last weekend I was rewarded for my summer training with a half marathon PR at the St Louis Track Club Half Marathon. In fact, most of the racing team was too. The weather was perfect, & so was the course in my opinion. Slight rolling hills through beautiful Clayton Missouri & Forest Park, & lots of familiar faces made it a breeze. Above is my after shot, but no medal as I had left it at my friend Jackie's house. D'oh!

Since it's hard to get out the door in the morning, or to get a good night's sleep for that matter with little kids, I decided to spend the night at my friend Jackie's house. Some friends were picking us up in the morning & it was just easier. We went out to "carbo-load" on pancakes & ended up with some protein & a little bit of extra-crispy hash browns as well. Delish-dish, I might add. It was daylight savings time so I was trying not to freak out. Jackie assured me that her alarm clock was only 20 years old & that if you shook it before bed it always went off in the morning. Greeeeeat. We layed in bed in a food coma & watched a movie. It was an awesome relaxing night, & I did enjoy sleeping in her daughter's bottom bunk with glow in the dark stars on the bottom of the upper bunk. Oh, & the alarm clock did, in fact, go off. Good times ;)

Here are just some of the Fleet Feet Racing Team members that were out for the race. Others were out hanging around on the course, & some just came out to run friends to the finish. Just an awesome day & with support like this, PR's all the way around were inevitable. My plan for this race was to try to pace about 7:50's, but to ultimately finish sub 1:45. Nothing to lofty, just to have a great race. About 2 miles into the race, another racing team member & I discussed our goals, noted that they were the same, & decided to run together (both stating that we hoped we didn't go out too fast, as is my tradition). I had never even formerly met her, & this just proves how amazing this group is. Katie & I started chatting & before I knew it I looked down at my Garmin... 6:35! Waaaay to fast. We slowed it down, & I accusingly asked, "Didn't you look at your Garmin?!" Her husband was also running & he was wearing the Garmin that they shared!! I thought, "oh boy... I am in charge!!" A scary thought indeed. From then on out we stayed at a nice even effort, despite the hills, chatted, & just had fun. It didn't even feel like a race. I have gotten so used to racing by myself & just getting in full bad ass mode that this was completely foreign to me. The weather, the course, meeting a new friend, & the awesome support out there all lead to a 3:35 PR for me.

Sorry it's tiny, but here's a pic of Chris, who ran a stellar race with a huge PR & ran me to the finish, & Jamie who also ran a PR & followed into the finish right behind me. So proud of everyone who came out for the event & really happy to be a part of this organization! & did I mention... it's FREE!!!

Anyway, my Garmin splits are as follows (for those interested, or just scroll down lol) Tried to get the elevation profile, but it looks like they deleted the link. There were quite a few hills to contend with. Nothing major, but that's why my splits are all over the place.

1 - 7:48
2 - 7:46
3 - 7:41
4 - 7:58
5 - 7:56
6 - 8:09
7 - 7:38
8 - 8:04
9 - 7:44
10 - 7:56
11 - 8:04
12 - 7:51
13 - 7:35
221 ft - 00:12.19  For a total of 1:42:21, with an average pace of 7:49, & one happy chick :)

Would I have run this race the same way if not for Katie, Chris, Jamie, & all the awesome support? The world may never know... I do know that since I have started training with others running has been much more enjoyable. You look at running as an individual sport, & that's true. Your mental stamina & your two legs are the only things getting you to the finish line. But the friends you meet along the way & the support you give each other can hold a lot of weight. I love seeing my friends accomplish & succeed, & to see so many familiar faces on race day is an awesome feeling. In that way it doesn't feel like you are doing it all on your own.

I thought about all these things as I headed out for this weekend's solo 20 miler. Jamie is taking some time off after the half marathon due to some knee issues & I have the December marathon to train for, so out I went. It was cold & windy, & I chose a park with a flat paved trail & planned to run the inner loop a gazillion times to mimic my marathon course. It was really getting to me mentally after a while, as I rarely run with my ipod anymore, so I ran some other configurations to get those miles to fall off a little quicker. I have to admit, even seeing some of the same faces each time I completed another loop gave me a little bit of a mental break. Depending on the weather (since I wouldn't want to subject my family to standing in the cold watching me run in circles all day), I may be heading down to the marathon by myself, running it by myself, & coming home all by myself. At first, I thought "No big deal. It's just running. Something I do by myself almost every day." I am starting to second-guess myself. Not because I think I can't do it, but because it would be so much easier if I had some support. Someone in my corner. & someone to help run me to the finish. I guess the thought of my husband & kids left freezing on the side of the road may prompt me to run a bit faster, but that isn't what I really had in mind. I came home from the 20 miler (which went waaaay awesome BTW -  fairly even 8:45's & finished last 3 miles in 8:00, 7:49, & 7:40), got in the ice bath & texted Jamie to ask if she would come down to help pace me in the final miles. She said it sounded like fun, & knees willing she will be there. I know that I can run the miles, all the data says that I can do this, but running is so mental & I am such a head case that I think having her there will make all the difference. Just to run beside me. Running has taught me a lot about myself, but the number one thing I have discovered: I'm not a complete & total bad ass. News to me ;)


  1. Will there be random spectators at the loop(y) marathon? Or even water hander outers? They're great support, they cheer people they don't even know.

  2. Course support is minimal, & streets are not closed to traffic. 8 loops = 26.2... Oh boy.

  3. Would you like to borrow my alarm clock? It has never let me down.

  4. Hey... just wanted to say great job and wonderful times! One day i'll be there so i keep reading inspiring writings like yours... good luck to you in the marathon!

  5. I think the PR you have listed is wrong?? I didn't add up the splits, but wasn't it a 1:35??? :D. Isn't it amazing what we can do when we turn our minds off??