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 ;)