Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Run To Be - Part 2

Continued from I Run To Be - Part 1

It was almost a year ago to the day that I ran my first half-marathon - the Disney Wine and Dine at Epcot.
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon - my first half! Oct 2, 2010

My friend Beth had given me a "good luck" gift before that race that consisted of a Runner's World magazine (for last minute motivation), an Energy bar, Band Aids, gum, and a hair ribbon with turtles on it. With the ribbon came a note that it never hurts to look pretty when running, and she always felt a hair ribbon was girly enough, yet not quite a tutu. (So true!)In high school her team adopted the turtle as their mascot purely for the irony, and she passed it onto me so that I could carry on the tradition of bringing much deserved respect to the sadly overlooked turtle.

Ever since then, I've worn my turtle ribbon to EVERY race, whether it be a local 10K or a half marathon, so it was crucial to have my lucky turtles in San Francisco. (I also bought a sweaty band with turtles on it to match!)

After I finished my first half marathon, I couldn't imagine going one more step and the thought of running double that -  a full marathon - was completely absurd. Really, what loony individual would put themselves through something like that?

Now, a year later, I'm one of those loony people waking up before dawn to do my first full marathon.

The alarm went off at 4:30 AM. Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to sleep through the night without waking up every hour (as I had done the entire week). The first thing I did was go to the window and look down onto the starting line. It was beautiful all lit up.

I felt fairly calm as I got dressed, stretched, and prepared my post-race bag.

I didn't realize how nervous I actually was until I had to force myself to eat my pre-race bagel and peanut butter. (You know something's up when I'm not hungry, seriously did you see the pictures of my meals those last few days?!)

 I lubed myself up with Body Glide to prevent chaffing, stuffed the Gu packs in my shorts, and triple-checked my playlist to make sure it was all in order. I strategically placed certain songs at certain parts of the playlist, doing my best to anticipate where I'd be on the course during that time so that the power songs came on when I was running uphill.

A sampling of my playlist, somewhere in the middle

I made a pace cheat sheet so that I could guesstimate my finish time, and also printed out a photo of me and my dad for good luck. I covered both sides in packing tape so that water/sweat wouldn't ruin them mid-race, and put them in my armband.

Race morning essentials - lucky turtles, race bib, Gu gel, Body Glide, pace guide, and photo of me and my dad

Ready to go to the starting line!

I topped off my tank with some coconut water (another pre-race good luck gift from Kimberly!) and headed down to the lobby of the hotel.

The hotel was bustling with runners - some stretching, some sitting, some chugging coffee. You could see the excitement on some people's faces, while others were annoyed they had to wake up so early.

The marathon and half marathon bibs were different colors - full was pink, half was yellow. I was shocked at how many yellow bibs there were as I approached the starting line. There were 3 times the amount of half marathoners as there were full, so I felt elite in that aspect and it gave me a boost of confidence. (It also kind of freaked me about, because I figured they knew something I didn't know, like that the course was ten times harder than I even imagined it being).

Prateek and I walked the half block down to the starting line - it was chilly, but not as cold as I'd imagined. The corrals were separated by anticipated pace. I can't say that this was the most well thought-out process of race day, because my corral/pace group was between 7:30/mile - 9/mile. That is a HUGE difference. There were people in my corral going for a 3:15 marathon time, and here I was doing my best to get a 4:15 (an entire hour slower!).

As anyone who is a runner knows, however, there are always the select few that pay no attention to the corrals and line up in the 7:30 pace group even though they plan on walking the entire thing. Or just aren't honest with themselves and what they can really accomplish. Take your pick.
Not saying it's a bad thing to have goals, but let's be honest, if your current PR is a 6 hour marathon, chances are you won't magically get a 7:30 pace on a hilly course just because you're feeling fiesty that morning.

Ready to line up!

A true reflection of the corral entry - a blurry chaos

It was time to get into my corral, so I hugged Prateek goodbye before jumping through the fencing.
For some reason, at that moment, I almost teared up busted out crying in the middle of Union Square.
This was really it. 
I don't know why I felt like sobbing - maybe it was because I was scared, or nervous, or just excited in an extremely teary kind of way.

Kara Goucher, Joan Benoit Samuleson and Shalane Flanagan (Olympians/record holders in US women's running) were at the starting line stage and gave a pre-race pep talk. To be honest I have no idea what they were saying, I was trying to get in my zone and remember everything I should do to have a successful race.

Here is an insight into my thought process right before the gun went off:

Dont go out too fast. If you feel like you're going too slow, you're STILL going too fast. Slow your roll. The first 3 miles are like a warm-up run. The next 12 miles are the fun miles, they should feel easy. Look down and slow your pace uphill, and look up and go fast downhill.Take Advil at the 16th mile. By the 20th mile you've only got a 10K left to go. Feed off the crowd. Don't get T-Rex arms and don't forget to use them for speed. Focus on the person in front of you, not at what lies too far ahead. One step at a time. Slow and steady. Have fun.

I looked up and the clock was counting down.


Continued  - I Run To Be - Part 3

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