Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wait...That Wasn't Supposed To Happen!

There will be a day when I can no longer sign up for a half marathon 10 days out, with no hard training to speak of, and go on and PR the race. 

Sunday was not that day. 

I am a huge ambassador of St Petersburg, FL. I love this city to it's core -- from the beautiful waterfront parks to the incredible art scene to the funky laid back vibe of downtown, I'm so proud to call it my home.

When the Rock N Roll series announced it was doing an inaugural half marathon in St Pete in 2012, I was incredibly bummed out to not race it (due to injuries sustained from my first marathon in San Francisco). I love supporting the city and it's running community in any way possible.

Then 2013 rolled around. I knew I wanted to run it, however with a nagging piriformis issue I didn't get my hopes up and waited until after Ragnar to make sure I was going to be healthy.
 I'd barely done any speed work, my weekly mileage was still fairly low, and was just kind of going through the motions of running with no real goal in mind. But I still wanted to do it.

I finally signed up on January 31st, 10 days before race day. 
Procrastination, anyone?

The nice thing about this race was I had no expectations, which meant no real race week jitters. I thought it would be awesome to beat my previous PR of 1:48, but knew if I wasn't feeling the love on race morning that it wasn't a big deal. I just wanted to run in my city. And dance around to Sean Kingston at the end while I drank my free Michelob Ultra.
Priorities, people.

I went through all the typical motions of race prep -- wore flats, ate my customary pancakes for breakfast and pasta for dinner, chugged Nuun and Gatorade all day. 

Danielle, Christine, me, and Esther - Carbed up and ready! 

My good friend Esther was running and it was her first half marathon -- the excitement of the morning built as we met up and I saw the vibrant look on her face, ready to dominate! 

Race Morning

I love welcoming people to my crazy running world with open arms! 

I was in Corral 2, Christine was in 3 and Esther was in 5. We all hugged each other and went into our corresponding places, ready to take off. 

Starting Line 

As I stood there I decided to set my Garmin's virtual pacer to 8:12/mile. That would give me a 1:47 finish time, which was enough to PR. If that pace was going to push it too hard and make me crash and burn, that was OK...at least I'd know what I was capable of.

I told myself just to go with the flow and honey badger it. 
 You know....just not give a ____.

I looked down at my watch after the 1st mile, and my split was 7:43.
Way too fast, I thought. I wanted to push hard but those numbers were just asinine. 
(Or so I thought!)

By the 3rd mile in a half marathon, I'm typically in a good rhythm and any adrenaline that I had previously has worn off for me. But, I was still averaging an 8:05 pace.

Around the 4th mile I had begun drafting the 1:45 pace group. I enjoyed staying close to them, and it kept me motivated on keeping my form and my breathing in check. I'd look down at my watch every once in a while and see current paces beginning with 7, but brushed it off. 
If I was feeling good, I was going to keep going. No regrets. 

happy runner

 I had been practicing eating my Gu and drinking water without slowing down in recent training runs, and that helped immensely. I had no stomach issues, and was able to blow right through the aid stations.

After a while I did begin to wonder... why in the world do I feel so good right now? I shouldn't be feeling this strong. This shouldn't feel so easy. This shouldn't be happening.

By mile 10 I knew I was going to PR. By how much was still a question. The last 3 miles of a half marathon are where your true wit is tested, and with my sub-8 pace up until that point, I was venturing into uncharted territory. 
Had it been too much on my body? Would I disintegrate at the mercy of the 12th mile? 

I never looked down at my watch again until I got to the finish. 

By the 11th mile I was starting to get really excited. 
1:45 was an elusive time that I had once before only dreamed of achieving. Now there I was with it in my grasp. That thought alone carried me through to the finish. 
At some point I passed the pace group, maybe in the 12th mile? It's all kind of a blur now. 

Finish time: 1:44:24
Average pace 7:58/mile 

5K: 25:09 (8:05/mile)
10K: 49:46 (8:00/mile)
10 mile: 1:18:25 (7:50/mile)

I crossed the finish and ran over to Prateek. He shouted Congratulations! 1:45! 
I quickly corrected him in front of lots of people and said Nope, 1:44. 
That one minute makes a huge difference, y'all. 

I watched Christine cross at her new PR of 1:55, and then cheered on Esther as she crossed the finish line of her first half marathon at 2:15! 
We also caught up with our friend Danielle who ran the 5K -- it was her very first race as well, and she dominated! 

We stretched and relaxed in the finishers area, grabbed our Mich Ultras and jumped around to Sean Kingston. 

 Rum and Raybans, anyone? 

We soon decided food may be in our best interest so headed over to Fresco's for brunch. And mimosas. 


 Looking back, after crossing the finish line I was out of breath for only about a minute and still had energy left to spend. I think I could have gone faster.
 A good friend told me to not look at it that way, as it sets me up for the next one. 

Which is absolutely correct.

Now I know what I'm capable of. I know that I'm ready to tackle a tougher training program this year and am ready to push myself to numbers I never thought possible. 

 2013 is going to be a fast year, I can feel it! 

Oh, you're still here?!

You get the pleasure of viewing some of the worst and scariest race photos ever documented in the history of time.

Viewer discretion is advised if you'd rather not ruin your image of me.

No, seriously. Do not continue on unless you want these images deeply embedded in your memory forever.

Hey, if you can't make fun of yourself, who can you make fun of?! 

 I call this one the "I want my mommy" face

 This is me trying to look focused, but instead looking a little gastrointestinally challenged

 Heavy mouth breathing means weird protruding cheeks which means embarrassing race photo moments

I call this one the "baby bird"... feed me!

I'm not certain what's more impressive here: my gravity defying braid, or my quad muscle bulging out of my left leg. Eww.

Can't get enough?! Need some more laughs? 
There are more amazing race photos of me for from the Chicago Marathon here

What can I say, I have no shame.


  1. Mary!! You just killed it.. I am so proud of you!! And for someone who "felt great" during the race, those photos don't show it. ;) There's nothing I love more than some terrible race photos! CONGRATS girl!!

    1. Right?! Can you imagine what those pictures would look like had I really been in pain? Scary thought!! :)