Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Battle Royale

After work today, I wanted nothing more than to sit on the couch and watch my DVRed episodes of Private Practice. I got home, took off my shoes, and the battle began. I tried to figure out how to spread the miles I had planned to run today (4-4.5) over the next three days. I got our my calculator and my training plan. Seriously, running was sounding about as appealing as getting a root canal without Novacaine. I was tired. I was really, really tired.

Then, I thought about how angry and disappointed with myself that I would be if I didn't run tonight. I thought about how irritated I would be tomorrow when I had to add 2 miles to my run and run 6 miles instead of 4. So, with that, I took a step and put on my running clothes. Then, I thought about how heartbroken I would be if I fell short of my 1,000 mile goal by 4 miles. And then, I put on my running shoes.

So, there I was, in running clothes and running shoes, still tired, still not loving the idea of going out in the wind to run. But, I made a deal with myself- I would run one mile and if I wasn't feeling it, I'd turn around and come home.

And you know what happened? I ran 4.3 miles. It wasn't pretty, it was difficult, and I couldn't wait for it to be over. But, I did it. So, the winner of this battle was me- I won.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Denver Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Race Report

If you read my previous post, you know that I was in bad shape going into the Denver Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon last Sunday. I was nervous, banged up, and unsure that I would even be able to race. Never a quitter, I sucked it up, took some Advil, and got ready to run.

This race had a really reasonable start time of 6:55 AM! I was so happy to not have to get up at 4:00 AM, which is what generally has to happen on race days <<sigh>>. My alarm went off at 5:00 AM and I got dressed.
I ate a quick breakfast of toast and Diet Coke (DON'T JUDGE- I always drink it before I race- some people do coffee, I do DC). I grabbed my gear bag and my sweet hubby drove me to the drop off area down in Denver.

This race started at Civic Center Park in downtown. It was so dark, and so cold, but the buildings were all lit up and there were tons of people milling around. I found the gear check area and, as usual, got in line for the port-a-potties.

Before I knew it, it was time to line up in my corral. I had to run to get there before the race started. Luckily, I was in group eleven, so I had to wait about fifteen minutes after the gun went off to even get up to the starting line. I stood in my corral, listening to my iPod, and prayed for the best. I figured I would either completely blow this race and finish with my worst time ever, or I would meet my goal. I was just going to go with it and see what happened.

So, off I went. I started the race and, as usual, the first mile or so was a mess. People were weaving in and out, trying to get past walkers and people running four or five across. I didn't feel the best as I completed the first two miles and even came to terms with possibly getting a DNF (Did Not Finish).

As I finished mile four, both of my lower legs cramped up very severely. Every step felt like a stabbing pain in my calves, Achilles, ankles and shins. I was in really bad shape.  I kept trudging along and then, in front of me, I saw a woman with "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" on the back of her t-shirt. I decided to say a little prayer and, no kidding, I started to feel better. My cramps started to go away and I felt like my old self again! Through the rest of the race, I repeated this in my head when things got tough and, as you'll see, I not only survived, but I thrived!

I continued running along and realized that, although I hadn't had the best start, I was on pace to meet my goal. Then, out of no where, I saw a pace group (an organized group with a pacer) who were trying to meet the same time goal that I had. Interestingly enough, they had started the race before I had SO, if I stuck with them, I'd be sure to meet, and maybe even break, my goal time.

I ran along with this group for a bit and, wouldn't you know it, my foot hit a hole, or a crack, or something in the pavement and I was launched forward. I was sure I was going to wipe out. Out of nowhere, another runner crossed in front of me at the perfect moment and, instead of falling on the ground, I bumped into him. He didn't fall, and neither did I! Honestly, the angels were looking out for me during this race.

After a few more miles, I got ahead of the pace group. I was feeling so strong and really fast. I followed my fuel and hydration plan to the "T". While this was quite a hilly course, I only walked through the water stops. As I approached mile 11, I decided to pull over and have a few Gu Chomps and stretch my legs. While I was stretching, I hit yet another roadblock. My iPod battery died! Thank God I'd planned ahead and I had my 1,000 year old iPod shuffle in my waist pack. I traded out my iPods and off I went.

During my last 1/2 marathon, I'd missed the sign for the 13 mile marker and was disappointed because I didn't get my usual kick at the end of the race. I just turned a corner and, bam!, there was the finish. For this race, hubby promised me that he'd be at the 13 mile marker so I was sure to see it. I turned a corner and sure enough, there he was. He yelled "you have a quarter of a mile left, you can do it!"I looked down at my watch and noticed that I was 7 minutes ahead of my goal time. I yelled back 'I'm killing it!".

I turned one more corner and there was the finish! Not only was it close, but the last stretch of the race was downhill. I kicked it into high gear and crossed the finish line six minutes ahead of my goal. Instantly, I started to cry, thanking God and my lucky stars for not only getting me through, but letting me triumph. I saw my parents standing on the sidelines and I ran over to them, crying. They thought I was hurt, until I was able to sputter that I'd finished six minutes ahead.

I made it through the chute, getting my medal, some water, some popcorn, and my foil blanket. I stumbled off of the course into a stretching area and couldn't stop talking. I babbled on to my family about getting hit by a car three days ago and smashing my goal. I was so excited and proud of myself.

After collecting my bag from the gear check, hubby helped me back to the car and we headed back to my parents' house. Once there, I celebrated with champagne and a delicious breakfast casserole that my mom made. For the rest of the day, we watched NFL (poor Broncos!) and relaxed on the couch.

Beyond the fact that I got a PR and smashed my goal time, this race may be my favorite race that I've run yet. The course takes you trough downtown Denver, past the Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Pepsi Center, and Coors Field. You also get to run through City Park and Civic Center Park. I absolutely plan to run this race again next year and I absolutely DO NOT plan to get hit by a car beforehand.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hit and Run

If you follow me on twitter (@Princesks) or are my Facebook friend, you already know that last Sunday, I ran the Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Denver. This race has been my "pie in the sky race"- I have had a goal time in mind for this race since May and I've been training my butt off to get it.

To be completely honest, when I train for a half-marathon (or even when I trained for me two marathons), I'm not the best at getting my weekly runs in. If my training plan says to run 4 times in one week, I might have run 3 times, or sometimes only 1 or 2. I'd always run my weekend long runs, but the weekday runs had ZERO appeal for me. When I started amping up my running for this Rock 'n Roll race, however, I vowed to run my weeklies- even if they weren't my favorites. So, in turn, I ran my weekly runs.

I felt really good going into race week. I'd planned a nice, easy taper and then three rest days. On Wednesday night of that week, I went out for my last regular run before the race. I got about a third of a mile from my house, running north on a fairly busy street in my neighborhood. I noticed some cars stopped on a side street waiting to turn right onto the street I was running on. I stopped before making my way across the road and then when it was clear that these cars were not yet turning, I started making my way across. At that point, the driver of the lead car was looking to his left and I was approaching from the right. He must have seen an opening in the traffic on the busy street and he zoomed out, turning onto the busy street and, in turn, HIT ME WITH HIS CAR!

Yes, that's correct, three days before what was to be the race of my life, I was hit by a gold crossover-type vehicle. I don't remember any of it except being on the ground, in the street. My headphones were detached from my iPod and I was screaming, "I thought you saw me!" The man stopped his car, got out, and ran over to me. Some other people helped me up off of the street (I don't know where they came from but they said they saw what happened).

The driver was so freaked out- I definitely remember that. He kept asking me if I wanted him to call an ambulance. I told him I didn't- I remember thinking that that would take too long- take too long for what, I'm not sure! I was in total shock. I did twist my ankle and my knee was skinned pretty badly. I could tell that I would have some bruises but, overall I felt ok. I got the driver's contact info and told everyone that I was just fine. As such, after they all drove away I continued my run and finished FIVE MILES (I admit, again, I was in shock- this was adrenaline that got me through it.)

I got home and called my husband- he was more worried than I was, at that point. I told him I was ok and then I watched some tv. No big deal. The next morning, however, everything hit me. My body was sore and stiff, I had huge bruises on my legs and knees. My ankle was swollen and stiff as well. Emotionally, I was a mess as well. I realized that things could have been much worse and I was kind of a head case. I stayed home from work that day, icing my ankle and doing homework (I'm taking a chemistry class, of all things).

The next two days were stressful, as I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to run the race at all. My legs were still so stiff and sore, I couldn't imagine running 13.1 miles in that condition. I powered through it, though and tried to think positive thoughts.

On Saturday, the weather in Denver was a disaster. It was actually snowing! if you recall from the last 2 half-marathons this year, I tend to always end up racing on freezing cold days. Since my parents aren't huge on going out when it's snowing, I drove myself to the race expo. I got my bib, t-shirt, and race bag and wandered around for a bit. It was a typical race expo with vendors and freebies. I bought a few really cute headbands because when I run on the treadmill, my hair curls up and goes crazy! i figured these couldn't hurt.

The most exciting part of the expo was meeting Dan from season five of the Biggest Loser. He and his mom, Jackie, are working for a foundation to encourage kids to be active. They've run every Rock 'n Roll race this year! We talked about losing weight and keeping it off and then we took a picture! When I was running the race, I actually ended up passing him (but that's a story for later- when I recap the run!). 
I headed back to my parents' house after the expo and just relaxed for the rest of the day. I got a pedicure and then laid around. I got all of my race gear together and went to bed, hoping that I'd be able to fall asleep- I was so nervous! Turns out, I fell right to sleep and, even though I don't remember having any dreams, the next day was absolutely a dream come true! Stay tuned for my race recap...