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HM #7: the hot one that I'm so proud of

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Marathon training has not gone as perfectly as I planned. Add in a monster heat wave and I am mentally & physically crushed. It was so hot this week that the largest school districts in the state closed for 2 days. That is unheard of!

The race offered free downgrades to shorter distances. If I wasn't training, I would've changed to the 10K. They said they were adding water stops, sponges and would have cold towels at the finish line. The forecast was supposed to drop for Saturday, but they still warned that the race could be called off if the wet bulb temp (heat + humidity) got too high.

I signed up for this race as a training run. My goal was 1:49, faster than marathon pace. I assumed I would be in tip top shape at this point of the summer. Obviously, I needed to change my goal. If it had been in the 90s, my goal would be to finish. Since it was 80s, I thought 1:59.

DH and the kids dropped me off and as I walked down this road I thought about all the women who had trained all summer for this, for the women that were racing their first HM. How difficult that would be. This is a training run for me. A training run with 4,000 other women. Go out and have some fun.

I sat down to stretch. (And take some pics)

I thought about how crazy running in MN is. This year I have raced in slushy snow in Feb., bitter 20 degree winds in March, the coldest day in June on record and now coming off the hottest week in August in record. If you don't believe in climate change, please come visit!

Ortho doesn't do corrals. You line yourself up by pace. I adjusted my goal by 10 minutes, so shouldn't I have adjusted where I lined myself up? That's really a no brainer and I have no idea why this didn't even cross my mind until after the race. I started right where I usually do: 9 minute pace. I could see the 1:55 pacer ahead of me.

I call this one: Pink & Ponytails

And we're off and I feel great. I know it's silly, but I had started to doubt my ability to run 8:30s. I thought my summer 5 lb. weight gain had slowed me down and that my marathon goal was unrealistic. Luckily, this raced talked some sense into me.

The course was a little out and back for the first 3 miles. Around 2.5 I saw the leaders coming the other direction. I love this! So powerful and inspiring. I was surprised by how sweaty and red they all were. In less than 3 miles, we were all sweaty messes. oh uh.

At the first water stop I immediately dumped one cup down my back and drank another. I don't carry water with me and I usually skip most water stations. Not this time!

Mile 4 was the first big hill and my pace slowed. This was my first race wearing a Garmin, which helped me in the next few miles. I did my best to keep the miles under 9:00s. The heat was getting to me. I was taking 2 waters to cool myself and powerade to drink. I felt wasteful taking 3 cups, but I needed it!

The 1:55 pacer passed me around mile 8 or 9? I told myself to keep my eyes on them and that I'd catch them at mile 10. It was a nice plan. And giving my eyes something to focus on for awhile helped. But I was hurting. I couldn't eat a GU. The thought made me want to puke. Lesson learned: bring some sport beans for when GU thoughts make you nauseous.

I actually ended the race with more fuel than I started with. ha! I grabbed the Hammer gel they had at mile 9 because I thought that maybe if it were already in my hands, I'd be more likely to eat it. That proves how much energy I had: the thought of unzipping my skirt pocket to pull out a GU was too exhausting. But for some reason I was able to put the free one into a front pocket. Hey! That's $1.29 I just saved!

At mile 10 I got super emotional because I knew I'd finish. I have never questioned my ability to finish a race. For some reason I was hit by how tough this was. In all the events I have done, this was the first time I appreciated what it meant to be an endurance athlete. Every part of my body was tired and I kept pushing. Mental toughness!

I had expected that since I was in the midst of marathon training that 13.1 wouldn't feel so long. It felt so long. The race was along the river until mile 8 where we turned onto this God-forsaken wide, boring road with absolutely no shade. Man, I hate Shepard Road. It's an easy road to close so lots of races end here. We ran this thing for 5 miles.

I could barely see that 1:55 pacer in the distance, but I knew if I stayed close to 9s I'd get under 2. I play fraction games in my head. You have 30 blocks to run. You've run 1/30th. You've run 2/30ths, that's 2/15ths! And so on. It may be strange, but it works for me. Take your mind off the pain.

That finish line. That sense of accomplishment. That feeling is so so good.

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In my head, that's how I leapt across the finish line.

And thanks to my fancy Garmin, I get to analyze data! Number geek and proud of it!!
My splits:
8:58 (hill!)
(See? The last 3 miles were super tough. No negative splitting this puppy! If I had been able to eat something, I think I would've had some energy to push more at the end, but I could not stomach it.)

chips says pace was 9:01
Garmin says 8:57
either way, I say, awesome!

While this race is no where close to my PR, I am proud of my effort. I know what I can do in the heat. And once my lovely Fall temps return, look out!

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