I'll try to make this short and sweet, but in typical Krista fashion, I'm sure I will just go on and on babbling...
We all know I signed up for this race after my disappointing DNF at the Soma Half IM. I was so prepared for that race. So ready. But, my body seems to have a mind of it's own these days and this time my perseverance (stubbornness) would not have the last word.
So, after only a day or 2 of wallowing, I set up my new Plan B. A 1.2mile swim race, a 109mile bike race & a half marathon. Unfortunately, those races were keep my training for another 5 weeks... and I was mentally and physically ready to be done. I had been training for the better part of a year and we all know we can not just keep on going without starting to see diminishing returns.
That said, I asked for some help to get me through the next few weeks and formulated a good plan. With part 1 & 2 done pretty successfully the half marathon was my last goal. I needed a PR... and with the way I have been running it was theoretically a sure thing.
Key word - Theoretically!
My first half Marathon was in 2002 (I realized this when I saw the year on the "throw away" shirt I wore on race day). It was the Arizona Desert Classic. The venue has since moved, but it used to start at Scottsdale Community College and run out into the Indian Reservation making a loop and finishing back at the college. IT was ugly, flat and boring...but it was my PR to date. In 2002, my first "long run" after my first marathon - I ran a 2:01:40 (I just looked up the results).
A few months after that race I also set my 10K PR (50:29).... I also ran my second marathon cutting off 25mins (4:31)... That's where everything went down hill. My initial onset of ITBS started and I was on a 4 year injury/recovery battle...
I completed a few more half marathons throughout the time, some pre-surgery, some post surgery. It's been a long battle trying to get back to where I was when I first started running. 8:15 tempo runs, 9min long runs... Training for back to back Ironman probably didn't help. Long, slow and steady. I had actually began thinking slow is just what I was going to be. I was ok with it - I had my "faster" days... I was just happy to be able to run again. I looked at my race medals on Sunday - I've done 8 half marathons. Only one of them came close to my 2:01 time... It was 2:05:12 at the Arizona Distance Classic in Oro Valley. The others hovered around 2:06-2:15 mark...
However, over the past several months my runs have been faster, and faster and faster.... I've seen speeds I never dreamed of having again. And, on speedwork - even better than before. The girls & I did one downhill training run about 6 weeks ago... We pushed it a little, but my HR was still in the mid zone 2 range. It was a 90min run at a 8:28 pace. I used that as a baseline for what I COULD do in Tucson (slight downhill course - ~750ft loss).
I did 5 weeks of 4x7min repeats. Those hurt. I ranged from a 7:10 pace to a 7:30 pace for all of them, depending on the route I took (slight up or slight down). As much as I hated them, I was hoping they would give me that extra push I needed.
Finally, the race report - I told you I would end up babbling!!! I guess it's just that when I finally sat down and to write about the race, I realized how big of an accomplishment this was for me. An actual goal reached, and how I had almost given up on it.
We drove down with Natalie & Jeff on Saturday... Jeff was doing his first full marathon and Natalie her first post 2 babies race! They are some of the busiest people I know, so the fact they were able to still train for this still amazes me!
I set up a group dinner for some of us doing the race... There were 11 of us at the table (2 sherpas) - 4 that were trying to BQ. Here I am all giddy and feeling great and the table was just QUIET. No confidence whatsoever! I tried to perk it up a bit...but it just seemed like no one was feeling it. So, I kept quiet about my own confidence. I was more than ready to get this on, and overwith!
I did my normal routine. Stretch, foam roll and icing of the knee..... In bed fairly early, I just didn't sleep much. I wasn't tired. I had rested pretty well the whole week. So, when the alarm went off at 4:30 I was up and atom.
Spark check. Race gear on check. Inhalers used check.
We took a bus to the start. Much better than expected. We had about 90mins to kill, but somehow it went by fairly quickly. It was a very very relaxed start. I stripped down to my race outfit - sleeveless top, shorts and throw away gloves.
My plan as simple: Start easy, get HR into high zone 2 for the first 2 miles (160-165). Whatever pace I was at try to hold until mile 11 - then give what I had.
Unfortunately my plan had to be reassessed immediately. Although it was reading before the start, as soon as I started running it was showing 185-195 HR. My breathing totally controlled, pace effortless. I tried fidgeting with it under my bra top. Then, it would read in the 200's.
I think I was focused too much on it and doing something weird, because then immediately I got a side ache. I BAD one. It was all over my stomach and around to my back.... I would hold my stomach for a bit, and the pain would go away. I slowed the pace a bit down to an 8:30 and it seemed ok. I also removed my HR monitor strap and wore it around my waist. FINALLY after about 2 miles it went away.
My knee was also hurting. Hurting somewhat bad. It had been bugging me ALL week, out of know where. It wasn't the typical IT pain I was feeling. It was from the outside, radiating down under the kneecap. If I moved to the side at all to get around someone I would feel some really bad twinges.
So - here I am mile 2 of "my race" with knee pain, no HR monitor, side ache - yet my muscles were on air. My breathing was effortless. I wasn't willing to give it all up. Not now. I was running an 8:15 pace and it felt EASY.
I decided I wasn't going to stop. No water stops, no walking, no stretching. I slowed as much as I could to get water, I ate my gel on the move. I stayed as straight and on the flattest ground I could find. I never once felt fatigue or tired or like I was even out of zone 2 for the first 6-7miles... The knee pain was getting worse, but I figured as long as I didn't stop and it didn't start with the stabbing IT pain, I could manage.
Shane jumped in at about mile 8.5 with me. It was really great to finally have someone to run with. Talk to. I kept my pace. I was able to do my last gel before he left me & had his water to wash it down with so I didn't have to stop at the aid station. That REALLY helped. He told me how great I was doing, how all I had was a 5k left. How my speed work was way harder and longer.
He was so right. As soon as he left me, I slowly started to pick it up. I had slowed a bit after the 10k when we had a little bit of incline on the course. The last big down was around mile 10.5-11 I think. I picked up the speed to sub 8min pace. I knew we had a hill coming around mile 12 and I would most likely slow a bit. I'm glad I gained some time, because when I did hit the last up my quads were toast. They felt like they were seizing up. I needed salt, but of course didn't bring any....
I passed a LOT of people on the up. People walking like crazy. Not me. It wasn't in my plan. Finally, the last turn. Slight up for /.5miles and I could see the end of the tunnel.
My first goal. Break 2 hours. My I think I can goal 1:50. My if everything goes right goal 1:47-1:49.
I crossed the finish line in 1:48:42. A 13minute PR. Huge smile on my face :-)
My quads froze, almost sent me to the ground. But, something was different. Usually when I finish a hard race. I feel sick. Nauseous. Dizzy. It was nothing like that. My endurance was so much more than 13.1 miles.
Of course it makes me wonder what I could have done without the knee problems. But, I'm not thinking about any of that. I had a perfect day. Perfect weather. Perfect race, perfect everything. I was even able to "borrow" this shot - I was kinda smiling at the end!
I was happy to be able to see all of my friends finish their marathon. My friend Sara fought like an animal for her BQ spot finishing in 3:45:35 - 25 seconds to spare. It was SO cool to see!!
I have no idea what is next up for me. Right now I'm trying to recoup the knee and rest up...