Sometime over the summer a string of emails went around to a group of ladies I've known for almost 10 years. Someone was recruiting for a team to train together and run the Women's Half Marathon. I was already looking at doing the race, but the timing was a little tough being just 2 months after Ironman Canada.
The responses came quickly and I couldn't believe how many people were "in." Almost all of the girls from my very first Marathon, 9 years ago, were giving it a go. Some have continued to run, some have been busy busy raising babies and such and haven't had the time to train. I figured if these girls were going to pick up and put it all out there, I most certainly could do a couple long runs post Ironman and do it along side of them. I even got my sister to sign up, just a couple months after she did her very first Half Marathon!
The girls started training in August, meeting for weekly long runs organized by our fierce leader and Monaco Marathon alum, Amy. Amy was amazing. She provided the group with training plans, organized runs and even track workouts. Another Monaco Alum, Colleen, (who I ran side by side and finished the marathon with in 2001) was a big help to the group as well, and even helped get T-shirts made for everyone!
Unfortunately, because of my crazy Ironman training, then a month post ironman of no running, I was only able to meet up with the group for one run. Truth be told, I think my coach was ignoring the fact I was doing the race because I didn't run over 45mins-1hr until about 4 weeks from the race. I managed to get in an 8,10 & 12 miler, but only a couple of track workouts. I had no idea what kind of time I could run, and frankly didn't care. I was just happy to be toeing the line with such a great group of ladies.
The race morning was gorgeous. A brisk cool 50ish degrees and sun! The course was fairly flat with a few bumps throughout. I started the run in Coral 1, a few rows back from the start. I decided to just run by feel, not aim for any sort of time. I had somewhere between 1:45-1:50 in my mind, but that was just based on my last 2 half marathons, however they were both downhill courses.
I had a great playlist on my ipod and the miles just kept ticking away. I took the first mile easy to get my breathing under control and was able to cruise along the next several miles around a 7:50 pace. Legs felt great, breathing good! I was actually pleasantly surprised. The spectators along the course were a big boost as well. I had cheers just when I needed them.
My niece Taylor at mile 5. Shane, Baxter & Sara at mile 8 and a fantastic surprise, my girl Tonsa heading out while I was heading in around mile 11.5. I actually got a little choked up after giving her a hug, thinking about what an inspiration she is to so many women. As much as a boost seeing her gave me, it also gave me a little bit of a struggle! The excitement of seeing her got my breathing a bit off and I was experience a very very painful side stitch. I was watching my pace slow down & avg pace go from a 7:55 to about an 8. I worked on breathing out on the opposite side of the stitch (no idea of this actually works) and eventually, with just about a quarter mile to go, I was able to run normal again!
I saw my time & tried to pick up the pace as much as I can to get close to that 1:45 mark, but as I saw my garmin hit 13.1miles, I realized I must have done a lot of weaving cause I still had a ways to go :-) I always seem to have extra distance as I tend to move a lot on the course looking for flat road vs slanted that hurts my IT bands.
I turned the last corner into Tempe town lake park and heard my people cheering again and sprinted to the finish. I had definitely picked it up in the last minute or so and as soon as I crossed the finish had to catch my breath!
I grabbed some water, my medal & headed out to meet Shane & my boy. I handed Baxter his medal and he of course, pranced around proudly, thanking me!
It was a great day! Almost 4000 women between the 5k and half marathon - a whole lotta PINK! I felt strong the whole run (Ironman fitness really does carry over) and even after my legs weren't tired at all!
My biggest accomplishment of the day was finishing the race with no IT band pain. This is the FIRST of any distance race since 2002 that I can honestly say that. A huge huge achievement for me!
My garmin time = 13.28miles, 1:45:47 ,7:58 pace
Official time = 13.1miles, 1:45:46, 8:05 pace
Our team, Sun Sistas came in 4th out of 28 teams, just 3 minutes behind 3rd place! Congrats to everyone!
My sister finished her 2nd half marathon in 6 months with a PR & is already planning her next one!
And Taylor is WAY excited to run "Ironman Arizona" (the kids 1mile race)!
Next up, the 12ks of Christmas - Bubba's race!