Last week, I wrote about the strict instructions I received from my coach to not race the Eugene Half Marathon. I heard him loud and clear. Sort of.
If you know me, I have a really hard time not pushing myself in a race atmosphere. I was cognizant of this fact as well as my coach’s very clear instructions, and made a decision to not necessarily intentionally hold back in the race, but to run however my body was feeling. I also kept in mind that my coach told me he would have “no sympathy” for me the next week if I pushed it too much. Got it, coach. No sympathy. Check.
Race day arrived. I managed to spill my entire bowl of oatmeal all over the hotel bed and floor (sorry) and ended up eating whatever cereal leftovers Nicole and Asia had (thanks guys!). Shorts, a tank, my now staple hot pink leg warmers, and a black ribbon to remember Boston. I was all set.
I was keeping calm to intentionally keep Nicole and Asia calm as they were running the full and gunning for BQs (I’ll let them share their stories and results on their blogs). What mindless chatter can I come up with to keep their minds distracted from the 26.2 miles ahead of them. The usual 2,497 bathroom stops ensued and before you knew it, it was time to get into your corrals.
The full and half marathoners started together (which I recommend the race director’s changing on behalf of the marathoners) and the corrals were set up a little strange. Being in the B corral, I somehow found my way very close to the start and felt a little out of place. After a few speeches, a moment of silence for Boston, the national anthem and the usual cheering, we were off. And so were my legs.
Let’s recap the race via splits:
The first mile is always a bit tricky as you are pumped full of adrenaline, trying not to get trampled, working to find your way in the pack and not go out too fast. As I navigated all of this, I didn’t focus too much on pace. However, when my mile alert when off and I saw “6:59” flash before me, I let out a very audible, “SHIT.” Not shit because it was too slow, but because it was too fast. I quickly dismissed it and reminded myself to just run what felt like a fun pace.
Mile alert number two went off again and I ignored it, knowing that it was likely too fast, but my perceived exertion was just fine. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor because I hate running in them when I don’t have to. They slip, they’re annoying and I just would rather not.
When the third alert went off, I’ll admit I was confused. BUT I FEEL FINE? I started to run the hill and figured that would be enough to slow me down and get me on track.
Now that we’ve got that hill out of the way, let’s just focus on being steady. Whatever that pace is. I didn’t surge, but rather slowed down a bit as I thought for sure I must have just gone out too strong. Slow and steady, Page. Sheesh.
Ah yes, there you go. Nice and steady. Oh look at the crowd! Hello everyone! I started just zoning out, listening to my music, and was just thinking about how fun the race was and how good I felt. Sure I had to stop and use the restroom, but didn’t make that a priority.
So I ran in the “zone” and then looked at my next alert: dammit! Back in the high 6s.
At this point, I started thinking about why I felt just fine running at this pace as I haven’t done this sort of run since the Oakland Half in 2012. Ironman training has some tempo workouts, but it mainly focuses on endurance, not speed. Was it the overcast weather? Clouds, running and I usually get along very well. Was it what felt like an all downhill course (I later checked the elevation and miles 4-7 are downhill). At that time, I wasn’t sure. But looking back, it was likely the perfect weather and downhill stretch that gave me the little boost I needed.
Miles 7-8 were another solid little climb, and I used it to shorten my stride, relax my hands, lighten my expression and just take the climb for what it was.
Whew, how about a little R&R from that climb. I was wondering when my pace was going to start significantly fading.
By this point, I realized that my early mile paces weren’t just me going out too fast, but that I could actually, and easily, sustain it. Doing a little math in my head (which always takes longer while running), I realized that if I could push these last three miles, I might have a shot at breaking my PR of 1:30:06 from the 2012 Oakland Half. I went back and forth in my head wondering if pushing it is going to screw me over and my coach would kill me. But then I made the justification that I had already ran this fast thus far and maybe I should go for it. All the stars seemed to be aligning.
And so the pushing began. Somewhere around this point I saw all the Oiselle girls (the only spectators I knew on the course), and their cheers gave me the burst of energy that I needed. I could see the finish line, but we looped out and onto the paved trails around Pre’s Trails.
Ugh, now that I was pushing it, the little rollers came and there was zero crowd support. The tiny rollers threw me for a loop and I could feel the fatigue starting to set in.
One more mile, one more mile, those little rollers at the end took it out of me. I kept looking at my watch try to do the math. I was cutting it close.
Final .1: 32 sec.
I entered Hayward Field but I couldn’t hear any of the crowd. I was ready to be done, looked down at my watch one last time, put my hand over my heart as I crossed the finish line for Boston, then realized that it didn’t happen. I may of blurted “mother f***er” and then some volunteer looked at me straight in the eye, pointed and said, “You did great.”
6/377 AG — 33/2,625 Females — 147/4,074 Overall
I got my medal, my food, and the infamous pancakes post race. The women asked me how many pancakes I wanted (she reassured me I could have as many as I wants) and I took two. I then took the fluffiest pancakes I had ever seen to a corner, sat, stretch, devoured both of them in seconds, and had a ridiculous “pancake pity party.” I just kept thinking, “If I could have only gone 20 seconds faster, I would have PR’d and finally broken that 1:30 barrier.”
My ridiculous pity party lasted all of five minutes, but thanks to what may be the best pancakes ever, I got up and moved on to the massage tent. While I was flat on the table, I reiterated to myself that I didn’t go out there TRYING to beat 1:30. My goal was just to have a fun day and that’s exactly what I did. I smiled, I surprised myself and it was a great confidence boost that I haven’t completely lost speed by training for an Ironman.
I finished the day by finding Nicole and cheering on Asia to her awesome finish! We were screaming like crazy and just so, so happy for her!
Overall, am I hungry to get out there and try to break 1:30 and get a new full marathon PR? Hell yes. That thing is old, outdated and not reflective of how far I’ve come. But as my coach reminded me after I texted him on Sunday, it’s time to focus on my big goal: IMCDA. It’s coming up quickly and I have some really intense training weeks coming up.
And for those who are wondering, he didn’t get mad that I ran faster than originally planned. However, I do believe he’ll stick with his “I’ll have no sympathy” warning.
So with that, thank you everyone for your super sweet tweets and comments, and as always…