Thursday, May 1, 2014

"I am proud of how I ran"

With the Boston Marathon and the amazing running that was put on display by everyone, especially couple of Americans: Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan, I was inspired and highly motivated to have a great race this past weekend. My training has been going really well all winter, and the Twin Lights ½ marathon was the first checkpoint along the way to my two A races this year – Mt. Tremblant 70.3 World Championships in September, followed by Kona in October. It also has been almost 5 months since I actually raced, so it really was time to dust off the cob webs and put myself out there.

Twin Lights Half Marathon although not a major half marathon is an easily accessible local race that holds a special place in my heart because that is where I got that sub 1:30 monkey of my back.  It is where last year I absolutely crushed my then goal time of 1:29:59 by running 1:27ish. Naturally, the goals were bigger and faster this year, and 1:24:59 was the new “scary” goal! I knew I had the potential to run that, but I also had my doubts. Training has been great, except the week before the race my mega (cycling) and mini (running) legs have gone missing. EZ /Steady efforts felt like too much work, and anything nearing my critical power or marathon pace running was hard to sustain for more than a few minutes. Eventually I stopped trying to test the legs to find my top end speed, and hoped for the best on race day!

Then this quote showed up in my inbox:

"I'm proud of how I ran.  When it comes to racing you need to test your limits and put your mind and body on the line. Whether you're a newbie or an elite athlete, everyone needs to race like this from time to time to truly begin to understand racing, pacing, and what your body is capable of."  Shalane Flanagan

What better time to test that statement than now! Lucky me, Jorge instead of breaking course records because he can, decided to pace me because why not when running 6:30s is your EZ pace.  Come race morning, I had successfully shut my brain off, and was ready to run because that was honestly about the only way to stay warm! It was barely 40 degrees, and on and off drizzling rain.  Acceptable weather for January but April almost May? (I think the weather deserves a blog of its own). I only felt a little less uncomfortable lining up in the very first row of runners than last year, and before I knew it, we were off. The picture below summarizes how the day went!   I was in the chase mode from the very first step, and unfortunately whoever borrowed my legs never returned them in time, and I was left on my own way too soon. 

Struggling to keep up and realizing my legs would rather be sleeping than turning over and running at mile 2 of a 13.1 mile race is trouble, but I still had hope that my legs would come around.

Just trying to hold on ... (you will not see this again)

It was early, and I wanted to be fearless today. If I blew up, I blew up. I pushed on but when each little roller felt like a mountain, and I watched everyone I took off with slowly disappear in the distance, I knew Sunday wasn’t going to be a PR day.  Not much later, I heard steps behind me, and a female voice chatting it up.  Sure enough, I got passed like I was standing on another roller (read mountain for my legs).  Jorge was out of sight at this point, but I wasn’t ready to give up my lead just yet. I was going to fight. I went back and forth with the girl that caught me for about 2 miles – she would pass me like I was standing on anything that even remotely was going up, and I would return the favor on the downhills. Miles 1 through 4: 6:37, 6:47, 6:57, 6:36). 

Making my move on a downhill ... 

Come mile 5 which included a few steady climbs, my legs that had absolutely zero willingness to move uphill had enough, and the eventual winner of the race dropped me like a hot potato. Watching her disappear in the distance was frustrating, but my legs just wouldn’t go.  Somewhere in that same section, I was passed by another girl, and as much as I tried to respond to her passing me (the freight train like breathing was a great indication of my effort, but not much return in speed) my legs had nothing besides boat load of pain to offer. My mega legs could have started a fire and keep everyone warm – I was feeling the burn like never before! You know when even the PowerBar double latte gel doesn't give you a boost you are in for a long day! Thank you PowerBar for always keeping me fueled! :) 

I suffered and shuffled the uphill rollers between miles 5, 6 and 7 (7:07, 7:15, and 7:10) and I threw myself down every downhill or flat section I could ignoring the pain. 

Throwing myself downhill - ouch for the mega quads. 

 My quad just doesn't look right! 

Miles 8, 9 my PowerBar Double Latte goodness must have kicked in and I was able to tick of couple of faster miles - 6:46, 6:47.  At about mile 9 or so, I got passed by the 3rd girl like I was standing again – except this time on a downhill! I tried to stay with her, but I had zero chance. She was flying!  This was even more defeating because it was on a downhill! I watched her disappear in the distance. Then there was one more guy that passed me before the last bigger hill at mile 10. (7:13 pace) That one felt like Mt. Everest to me!  As we started to climb this .5 mile uphill, this dude stopped and started to walk half way up the climb! It took every fiber in my body to not follow suit, but I kept shuffling. My shuffle was just as slow as his walk because the gap between me and him didn’t get much smaller!  Once I finally made it to the top of the hill, I knew I had roughly 3 miles left which were mostly flat or slightly down, so as soon as my legs allowed me to open up my stride, I began to push the pace with whatever I had left. I had set my sights on the walking dude but it took me the entire 3 miles to catch him. He obviously wasn’t walking anymore. Miles 11 – 13 were 6:45, 6:37, and 6:40.

1:29 and change later, the sufferfest came to an end. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed because I was, but after some thought, I was able to put the race in perspective, take out the positives and let go.

Definitely glad this one was over! 

Even though I didn’t run anywhere near my goal time of 1:24:59, I still managed to run a sub 1:30 half marathon, on a day when I could have very easily quit, get discouraged by my splits that kept getting slower with each mile and pack it in. Instead, I was able to pick up my quickly falling (the wrong direction) pace, and finish miles, 11, 12, and 13 at descending pace that nearly matched the pace of my first 4 miles. I was able to suck it up, deal with what was given to me - shuffle when my legs didn’t want to move, push the pace where I could and I still ended up with a time I would be ecstatic about barely a year ago.

I too am happy to say that I am proud of how I ran even if it wasn't a PR day! I was as fearless as my body allowed me to be on that day. I didn’t just pack it in because the day wasn’t going my way, and I am walking away with a new confidence level that I can and will run that sub 1:25 next time I toe the line.

For now, it’s time to recover quickly, which thanks to the most comfortable compression/recovery tights I have been living in the last few days is a piece of cake ( mmmmm cake) , and get ready for the next one. 

Thank you EC3D for helping me recover quickly

Oh and that cake? This one is to die for and even on the healthy side! ;) Also, the only way I'll eat black beans! Czech it out! 


  1. Wow, great job! I admire you for not quitting!!! You will get that sub 1:25 very soon :)

  2. Gr8 Job!!! No worries on the time aspect & thanx for all the photos. Stay Strong