May 21, 2012

Runday Monday: Race Day Recap

Hudson checking out the quality of the finishing medal!
The day started bright and early. I set an alarm for the first time in I can't remember how long. I couldn't rely on my human alarm (aka HP) on such an important day. Good thing too, he didn't rise until almost 7am. I fueled up with good old fashioned, oats, banana and PB, along with a very large glass of water. It was going to be a hot one, so I wanted to be good and hydrated before heading out. After breakfast, I donned my race gear, grabbed some gu, filled up the water bottle, and laced up the sneaks. Last but not least, I carefully pinned that lovely blue bib - number 2639 - to the front of my shirt. T'was Race Day.

Gearing to go ... 10km for Brooke, 21.1km for me!

After finding a place to park, daddy and boyso headed off in search of some coffee and snacks, while me and my bestie headed off to the start line. Well, first the port-a-potty line, but whatevs. After a long wait at the potty row (cut short by me bumping my way to head of a bunch of 10kers, who had a more time before the start than I), I bobbed and weaved my way through the throngs of racers making my way toward the front. I spied a few pace bunnies and decided to settle myself around the 2:10 pace bunny. I figured if I could keep him somewhere in my sights, I'd be sure to finished ahead of my 2:15 time goal. With a bit of an early morning breeze goosebumps sprouted on my arms, yet I listened to the announcer say this was the best day they've had in years for the race as he reminded us all to take advantage of the water stations.

I got my watch ready to go. I popped my headphones in, ready to hit play on the music. I waited for it. The gunshot that marked our start. And there it was. We were off. It took a minute or so before I actually crossed the start mat and we started out like a herd of sheep. Thousands of us, trotting together along the race course, watching those watching us. It was awesome sauce. Then reality strikes. I'm in this. I've got 21km left to go. I'm running a half marathon. A little of the excitement and anxiety combination, otherwise known as adrenalin, kicked in. There was no turning back now. So onward I went.

It took me a while to get my rhythm. I was just past the 5km mark before I really felt like I had my feet under me. It was around that point that I realized that I didn't need to know the route, I wasn't going to get lost. It was then I realized that I was pretty much around the middle of the pack, and that was perfect. It was then I first looked at my watch to discover I was running well above my pace time. So, it was then that I looked up at the blue sky and leafy green tree tops blowing ever so lightly and realized, "I got this".

Around then I started thinking a little and pulled on the well wishes and pieces of advice so many of you offered me leading up to the race. I distinctly remember one post on my facebook page telling me to trust my training and another reminding to, most importantly, have fun. I really replayed some of those thoughts, along with a few of my own mantras, over the course of the race. I also pulled on another phrase I saw on a  t-shirt at the race expo when we were in picking up our kits - "it's just a hill, get over it". Believe it or not, it made a few of those inclines completely doable.

picking up race kits and activating race chips!

 I also loved the people along the route holding up encouraging and entertaining signs.That support on the route makes a huge difference! I sorta wish I had a camera to take a few snaps. A few of my favourites included:
  • Where's everyone going?
  • Go complete stranger!
  • Where's the fire?
  • Worst parade ever.
  • Run, people are watching.
  • Pain is temporary, pride is forever. 
I plugged on and before I knew it there was a 9km marker. I was still chugging along well ahead of schedule and I ran the math, realizing that if I could keep the pace for rest of the race, I might actually get a finish time in the range of 2hrs to 2:03hrs. It was inspiring to see I was kicking some race butt. I kept on with the plan of attack for another 3-4km, running along and walking through water stations. The heat was creeping up so skipping hydration wasn't an option. Unfortunately for me, once we entered into Point Pleasant Park, I began to see the race pace drop a little. It was hot, hot, hot, in there and there were a number of smaller inclines followed by a very steep incline right near the exit of the park. I lost quite a bit of time in the park - as did many runners I think. But I was still going and still feeling pretty good, so I kept on keeping on.

Coming out of the park left us with just about 4-5km of race left. In my mind I thought that's when I'll be motivated to pick it up a little, but the temps just had me working to convince myself to keep going, never mind go faster. But I looked around I saw a guy walking and limping ahead of me, and I thought, hey at least I'm not limping. That kept me going for a bit. Then around the 18km mark, the race course doubles back for a bit, so on the opposite side of the road (across a median) I could see half marathon runners heading into the park. And I thought, hey at least I'm done that much already and I'm ahead of the game. And that kept me going for another bit. Then in the last 2km, the home stretch of the race, I saw no less than five people splayed out on the ground, on stretchers, hooked up to IV bags. And again I though, hey at least I'm not passed out on the ground. And I kept on trucking.

Before I knew it I was rounding the turn and could see the finish line in sight. I wasn't able to keep up my early race pace, but was now realizing I hadn't seen the 2:10 pace bunny since the start either, meaning I was well under my inside race goal of 2:15. I crossed the finish mat and dared to look at my watch to see 2:08:38. I saw my husband waiting at the finish line with a huge smile and I knew I rocked it. I was so pleased with that result, especially given the weather. I'm happy about it for sure.

across the finish line, water in hand, making my way to the refreshments inside

After almost five months of training, I am also happy to say it's done. And I couldn't have done without so many of you. The comments, words of advice, support, encouragement all made a difference, all through training and on race day. I am also extremely grateful for the two Jennifers, who made long runs more tolerable and even enjoyable. I know their company got me out the door and got me to finish those long runs each and every time. And of course to my family, most especially my handsome husband, who sacrificed joint sociables on Saturday nights, coffee in PJs on Sunday mornings, and spent hours looking out for the little man on the weekends so I could get my run on. I love him.

And without making this post any longer (it already feels like a half marathon!) - thanks to all for making my race day awesome. 

done like dinner!


Cathie said...

fantastic post, colleen. congrats on your awesome time.

I loved the signs you saw along the way. so glad you remembered them because they made me laugh.

Sara said...

Yay you! And done in 2:08? As you would say - awesome sauce! Oh, and my favourite sign? "Run complete stranger!" That made me laugh out loud!

Lesley Ann Staples said...

Awesome awesome awesome! Yeah Colleen you did it like dinner. So happy for you.