Monday, December 8, 2008

Race Report: OUC 1/2 Marathon (my first!)

day355: My first 1/2 Marathon! (by Kitzzy)
Words can't possibly do justice to the amazing feeling I experienced when I crossed the finish line of my first 1/2 marathon. I was afraid that, since I had already covered the distance in training, it would feel anti-climatic. Boy was I wrong. It was a very emotional time and I even shed a few tears.

So onto the race report. It's a little long and full of pictures, so bare with me. A lot of the pics are best viewed large, so click on a picture to see a bigger version. Or view the whole set as a slide show.

Friday night, I met my group for a pasta dinner at Il Pescatore and had a blast. It was nice hanging out in our normal clothes :) When we got home, I got everything ready, set the alarm, and was in bed by 9:30ish I think. I tossed and turned most of the night. I am sure I slept at some point, but every time I looked at the clock it seemed only 5 minutes had passed. I think I finally managed to fall asleep and dream a little around 3 or 4 and magically woke up only 15 minutes late since I forgot to actually turn ON the alarm. D'oh! I sprung out of bed cursing to myself, got ready, and we were on the road by 6:15 ish.

Galloway Group (by Kitzzy)
We quickly and effortless made it downtown to the parking garage next to the library. It was a bit chilly when I left the house, but it certainly did not feel as cold or windy as our recent training runs. I wore shorts, a short sleeve shirt with arm warmers, gloves, headband, and fleece vest (see pic). Since we were running late to meet my Galloway group, and I needed to warm up, I jogged from the parking lot to the timing chip table and Jason biked along. When I finally found it, there was a huge line and I worried the race would start before I could even get my chip or find my group. I really did not want to run this by myself. I finally got my chip, quickly fastened it to my shoe, found my group and Jason, and immediately shed the fleece vest. Thankfully, the race start was being delayed 10 minutes while the rest of the late comers got their timing chips, so we had a little breathing room and time for a group photo.

And we're off! (by Kitzzy)
There were no pace signs, so we just lined up where we were at the back near the timing chip tables. Jason biked ahead to take pictures as we took off. Our group runs 2:1 intervals, but a girl from the 2:30 / 1 group was with us and we decided to try that interval instead and kept it up for most of the race (more on that later). We finally crossed the start line and I realized my Garmin was not giving me a pace or distance--it had lost the satellite signal! I restarted it in hopes of speeding up the process and nearly missed Jason taking our picture at the start. I tried to get a signal several times to no avail and finally gave up and turned it off. I was not as bothered by this as much as I thought I'd be. I actually think it was the best thing that could have happened. It took the pressure off and I really focused on having a good time and just went with the flow.

Mile 1 was upon us before we knew it. Despite starting in the back, we still went out too fast and completed the first mile in less than 12 minutes. About a half mile later, we saw the first water stop, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my co-worker Amy cheering me on just before that. I opened the first pack of sport beans, ate a few, drank some water, and we were on our way. I followed this same routine at every water stop.

The weather was great, not too hot or humid, yet not too cold, so I quickly shed my arm warmers and gloves somewhere between mile 2 and 3. People lined the streets throughout and somewhere before mile 2 or 3 (I think), a group of 3 was cheering on runners with such enthusiasm that before we saw them I thought there was an Obama rally going on. We were on a walk break as we approached them, but quickly decided that we just had to run past them so we cut that walk break short. It was so mcuh fun and we were sure to thank them as we passed.

Mile 3 - feeling strong! (by Kitzzy)
As we approached mile 3 and Leu Gardens, I started looking for Jason and it wasn't long before I spotted him. I was so happy to see him. We were all feeling great and looking very happy. He snapped a ton of photos of us as we ran by. I tossed him my arm warmers, gloves and watch. He quickly gasped at seeing the watch. I laughed, knowing how neurotic I am about data, and pleasantly surprised that I didn't even care. I was having too much fun. We were happy and encouraged to have the first 5K out of the way and we pressed on. We were making great time. From this point on, clocks were only every 2 miles so I had to improvise for my splits (more on that at the end of the report).

The 2nd water stop had a live band. At the 3rd water stop, around mile 5, they were playing "Eye of the Tiger" and that really got me pumped. Silly signs lined the course as well as spectators and on-course entertainment. The support was simply awesome. On our way to Mile 6, we crossed Colonial Dr. (a major road) where cops had stopped traffic as we crossed. We were greeted by a barrage of honking cars and wondered if they were encouraging us or beeping in annoyance at being stuck in traffic. We chose to believe the former. Jason greeted us once again near the next water stop by mile 6 and took some video of us running by.

Mile 8 - Michelle spots her daughter/dad (by Kitzzy)
By mile 7, my feet were starting to hurt and I felt like my right foot was blistering. Otherwise, I still felt pretty strong. Jason met us again near mile 8, where Michelle's dad surprised her with her daughter. Jason caught the touching moment as she ran to embrace her in a sequence of photos. She had been debating whether she could run the last mile straight and seeing her daughter gave her the strength she needed and she determined right then that she would do it.

Mile 11 - on the home stretch (by Kitzzy)
By mile 9, my legs were feeling tired, but I was in awe at how much we had already accomplished. We were making great time and still smiling. By this point (sooner but I don't recall exactly when), Brenda, Michelle, and I had broken away and ran ahead from the rest of our group. We knew they could not be far behind us, but we could no longer see them. As we approached mile 10, we took comfort in knowing we only had a 5K left. I was again in awe at myself but really feeling the toll it was taking on my body. It was getting harder to start running after each walk break. This mile seemed like the longest as we searched for mile marker 11. We saw Jason one last time and I was still smiling. We started feeling rain drops, but were thankful they never materialize into anything more.

timing chip removal (by Kitzzy)
After one more water stop, we reached mile 12 and began running to the finish line. It seemed really daunting and my calves were killing me. Brenda had fallen back a little, but was only a few seconds behind Michelle and me. I was afraid I would really slow down and not be able to sprint to the finish, so I took one last walk break then ran the last 1/2 mile to the finish. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line, I tried to pick up the pace. No matter what, the finish line did not seem to get any closer until finally it was right in front of me. When I saw that the clock was nowhere near 2:45, I really gave it my all and crossed the finish line chocking back tears. Since I knew it took us at least 2 minutes to cross the start, a clock time of 2:41:50 meant that my net time was in the 2:30s! I could not believe that I had finished my first 1/2 marathon, still felt relatively great, and had beat my goal time by that much. I could not help but cry tears of joy at how far I'd come in just 9 months.

After getting Jason my 2 free beers at the finish for being such a great support, we headed to the car as it started to drizzle again. I was aching and wanted to get into some dry clothes. I changed in the car into my now fully earned race shirt :) and we headed to the farmer's market for some veggie chips, fresh produce, and an omelet where proudly displayed my shirt and medal. I think I wore the shirt all day, to the celebratory dinner at Shogun, to sleep that night, and in the morning until I showered and headed to my massage :)

Now for some number crunching. Since I did not have my Garmin, I had to improvise my splits.

OUC 1/2 Marathon Splits (by Kitzzy)

I tweeted the times for the miles where they had clocks and calculated net times based on the official race results. After mile 3, they only had clocks every 2 miles so I just clumped those 2 miles together and averaged out the time difference to get the average pace. Clearly, we started out too fast, but it worked out because my average pace for the last 2.1 miles was faster than the first so I was still able to finish strong. How awesome!!

And here are the rest of the results:

chip time: 2:38:56
pace: 12:21.1
clock time: 2:41:49
overall place: 2062 / 2249
age group place: 167 / 187
gender place: 983 / 1126

In conclusion, it was an incredible experience and I could not have asked for a better 1st 1/2 marathon. I absolutely could not have done this without the support of everyone who has been following my efforts and encouraging me along the way on this blog, LJ, the daily mile, and twitter. I could not have done this without my amazing Galloway group, and especially Brenda and Michelle who were with me to the end. And of course, I HUGE thank to Jason, who supported me and put up with my crazyness and believed in me throughout this whole ordeal and who was there throughout the course more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you everyone!! I can't wait for the next one and to do a full marathon next year.


Maddy said...

What a fantastic, smart race you ran!


Anonymous said...

Great race report. Wow, that is awesome! Your time was amazing.

I love that you let go of the Garmin when it wasn't working - I know how hard that could have been.

Whoo hoo! I can't wait to hear about your marathon training!

lindsay said...

congrats on your first half! i love that you are already looking forward to what's next. great race and report!

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