Monday, December 9, 2013

Race Weekend Part 1 - Go Time!

Hello Beautiful People!



Let me just start by saying that it was a wonderful wonderful weekend. I'm sorry that it's taken so long to recap it. I hope it's worth the wait for you.

Has it really only been 2 years since my first Half Marathon? The Former Fat Girl never thought she would complete a 5K let alone go for a 6th Half Marathon in two years. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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Friday afternoon I was in a panic. It was raining and I had just broken in new sneakers the weekend before. Was I seriously about to ruin brand new sneakers? Argh. I could wear an older pair, but if the roads were wet then I wanted that peace of mind that I had good traction. I risk nothing with my knee.

So as I was pulling into town I was a little early. What is a girl to do? I ran to the Reebok outlet again. The same sale was on. HOLLA!  So I picked up two new pairs. So now if I ruined my sneakers in the mud I would be okay. More than okay. I'm good for my next couple of Halves. Woo Woo!  I also picked up some more of the compression running socks that I fell in love with. I don't mess around with my feet. I also picked up some spray to water proof my sneakers. Mine are all mostly mesh. Which is great for expansion, but not great when it rains.

I also stopped at the Under Armour outlet.  I had a long sleeve shirt to wear, but I wanted to see what other options there were. I tried on about 6 shirts. Without even realizing it, I had 3 neon yellow shirts and 3 teal. They were all long sleeve. Some with hoods. I really really liked this  neon yellow turtleneck one. The turtleneck had a mesh area so you could cover your mouth and nose to keep the cold out. It also had built in mittens. Oh heck yeah!  I loved the yellow, but after last week's wardrobe malfunction with my new white sportsbra I would be wearing a hot pink bra for the race. Could you see it through the yellow? I wasn't willing to take that chance. They didn't have a medium in this beautiful purple one so I got a large. I was happy though.

Dear Santa, I would take any color in a medium:

http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/womens-printed-ua-flyby-turtleneck/pid1233724-452

And then it was time to pick up my bib and shirt at the race tent. This is my third year at this race and I have loved watching it grow. This time there were a bunch of venders in addition to the packet pick ups in the tent. They had also added more spots for the race. It sells out every year.

I happily picked up my shirt and took a look at the shirts and sweatshirts. I love that they sell the previous year's shirts for a few bucks. I love last year's and wear it all of the time in the cold. I picked up another one ( a small unisex) and looked at the sweatshirts. I was in LOVE with a purple one. They had one left and it was a medium. Honestly, I needed a small, but I loved the purple. Oh yeah, I got one. Of course it didn't hurt that it was cold and rainy at the time. I'm an easy sell at that point.

Since I was using a card I had to go into the store to pay for it. I was on my way in when I saw the stand with the compression sleeves. I have wanted a good pair forever. And after September's strange calf cramps I opted to treat myself. Merry Christmas to me. I could not wait to get home and put them on.

I LOVE walking up and down Rehoboth Avenue at night during the Holidays. Race weekend is electric!  Pun intended :-)



I drove by Mr. Brian's and my new favorite Hot Chocolate cafe, but alas they are closed for the season. *Insert sad face* No matter, it was time to get to dad's and let the Carb Loading begin!  It was dad's birthday and he picked a favorite of ours for dinner. We went for italian so that I could feast on pasta ...I heart Carb Loading night! (I started the day with a soft pretzel at lunch). My plate of angel hair pasta with marinara sauce and meatballs was too much. I had to get some to go. But it was yummy!



When we got home I put on the compression sleeves and got ready for bed. We needed to leave at 6 am. Race time is 7 am. I was tired, but I was also excited.  The facebook group page for the marathon was lighting up. People were asking questions: What time is everyone getting there?  Where can I get socks? Does anyone want to pace with me? etc.

*On a side note, social media has really made this journey great. I only knew one other person running this race personally, and I had only met him last weekend, but I knew of so many others because of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When it was time to get up I shot out of bed. Race mornings seem to be the only mornings that I never hit Snooze. haha. I should have a race every day!  NOT. I got ready with my new shirt, running leggings, and my running cap. And for a moment I didn't even recognize the woman in the mirror looking back at me. Who is that? She's so skinny...with some rockin boobs!



Dad was driving me and we left on time. As we got close it was hard to find a parking spot. What's the preference? Park close to the start or the finish?  I've done both. Last year we were closer to the start, but it was such a long walk back to the car after it was over...remember my hypothermia? So Dad dropped me off and went to park. I wasn't sure if I was going to see him before the start.

I headed to the boardwalk and got ready. I needed to put on my running belt, put my phone in it, and get my ipod ready. And I was cold. COLD. It was a balmy 39 degrees. It didn't seem to be raining any more, but it was still cold. Luckily I had brought one of my previous silver wraps from the finish line. It traps the heat in. I just couldn't seem to hold it on while I was trying to get my water bottle ready. Doh.

My race plan for the day was originally: Run 5, walk 1, run 5, walk 1, run 1.1. Since my previous races this year involved tight hamstrings and the most bizarre calf cramps known to mankind, I needed to make sure the muscles got a little rest.



A few minutes after 7 we were off and running. I am not fast so I always hang towards the back at the start. I'm in this for me and I'm not about to hold someone up. I moved to the left in case I would see dad on my way down the street. About two blocks in I saw him on the curb. YAY! *My first song of the race was the Rocky Theme song...this is a good sign*

So we're running down Rehoboth Avenue away from the boardwalk and I'm trying to decided when I want to shed my wrap.  I have my mouth and nose covered with my shirt and I have my throw away bright orange gloves on. It wasn't easy to run and hold it on, but I had done this course two other times. I knew that we were running away from the beach now, but in a little over a mile we would be heading back towards it. No matter how warm I was starting to get, it was staying on until I passed the beach.

At mile one I checked my time and I was doing well. I was at my training pace. Woo woo. Only 12 more to go!  We ran up towards the beach and I did feel a tad cooler. Mile 2 was parallel with the ocean and would then turn towards it down towards a state park. That's also the area where I saw the leaders starting to head back. They were finishing up mile 4.

I was warm and I threw off the wrap at the first water stop right by mile 2. I still had my gloves on. I also dropped the shirt from my face. I was suddenly aware that my nose had been running and it was smack dab right in there. eww.  But, it kept me from a dry throat and tight lungs. I'll make that trade any day.

Okay, this is really one of my least favorite parts of the race. This stretch before you get to turn around and head back is awful. Why? Do you know what it's like to have a couple thousand people running toward you? When you aren't fast it SUCKS. I try not to let it get to me. After all, I'm getting faster. My knee is a mess. I'm not going to get that fast over night. Two years ago for my first race I walked the whole thing. This time I am running most of it. Progress!  It's just a good thing that there are so many good looking gents running towards me. :-)

I got to the turn around and started heading back on mile 3. Ahhh...feeling good and still holding pace. And more importantly I was encouraging all of those that I passed in the other direction. That always means so much to me when people I don't know help to pump me up.

I shed my gloves at the next water stop on mile 4. I was getting warm. I also noticed something. I had found my pace group. I don't run well with others. I have to go at my own pace, but I seemed to find about 10 people that stuck together for the last couple of miles. Some were running the Half and some were running the Full. The ladies in front of me were wearing jackets that said they were running marathons in all 50 states. AWESOME!

When we approached mile 5 I saw my first good sign of the day "Making this sign wasn't easy either". Ha. I gave him a thumbs up. When I got to the water stop at mile 5 I cringed. This is where everything changed last year. This is when I slowed down in my shorts and it got colder. I couldn't quite recover. My muscles tightened and it was a painful painful painful remaining 8 miles.

Forget that. I was feeling good. But now, what do I do? My plan was to start walking now, but I know that I will probably be running in mud in 2 miles. New race plan: Run til I hit mud, then walk til the mud is gone. Repeat.

I was on mile 6 when I saw the leader heading back towards the finish line. At least I was further along this time!  I also noticed some pretty funny signs at this time. It appeared that there were two friends racing each other in the Full. Some of the signs were a tad raunchy, and I hope they made them laugh. "If Marathon's were easy they would be called Jen *****". Nice.

Since I was starting to see racers coming at me I started to look at their shoes. Were they muddy? It didn't appear that they looked too bad. Hmm...So at this time I reached under my shirt to adjust my race belt and pull up my pants. I could feel that my phone was now in the crook of my back. That's fine. I'm not getting it out, but I could also feel my belly. It was ice cold. The area between the top of the pants and the bottom of the sports bra was completely numb. I could feel it with my warm hands, but my belly did not feel my hands at all. Well crap, that can't be good.

I was also noticing that my belt was now cutting off my body in another area...I was starting to look like the michelin man under my spandex...um...not my best look.

Okay, so we finished mile 6 and headed into the trails. I'm still with my pace group. Holla!  When we got to the muddy areas I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't as bad as I anticipated. They weren't great, but they weren't that bad. I was still forced to slow down and walk around them, but there were large areas in between them.

So now what do I do? Do I run? Do I walk? I'm now off of my race plan. My body said go for it and my brain was screaming "This is how you get into trouble!  You need to rest the muscles a little bit! LISTEN TO ME!"  What you need to know is that right then Ricky Martin started yelling at me through my ipod "Do You Really Want It???"  HELL YES I DO!

So my new plan was: walk through the mud spots and run the rest. I chose to listen to my body again and not my brain. Let's hope this time it doesn't backfire...again!  I think I saw Mr. Brian's friend pass me the other way on this mile (knowing his time now I'm fairly certain it was him). And soon I was at the end of mile 8 at the next water stop.  I was feeling good. Really good. My time was great. It fell off a little in the mud, but I was much further than I had expected.

Towards the end of mile 9 is the turn around. Full marathoners keep going. Half marathoners turn around. This is the first time that I was still hanging with some marathoners. I cheered them on as they went on their way and that was really the first time that I thought "I think I am ready...I can do that next year!".  Just try to wipe the smile off of my face!

So now there were just over 4 miles to go. I felt good. I felt great. I saw a pregnant lady heading towards me on the way back. She had a great walking pace. Loved it!  And I saw many many people just plugging along. You Got This!

When I got to the end of mile 10 I forced myself to walk a little. I started to panic about cramps. It wasn't the full mile though because the more I walked the cooler my muscles got. My hamstrings and glutes started to tighten up. OH NO WAY!  I will not be taken down by a frozen butt!  So I made it a light run. At this point I was still heading for a Personal Record even if I walked the rest. I was happy.

I was never so happy to get out of the trail though. Just a mile and a half to go. The trail blocks the wind and I felt the cold as soon as I came out. It slowed me down. On the last mile I passed a gentleman with a walker. It looked like his parents and maybe a brother were with him. I cheered him on and wiped away the tears. #Inspiring.

*I have since learned via Facebook that this gentleman broke his neck over a year ago in a diving accident. He walked 2.6 miles during the race with his family as his brother ran the Full Marathon. This was his longest walk since the accident.

At the next corner I opted to walk for the next -part. I know that I was so close to the finish, but I also knew I needed to tap into my reserve. The last thing I wanted to do was cramp up on the final stretch. That might possibly kill me. I was also enjoying some more signs. I don't know Noreen, but her son was leaving some good messages along the way. In one he asked her to pick up some more beer on the way to the finish line since he drank it all. When I passed the cop at that last big intersection I asked if he wanted to carry me the rest of the way, he said he would be happy to. haha. Just kidding, it was time to take off.

Amazingly I was still with most of my pace group. We were a little more spread out, but everyone was in sight. We sort of got into rhythm with each other.  As we passed the 26 mile marker for the Full marathoners I kicked it into gear. Usually I sprint the last .1 but this time I sprinted the last .2 miles. And that's when I saw my dad standing on the corner. I was so excited.



And then I saw my time. I did it!  I met my goal.  And in all honesty, I felt like I could go another 5miles easily. Not only did I get a Personal Record, but I smashed my course record by 30 minutes...and more importantly: I WAS INJURY FREE! HOLLA!!!  OMG that alone was the greatest feeling ever. So great that I decided right then and there to begin my training for my first full marathon on 1/1. I am going to do this!

They gave me my new heat wrap and medal and I went in search for Dad. My chest hurt though...good lord it's the biggest medal. I feel like Flava Flav carrying a clock around my neck. haha. As I was looking for dad one of the ladies in my pace group stopped me and thanked me for pacing her. We hugged. It was magical. And then I found my dad and got my big hug. Ahhh...it was over.



NOW FEED ME!

I've never been in the tent with so many people before. It was wall to wall people. Luckily my body knew were to go...it had honed in on the pancakes and the mac'n'cheese....and I got a burger.



I met dad outside of the tent and found a picnic table to sit and eat...and put my feet up. Then I got a little starstruck. I follow a lot of runners on Twitter and Instagram. I've seen before that we've run the same races, but I've never seen anyone in person. I happened to see one of my favorite follows walking by. I yelled out her instagram name and she came over to say hi. Sadly her sons had been sick that week and she got really sick on mile 13 of her Full. She had to pull out. She's so amazing. I was giddy to take my picture with her...even though I look like an elf. My running cap was no longer covering my ears and I look a little silly. Don't care. Follow: nycrunningmama



After I ate we headed towards the van to go home. I was happy and feeling good, but my body was shutting down and ready for rest...and a shower.

I inspected my sneakers and they didn't fair too bad. I think they will be fine with a wash.  I kicked them off though for my slides and eased into the seats...the heated seats. ahhh...New Rule: Anyone who drives me to a race MUST have heated seats.



When we got home I took the hottest shower ever. Seriously, I didn't feel it. And then I looked down and my whole body was pink. I think I was a tad cold. Naturally I was home when I realized that I had packed the little heat packs to hold when the race was over. DOH!



After my shower I put on the compression sleeves and got out my ice packs for  my knees. I definitely needed some recovery time...but not too much, I was getting hungry again!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Eat Anything I Want On Race Weekend

Have a Blessed Night.

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Check out my Facebook Page for Confessions (there are before and work-in-progress pictures):

http://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsOfAFormerFatGir

yeah, sorry, I messed up and the "l" is missing....I need an assistant :-)

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