If you checked in with me this weekend on Instagram or read my blog post from yesterday then you already know I finished my seventh half marathon on Sunday at Best Damn Race Cape Coral! I can’t believe I’ve done seven of these things already!
After BDR Cape Coral my friend and fellow blogger, Ali, graciously invited me back to her house so I could shower before we went to lunch. As I was in the shower I thought “I’m at the house of someone I met through the Internet and it doesn’t feel creepy at all!” Haha!
When I started blogging almost three years ago I never thought I would meet people who would become real life friends – but it’s really cool that it’s happened!
Before you meet someone for the first time, I think it’s normal to worry if there will be anything to talk about. In the case of Ali, Megan, Jenny and Jodi (who I met last year) that just has not been a problem – they have all been as funny, nice and smart as they are online. Now I want to meet more of the run blog community in person!
The highlight of my race weekend was definitely getting to hang out with Ali and Megan at a race. Despite each of us having different goals, dreams and expectations it was a great shared experience.
The race itself was an interesting one for me. The first half of the race I felt really amazing. The weather was still a little bit cool (lower 70s I think) and there was adequate shade.
My goal for the race was to finish at a run/walk pace of about 14:30 minute per mile — and for that to feel really easy. In other words it would be a decent training run.
My splits through the first eight miles were right on target. I wasn’t obsessing over my Garmin so when my watch told me I sped up in mile five it was just something that happened naturally. I consciously backed myself down reminding myself that I really wanted to finish feeling like I had something left to give. I know that’s a strange thing to want on a race day, but since this was a training run it’s what I really wanted.
During mile nine the shade went away and my skin just started baking in the sun. I mentally broke during this mile – and the mental break came hard and fast. I distinctly remember thinking, “if you change your run/walk pattern now you will slow down and you won’t get back up” but I decided I didn’t care. And then the rest of the race went down the toilet.
You can see there wasn’t a gradual drop in pace, I literally just fell off the wagon. The danger of running a race as a training run is that it’s really easy to tell yourself “this is just a training run.” Ugh.
My biggest takeaway is that I need to get back to doing my long runs in the morning so I will be exposed to sun light more often. I always do my weekly runs at night and that’s never going to change, but now that I’ve started doing my long runs at night too I’ve basically become a vampire runner. That’s just not a good way to prepare for race day conditions in Florida (or anywhere).
I told Megan after I finished that next year instead of doing several half marathons in Florida I’m going to pick a couple of halves in cold weather states and just totally skip racing down here! By this time next year I’ll probably have forgotten about that, but I do want to pick at least one cold weather half marathon for 2016!
While Megan and I were spectating at mile 24 waiting to see Ali we saw some truly inspiring things. In particular there was a man who had such violent leg muscle cramps that he fell down and cried out in agony for a good 35 minutes. An ambulance came for him, but I guess the cramps must have subsided because we later saw him cross the finish line. As bad as his muscle cramps were (and they looked pretty bad) he said he couldn’t quit this close to the finish line. I just looked at him literally writhing on the ground and thought “yep, he’s a runner.”
We also saw a pacer come through, all by himself, stumble and almost fall. We asked if he was okay and he said he was experiencing cramps but would be fine. A good 90% of the athletes who came by were reduced to a walk thanks to the relentless sun. You know who wasn’t reduced to a walk though? The amazing Ali! She came through at a steady, controlled pace, stopped to chat for a quick second and then continued on her way like a total champ!
Getting to hang out with Megan and Ali in a race environment was super motivating. Megan is an amazing cheerleader and called out “great job” to every person who passed by. I’m truly impressed by her support and enthusiasm for all runners.
Overall, I want to count this race as a success despite falling off the wagon in the second half. Every race teaches us something and the lesson for me here is loud and clear: run in the sun more often to acclimate to it. (Either that or find night races to participate in! ;).
At the risk of sounding super cheesy, I just want to say that after every single race I’m still so grateful to have had the chance to be a part of it. Running is the gift that keeps on giving, even on the days when I curse it’s name under an unforgiving sun!
… And that’s my version of the story from BDR Cape Coral!
Congrats to Ali on her second marathon finish – read her story HERE!
Congrats to Megan on first place in her age group – read her story HERE!
Congrats to Maureen on her PR! One of these days we’ll run into each other ;).