Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Holiday Half Marathon - Race Recap

"Oh what fun it is to run 13.1 miles on a strained calf, HEY!"

Let me start off by confirming that 12 weeks of training paid off tremendously. Besides a little set back in the form of a strained right calf muscle (more on that), I would have to say my first half marathon was a total success! I'm still reeling from the fact that this "non-runner" was able to run 13.1 miles without stopping - it was definitely a mind over matter kinda race and I am stoked to know that my mind is becoming strong enough to overcome certain obstacles - will definitely be a must need for Ironman.

P (who was doing the 5k) and I got up around 5am, had my usual race day breakfast of peanut butter toast and a cup of coffee and was out the door and on our way to downtown Portland by 6am. Race day morning for running events are so much easier than triathlon. Nothing to remember but your bib number and a few gel packs. No bags to prep, checklists to review or equipment to verify - definitely helps with nerves.

The Holiday Half and 5k is put on by Foot Traffic and  is relatively new, only in it's 4 year. The start and finish are both on the Adidas corporate campus - great venue but unfortunately in a few more years will not be able to hold so many people. But, since the campus is located in a residential neighborhood, they did offer shuttle service from a local parking lot ($5 and worth every penny - I would highly recommend for next time). We got there so stinkin' early that we made the very first shuttle. Without knowing exactly what to expect we didn't want to run into any issues - better to have an extra hour of stretch and much needed toitty time! The weather was awesome - 43 degrees and just a very light drizzle at times - kept my body temp very happy.

(Adidas was kind enough to provide their gym for a warm place to stretch and listen to some holiday music - yay for Christmas themes - LOVE IT!)

After a good hour (told you we got there early) of stretching we headed outside to join the masses. With the 5k starting 15 min after the half, I gave P a hug, wished him well and made my way towards the starting line ....where the heck is the starting line?! The place was packed so I kinda just squeezed in where I could. No harm no foul.

And I was off! 13.1 miles of running and whatever you do, Rebecca, don't stop! Miles 1-2 were easy enough, found a pretty good pace and tried my best to navigate my way through the crowd and narrow streets.

Then mile 2 hit.......OUCH!!

Crap! It was my darn right calf again! 11 more miles of this? Are you freaking kidding me??!!!

You see, two days prior I had jumped on the treadmill to finish my last easy run. About 20 minutes in I felt a sharp pain shoot up the outside of my right calf. I figured it was probably just a tight muscle so I hopped off and spent a good 5 minutes stretching. Got back on and within seconds the calf was on fire again. I was pretty pissed. Besides dealing with that tendon issue due to my laces being too tight, I had virtually stayed injury free through my entire 12 weeks of training. And now, two days before the race and I pull a calf muscle? This has got to be a joke....So I spent most of Saturday (after all the Christmas shopping), stretching, icing and elevating. Hoping and praying that by Sunday morning I would at least be able to "get through" the it at a snails pace.

But no, mile 2 of the race and my calf fired up again leaving me in a bit of a pickle - continue to run and possibly, depending on the extent of the injury, do significant damage to the muscle OR stop at mile 3 and call it good. My first half marathon...this non-runner's first real distance race possibly ending with a DNF?!!! For those of you who know me well, know that quitting was NOT an option. I considered stopping for all of two seconds...and after the next mile passed and the next, and the next, my mind eventually went into BEAST MODE and the throbbing was all but forgotten over the next 8 mile or so.

So I ran, taking in a GU pack and some water at miles 5 and 9 - and am happy to report no intestinal issues whatsoever!! My energy was outstanding and I never felt the need to stop and walk - not once! The course was relatively flat, winding through cute little neighborhoods and right by Portland State University. And as it was in a section of Portland I have never been to, did a great job of keeping my mind occupied. I only had my trusty Timex on - no gps- so figured I was clocking somewhere between 10:30 - 11 min miles. Not nearly as fast as I was hoping for, but given the circumstances was satisfied with just being able to run the whole way.

By mile 11 things started to slow down and my body questioned why in the world I was doing this in the first place. I just kept reminding myself that with each step I was running farther than I ever have before - that proved to be motivation enough to keep my legs moving! P was a sweetheart and was waiting on the side about 100 yards to the finish cheering me on. He finished his 5k much early and had already enjoyed his free beer and post race festivities while waiting for me to come hobbling along. I crossed the finished with mixed emotions - a smile for the gratitude and pride I felt in accomplishing the race and a few tears for these same reasons, along with the fact that the numbness had worn off and the pain I had been ignoring the past two hours had made itself very present once again.

Time - 2:20:03
Pace - 10:41
Place - 1612 out of 2505

Needless to say I was very happy to be done and unfortunately didn't want to stay for the post race activities - rather P and I made a beeline for the shuttle and was home in 25 minutes! I was able to find my work buddy, Laura (Rock Star marathoner!) before we left and met a few of her running group buddies. Always nice to see a familiar face in the crowd!

Anyway, drama aside it was a great morning and has definitely boosted my confidence in being able to finish the run portion of June's 70.3. I do plan on mixing in another HM some time in April in order to keep my base full - but now it's time to take a short break, rehab the calf, enjoy the Christmas holiday and research 70.3 training plans - WOOT!

And if I'm not back on here before then, here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brings you everything on your list!

Dear Santa,
                                         I want a Garmin 910XT, a new RoadID, new wheels, waterproof iPod Shuffle, a few paid entry fees for 2014.....................

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taper - To Love or Not to Love

Happy post-Thanksgiving bloat everyone! 

Wow, has it been awhile or what?! Sorry for my lack in posting these past two weeks - with the Christmas holiday fast approaching and so many activities already under our belt, I guess I just got carried away with all the hustle and bustle. It's crazy how quickly time flies by......

Thanksgiving was at an odd time of the month this year wasn't it? It came, went and then BAM!, we were into December! Nuts...anyway, the Kid went up to Washington to spend the holiday weekend with his dad's family so P and I rented a cozy little cabin up on Mt Hood for a few days. And what a blessing it was...despite the fireplace not working - boooo!

We spent the weekend enjoying delicious foods, wines, football and snuggling with our pups. I did manage to get in one run while on the mountain - bright and early on Thanksgiving morning so in a way it was my own one man Turkey Trot! :) What a difference a thousand feet or so can make on your lung capacity though! I only had 4 or so miles scheduled but I'll tell ya it took at least 2 to get my breathing under control. So glad I got my butt up and made it outside - couldn't think of a better venue to spend some quality foot to road time.

Now that we're a good week into December, I can officially say that tapering has commenced!! Got my last long run in on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and am sailing right along. (P.S. 11 miles after a holiday weekend filled with booze does NOT bode well for your digestive system. Needless to say I am very thankful for the port-a-potties that were available on my route - gah) Lesson learned!

Funny thing about taper weeks - you look sooooooooooo forward to them until they hit. Then your mind starts playing tricks, trying to convince you that you're no where near prepared. And your body? It's starts talking all kinds of, "How does that knee feel? crappy, I know.....and about that left hip? Hurts, don't it?". Your immune system plummets and that inevitable cold sets in. You become stupidly emotional, your patience wears very thin and the fun experience of Christmas tree shopping turns into a tear stained soap opera with drama around every corner....

....oh wait.... that last part just me? ;)

Haha - in all seriousness, it is a funny thing, taper week - gets me every time. But FEAR NOT! For I have my first half marathon....13.1 miles of  what is currently forecasted as 46* and possible rain to conquer on Sunday! 12 weeks of prep has come to end and I am pleased with my progress so far. Having been born with fins (not really...that would be creepy), I've come to find out that this fish isn't so bad on land after all! Looking forward to seeing what I post and how all this mental toughness I've been working on pays off.

Race report to follow on Sunday but in the meantime, if you're in the market for a new wetsuit, check out the special they are running over at XTERRA right now. All suits at 57% - 60% off!  I currently own their Vector Pro Fullsuit and have been very pleased. Plenty of buoyancy and ample range of motion. Would very much like a sleeveless as well, so perhaps Santa will make an early visit to my house this week......

XTERRA Wetsuit Sale
Enter Discount Code: SANTA

(Mulder should NEVER hide behind a wetsuit!!! - I think all my X-Files fans out there can agree!)