My cowbell made the news! I knew I'd be famous some day. Check out my cowbell's 1.7 seconds of fame from this past weekend's Wrightsville Beach Marathon & Half-Marathon:
It doesn't matter that they cut my torso and face off. I'm still totally famous. Shut up.
Mm k, so this past weekend, Mike and I trekked out to Wilmington, NC, where I was participating in the Wrightsville Beach Half-Marathon as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon. The goal was to run a hard and even-paced effort on tired legs. My coach, who happens to be the race director, did not taper me for this race. The theory is that when I actually do taper off this training into Boston, I will apparently feel like I have a rocket up my ass. He refers to it as a "well-oiled machine"; I think "rocket up my ass" has a much better ring to it, no?
Being tired is something I have become accustomed to over the past few weeks. On top of all the training, work has been, well, long. With 47 runners in my Streakers class this time around (which is amazing...I love my runners!), I conducted 40+ individual analysis meetings and wrote the same number of training plans in a less-than-two-week span. Throw my normal floor hours, a couple of events, and one "how will I ever get everything done" panic attack on top of that, and you've got a tired and stressed Jen. You've also got two cold sores (which makes an Angelina Jolie looking Jen, but in a not-so-good-looking way).
In any event, I was therefore semi-fearing this half-marathon, afraid that I would feel completely wiped out and suffer through the whole thing, but it turned out okay. If only we could all be like Kara Goucher and get paid to run. I mean, we've already established that Kara and I look like twins, so we might as well act alike too. She probably needs someone to stand in for her every now and then during her photo shoots and such. Hmm, although, if News 14 Carolina cut my face off during a mere cowbell segment, my career as Kara Goucher's stand-in double isn't looking so promising. Um, yeah, no.
Alrighty, well that was fun. So, what was this post about again? Oh yeah, half-marathon. We arrived in Wilmington on Saturday, ate a disgusting lunch at the Atlanta Bread Co. (it wasn't really disgusting, but the speed in which I ate my sandwich kinda was), and grabbed my race number and teased Bart Yasso at the expo. Yes, I said teased Bart Yasso. I have met Bart numerous times; he semi-interviewed me at Runner's World Magazine years ago, and I've hung out and run with him at two running conferences. Yet, he never remembers me, nor do I expect him to. He is fun to joke around with though, so I always go up to him at races (he was in Myrtle Beach too) and act really offended when he doesn't remember me. He becomes all concerned at my disappointment, and then I start laughing. It's a fun game. Bart remembering me is like me remembering a cheeseburger I ate six years ago; there's just too many like 'em to remember 'em all!
That night, we went for dinner at the Front Street Brewery. Getting completely sloshed on wine crossed my mind (it was St. Patty's Day after all), but I was already having intoxicated symptoms without the alchy: visions of green EVERYWHERE were making me dizzy, and the race's 6:30am start time was a risk in itself of oversleeping.
Race morning. 4:30am. Get out of bed. Sigh. Am I late for work? Sigh. Oh yeah, race. Eat a pop tart. Grunt. Walk downstairs in unmatched pajamas searching for coffee. Take the elevator back up one flight because I'm too tired to walk. Sigh. Curse at myself. Trip over my sneakers because it is still dark out. Slowly remember that we live in the age of electricity and turn the lights on. Grunt. Drink water. Sigh. Pee. Look at Mike sleeping and think he is a spoiled brat. Grunt. Put race attire on. Ask Mike if my butt jiggles in my spandex. Remember that he is still sleeping. Brat. How dare he not answer me. Sigh. Pee. Eat another pop tart. Go.
After a 1.5 mile warm-up to the start line, I was finally awake and ready to run. The morning was misty, 61 degrees, and full of that nasty, humid stuff. Oh well. The gun went off, and with 3,000 runners on the line (2,000 in the half), I started cruising at my "I can go forever" feeling pace for the first mile. At mile two, I gradually began to pick it up. I made the decision to click my mile splits to review later on but to run the whole way on "feel" and not look at my watch. Between miles three and seven, I passed a bajillion runners. Yes, a bajillion. Really, I counted. I felt smooth and comfortable through mile eight, and then I started to reach the discomfort zone. I pulled my gu out of my pocket, and FAIL! ...dropped the gu. A very lady-like obscenity forced its way out of my mouth; I suppose I could have picked up the gu, but I did not want to break stride. Instead, I took a sip of gatorade at mile 10 to replace any electrolytes that I could, but that was, um, nasty, and I spilled the RED gatorade all over my WHITE jersey. Question...What is the point of diet gatorade? I mean, we're running 13.1 miles. I'd rather add lard to the gatorade then have them take away my calories. Seriously.
Okay, so mile 10. There were two extremely smelly guys running next to me (hi, deodorant) talking about their splits, so I now knew my pace. This was the first time I glanced at my watch. I could feel the fatigue in my body at this point, but a 5k is only a 5k when you are marathon training, so I knew I'd be fine, even without the gu (although that sweet lil' jolt of espresso-love-caffeinated-goodness would have been nice). I had a strong, final kick into the finish for a 1:27:59. Okay, okay, officially it was 1:28:00, but I like my watch better. I ended up sixth overall female and first in my age group, which earned me a pretty sweet beer stein that I will fill with red wine
very every so often. In reviewing my splits, mile one was my slowest, while the rest of my miles were all in the 6:30's and 6:40's. I ran a perfectly even race, which is not typical for me. It's amazing what happens when you simply listen to your body and not let technology dictate what you can or cannot do.
My Streakers also fared well; we now add three new half-marathoners and two new marathoners to the cool club...I couldn't be any prouder of them! Oh, and cowbelling them and other runners into the finish is when I became famous. By the way, let me know if you'd like an autograph.
Also making the weekend exciting was my alma mater! Lehigh handed Duke their dookies on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Basketball madness. To show my Brown & White pride, I ran in my former Lehigh cross-country singlet. The brown butt huggers stayed home. Even if Lehigh had gone on to win the whole damn tournament, the huggers still would have stayed home. Talk about butts jiggling in spandex...yikes! In any event, it was fun hearing the various cheers out on the course while donning the jersey: "Duke sucks!" "Where's Lehigh? Oh, Lehigh! HELL YEAH, LEHIGH!!!" The jersey alone made me smile more than I normally do in races...
Well, onto Boston! Four weeks to go. Bib numbers have been posted, and it looks like I will be lucky #6844. I am still searching for the hidden meaning in this one; if it is 6,844 seconds, I am in pretty good shape. A1:54:04 marathon would be kinda ideal. ;)
And so the training continues. Over the next four weeks, I want to focus on better recovery techniques. I learned my lesson going into work right after a 20-mile hard run and not having time to eat or drink water all day. The ensuing week's runs were pretty rough to say the least. Gotta keep the machine well-oiled if I want to earn my rocket! I've also let go of a goal for Boston. New outlook: run hard, smart, have fun, and enjoy my surroundings. Let go of the pointless, stupid, self-inflicted pressure. See what happens!
All in all, it was a solid run and a nice weekend. The race was very well-organized and had a loud crowd given the small-town feel. Wrightsville Beach is also a great destination spot, so for anyone looking for a great half or full, check this one out. Kudos also to my coach/race director for staying so professional, calm, and collected this week, despite his sister's house being completely obliterated by a tornado, one of his staff members being hit by a drunk driver on race morning, and having a gentleman collapse with cardiac distress during the race. Thankfully, everyone is going to be okay, but man, situations like these really help me keep everything in perspective.
Thanks for a great weekend, Wilmington!