Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Part 2 - Half #5 Read previous first...

See Michelle Chille was the girl who was talking to me.  She is an elite runner.  She told me that I could do anything I set me mind to.  She said as long as you are happy in your life, your running will go well.  Mental state plays a huge part of your running success.  Michelle told me that one of her worst runs was four months after her mom had died. She hung out with me until it was time to start, hugged me bye and told me good luck. She finished this half in 1:26.

Lesson number one, always wear the garmin and do NOT rely on the pacer!  Thankfully I had worn my garmin.  After about mile two the pacer took off and was running a 7 minute pace which grated on my nerves.  I just focused on every step in front of me and conquered it 5K at a time. 

I can only describe the state that I enter running in this way, call me weird or whatever but it happens.  The zone:  my sight becomes blurry as if I were watching a television channel that is static like. I am unaware of any one that is near me, I hear over and over in my mind, I can do this and I just run.  I know by feel when the time is right for a gel, water and gatorade.  Most importantly though I am determined to not walk even one step of this race, not one and I mean that.

The miles seem to peel away, one 5K at a time.  I am experiencing no pain, nothing, just bliss.  I am focused, just a few feet ahead of me and I'm doing the damn thing.  This race was probably the most boring race I have ever done in my life but whatever. It is what you make of it.  At about mile 9, there was a lady who had cancer. A lump as big as my fist welled up in my throat, I wanted to cry.  I turned around and looked at her and said just keep moving you're doing really good, you're almost there.  She smiled and said thank you.  I just kept running and knew I couldn't cry. 

At mile 12 I hear Go Pam Go! It was Nik, his mom and the kids.  I just kept running, turned, enter the boardwalk and saw the finish line (insert hallelujah course here).  I kicked it and ran the last half mile at a 6 minute pace.  I finished stronger than I ever have, and I was smiling. 1:48.13...I did it.

Last year, in November my first half time was 2:13, which I was gravely disappointed in.  Eleven months later and 25 minutes shaved off, 1:48:13.  Still smiling about that one....

Half-Marathon #5, Hot Temperatures, A PR and Self-Discovery through Game Plan...

On a whim, just to see what I could do by myself, I signed up for a half-marathon.  We all trekked down to the beach for a relaxing time.  The reality of having two days of lounging before a race has been unheard of because I usually work the day before.  I was never and excited all at the same time.  The one thing that I was mainly concerned with was running a flat course.  Living in Elgin, there is an abundance of hills in the area so the thought of running only a flat course actually made me nervous.  As I expressed my nervousness to man of my friends, the chuckles that followed were priceless.  I felt my trepidation was justified.  In my mind I had to run a sub two hour half again.  I had done it at Sandhills and I expected no less of myself this time either. 

With the pressure of a sub two half which I placed on myself, I knew I had to have a game plan, one that was made while in my rational mind, not in the throws of the race where all rational goes out the window.  I figured out through much reading that I could squish the water cups at the stops and  make a spout to be able to drink on the run.  I realized that I could bite the tops off my gels to keep my hands from being sticky and to be able to keep running at the same time I was downing it.  I figured out the splits I needed to be able to achieve my goal.  Those splits haunted me for nights on end before the race.  I was running numbers in my head all night long.  I would wake up staring at the ceiling while repeating I need to be at this time at the 10K mark.  I was not obsessed, well yes I was and am, I had and have a goal and I expect nothing less of myself, ridiculous as it may seem anything less is unacceptable to me.  The last and most important element of my game plan was not to walk at all.  The mind is a mighty powerful thing.  It can make or break the game plan. 

I discussed with my family if they would be upset if I just rode the shuttle to the start line.  I needed to focus, get in my zone (as cheesy as that sounds) but on race day there is no room for worrying about making it the start line on time, less stress is better.  They were pretty excited that they didn't have to wake up quite as early as I did, so there was no argument there. 

I brought my own alarm clock to the hotel, a fear of mine is that the hotel alarm clock won't work, so even the smallest of things help me sleep, a security blanket of sorts.  I slept pretty well the night before.

Beep. Beep. Beep. (alarm clock sound effects)  It's 4:00 am on race day.  Coffee pot started, check.  Oatmeal made, check.  Protein shake consumed, check.  Bath drawn, check.  Number on shirt, check.  Turn on the news to catch the weather, check and oh god, the temperature is 65 with 100% humidity, check.  Thankful to have run all summer in the heat and for hill work, check, check, check!  Well my shuttle left at 5:45 so at 5:30 Nik walked downstairs with me to see me off. 

I boarded the shuttle with a group of women who were running their first half-marathon.  I just listened.  The majority of them were nervous, excited and forty that day, celebrating their birthdays by running the race.  I wasn't sure how it would be to line up by myself.  This race was my first solo half.  I got off the shuttle and walked forward to the start line, it was dark of course.  I scouted out where I wanted to line up.  There were corrals, 6-7 minute pace, 7-8 minute pace, 8-9 minute pace and 10 minute and over were grouped together.  I decided to line up in 7-8 minute pace. 

As I was standing there anticipating my start, I was approached by a girl.  She was really tall and thin.  She was alone too.  Her name, Michelle.  She asked me what my goal was and she and I discussed a few things.  I asked her what her goal was and she told me sub 1:30.