Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Urban Cow Half Marathon | 10.2.11

I'd like to start by saying that I'm ready for a wee break between races, thankyouverymuch.  I still like running.  I still want to run.  I'm ready for some down time, though.

The good thing about this race was that I just wanted to run it because I know it's so fun.  It was the one I ran for my first ever race.  It's in my hometown.  I know there will be lots of spectators and support along the course, I know that it will actually be 13.1 miles, I know that it will be all on paved roads, so I know it's not going to have any surprises.  It's a nice feeling now, too, to know that 13.1 miles isn't going to wreck my body no matter what happens.

I guess that's what training is for.  Huh.  Cool.

So as I said, I wanted to run this one for fun.  Kel always runs this one; so do all of our running buddies (the ones who helped to push me all summer to be able to make it to a full in September) so it's a happy, community kind of event.  My good friend Cheryl was also running this as her first ever half marathon, so I didn't want to miss it.

Kelly, Me, and Cheryl at the start
My goals this race had nothing to do with time.  Goal #1: Don't leave Cheryl.  Goal #2: Have fun.

Check and check.

This race day started just about like any weekend long run.  I was up early and did the routine of putting everything on in the dark.  You'd be amazed at how many things I have to layer on. (Although I forgot the Body Glide and I have the sports bra-chafe to prove it.  Idiot!)  This was the first time I decided not to wear makeup to a race, hence the sunglasses on above.  I just didn't feel like messing with it.  Cheryl and Kelly came over and we took off for the pre-race party at Bill's.

It's nice to have a group of people to talk to before the start.  Last year was my first year doing that and it made me feel like I was a part of something.  Little did I know a year ago that some of those people would mean so much to my training this year.  It was nice to kind of come full circle and to bring Cheryl and introduce her to everyone for her first race.  When I ran my first race two years ago I was very alone and I had no idea that there was such a social aspect to these events.

A few things I'm happy I've let go of:  I didn't over-think my pre-race dinner.  I know to stay away from dairy and I just ate something that I really like (Chipotle).  I didn't freak out about when and what I'd eat in the morning.  I've been running on an empty stomach at the gym for a while so I just downed a Gu before the race and I was fine.  I didn't drink too much water before the start, so I didn't have to worry the whole time about finding a bathroom.  I just let go of all my normal freak-outs and I think that had a lot to do with why I enjoyed myself so much.

We hung out for a while at Bill's and walked to the start.  Since I missed the starting lineup at NorCal, it was nice to be in the throng again.  Urban Cow is the biggest race I've done so far (4000 people), though I know it pales in comparison to others.  I like how busy it feels.  The weather was perfect. The three of us started together and I just tried to take it slow.  Since I wasn't running for time, my concern was finding the right pace for Cheryl and making sure she felt okay.

We seemed to find that pace right away and we held it for about the first half of the race.  After a few miles (even though she only currently has 9 toenails), Kelly took off so she could run her own race.  I like that everyone I run with is cool with running together or with saying seeya later when they need to do their own thing.  It's a very understanding and accommodating group.  So Cheryl and I continued on together.  We had a nice opportunity to catch up, which I appreciated since I don't get to see her as often as I'd like.

The course changed a bit and I really liked the new part of the route through downtown.  Also as usual, kids from our school were passing out water just past the halfway point.  There's nothing like running through a row of high schoolers yelling "MISS P!" to get me pumped up.

Cheryl's husband surprised her twice along the route which (even though it wasn't intended for me) just about made my whole day.  I've never had anyone stand along the route for me so I was totally living vicariously.  As usual I loved to see all the families (especially little kids) out on their lawns high-fiving people and holding signs.  Races are just fun.

I know I keep saying what a great time I had; I can't help it.  This was just a good way to wrap up a long summer of training.  (Or maybe not wrap up, but celebrate that hard work.)  Another thing that contributed to the fun I had was that it was the first time I ran a true negative split.  Even though I ran slower than normal, we picked up our pace gradually over the second half and finished strong.  I learned my lesson in Davis when I started too fast.  This time I was working hard at the end but I had plenty of energy to do so.  Starting slow makes all the difference and I was so proud of Cheryl when she said she was ready to pick up the pace and push forward.

This was an emotional finish for me; I knew how much this meant to Cheryl and it was really cool to do something like this with someone who was doing it for the first time.  I had a lot of people ask me if this was no big deal since I did a full.  Um, NO WAY.  A half marathon is no joke.  I think 13.1 is still worth mentioning.  It's not exactly a walk in the park.

My mom and dad came down to see me finish which was the other nice surprise of the day.  I wasn't really expecting anyone to come since this is old news by now.  Mom snapped this picture of me:


which is the most "real runner"-ish picture I have yet.  I'm happy to see I don't look like someone out of a Monty Python sketch.

I feel kind of legit now.

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