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Martini Friday: What did we learn this time, Adrienne?

Given how crappy my Half Marathons have been so far in 2015 — with both Pittsburgh (2:50) in May and Portland in July (2:59) I was happy to simply reach the finish line — I knew that shooting for a goal of 2:30, which was 20 minutes under what I’d run so far this year, would be a stretch. But Coach Christine thought it was do-able and devised a plan to get me there. I did my part by putting the work in, no matter how comfy my bed was.

Somewhere, in the middle of one of the killer tempo runs in the middle of the training cycle, I found another level of runner’s grit that I didn’t know I had. I wish I could point to one workout in particular but it seems to have been a cumulative thing. At some point, five miles at race pace of 11:22 was a completely achievable challenge.

I know. I’m shocked too.

I womaned the AMR booth at ZOOMA Cape Cod the weekend before Wineglass. Since I was already in Falmouth and the ZOOMA chicas had gone to the trouble to map out a 10K course, I figured I’d run it just for grins. Well, “run” is the wrong word. I wasn’t to unleash any beasts. I was to mosey. I was to amble.

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My race plan included taking selfies with the scenery at ZOOMA Cape Cod.

So I did. My 10K stroll took 1:18 and I never really felt that I was working hard. The scenery was absolutely stunning and the weather could not have been more ideal — and how great I felt at the end was a huge confidence boost going in to Wineglass.

I spent most of the Wineglass weekend hawking AMR merch (with so much help from Marianne, Heather, Abbigail, Tamara, and Lisa) at the Expo. What makes me love this community the most is how lovely mother runners are. You guys are so willing to share your stories and support each other that it makes working the booth a delight.

That said — it is also rough on the feet and legs. Still, we all tagged each other out during the weekend in order to share the burden. Because that’s what BAMRs do.

Some of us couldn’t resist the lure of the Saturday morning 5K because the prize at the end was a Corelle medal and bowl. And yes, as the internet meme says, I might jump off of a bridge if there was a finisher’s medal at the end of it. Lisa and I meandered through the cold, damp course, which was a good way to burn off some pre-race jitters.

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Lisa and I waiting for the 5K start. Why, yes, that is an AMR Flag Hoodie I'm wearing.

Half-marathon day dawned cold and clear. We caught the bus to the start at 5:30 a.m., then hung around a high school gym eating yogurt and drinking NUUN until we had to wander to the start at 7:30.

At which point, when I was far from a portapotty, I realized just how much NUUN one can drink in two hours. Dozens of runners were taking advantage of a nearby cornfield. I didn’t because I’m a city girl who is convinced that only evil lurks amongst the stalks. By the time I remembered that I have had two children and that my bladder sphincter is less than reliable, the race had started. By the end of mile one, I no longer had to pee, which was the upside. The downside is that my shoes kept squishing.

The first two miles felt great and I ran them like a dog chasing a frisbee, even though I know it is a rookie mistake that I have now made about a thousand times. Why is it so hard to stick to the plan? Why? I even internally commented that I was “giving myself a cushion” and “banking time,” even though I know that’s not really a thing.

Miles ticked away. As proof that I live in just the right area of the country, I actually got a little bored on the flatter parts of the course. A little downhill would have been lovely. Or up. Anything other than endless yards of flat — a hazard when the course is a net downhill and this particular runner is used to grappling with varied terrain. Regardless, the course was delightfully autumnal, with all of the pumpkin spice-iness that word calls to mind.

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A rainbow at the starting line. We all decided the pot of gold was at the finish. Or, if not gold, chocolate milk.

Until about mile 8, my mental game was dialed in. When my mental monkeys would come out to play, which they did every now and again just for fun, I refocused on the mile I was in. Then I changed something I could control, like making my podcast louder or quieter or switching songs or taking a Gu. Generally, that was enough to distract the monkeys, which is the Peter Gabriel album that gets no respect.

Even with these few wobbles, I stayed on pace until I hit mile ten. By the middle of that mile, I started to physically feel every single minute I’d spent on my feet at the Expo, every single step I’d taken during the previous day’s 5K, and every single second I’d “banked” during the first few miles. That’s when it started to really hurt.

I knew none of the pain was the harbinger of a real injury but, still, I’m not into the whole 50 Shades of Running. In the last half-mile, I developed a side stitch, which I never did shake until well after I crossed the finish line at 2:34.

Even though I was four minutes over my goal, I was — and still am — elated with how the race went. This run felt pretty great until the last little bit. I shoveled a ton of time off of my last two results. And, as Lisa and I marveled to ourselves on the bus ride to the start, we’ve only been running this distance for a little over a year and a half, even though it might feel like years and years.

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Worth. It.

Will I do some things differently next time? Of course. It’s a process. I’m going to work on entering the start like I’m a big hot air balloon and only cut off metaphoric sandbags one by one as I reach the last third of the race. That alone might buy me the extra speed I need.

And there will be a next time. I’ve already signed up for the Austin Half in February and Pittsburgh again in May. Given how hilly each course is, those might not be PR races — but I’m damn sure going to try, especially since I have this experience to build on. I might also be plotting to give the Wineglass course another go. I’ll take advantage of the corn field next time, too.

Was there a race or workout (or whatever) that fed your runner’s confidence? Or are you still looking for that boost?

23 responses to “Martini Friday: What did we learn this time, Adrienne?

  1. Congrats on running a great race and such a pleasure to meet you at the expo! This was my comeback race from baby #3 and I was really happy with how well it went – I improved on my first half marathon time even though I’m still recovering from building a person. I finally feel like I can set goals as ambitious as those I had a year and a half ago.

  2. I can’t figure out how to comment individually so:
    Amy – the Flatlanders claim it’s hilly. I look at the elevation and shrug. Make your own call.
    Katie – that sounds lovely, both the tour and the massage! We can plan once we get closer in. The husband and I lived in Austin for five years (and both went to UT for post-grad) so I have some sense of the territory, even though it has changed a heck of a lot since we lived there!
    And thanks for all of the kind words, y’all!

  3. Fantastic effort, Adrienne! I’m glad you’re coming to run Austin. My husband is in charge of the finish line, which means I work the finish line every year. I’d love to see you while you are in town. Perhaps Saturday I could show you around the finish area? I can also get you signed up for a post-race massage if you’re interested.

  4. Congrats on a great race! You’ll break 2:30 soon for sure! Every race feels so different, but the best for me was Buffalo Creek half (outside of Pgh) a few falls ago. The weather was perfect and the stars aligned for me, I felt great the whole 13.1, it was the most enjoyable race I’ve probably ever had.

  5. The race that fed my runner’s confidence was the Nike Women’s half in San Francisco…. I had been DREADING that course and the hills…. and once I survived it and actually felt great at the end, I was a changed runner. I love the not into the “fifty shades of running” quote….hilarious!! Congrats. !

  6. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Excellent job.
    Sorry I didn’t get to see you ladies at the booth, we arrived late.
    This was my “no excuses” race. I wanted to break 2 hours. It was a perfect day to run, I was properly hydrated, hit the porta potty twice, and used my gels right on schedule. The volunteers and spectators were wonderful and provided motivation.
    Well, I was 10 minutes off. I thought I had tapered properly, but perhaps doing 3 halfs in 5 weeks, even if one was on trails, isn’t conductive to faster runs.
    What race fueled my runner’s confidence? The Syracuse 10 mile Mountain Goat. And then the Empire state half. They gave me the confidence to return to longer races after a break of about 5 years for various reasons.

  7. Congratulations!! A bad ending to a race is what gives me a boost during other races because I know I can push myself. This summer during a Half-Ironman I got dehydrated and had back spasms on the last ten miles of my ride. When I started the run portion I realized I could not run because of the back pain. I refused to accept a DNF and walked the half marathon. That was the worst pain I had during a race and when I feel like I am suffering now I think of then and continue on.

  8. Wayyyyy back in 1980 or so, I entered a 10k that my school district put on. I ended up being first woman over all- I just moved back to this community- many reasons, but that race winis one of them.

  9. Way to go Adrienne! Thank you for letting us follow along on your journey. Every race has been a process for me, not unlike what you are talking about. Improve here, this went well there. You always hope it clicks, but the truth is, it doesn’t happen every time. So glad for you that for most of this race it did and you did so well. Again, Congratulations!

  10. Congrats! Way to go! The Berlin marathon last year made me feel like a super star! I had a blast and got close to my goal time. I’m hoping Chicago goes well this weekend:) We shall see!

  11. This past Sunday I did 21 miles as my last really long run before my taper starts for the Marine Corps Marathon. I pushed through the discomfort, knowing it was going to hurt either way, so why not embrace what would make me stronger? I felt empowered, like, now I get it!

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