Monday, November 15, 2010

On Your Mark...

Yesterday I ran the Chilly Half Marathon, my second half marathon in 8 days. While it was a bit cold when we started, I think a more appropriate name would be the cHILLY Half Marathon. There were some really killer hills on this route, which I guess I should have expected, since the race was in Newton (famous for its hills, especially Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon). 

I have to admit that I didn't go into this race with a good attitude. I was nervous about doing 2 long races in such a short period of time and was still feeling a little bit sore from the Manchester Half Marathon last weekend. Luckily Pat gave me a good pep talk on the ride to the race.

A few minutes before the race...

And then I was off. And you know what? I'm so glad I did it! Last week I was wondering why my time was slower, even though I felt good and trained hard, and this week I remembered something very important. Even though I'm only competing against myself, its important to mark people in the race that you want to keep up with/pass. I spotted two girls about my age wearing pink tops about a block ahead of me, and marked them for my pace. They started off fast, and it was a struggle to keep up, but by mile 4 I'd finally caught up with them and passed them. After that I looked a little ways ahead to my next mark. This is a great way to keep yourself motivated during a race, and really makes you push yourself. So from now on I need to remember, when the announcer says "On your mark..." I need to be thinking about my mark as well.

I started this race pretty fast, but once I got going I felt great, so didn't think about slowing down. Until I reached the hills. Ouch. They came one right after another, with little break to catch my breath, and some were incredibly steep. I didn't do any hill workouts while training for these half marathons (I did weekly hill workouts while training for my last marathon) and this really showed the importance of keeping them up. I did overhear a few people talking on the hills, it was one person's first time running a half marathon, and the other two of them had run many long races. They had some great mind tricks while running hills that I will probably use in the future:
  • Imagine your shoes have spikes on the bottom and you're digging into the hill.
  • Lean into the hill and look forward (this is one that I already do - never look down or the hill will feel much harder than it is)
  • Once you've gotten to the top - tell yourself not to be tired anymore because you're done!
The middle of the race was definitely the hilliest, and I'm sure those were my slowest miles. I felt tired after them, but saw that I was on pace for a faster finish than last week's half marathon. I kept chugging along and kept up as fast as I could (all the while eying the tie-dyed shirt in front of me to keep up with her).

In the home stretch:

I finished with a time of 1:52:25 (8:34 minute/mile pace) which is 5 minutes faster than last week! I was tired, but very happy that I cut some time off!

It was great having my whole family there to watch me finish:

Don't you love that my dad wore a cowboy hat??

After the half marathon we went inside to get drinks (lots of water and some Muscle Milk) and snacks that were provided by some of the race sponsors. Whole Foods was one of the sponsors, and they had lots of fresh fruit and pastries. I had a banana, one of my favorite post-run snacks. While I was running, Pat made the rounds to all of the tables and gathered some great loot for me (he's become very good at this from all the races he comes to). Some of the stuff he got me (all free!):

CITY SPORTS t-shirts, Muscle Milk, Skinny Water, Asics technical running socks, reusable shopping bag, and GU Chomps. I'm excited to try the technical running socks, and also the GU Chomps, which I've never had.

This is the long-sleeved technical shirt that all runners got:

After finishing the race and checking out the after-race offerings, we all headed out for a nice, big breakfast at Jim's Deli. My friends and I went to Jim's Deli all the time when we lived in Brighton, so it was nice to go back. I got 2 eggs over medium, marble rye toast (dry), and sweet potato fries instead of homefries. Pat also gave me some of his bacon.

This really hit the spot! After eating we all said our goodbyes and Pat and I went back to Nashua to relax and enjoy the rest of our Sunday (and watch the Patriots beat the Steelers!). What a great weekend!

**Jim was going to run the half marathon with me, but hurt his knee while training. Its best to let knee injuries rest, so he stopped training and sat the race out. Hopefully we'll be able to do another one together when he's feeling better.

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