Thursday, March 15, 2012

and then this happened...

i suck at keeping secrets. i need to let the cat out of the bag. im running an ultramarathon.... this summer.

no, you didn't miss anything in sporadic blogging. don't bother going back to check old posts.... i haven't run my first marathon yet. yea, i's all a little backwards.

when i couldn't run mdi marathon this fall i decided i would run a spring marathon as my first. i didnt think i could wait a full year to run my first marathon. i didnt want to wait that long. i had already been eager to run mdi for soooo long that waiting an entire year sounded awful (fun fact: im not patient. at all). literally the day after i finished the mdi relay i decided that i didnt think i wanted to run a spring marathon. i had put a lot of effort in getting back on my feet after surgery and if i wanted to run a full in the spring it would mean i would have 2 months "off" before i jumped into a training cycle. i just felt like i was going to burn myself out. i decided that i would skip the spring marathon season and register for marine corps marathon in october. i wanted to focus on my speed and improving my half marathon time. and then there was that fateful day in december...

i was browsing twitter one morning to see that eissa had registered for the great cranberry island 50k lottery, which is held near to where i grew up. i immediately wrote to her and she asked if i was entering the lottery as well. oh hellllll no! i haven't even run a marathon. i decided that if she got in, i would go and volunteer. then i started thinking about it it's only 5 more miles then a marathon and i can walk/run it and there is a big after party and ive been told its an amazing time. so a few days later and after many texts to several marathoners/ultra runners as well as my friend/ co-race director i was registered for the lottery. now i needed to wait a month and a half for the lottery drawing.

because this race is held on a small island off the coast of maine, there has to be a cap at the number of runners it can accommodate. there's only so much road to run on and only so many volunteers so the race is by lottery only. as i was filling out the lottery application all signs pointed toward me getting in. how many ultramarathons have you run? n/a. what's your current 50k PR? n/a.  how many marathons have you run? n/a. what's your marathon PR? n/a. soooo yea, i was off to a good start.

and then, i got the email.

i originally wanted to keep this under wraps. it's not a goal race and it's not my focus. i mean, yea, im going to train for it and all but my eye is on marine corps marathon in october. i will have an incredible base going into mcm training and im pumped about having a killer first marathon. when i was asking some friends whether they thought running a 50k before my first marathon was a bad idea or not i got the same response several times.they are two different races. it depends what your goal is for mcm. if you want it to be the first time you run 26.2 miles and the distance is important then dont run the 50k. if your priority is having a strong race and the best time possible then run the 50k. sold!

i still wasn't sure i wanted to tell anyone. this is what i wanted and i didn't want everyone elses opinion about it. i didn't want to make a big deal about it. but who knows what next summer will bring. my son will be older and able to enjoy more things and i want to have the time to spend with my family. running is something i enjoy and it's part of my life but its not my entire life. my priority will always be my family and ill run when i can. seriously though, who wouldn't want to run this race....

when the few people i have told ask me why i want to run GCI i tell them "it's pretty much going to be one big party". the race is put on by crow athletics (of which i am a lifetime member) the same crew that puts on the mdi marathon. gary and mary hands down know how to put on a great event. for 95 bucks you get: 50k, course support (food, drinks), medal, shirt,  lobster dinner, beer, bonfire, camping, shower access and breakfast!! best bang for your buck i tell ya! also, the 4 time winner of the little rock marathon and olympic trials runner leah thorvilson will be running again....and seriously who doesn't wanna run with her? major BA right there!

the best/worst part is that the island is only 2 miles long. so after an initial 3 mile loop we run 2 miles down and 2 miles back repeat x7! i like that though. i'll get to see everyone running the race the entire time. none of this being out in the woods all by myself wishing i was dead business. oh no...ill be high fiving everyone as i run by them.

in case you thought i was kidding

so there you have it. if you want to see me on the weekends between now and the end of october, i suggest you put on your running shoes. im very excited to be part of this amazing race. ive certainly come a long way from that soccer goalkeeper in college who cried the last mile and a half of her 3 mile run during preseason.

im currently accepting applications for long run buddies...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chamberlain March Half Marathon

heeeeey! remember that time i ran a half marathon and set a *spoiler alert* huge PR? probably not. why? oh cause i haven't blogged in forever and never even mentioned i was running a half anytime soon...
ok back up. so ive been running. alot. 106 miles in february. my previous highest mileage month was 78 back in september. ive even been doing speed work twice a week (most often at 4:30am with danielle). after i finished the mdi relay in 2:14 my next goal was a sub 2:10 half this spring and then a sub 2 half late summer. given how well my running has been going over the last 2 months i knew that i would crush a 2:10 half and had my eyes set on a sub 2 half. its a time that i knew was within reach but wouldn't come easily to me. i searched around for a few halfs this spring but nothing was calling my name that wasn't stupid expensive or forever away. a friend of mine posted on facebook that he was running the chamberlain march half marathon as his first half. it was near my parents house on a weekend that i had already planned to be there, was only 35 bucks and not too hilly. win. so i signed up....the night before the race :) i talked to sam for a while the night before. studying the elevation chart and figuring out where to bank some time and where to slow up so that i could potentially go 1:58. i felt good about the paces he wanted me to run and was excited about seeing a 1 in front of my half marathon time.

there were a lot of logistics going on race morning with my family and at one point it looked like i was going to go to the race by myself. everyone had to be in different places at different times and my race was not part of any of those plans. my mom then says "but you need a cheering squad! we'll make this work" thanks mom!

i drove up to the race with my mom and younger brother. we got there early, i got my bib, hung out in the warm car and debated on what i wanted to wear. i went on a half mile jog to warm up the legs and then came back to the car to stretch and get ready to start. it was at that point that my entire race plan went down the drain. my garmin beeped at me "low battery". WHAT!? i charged the damn the thing alllll night! it said 100% this morning!!! this can't be happening. oh well, not much i can do now....just use it until it dies....which was about 1 minute later. i got the black screen of death! ohhhhhh shit. minor freak out moment. i texted sam and danielle in a panic. they both calmed me down (i didnt tell them i was sitting in my moms car crying my eyes out because my stupid watch died...but i was). sam asked if there was a pace group i could join. um no, there were maybe 125 people running this race. no pace groups. sam gave me some final instructions gave me plan b and sent me on my way. ok i can do this. im so pissed but there is nothing i can do. i can do this. 

i headed to the start line and listened for anyone that was planning on running a sub 2. there was the lady who was "hoping to run under 2 but im not worrying about it. ive done it before but i don't know what ill do today"... ok, she doesn't sound too promising. then there were the two girls wearing tank tops (it was 38 at the start). hmmmmm, they look fast. probably too fast for me. i didn't have many more people to stalk before it was time to start. ok sarah. you know what to do. just do it. 

with that, the gun went off and so was i. i knew i needed to go out a bit faster then 9:08s (what i needed to average for a sub 2 finish). it was a downhill start and i wanted to bank a little bit of time so that i could slow up on the hills at mile 1.5. problem is i didn't know what 8:40 felt like. i haven't run it enough consistently to know what that pace is like. my biggest fear is that i was going to be running much slower then i should be just because i didn't have the watch to push me. when we got to mile 1 i asked the lady "whats the time?". she looked at me and said "time? like time of day?". ummmm no, "what's the time? the pace?", "oh. ummm...8:00 miles". oh shit sarah! you're toast! slow the eff down!. I said thanks and let her go on her way. about half a mile later tank top girl came up next to me so i asked her the pace. she told me she is pacing her friend 8:30s the entire way. i told her my garmin died and she said if you see me, i'll be running 8:30s. i backed off some more and knew that if i kept her in my sight for the entire race id be ok. if i gained on her i was going to fast and if i lost her i needed to pick it up. perfect. maybe this race isnt going to suck after all.

i saw my mom at mile 2, tossed her my jacket and kept on going. we took a left turn and ran over the joshua chamberlain bridge. just as we started over the bridge, tank top girl and her friend stopped and were rubbing friend's leg. damn...thats my pacer! i passed them and figured they would catch up to me soon. orrrrrrr not. i never saw them again. crap. i settled into what i thought was a 9ish mile pace and just tried to maintain it. i knew that 9:08s were just a tad over comfortable for me and so if i ever felt like this race was easy i stepped it up.i knew miles 2-4ish were a long uphill so i knew i would probably slow down a bit during this section. the hills weren't as bad as i thought and just like that they were over.

my mom had given me her old lady analog watch just for some idea of time. i looked at it when we started so i knew the time and again at mile 6 (for whatever reason i like to note my 10k training runs, races, whatever. strange, i know). by my rough estimate i was through the 10k in 54ish. sweeeeet. see sarah, you can do this. don't slow up. i asked another lady who passed me what the pace was, "pace? forward moving!". awesome, thanks for the help lady. not.

miles 4-7 were around the airport and pancake flat. i was in a good rhythm and feeling strong. through this area i said several times something sam had said to me, this is a half marathon. it's not supposed to be easy, don't give into the pain. the song Belle of the Boulevard came on my ipod. danielle had told me that if she listened to this song for an entire marathon and ran to the beat of the song, she would qualify for boston. so i knew that if i was running to the beat of the song, i was running too fast. if i was just a hair behind the beat i was about the pace i needed to be. this was great to keep my mind off of the pain. i actually listened to the song twice.
mile 5. feelin' good
miles 7-10 are always my worst miles in a half. its all mental, knowing that im over half way there...but not quite. these miles followed along the river and were quite pretty however there were no spectators along this section and it was a bit chilly. it was a long 3 miles for me. my legs hurt, the bottoms of my feet were hurting and i was starting to get some weird pain in my ankle. blah. 

mile 10 brought us back into downtown bangor. i saw my mom again and gave her the look of death hey mom, can i jump in the car and have you drive me to the finish? k thanks. i looked at my watch and by rough estimate it looked like i was still on pace for a sub 2 finish but i knew i had no time to slow down. just after mile 10.5 (i think) things got a bit confusing. i was climbing a hill and gaining on the girl in front of me. i saw her go through an intersection ahead and she started putting her hands up as if to say "where do i go?".  i thought i was supposed to take a right but she went straight and i saw some people ahead of her. i yelled out "do i go straight!?" to which they replied "yes". so i did but i kept looking back at the soldier manning the intersection. he came up and told me i needed to take that right hand turn and go over the bridge. crap! ok. i took the turn and the guy at the top of the hill told me to go over the bridge. i tried to clarify but it was all a bit confusing. so i went over the bridge and then took a right basically making a big U turn. at this point i saw 3 people ahead of me all standing in the middle of the road with their hands up yelling to the soldier about where to go. you have got to be kidding me!. they were alot more pissed then i was about getting lost and all in all i probably went .25 miles out of my way. not only did i loose time but i also lost momentum. we finally figured out where to go and moved on.
hiiii mom. can i jump in your car? this sucks
miles 11-13 sucked. alot.  it was a gradual uphill and i had lost all momentum. i slowed wayyyyyy down. i looked at my watch and knew that a sub 2 was now out of reach...but i wasn't sure how out of reach it was so i kept going. since there were no clocks out on the course i really had no idea where i was time wise, aside from my rough estimate from my watch (and if you know me and math and running, the two dont mix well at all!). i turned the corner and saw 2:05 on the clock! i heard my mom and brother cheering for me which was pretty awesome. and of course the first thing my mom says when i crossed the finish line is "hey, did you get lost?" really mom? was i that slow?. she said that several people came across the fininsh complaing about getting lost just after mile 10. apparently my little group weren't the only ones.

coming into the finish. oy
overall i was really pleased with my race. yes, i was bummed i didn't go sub 2. but given that i ran without a watch, completely on feel AND i got lost costing me about 2:30, i was happy. if you're keeping track at home, thats a 9 minute PR. i don't have plans to run another one anytime soon. i know i have a sub 2 in me but i don't feel the need to go right back out and get it. i will in time. im very pleased i ran and didn't quit at the start or jump in my moms car at mile 10. i learned a little more about how to run a race and am proud of my efforts. i've been training hard and i know im getting faster, this race just proved it.
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