Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - Dallas 2014

Nothing like a great race to make up for a lousy one. I won't bury the lead: 2:22:14 (and according to Runkeeper, I really ran 13.57, so I totally did 13.1 below my stretch goal of 2:20 -- Woot!)

I ended up running 3/:45 intervals pretty much the whole way. My only mistake was not bringing my ear buds (there was music provided on the course, so I didn't figure I'd need it), but it was a crowded, noisy course and I couldn't always hear the cues to run or walk. Fortunately, I had a pretty good sense for it and was able to fake it pretty accurately when necessary.

I really wanted to try and cut the tangents but man, the course is way too crowded, start to finish, for that. As you can see, you really can add a lot of mileage between that and dodging slower runners. That's the only frustrating thing about run/walk: I'm running a pretty good clip when I run (9:30 min/mile on average), so I'm doing pretty much nothing but passing for 3 minutes. Then *SCREECH* I'm walking for 45 seconds and half of them are passing me again, so I have to wind my way around them all over again.

The course was tough, but tough in the way you'd want a course to be tough. Mostly uphill (with a couple of good downhills) the entire first half, and then pretty much flat/downhill the second half. Or at least that's what I thought looking at the elevation. But really, the downhill/flats don't start until mile 8. So we hit mile 7 and I'm still looking at the crowd ahead of me going uphill. It was not super steep but by then, you're feeling it and my walk breaks were getting longer. It definitely affected me mentally. Lesson learned to be more precise when I look at elevation charts before a race! I think if I'd known it was coming at mile 8, I could have stopped the, "What if it never comes?" negativity in my head.

Does that number seem right? The low elevation was 400 something, peak was 600 something. How did I possibly climb 5000+ feet?
Luckily, 2 things saved me. The first was my beautiful pal Rosie on the side of the course, giving me a hug and cheering me on and generally being her usual encouraging, wonderful self. What a sight for sore eyes and flagging spirits. She'd ridden her bike there, and then rode to another point to see me again. This time, I was already pumped up from an encounter I'd just had, which was "thing that saved me" #2:

I was on a walk break (45 seconds, mind you), and this girl runs past me, turns back to me and says, "Keep at it! Walking only makes it take longer!"

Now, I suspect she thought she was being encouraging or helpful somehow, but I looked her in the eye and said, "I do run/walk. It's fine." Another girl next to me said, "Yeah, me, too." We rolled our eyes at each other in understanding, and the offending girl smiled sheepishly and plodded on.

And a few seconds later, my run prompt sounded and I passed her and never saw her again. But I did see my run/walk friend again, who said, "I guess we left our 'runner' friend behind." Hahahaha!

So, thank you, judgy girl, for lighting a fire under me for the last few miles. If all else failed, I knew I'd still won because I was beating you. xoxo

As far as the race organization and whatnot, it was good. My only beef is that the exit from the post-race festival led you to a parking lot at the opposite end of Fair Park from where the train comes. So I added two miles, during which I called my husband and cried in frustration, as well as stopping twice just to sit down and rest for a minute. But that's my fault for being too out of it to be aware of my surroundings. A sign would have been nice though. Like a really big sign.

It was pretty funny though watching everybody walk to their cars. It was like the Walking Dead... a huge crowd just sort of lurching slowly along.

One more note on my interval strategy: LOVED it. More to the point, the :45 second walk break instead of 1 minute felt great. It was enough to recover, except in a few hilly parts, without feeling like I was leaving any speed on the table unnecessarily. Like, I think :30 would be too little to properly recover and sustain that run pace the full distance.

I also ran the downhills regardless of intervals. There were a few good ones where I knew I could steal some time without putting much extra energy in, so I just kept going through the walk intervals.

What this race does is show me that if I can find a less crowded race so I can cut the tangents and keep the distance down, or a flatter race where the hills don't suck so much energy out of me, I can get that sub 2:20 officially.

But I'll worry about that later, in the fall, most likely. For now,  it's only 3 weeks until the Possum Kingdom 20k, which I have no time aspirations for, other than probably to get it over with at some point. Really looking forward to that and getting back on the trails a bit for something different.

All in all, very happy with my race today. Really couldn't have expected better from any aspect of it. I'm feeling very grounded in my running now. I'm healthier than I've been (THANK YOU, ERIN!!), and while I'm stiff today, I know a good night of rest and I'll be much better tomorrow. I definitely feel better than I expected to after that pace.

The best part? I've done very little other than eat and sit around. And we're going out for milkshakes in a bit. :) Yay running!

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