Wednesday, June 01, 2011

race report: ottawa half marathon

I was really terrible about pictures this weekend. I think I was nervous and trying not to freak out about the weather and trying to make sure I managed to both see people, eat enough, and rest enough. Normally I'm snap happy at these events, but I think I was thrown off by all those factors so this race report will be text heavy (and probably wordy...I can be that way).

I woke up on race day feeling better than I had all week. I had been feeling tired and run down leading up to the race but felt really quite refreshed despite the pre-5am wake-up! Since the marathon started 2 hours before the half, I packed my breakfast to eat once I got there after seeing Jordan off. Our last words to each other: We will NOT end up in the med tent....Good Luck!

The two hours of waiting involved about a million trips to the bathroom and me deciding that I would have a good day despite the humid conditions (oh, and me thanking my lucky stars that the sun wasn't supposed to make an appearance). Before I knew it I was checking my bag, warming up, and making my way to the corral.
Movin' my way up in corrals. Though I think I'll be stuck in Orange for good. The corral up is sub 1:30
The Ottawa Half Marathon is a fairly big one- more than 9,000 people- so it is fairly congested at first. I tried not to get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast, but I definitely got caught up in the congestion and was a little slow for my first mile. It then opened up a bit, headed down hill, and I made up that time. Yay. Right on track....

...but, within those first few kilometers I was already feeling hot. I could already taste the salt on my face and I was guzzling from my hand-held water bottle already. I'm not going to lie- I freaked out a bit a that point.  Especially as the course narrowed and I got caught in congestion once again. But eventually it opened up again and I had more room to run.

As the kilometers were ticking by, I was still drinking a lot and by the time I was approaching the water station around the 10K mark, I decided that I needed to refill. So as I ran, I managed to take out another Nuun tablet, open my bottle and have it ready to fill at the station (and I managed to dump water on my head to boot). Success! But about 30 seconds wasted. Ah well.

It took me forever to figure out how to put that damn chip on. I'm no good at laces- I need the zip tag!
It was after the halfway point that I knew the course got tougher. Some rolling hills, bridges, and the toughest hill of the course. At that point I also knew that I had time to make up. As I tried to speed up, I was greeted with some lovely nausea. I was tasting my gu again, I was seriously thirsty, and a little concerned. So instead of speeding up, I just aimed to maintain, not slow down too much, and not panic until the nausea went away.

It was at that point that mother nature smiled upon me and the rain started. I know- rain doesn't really sound like something to enjoy during a race. But in this case, it meant that all of a sudden I was being cooled down. As it kept raining, I just felt better and better. The nausea went away, I was cooler...things were looking up. I had done it! I kept my wits about me and the badness DID pass.

As I tackled the hardest hill of the course, my legs were tired, but I felt good. I hit the top (after passing people along the hill) thinking "well that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be" and did some math. I was a little more than 2 miles from the end and had about 3 minutes to make up in order to hit my goal time.

Even though I knew from 5K to go that I would definitely PR, I was looking for a 1:55. I trained last year for a 1:55 and got this year I wanted that 1:55. When I had more than 2 minutes to make up in 2 miles, I was a little upset. It felt like 2 years of work and recovering from an injury were going out the window.

That's when I remembered my mum's words- that I like running. So I thought to myself- "I like running!" I wasn't going to make it in 1:54.59 or in 1:55.XX...but dammit, I was going to finish it up as quickly as I could. So I sped up and just ran.

Thanks for the Team Awesome photo Mags!
The last 2K was completely lined with people and signs. So it wasn't hard to keep up the energy despite my tired legs. I fed off the cheers, the signs, and the noise and I passed people left and right. I looked at my watch, noticed it was coming up on the 1:57 mark and decided that I would do everything in my power to get myself over the line before it hit 1:57. My top speed along that final stretch was a 6:25 minute mile....and I squeaked in at 1:56.52! I finished feeling tired but strong and happy with putting an exclamation point on a sub-2 hour finish.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wish I had hit that 1:55 "A" goal. But I'm also really pleased with how I DID do and what I learned from the race. I think I learned a lot more about how to think (or rather, not think) during a race. I learned that I can tame those bad voices in my head telling me to give up, that I'm just not good enough, and that I can't do it. I learned to push through feeling physically bad and to come out the other end feeling strong. All in all- it was a good race.  I feel that I conquered both the weather and my head. I can't wait to run another race to put this learning into action!
I guess I should try that shirt on at some point to make sure it fits...
Congratulations if you made it through this marathon-length half-marathon recap! Thank you for all your well wishes before and after the race. It meant a lot to me know know there were people rooting for me.


Leigh said...

Love the race recap! The final stretch of the half is the best part, where everyone is lined up and cheering! Definitely helps to move those legs faster when they don't want to!

Congratulations again!

jnelle said...

Awesome post, Kristen! Congrats on your awesome time, and for remembering why you run in the first place :)

Marlene said...

Great recap! It's amazing what a little self-talk or reminder of something someone else has said can do for the mojo. Way to rally and finish strong with a BIG PR!

And that rain must have been heaven!!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

Great recap! Congrats on your race, and that strong finish!

Nicole @ "Haute Runner" said...

Congrats on your strong finish! You were battling some tough conditions- it's funny how runners like some light rain!!

Another good mantra!!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Awesome time, especially for a race where you weren't feeling great!!

I'm determined to get that sub-2 this year. And I have a feeling a 1:55:XX is in the cards for you as well, judging by this race when you didn't feel 100% the whole time!

Kirst said...

Nice recap! I dream of a 2 hr 1/2. Can't even imagine a sub 2. Good on ya!

fitchickbritt said...

Great Report! Sounds like you had an awesome race with a PR and sub 2 hour half! I think a sub 1:55 is def on the horizon for you :-)

Aron said...

Ahh you did so amazing!!! Congrats on such a great race!

kristen said...

Thanks everyone! I'm still feeling good about the race and I have a good feeling about my next race. (plus, I've been told I'll have company ready to kick my ass when I need it)

And Marlene- I'd never been so happy to be running in the rain.

Now- if only my toenails would stop hurting...