Sunday, February 8, 2009

Race Report: Bronx Half Marathon (or Holy Hills Batman)

So I signed up for the Bronx Half-Marathon yesterday, mostly because it was supposed to be 50 degrees on Sunday and I figured, since I hate running when it's cold outside, it was now or never to kickstart my long-runs for the supposed SunTrust DC Marathon in March. The race overall went pretty well. Unfortunately I was not ready for the surprise hills (I was under the impression this was a flat race) and I was also not ready for a surprise at about mile 10 (more about that in a minute).

I was exhausted when I woke up at 5:15 this morning, mostly because I had worked all day yesterday, then ran around doing errands, then babysitting until 11:15pm, not arriving home until past midnight. Which means I didn't get more than 5 hours of sleep last night. It was okay because I actually get so much adrenaline when I race that lack of sleep isn't generally an issue. I left my house around 6 after downing an English muffin with peanut butter and banana and a cup of coffee (my race-morning standard...sometimes I sub in toast for English muffin, but that's pretty much the only race ritual I have). I jumped on the subway with my backpack, which had some extra dry clothes for after the race, and a few other sundry items (Powerbars and Toblerone, obviously). It was actually the first time I had brought a bad with me to a race because all the other times I just shoved everything in my boobs and took off. However this was my first cold-weather run and I figured that I was supposed to be going to play football afterwards and that I would at least need something to change into so I didn't look like a Sea Monster in front of all the cute boys on my football team (okay there aren't that many but there are ALWAYS cute boys at the bar afterward). Anyway, I sat next to a kid on the platform who was wearing full Underarmour cold weather gear (I am an Underarmour FANATIC and I know cold weather gear when I see it) PLUS shorts and a zip up jacket over the top. He was in good shape and I was shocked that he had worn so much clothing. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and say "Um, helloooo, have you ever run ever before in your Because at the rate you're going you'll probably sweat half your face off because it is FIFTY DEGREES OUT AND THAT'S BASICALLY RUNNING SHORTS WEATHER". The best part is that I got through 30 minutes of my subway ride to the BX thinking about his ridiculous outfit. The other hour I covered by thinking about how I was excited to eat the mini-Toblerone's stashed in my running jacket pocket that my friend Felix had given me (because I love chocolate and think running is just an excuse to eat more of it than I already eat) and also about how nervous I was not to PR. This was my 3rd half marathon and the prospect of running an 8:46 pace after not structuring my workout seemed slim. Plus I had some crazy gassy feeling in my stomach that I couldn't shake (again, more about that later).

Pre-race was pretty uneventful: went to the bathroom, check my bag, got in line...but no race jitters. I was actually just excited to run outside since I haven't done it since the Webster Turkey Trot in November. I have been training on a treadmill and actually ran 16 miles on a treadmill one time (although I had to stop and pee a few times). I feel like running on a treadmill is way harder than running in real life because you can't listen to your body about slowing down or speeding up and you can't really tell how either feels while you're busy fumbling with the up/down arrow keys and also trying not to eat it on the moving belt. But I digress.

When the gun sounded (I never hear this supposed gun, I just wait until people in front of me start to move) I got excited and couldn't wait to start running. And since this was the first time I'd been blogging while racing, I noticed things about my running style more acutely than I did when I wasn't blogging and running. I will now list them because I find it easier to organize my thoughts in lists (I'm Type A, what can I say?):

1) I never race with an iPod (but I do train with one). Now I'm not some super snob-tastic-iPods-are-for-amateurs runner. In fact, I derive great pleasure from people who race with their iPods. They get all emotional and sometimes they sing outloud, which, for someone who relies solely on ambient noise for 2 hours, is extremely funny. One older, short, balding white man started to sing "Shady's back...back again" as he was running and I think I giggled so hard that he noticed I was laughing at him. He was huffing to hard to say anything but I immediately felt awful (but got over it like 5 seconds later). Anyway, I'm all about racers with iPods, but I prefer to just run and think. I think about why I am running, what I'm going to do later that afternoon, what I'm going to do later in the race, what type of drink I'm going to get at the next aid station, when I should use a gel, what treat breakfast I'm going to have my brother buy me (since he comes to most of my 3 out of 6 of them...all the half-marathons actually now that I think about it). In fact, I actually do a lot of pace calculating ("how fast do I have to go to get THIS time or THAT time") during running because it comforts me (I know, I'm a nerd, but I like mental math because it gives me something to do).

2) I like to run on the painted lines on the road. I'm not sure why, but I actually almost feel like i'm going faster when I see that little yellow line whizzing by from under me. I do it when I train too. Come to think of it, I have no idea why I do this. Maybe so I can focus on something that never changes and so I have a frame of reference? (Wow, that's like a metaphor for LIFE).

3) I repeat the same line of the same song over and over again throughout the entire race. Again, one might ask "Why don't you just run with an iPod?" I would answer you by saying "I don't know." Maybe because I like to choose a song I think I know all the words to and then realize that I don't and just sing the part that I a meditation mantra (read Eat, Pray, Love if you don't know what I'm talking about). This race I just kept singing "I'm not scared, of lions and tigers and bears. But I'm scared of loving you" from the song "Lions and Tigers and Bears" by Jazmine Sullivan. It's an awesome song and the lyrical jazz class I took last week did a combination to it. It talks about how a girl is so not afraid to do all these really death-defyingly things that are scary to most people but she is afraid to put herself out there to be loved by a boy. Kind of like me (if any boys currently loved me, which, with the exception of my immediately family, I don't think anyone does). Anyway, as I was running I noticed it was in 3/4 time (ONE two three ONE two three) and so I started running in a waltz pace for about a half mile.

The rest of the race I just thought about finishing because I felt really winded and uncomfortable, which usually goes away around mile 4 or 5. Around mile 10 my stomach was feeling a little better, but right as I crossed the 10 mile mark, I realized that the gassy feeling in my stomach was my *ahem* womanly friend rearing it's ugly head. In the middle of running 13 miles. I actually said the F word outload while I was running. Well you can imagine how uncomfortable I was for the next three miles and basically just told myself if nothing else, I needed to get to a restroom (conveniently located at the finish line) and take care of my little issue. Interestingly, I didn't even consider slowing to a walk to take care of it. LIke that thought did not cross my mind. Only that it was going to SUCK to run 3 more miles while bleeding (sorry guys, I wanted to actually be more graphic but I figure if I have any followers at all, I would scare them away with my highly desensitized description of my period). Good thing I was wearing all black.

After I got over that minor hiccup (which was actually horrible) I concentrated on finished sub 2-hours. I had run 1:55 at Staten Island, but that course is like a pancake minus the hill about halfway that makes you want to cry for your mother and three best friends. I was shooting for 1:52, but after mile 10 I had to slightly revise seeing as I was rapidly losing the very thing that was keeping me from keeling over and dying in the middle of the road. I ended up finishing in 1:58 with a per mile pace of 9:03, Not too shabby, but definitely not the greatest. Room for improvement, and I only hope DC is relatively flat (I've heard it is, and also that it's not the circus that the Marine Corps is so that should be fun).

And remember that hot (temperature wise, although he did have amazing blue eyes and the whitest, straightest teeth I've ever seen, and was mixed and had dimples and...*drool* sorry what was I saying?) guy that sat next to me on the platform at my stop then across from me on the L train and then on the 4 train up to the Bronx? Yea, I saw him after the race and upon realizing it's him said 'Hey, congrats, great race" and he smiled (slash melted my bones and I slithered to the floor) and said "hey thanks you too." Would it be creepy if I walked around my subway stop at all hours of the day just to see if I see him again? Did you say no? Oh, no, it WOULD be creepy? Shoot.

Overall, a decent race, GREAT weather, and I went and played AN AMAZING game of football right after I was done (2 completions AND I did a great job of putting pressure on the QB!). Even though we lost, we had a great time at the bar afterwards and I got to kick it with my teammates that I love SO MUCH. I hope we all sign-up together again next season.


Laura said...

GREAT race report! We seem to have a lot of the same pre-race attitudes and thoughts :) Just be glad you didn't do Bronx last year - it was cold and windy and miserable.

So... I'm actually thinking of going a little nuts and running BOTH National and Shamrock. I've never done two in a weekend before (though I did the Hartford Marathon on a Sat and then the Staten Island Half the day after). My knee has been bugging me a bit lately though (SO annoying), and that actually forced me to walk SI when I did that one, so I'm not sure I want to go for it yet. If you feel like running National and then tagging along with me at the post-race party after Shamrock, you're more than welcome though!

The Laminator said...

Hey...such wanted to say, great great race report. I ran that race too but wrote a race report that was not half as funny or entertaining as yours.

I totally get your training with music but not racing with Ipod feeling. I am the same exact way. Like you, I feel I have too much to think about when I'm racing...trying to process pace, fuel, hydration, crowds, people, scenery, ambient noises, and your own thoughts is often enough to keep me occupied.

Good luck on the rest of your training for your marathon. Keep at it.