Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race Report: Rock & Roll Providence 2013

It’s taken a few days for this race to sink in and get my post-race thoughts together.

To fully understand where I am coming from, let’s backtrack a few months.  Back in April I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC.  I took a significant amount of time off after fall road racing, helped open a new fitness facility, and spent a week in Paris before I even ran a step in March.  My training consisted of 8 weeks of running 4-5 days per week and spinning 2-3 times per week.  No speed work at all.  Just run and spin.

I went to DC with no expectations.  I signed up to keep me motivated throughout the winter and for that fancy Tiffany’s necklace.  My real goal for 2013 was Rock and Roll Providence where I wanted to break 1:40.  My previous PR was 1:41:10.

After a miserable day of very little eating, very little drinking, and a ton of walking in DC, I went to bed with the hopes that my family would sleep through our alarms and I would miss the race.

Well, the alarms woke us up and it turned out to be an awesome day.  My goal at the start line was to stay as relaxed as possible through ten miles then whatever happens from there happens.  I felt very comfortable.  Was running way better than I expected and around ten I decided to pick up the pace a bit.  The last 3 miles became tough.  My glutes started cramping and we come out of the tunnel at mile 11 and see the finish line only to run a mile away from it then loop back.

I toughed it out and finished in 1:39:21.  Such a surprise.  My parents were all over the city cheering me on.  I got a high five from Shalane Flanagan at the finish line and there was an ROTC guy in a tuxedo waiting to give me my Tiffany’s necklace.  Pretty cool.

Fast forward to September.

Training was going great.  I mapped out a 12 week plan for myself which included one long run, one speed workout, and 3 easy/normal runs throughout the week.  I did everything I was supposed to.  Worked out about 6 weeks in a row with my Strength & Conditioning coach.  Physically I felt amazing.  Mentally I was burnt out.

I was so mentally not ready for this race that I was actually making myself sick.

But you never know what will happen when the gun goes off.

I decided to take a similar approach to DC.  Stay as relaxed as possible through ten then reassess and commit.  In DC I averaged 7:34s so I was shooting for 7:30s in Providence.  More specifically my plan became: 745s for the first three miles, 7:30s until ten, then 7:15s or whatever I had left to finish strong.

Mile 1- 7:29
It was pretty chilly out at the start.  I wore arm warmers and gloves.   Sarah and I saw Joe and Kathy before the race then almost missed the start waiting in line for the porta potties.

Mile 2- 7:39
I saw my split for the first mile and slowed down a bit and tried to settle into a rhythm.

Mile 3- 7:29
Still relaxed.

Mile 4- 7:30
I started to warm up and ditched my gloves, had a GU, and tackled a nasty hill at 4.5mi.

Mile 5- 7:34
I almost missed Katrina!  Ahh!  Thank you for getting up early to see me run by!

Mile 6- 7:14
I made some friends during this mile.  We talked about the hills and Cape Cod.  I told them about how my dad was running his first half marathon next month.  They were impressed.  I am proud.
Mile 7- 7:18
This mile started with that steep downhill I remembered so well that looped around by the water.  I experience some hip pain on that downhill and some glute cramping immediately after.  It was very foggy and really cool looking out over the water.  I started doubting myself and wondering if that 7:14 was possible to maintain.  My thoughts turned into reminiscing about this road two years ago in the rain…

Mile 8- 7:16
GU #2.  During that last downhill I jammed my right big toe into my sneakers.  At mile 8 it was quite painful.  I tried to wiggle my toes around a bit and started to change my stride but the pain was still there.
Mile 9- 7:20
Don’t remember much about this mile…

Mile 10- 7:14
…this one either.

Mile 11- 7:02
After ten, I felt good (other than that toe) and just wanted to finish.  At 11.5 we went over a bridge passing the runners at the 10 mile mark.  I was desperately looking for Joe or Kathy or someone to yell “Go Jen!”

Mile 12- 6:58
My calves were tightening up and I began to fear the worse.  I thought back to the conversation I had with Kathy about why I wear compression socks and started doubting my choice to skip them today.

Mile 13- 6:52
The only thing left was to round the corner and go up the hill to the finish!

13.1- I finished in 1:35:27!  I can’t even believe it.  I thought I could maybe run 1:38 but 1:35/1:36/1:37 never crossed my mind.

What’s next?  That’s something I need to figure out.  In the meantime, I plan to take at least a week (maybe two) off.  I need a break.  And my toe needs to stop throbbing! 

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