Saturday, October 24, 2015

Race Report: Cape Cod Half 2015

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.” ~Dr. Seuss

Well today’s PR was a nice surprise!  I am in Week 4 of marathon training and in much better shape than I thought!  I signed up for the race knowing I had a 14 mile long run this week and a good test to see where my fitness is at.  My first 4-week long run progression was 8, 10, 12, 14 before I drop back to a 10, 12, 14, 16 in the next 4 weeks.  Nothing I did in the first 4 weeks made me think I would run 7:12 pace.  My goal was good, consistent pacing and practice race morning strategies like fueling and walking through water stops.  More specifically I was telling people my goal for today was sub-8 minute pace but I knew I wanted to run 7:45 for the first 3 miles, 7:30s through 10 miles then assess how I was feeling for the final 3.1 miles.

Race morning was chilly!  About 45 degrees with a breeze.  The sun rose at 7:04am and the race started at 7:30am.  I drove to the start with my daddo, who was also running.

First mile I was PERFECT at 7:30 but I knew I wanted to start out a little slower so I backed off and ran a 7:36 for the second mile.  Miles 3-6 I picked up the pace a little bit (7:20, 7:17, 7:18, 7:13) but I was feeling good so I didn’t really want to slow myself down.  I was cruising along stride for stride with another girl (at this point there was a slight headwind) and we were picking off a few small groups of people.

Mile 7 we were approaching the turnaround at Menauhant Beach on an out & back course and the winds were strong!  I dropped a 6:58 and thought “Oh crap, I’m in trouble!”  But the winds were at our back for a while and I was distracted looking at the other runners on their way to the turnaround.  I kept pace with a 7:02, 7:11, 6:54, 6:59, 6:58, 6:51 then a final 0.1 at about 6:10 pace.  With 3 miles to go I knew I just needed to maintain and I would be sub-1:35.

I felt so strong at the finish.  I don’t think I could have kept running but I was smiling and talking and thanking the people cheering the whole way.  The best part about finishing (well other than a PR!) was getting my finisher medal from one of my favorite Mashpee Fitness members, Beth!  She’s so awesome.

I stopped for a quick picture with Beth and headed inside the food tent.  Dunkin Donuts was a sponsor and provided pumpkin donuts and pumpkin muffins.  I was thinking about that donut the whole race.  While I was selecting the perfect donut, one of the guys that was around me most of the race yelled over to me, “Well played.”  Huh?  He meant how well I ran my final mile.  It sure felt good.

Side note: The Cran-Mango Ocean Spray at the finish was also really good!

I took a minute to gather my goods and started walking back along the course looking for Joe & Jon from Cape Cod Rehab and my dad.  Since I needed to run 14 today and I warmed up about a half mile running to and from the porta potties, I figured I’d run a bit with my dad to cool down.  It was fun seeing all the runners and they were super encouraging and motivating and actually cheering for ME as I walked in the opposite direction.  I remember 2 girls that were cheering and as I walked past them we chatted a bit and I told them I had to go find my dad so as I was running alongside my dad they were super cute yelling “YAY! That’s so cool!” and “Go Dad!”

When I saw my dad said he was experiencing some calf cramping but actually looked really good.  I ran about 3/4 of a mile with him and he finished in 2:01:30—SO CLOSE to his goal of breaking 2 hours!

Takeaways from today’s race:
1.     Be patient.  It’s so easy to start out fast in a race but 13 miles is a long way.  26 miles is even longer.  Be patient and take it one mile at a time.
2.     Have a game plan but adapt.  When I started running sub-7 minute pace I got worried.  Part of me wanted to drastically slow down, the other part of me wanted to see what would happen if I kept up this pace.
3.     Take risks.  If you don’t step outside your comfort zone, how will you ever get better?
4.     Confidence is key.  See #2 & #3.  I was lucky today that I never really had any doubts about being able to finish.  I wasn’t calculating how long I could walk like I normally do.  Everything felt right and smooth today.
5.     Smile.  Why race if you don’t enjoy it?
6.     I’m terrible at math.  Stupid me was thinking until I reached 8 miles that the halfway point of a half marathon is 7.5 miles.  Geesh!
7.     Wear gloves.  MY HANDS WERE FREEZING! I went back and forth about which arm sleeves I would wear and went with the thinner ones without the thumb holes.  That was also a bad choice.  I thought it would warm up and I would take them off but nope.  That was my only real complaint.  That and the fact that there was no Dunkin Donuts hot coffee or hot chocolate at the finish.  That would have helped my cold fingers! 
8.     Run hard.  Eat donuts.  In Houston: Run hard.  Eat burritos.  Bring it on!

Congrats to all finishers and good luck to everyone running the full marathon or marathon relay tomorrow!  I'm in recovery mode...

Up next: Week 5 of Houston Marathon Training & Screechat the Beach 5k next weekend!

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