Sunday, March 9, 2014

Best Damn Race Orlando Race Recap

Last weekend I ran my first half marathon since having Baby E and I didn't die. In fact, I ran a really great 10K. The only problem was that I had signed up for the half marathon...oops.

I finished!
To fully understand this race experience, I have to take you back about 2 weeks prior to the race when a stomach bug made its way through our house. I loosely follow the above/below the neck rule for training, so this sidelined me for a few days.

The following weekend, a week before the race, my parents came down to visit and things were going well until we had to take my Dad to the emergency room where he was subsequently admitted and had emergency surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. Amazingly, he was released from the hospital a couple of days later, and other than a nice scar on his head he was feeling great. (We are still waiting and praying on the long term prognosis. He has been fighting cancer for a while now, but this was the first occurrence in the brain).

After much discussion with my parents and sister about doing the race, everyone said we should do it and my Dad even wanted to come watch. I knew it would be good to run, but because of all the craziness I ran a total of 8 miles in the two weeks leading up to the race. Not really the best strategy, but it was what it was.

Saturday morning I got up about 4:45 a.m. got dressed and ready and then got baby E up and fed. My husband left about 5:15 a.m. to take my sister to the airport and then meet me downtown. I headed out at about 6 a.m., 15 minutes later than I wanted, to meet him and drive to the race together. It was almost 6:45 a.m. by the time we parked and a little before 7 a.m. when we got to the race start. I quickly fed Baby E and then hit restroom before lining up at about 7:13 a.m. Since we were running a bit late, I didn't see anyone.

This face is so worth running late

I didn't really have a goal for this race, but I was hoping to average about a 13 minute mile, so we lined up behind the 2:45 pacer. The national anthem was sung and we were off. The first few miles felt good and I was keeping just behind the pacer and using 3/1 run/walk intervals. I wasn't really paying attention to my watch or my pace, so I was surprised when I looked about 3 miles in and realized that I was keeping just under a 12 minute per mile pace. I knew that was probably a little too fast to maintain for the whole race, so I focused on really listening to my body.

Miles 4 through 6 still felt good. I lost sight of the pacer at about 4.5 miles, but figured they couldn't be too far ahead of me. The course also had a ton of twists and turns, so you could be a couple blocks away and not see anyone. This was probably my favorite part of the course because it took you past the executive airport and around Lake Underhill. I used to run in this area, so it was a nice blast from the past. At 6 miles in I was averaging just over a 12 minute mile pace.

At about mile 7, things started to get harder. I was getting tired and I was beginning to feel a pull in my left thigh muscle. I was still keeping the 3/1 intervals, but the running portion was getting slower and felt much longer. Miles 8 and 9 were tough, but I was thinking about my Dad and if he was tough enough to come watch my half marathon 6 days after brain surgery, I was tough enough to keep running.

Then at about mile 10 I hit the bricks and those were not fun. I walked a good portion of this mile then dropped down 1/1 intervals. I figured it was better to drop to this than to just walk. Somewhere between miles 11 and 12 I started chatting with a girl on the course. She was just trying to make it through as well, but she was super nice and helped keep me motivated the rest of the race.

This girl was awesome!
I was super happy when I turned the corner for the finish line. It was almost over and I had finished, something I wasn't 100% sure would happen this race. About a block from the finish I saw my parents and Baby E. Baby E was so excited to see me that she was passed out in my Mom's arms. At least she woke up for her Daddy to come through.

It was so good to have everyone waiting at the finish
After the race we grabbed some food and I sat down to feed Baby E. The bad thing about being slow is that the post race food was pretty picked over by the time we got there. After Baby E ate, the husband and I headed over to get our post race beers. The guy carding people gave me a hard time about not having my ID. I think he was trying to be nice, but I know I don't look that young, so it was a little annoying.

Even bad beer tastes good after a run
My official time was 2:48 which works out to 12:52 per mile. I think the course may have been short, but at 7 months postpartum I am happy with my time and my performance. It gives me a good baseline and place to work from for my fall races. (As of right now I am not doing any long races this summer.) I do need to work on building my core up before fall, because my hips were not real happy after this race.

As for the race itself, there were some good and bad things. The weather was perfect, and the date and location worked well for us. Since both my husband and I were running, we needed somewhere that it was easy to find a babysitter. The race was also priced well and well organized. The gender specific tech tees and the PR bell were also nice. That said, there were some things I wasn't really fond of. First was that the course had way to many turns, too much brick and I think they found the only hills in downtown Orlando. Second, there was not a lot of entertainment or support on the course and finally, they ran out of cups at one of the water stations. There were a number of water stops so this wasn't a huge deal, but it did rub me the wrong way.

Would I say that this was the Best Damn Race ever...probably not, but I wouldn't rule out running it again. Especially if I can be one of the 10 people that gets in for $10.

Now it is on to pre-planning for my fall halfs. I am thinking that 2:30 may be my goal. Any training plans you can recommend? Any suggestions for good, quick core workouts for runners?