Monday, January 2, 2012

Hangover Half race report.

First, let me preface this race report by saying that I am in no way disappointed with my race. If it seems like I am when you are reading, you're probably just getting that feel from my tendency toward exaggeration and over-dramatization.

OK! On with the report!

My local running club puts on a series of winter races each year and on January 1st they host the Hangover Half. It is probably the most low-key, no frills half marathon going. Seriously. For starters, it is free for club members. Second, there are no bibs. No numbers. No chips. Nada. When you cross the finish line, you get an index card with your overall place listed in the right-hand corner. You write your name, age, and finishing time on the card and hand it in to a volunteer so it can be recorded.

(Old school, for sure.)

There are a few aid stations, where intrepid volunteers hand out cups of water.

And then there is The Course. It sucks. (Sorry, folks, I speak the truth here.) I mean, it really is just about the most boring course ever. It starts by the University at Albany Phys. Ed. building then heads into the drabber-than-drab state office campus for three loops.

Drab loops. No spectators. Office buildings. Bring it!

Well, boring course and all, I ran the thing. Lots of my friends were doing it and I figured it would be a good way to kick off 2012. You know, run 13.1 miles for fun.

As I'd written about before, I took it easy in December so that I could begin marathon training fresh and healthy. This meant many days off of running, including the entire week leading up to the half. I had no idea what to expect from the race. My knee/hamstring has been wonky. I recently started new medication for my Lyme disease and that has made my sleeping all wonky. So, the race was a wild card. I went in without much of a plan, but then convinced myself (over a breakfast of pb&j on whole wheat) that I should shoot for 8:30 miles, my goal marathon pace.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

My friends Tami and Melissa decided to shoot for that time as well so we started the race running alongside each other. Those first two miles were great and then we ended up losing Melissa at some point and it was just Tami and me. We chatted, ran in silence, pushed on.

At mile 4 I developed a massive cramp or some such thing on my left side. I felt like someone was stabbing me. But, I pushed on.

Tami and I continued to run side-by-side through the first loop of the office campus, with me dropping back at some point to grab water, but catching back up. We headed out for the second loop and by a little past mile 7, I had to give in to the pain. I stopped. I needed to stretch out my side or do something because the pain was piercing and I really couldn't handle it.

So, I walked a bit and started up again. The pain subsided but came back a few minutes later. I pushed through for a bit but I ended up having to walk three more times, and for longer than I would have liked.

Meanwhile, I gave up on my 8:30 pace. The Hangover Half was not a goal race. I hadn't trained for it. There was no sense in my pushing too hard when my goal race is still so far away. What mattered was to get another long run under my belt and finish feeling good so I could be in position to start marathon training still healthy.

But, you know, a race is still a race so even though I had given up on the 8:30 pace I couldn't phone it in entirely. I decided I'd shoot for finishing under 2 hours. I knew I could do that and, honestly, once I cut myself that slack I felt better.

You know what also made me feel better? Taking time each mile to think about my pal, Darlene, who broke her ankle in three places last week. She's since had surgery during which her doctor put a plate and two pins in her ankle. Darlene is now on bed rest for two weeks and who knows when she'll be able to run again?

Thinking about her -- and some other friends who are injured (Hi, Karyn! Hi, Allison!) -- made me think that it was completely ridiculous to be whining (even to myself) when others can't even run.

So I sucked it up and ran on. I finished in 1:56:14, an 8:52 pace. 

Not bad. A far cry from the PR I set in September (1:48:27) but I'll take it.

After the race I met up with a bunch of my friends and fellow Strong Running Mamas and we grumbled about the dull course, that third loop that threw most of us for a . . . well, for a loop, and the gusty wind. We also congratulated each other, especially Melissa on her awesome sub-2 hour PR, Tami on her rocking 1:54, and Janis on her great 2:10 PR!! And, of course, everyone else for running hard and strong for 13.1 miles. Way to go, ladies!

Afterward, Owen, the kids, and I had a delicious dinner of filet mignon at my parents house. Perfect way to end a day that was the perfect way to start the year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Cheers!

~ Felice


Bill Fine said...

Nicely done! What a great way to start off the new year, not to mention some really smart running to not push too hard, and yet still finish strong!

Cindy said...

great time! you make me feel lazy, having already done a race for 2012... :)

Nicole said...

Great job Felice! What a way to start the new year!

Laura said...

Great job! I wish I had your speed...

Tami mommy of Ten said...

That course sucked!! It really did. I am sure you'll be feeling better in no time. I kept looking for you at the turn around because I was concerned. Despite everything you still looked strong.

Melissa said...

You did great! That course was so tough plus the wind made it worse. I kept having to remind myself throughout the run that it was just a training run and not a race. Hopefully next run I can keep up with you and Tami:)

macnic said...

Great non-race, race! That time is amazing! Good luck as you start your marathon training.

Marlene said...

Kudos to you for running a half on new year's day, and congrats on hanging in there to finish strong.

Next up - marathon training! :)

Darlene said...

Aww. Thanks for thinking of me!

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