Friday, June 12, 2015

Mystic Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Mystic Half Marathon almost two weeks ago.  Usually, I recap a race within a day or two, but I told myself that it was ok to just forget about this race and move on.

Well, it's not ok.  That is not who I am or what Running While Mommy is all about.  The good, the bad, and the beautiful.  It is all laid out right here.  And you, my loyal readers, deserve a recap.

I signed up for this race as part of the HMF Triple Challenge.  I was most excited about this one.  That is until about a week before the race.  That weekend blew up. I had the race, a going away party, and Gracie's gymnastic showcase.  There was no same day packet pick-up.  That meant I had to do the hour drive, each way, to Mystic, Saturday and Sunday.  For some reason, this really stressed me out.  More so then was really necessary.

Packet pickup was actually very nice. Easy and just enough to look at.  Plus, Mystic Aquarium was there with a few sea creatures and Gracie, who was with me, just loved that!
Gracie having a great time!

Another great race shirt!

Now, I know I have mentioned this before, but BRF#1, really is the Best Running Friend, EVER!  On our Thursday run, when I was telling her that I had no real desire to do this race, she offered to get up at 4 in the morning, pick me up, drive me and run some of the race with me.  Seriously, the best!

I, of course, was more than happy to have her do that, as long as her family was on board. They were.

A little after 5 am, she pulled into my driveway.  When I stepped outside, I knew I was in trouble when I had to take my jacket off.  It was already warm.  I also forgot to buy bananas, which is something I always eat right before a longer race.  I grabbed a pear instead, and we headed to Connecticut.

It was a beautiful morning and easy drive. No traffic that early. We got to the race and parked with plenty of time to spare.

I ate my pear, got to see Beth as she was getting her volunteer assignment and then we hooked up with Sarah and her friends.

We snapped a few pics and wished each other a good race.


Snarky Girl

My goal for this race was 2:25.  Not a PR, but it was what I thought I could do based on my last few races and the heat and hills.  I spoke with the 2:30 pacer about her plan and I decided to start out with them and eventually pull ahead.

When I found my spot in line, I realize I was next to my friend Danielle who came in from New York to run this race.  We had only met in person once before and I was so happy to see a friendly face.

We started chatting right away and started to run together.

Before I knew it, we were a couple miles in and I was asking her if I was keeping her from a goal.  She said no and seemed happy to keep me company. I was thrilled!

I also realized the 2:30 pacers were behind us and I couldn't see them.  Not my plan but going for it.

I told her it was my tenth half marathon and guess what? Danielle was running her fiftieth!  Wow, what an honor to run with her and celebrate that huge accomplishment.

The first half of the race, I ran ok. It got hot fast and there were hills but nothing to crazy.  Right around mile five, I had to stop and use the porta potty. This did not make me happy but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I also noticed that I started to get hungry. Clearly, the banana does make a difference.  I had my first GU about mile six.

Mile seven is where BRF#1 was waiting for me.  I was so happy to see her.  I introduced her to Danielle and the three of us ran together.
The three amigos!

I am not going to lie. I was struggling. Not so much physically, but definitely mentally.  In my head, I was telling BRF#1 that we should just walk to the car and head home.  But, I couldn't bring myself to do it, so onward we went.  I was hungry, hot and tired and my head was just not right.  I had my second GU at mile ten and a little while after that, Danielle gave me some of her Honey Stinger Chews.

In the last couple miles, I hear, "Hi Nicole!"  I look to my right and see Elizabeth Comeau of Zelle running right next to me.  So cool that she recognized me looking my worst.  We chatted a few minutes and I realized she was running with the 2:30 pacers.  Crap, they caught us.

I kind of knew my 2:25 was gone but seeing them really made it a reality.  So now my new goal was just sub 2:30.  And Damnit! Why did I stop at the porta potty at mile five?

No worries, new goal.  Sub 2:30. BRF#1 and Danielle were sure I could do it.  Danielle said she paces a lot of races and I knew I could trust her. I just had to get my head straight and keep moving forward.

BRF#1 jumped out as we were getting closer to the finish.  Danielle said to me, "Let's pick these last people off." And I told her to just go ahead. As I watched her go, I found the last of the strength I had, and ran after her trying to catch up. I saw Sarah cheering me in and then I finally crossed the finish line in 2:29:49.
Could that be a smile?  Maybe. Don't panic, I bought the picture.

Danielle and I
Me, with Sarah and Snarky Girl

Great medal

I was so happy to stop running.  I got my medal and we snapped a few pics.  They had, some nice food at the end of the race but I just grabbed a bagel.  I was so happy to eat.  Lesson learned. I know what works for me before a long run and I need to stick with that, always.

I said goodbye to Danielle.  I can't thank her enough for sticking with me and keeping me going.  She made the race bearable and I am forever grateful.  There is a chance she may run the Philadelphia Marathon and I really hope she does. I would love to run with her again.

BRF#1, myself, Sarah and her friend Snarky Girl who ran with me at the Middletown Half, headed over to the diner for breakfast.  We had a really nice time and it seems mimosas are becoming a tradition with this crew.  Before I knew it, I was home.

This was my fourth race this year.  Each race I had a goal and missed it.  But thinking about it, I have really put a lot of pressure on myself this year and I think that is hurting me. My main goal this year is the Philadelphia Marathon and that is where all my energy should be going.  Not that I don't want to do well. I do. And every time I run, that is a step closer to my goal for Philly. But sometimes, I just have to run because that is what I want to do, not what I have to do.  I will be honest and tell you, I have taken a little step back the last couple weeks.  Marathon training will be starting mid July and it is better to start that with a clear head and full heart and not burnt out.  I am still getting miles in and still maintaining a ten mile long run, but just trying to have a little more fun and going when I want to.

I love to run. I love to be social when I run. I do like to participate in races.  I want to do this a long as my body will let me. But it's important to take a step back and just breathe.

I do have The Blessing in July. I love this race. My town, my streets. I plan to run this race and enjoy every minute but on my own terms.

I am glad I finally wrote this post because we all have bad races. What I am learning is that every race, every run, every step needs to be celebrated because I am blessed that I get to do this. I get to wake up every morning and enjoy life, my family, my friends and each and every day that God has given me.  And for that, I am thankful.
I do love this shirt!

The first six months of this year are flying by but there are still some great things coming up on my schedule.  But starting today, no more pressure on myself for silly things.  My main goal for this year is a sub 5 hour marathon and every step I take, starting today, is with that in mind.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole