Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Half Marathon

I've spent quite a few hours thinking about my race yesterday.  In the past 5 years, I have run over 27 races.  They have each been memorable for various reasons, but this race was, by far and without a doubt, the most special race I've ever run. 

I had high hopes going into the race, hoping to break the 1:40 barrier.  I was 100% mentally ready for the race.  Sometimes mental preparation is exceeded by physical ability or other issues.  With that being said, I did not PR.  Although it would have been nice, it does not change how special the race was for me.

After getting to the start and starting warming up for a mile, I felt good.  My brother and I started the race, running 7:30 miles or under for the first five.  We passed and ran with a few people my brother knew.  It was interesting because it seemed like people were surprised he was running that pace.  He told everyone he was pacing me.  We had a nice conversation with another runner about my upcoming marathon.  Things were going relatively well. 

However, at mile 6, things turned ugly for me.  The previous night I had been up multiple times with stomach issues.  Although a nice dose of Pepto Bismal provided some relief during the first 5 miles, the stomach issues came back.  To say I was struggling at mile 6 might be an understatement.  I looked and felt awful.

At mile 7 there is a huge hill that goes up into a park.  In the park (miles 8 and 9), there are a few more rolling hills.  Through my struggles, which included running up the mile 7 hill at a pace that was in the 11's for the majority of the mile, my brother kept encouraging me.  As a person who is a perfectionist and easily gets disappointed, this helped a lot. 

I took a Gu in the park and walked when I did so.  I needed a break, as did my stomach.  That helped a little and I was able to regain some speed in the park.  We passed some people that had passed us going up the hills and I was thrilled to be leaving the park on a nice, long downhill.  We then had a few miles left on city streets before finishing.  The last mile seemed to go on forever and although I tried to muster up a sprint at the end, I had nothing left in me.  As we approached the finishing area, the announcer said, "here comes ultra marathoner (brother's name), who runs 100 mile races."  He let me go across the finish line first, being the kind person that he is. 

What else made this race so special?  I've tried to think of an analogy to compare it to, and the only one that came to mind was the following.  Imagine that you are running like a pauper, but being treated like a prince(ss).  Some little things that my brother did for me that made a big difference...

  1. Block the wind for me at all times - and it was a windy day.
  2. Let me run the inside corners, while he took the outside every time.
  3. At all water stations, asked me if I wanted water.
  4. Would pour some of the water out of the cup for me because they were full.  Then, took the cup back after I had my sip.
  5. Constantly offered me encouragement, multiple times per mile.
  6. Put the race in perspective - it is a hard course.  He told me his times running it and other people's experiences on it.  It was a great training run for Chicago.
  7. Commented on my mom's enthusiasm that we were running the race together.  She took a few pictures and her and my dad cheered every time we ran by.  My mom would always yell "Go team (our last name)!"  That made us both laugh.
  8. Reminded me to stay loose while running...I often get really tight.
  9. Had a conversation with me during the race, although he was the one that had to do all the talking, with very few comments from me.
I think part of the reason this race was special to me is that my brother is moving to another state soon.  I won't be able to see him as much.  However, I do plan to visit him this summer and do another race with him.  And that race will be awesome.

If you are wondering about the stats from this race:

Official Time: 1:43:31
Place: 37/135
Age Group Place: 1st
Females: 6/66


  1. I love this race report!

    It makes me really excited for my upcoming race with my sister. When we ran cross country together in High School, we didn't really run "together", so it will be a first for us.

    I'm sorry you didn't get your PR, but what an incredible, bonding experience to share with your sibling. :)

  2. Congrats on taking 1st in your AG!!!

    And running with your brother is awesome, makes the race so much more special

    Did you earn your second Pukie? Yes I know I still owe your first one, I will have a weekly ramblings soon