Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mission Accomplished and Enjoying Myself

(If you didn't see the article in Canadian Running Magazine, here it is:

Mission Accomplished (well, for the most part)

So back in July, Coach Rick picked the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll race because we wanted a speedy half marathon with a strong international field, six weeks from STWM (Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon). Reid and Eric ran it last year in their build to STWM so we knew it was a good choice. Today we executed this...well, for the most part.
The trip started with a slow beginning; a 5 hr delay in departing from Detroit. From maintenance to over-heating and washroom holding tank replacements, we heard it all. Every 20 min the screen would post another 25 min delay to boarding time. Eventually they gave us $12 in food vouchers (not so bad if I hadn't JUST spent $15 on a salad and juice) and $50 off our next flight (assuming we fly with them again!). People missed special dinners and connecting flights. But the group that had been through the most was a military family. There was a mom with her five kids (ages 1, 3, 14, 15, 16) who had been up since 4 a.m., who were to be on their third flight, and were relocating across the country. Those kids were amazing as was their very kind and patient mom. Wow, they were great. While waiting, I also got to know Mary and Colleen who were also on their way to the race. Once we finally got to Virginia Beach, I used Colleen's sister Shirley's phone to call Matt, the elite coordinator who asked if I could take a cab, which he'd pay for. But Shirley then offered me a ride to the hotel (which was beautiful as was the scenery) so I accepted. These kind and generous ladies even invited me to their house and after-race party! Thanks again, girls! So nice to meet you!
Anyway, back to our race plan...
Let's start with the, 'for the most part' part. The goal was to run a low 73. I had a low mileage (110 km) week, which was a great taper to feel fresh for the race AND gave my left upper calf time to heal from my most intense week ever, the week before (165km, which included a 10 km PB race and 40 km long run). I had a few slowish runs about five days ago but things had gotten back to normal. Anyway, as expected it was very humid. Even at 5:30 a.m. when we met in the lobby to drive to the start I knew there was no way I needed a pre-race long t or tights, and that it was not going to be a fast race. I did my warm-up run and stretch with my surprise Saturday night roommate, Lucinda (I was told I had the room to myself for both nights. Lucinda was very gracious about my stuff being all over the room when she entered without me being there.). We made a few trips to the port-a-potty , grabbed our gels, checked our bags and were escorted to the start at 6:35 a.m. for the national anthem and a few words from the mayor and Olympic 4x400m Gold Medalist, Francena McCorory. Let me tell you, this was one of the most emotional starts of any race for me; there was an amazing field of several wheelchair athletes followed by an entire group of "Team Hoyt" ( Seeing these competitors was really moving. Fittingly, they started the real elites 10 min ahead of us. While waiting, I was standing among about 8 really speedy ladies, mostly from Japan, and ready to go. Then the gun went off. Coach had suggested that I stay at the mid-back part of the lead group because they were expecting to go faster (top times were 68-71 min with my 74 min ranking me 8th) . So that is what I did, for about 7 or so km's. After realizing the inconsistent pace was not for me, I dropped back to settle into something a bit more reliable. My Garmin had us anywhere from 3:15 to 3:38/km, which is a range of faster than 5 km to slower than marathon race pace for me. No thanks. So I started a gel and kept a bit behind the lead group. Because it was so humid, I drank at nearly every station, and kept my eye on the ladies ahead. Eventually the group dispersed and I spotted my first catch. I thought about how the guys in London stopped looking at their watches (you feel like you are on pace but are not in high humidity) and just decided to pick off people, going for placing. At that point, I knew I was in 8th and wanted top 5 (for the prize money, fifth would pay for my one expense for the trip, my flight). First I caught up to one Japanese, then to a Kenyan...and eventually got to 4th place. The final stretch was 1 km along the boardwalk but the next Japanese girl had a little surge so I didn't get her. Finish time 76:08 (2 min slower than my PB in June). The strangest thing about the race was how I was so slow (like everyone else; the top 5 elite men and women were 4-5 min slower than their PB's) but felt strong. I smiled through the finish and went directly to the ocean for a dip. It was wonderful. I think the volunteers thought I was nuts (the only one doing such a thing) but then understood that Canadians can't do this with polar bears and frozen lakes!
Immediately after finishing we were treated to a lovely reception/breakfast at a local air-conditioned restaurant then shuttled back to our hotel. There is to be a party tonight with awards, great food (ie not just bagels, fruit and water), and a concert at 8pm but hopefully I will be in the loving 8 arms of my hubby and kids by then. They certainly treated us well at the race but it will be nice to be home (2 days without kids seems like 2 weeks but I enjoy the quiet time to pray and think).
I look forward to an easy run and fun swim with my family at grammy and grampa's tomorrow followed by a bitter-sweet first day of school on Tuesday back in Brantford. My four yr old starts JK (already!) so it will just be Leah with Maureen and Jeanetta at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. It will be more difficult to get in the km's before getting the boys ready for school and Coach and I will be gearing more toward marathon-specific pacing so I'll be at the gym, in the pool and on the treadmill more. The softer surface should help me get through a few more intense training weeks, well-tuned. Time to buckle down now and really take care of myself. Six weeks to go now!



Enjoying Myself

So as I was writing this, I was sitting at a Starbucks at the airport, finally enjoying a great cup of coffee. As I sat there I was amusing myself, watching people wait for their loved ones to arrive. In the first five minutes, just moments apart, I saw two men wait for ladies whom I assumed were their mothers. One man even bought a rose for the occasion.Well, after several kisses on the lips and touchy hugs, I realized they were not their mothers! Goodness gracious! Honestly, this was the kind of stuff I had only seen on t.v. The second couple came right into the Starbucks, continuing to, let's say warmly greet each other, over and over. Honestly, I could have wet myself laughing had I not held it in. I even got some great pictures. What fun. Perhaps I need to get out more but man was it something else! Oh the joys of travelling alone!