Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Postpartum PR - The New Jersey Half Marathon

Yesterday, I woke up at 4 a.m. and drove from N.J back to MA after days filled with memories of race weekend festivities and activities, and of course the race itself.  I am sore, in pain, and could not be more excited to get back into racing! Running here I come!!!  We were not even out of the parking lot from the N.J Half Marathon when I began texting friends to ask about upcoming races and how we could potentially be a part of them - Falmouth, Philly, Divas - please let me in!!!

But before we get to my dreams and aspirations (a whole other post indeeds) let;'s just start with the past 72 hours of the N.J Half Marathon.  And with that I would just like to preface the fact that I have not run over 10 miles since February 2012.  In fact, I purposely reduced all running and gained weight to get none other than beautiful Baby Lee

Worth it!

While I did run during pregnancy, it was nowhere near what I was doing pre-pregnancy.  After pregnancy, I did not do anything until about week 7 (mid-January) and did not run until February - and it has not been easy going.  I know some people come back fast and in all honesty I am super jealous but for me its been a bit slow.  That is O.K though, I am happy to be slow (for me anyway) if it means running with the family.

Nothing like it!

Thus, I had no idea what this half marathon had in store for me.  My coach told me to just find a simple comfortable pace until mile 8 and if I could speed up after that to go for it! If not, just hang on for dear life.  So clearly he was not expecting too much either.  That's ok by me, either was I, although I secretly hoped for a 1:50ish time.

Expo - Mommy Runners and their babies and BOBs - So wonderful to have a playdate at the expo with Jen, Liz, Lucas, Lee, and Wyatt.  These ladies are the best check them out - sweetest ladies, cutest babies - enough said.

So Sunday morning we woke up at the wonderful 3:45 hour and headed to the race.  I say we meaning Aaron and I...more on that later.  Pre-race it was cold and windy but I huddled together with Jen and Aaron and kept warm.  We stood huddled in the corral together musing about why on earth we did this. Then, there was no time for second guessing we were off.

Silly me, I thought I could keep up with my fast friend - hah.  I quickly lost sight of her as she cruised forward, but you can read her report on that.  The plan in the beginning seemed to be going O.K, I held a steady 9:00 mile pace for the first three miles but was completely parched.  I had such a dry mouth.  All week I was plagued by said "dry mouth"  and the first five miles of this race were no different.  So the first three to five or so consisted of me determining exactly why my mouth was dry, exciting stuff I know.  I resigned to blame it on my medication - more on that later.  I even went as far as to try Gatorade at the second water stop - that lasted for about a sip and then I just kept with water.  I pushed on through those first five miles scientifically determining through my race mind intelligence the origin of said dry mouth while stopping at each water stop.  The water stops, by the way were wonderful - every 1.5 miles.  It was exactly what I needed but I could have used more and hope that at some point I can learn to actually use this thing....

I gave birth, I have hips, Water Belt Here I Come!

By mile 3 I was warm, I did the impossible, I sacrificed my favorite, Boston running shirt.  I gave it a kiss and let it go...

Luckily last night I found a lone one on the rack at City Sports and scooped it up.

By Mile 4, I was feeling it and not in a good way.  Mile 4 and 5 came in at 9:13 and 9:26. People kept passing me and that is when I heard it - the 2:00 hour pacer.  It was so defeating.  I did not want to run a 2:00 hour marathon, I knew I could do better than that.  And yet here was Mr. Pacer coming up and pacing me (although he was totally awesome).  I ran with them for a half a mile and got my motivation for the next several miles to push on. Mantras came quick and easy

"I am not a two hour half marathoner" "I am not a two hour half marathoner"

Although in retrospect, I should have hung out with the two hour pacer.  (Please note, nothing wrong with a two hour half marathoner. For me, I was just hoping to go under 2:00 hours.  This race humbled me and reminded me how hard running really really is).  I continued with my mantra as I could hear the two hour pacer trying to get ahead of me.  And just like that my determination and old race junkie self came rushing back  I repeated my mantra; I started to play the game of who could I pass; I added new mantras

"I gave birth naturally, I can do this"  "
"Embrace the pain, let it be there" (coming directly from a birthing mantra)
"Dig Deep"

Mile 6-9 - 9:01, 9:03, 8:52, 8:57

Around Mile 10, things got hard.  I kept up with my mantras and determination, but alas my body was ready for this thing to be over.  I watched with sadness as the two hour pacer passed me.  I saw him to catch up to the 1:55 pacer and my crazy race mind determined that the 2:00 hour pacer was going too fast - that had to be it, even if my Garmin said differently.  The last 2.1 miles were tough.  We headed up some hills and onto the boardwalk where we were met with the wind.

I wanted it to be over, I was done, I even decided ok so I am not a two hour half-marathoner but I am a 2:05 half-marathoner. So I started to say "I am not a 2:05 half marathoner."  Adjust, embrace, it is O.K.

Recently, people have expressed that runners are a different breed.  We unite.  When you run a race you feel that.  At Mile 11, I began to play the "do si do"game with a guy.  He told me Let's go! I did, I passed him and told him to keep up. He passed me. I kept him in sight.  We kept each other going.  He won out in the end, but I was happy to once again have made a friend to lean on in running.  There is nothing like it.

Mile 10-13.1 - 9:58, 9:01, 9:44, 10:00, 4:47

And then that was it.  I crossed that wonderful finish line - 2 hrs and 2 minutes after I started.  My joy of racing had returned.  Did I truly want to have been able to go faster? Yes.  But given that I am just back to training, given that I have not run this far in a long time, and given that I just had a baby  - I will damn well take it. So there, hypothalamic amenorrhea.

Once I finished the race, I was done.  I kind of staggered around for a while and settled finally right outside the massage tent to eat a big soft pretzel, put my name in for my massage, ice,

Soft pretzels at the finish - hell ya!

And oh wait for Aaron....I will let him to tell you that tale.

This is too long of a post and you probably all have given up on me, but I wanted to highlight two more things about this race.

1) DO IT!!!!
    - It was completely well organized, awesome, friendly, and fun;
    - The medals were amazing;
    - There was water and Gatorade throughout;
    - Ice and massages at the finish along with big soft pretzels;
    - The shuttle buses were a breeze;
    - The race course was excellent - it did some fun loops to always keep you interested during which    
      time you could see other runners running different miles; and
    - Most would say it was flat and fast - I was not used to anything resembling a hill so I would say it  
      did have some rolling hills but a good mix

I will see you in 2014!!!!

2)  I have caught the racing bug. I AM BACK.  The ride home was spent deciding what other races to do and convincing friends to join in.  A good portion of last night was spent online determining my race schedule.

Alright, I promise I am done.  Happy Tuesday all!  I hope you are still with me at this point and if you are thank you!!!!

Do you ever get that "dry mouth" problem?  Who can tell me how to run through and drink from those little water cups at water stops or better yet how to actually use my water belt?  Who else raced this weekend?

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