Monday, October 29, 2012

Race Report: Runaway Pumpkin

So the day had finally come... The race that has been my goal race since beginning my training plan with Coach J in July was here. The Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon in Lebanon, Oregon.

The Robinson Pumpkin-mobile - Photo credit Steve Robinson
I also had a  felt pumpkin cut out on my back, that apparently looked like it was chewing as I ran... 

A motley group of runners met in the drizzling rain in front of Peet's in Bridgeport Village at 6:20 a.m. to catch a ride with the awesome Steve Robinson who offered to drive a group of runners down. What began as a light sprinkle, quickly became a heavy downpour as the morning progressed. We made good time and were at the event a little after 8:00 with plenty of time to pick up our packets, do the bathroom line (in my case- multiple times, bag drop off, and then find shelter to try and stay dry before the race began. I was able to find a spot under a tree to do my warm up/stretches and then lined up at 8:50. The race began right on time - led by a couple of 'runaway pumpkins' who got a jump on the clock.

The beginning of the race took you along gravel and a path the was right next to the river with quite a bit of beginning of the race congestion. I would have liked to have been able to stick closer to my starting goal time, which was to start the race at about 10 min/miles but was able to make up the time and ended up around 10:30 split. As we moved into the neighborhood, things cleared out and we were able to get into our groove. So many great volunteers and townspeople were out cheering on the racers. I had wanted to keep the first half between 9:44 and 10:00 and then slowly speed up the second half. But around 6.5 miles my knee started aching. I tried walking for a bit, but that didn't make it go away. I decided that I would just try and push through the pain. We had water stations at about every 2 miles so I was glad I had decided to leave water at home since I am still trying to find a solution that hydrates me- but doesn't splash all over me like all the belts I have tried or annoy the heck out of me like anything handheld.

Me and Melissa - before the race
Maryalicia (Run Oregon bloggess) had offered to pace me, so I was so thankful to have her with me that second half when I needed to keep my mind off of the pain. She is also the happiest runner I have ever met, and it was infectious running next to someone who was so appreciative (I think she thanked everyone out volunteering) of the support staff and the scenery. It was such a beautiful run (apparently a new route this year- which added a little more hill) but nothing this westside Portlander couldn't handle. This is the first race I have tried to just run through pain.. not soreness- but actual physical pain.. and for 6 miles. I will have to say that I learned I am mentally tougher than I thought I was after this race. After working towards this race for 16 weeks, there was no way I was going to throw in the towel. I knew I wasn't going to be able to sub 9:30's for the second half like I was hoping for - but I knew if I could stay as close to 10s as possible, I could still PR.

That last mile was excruciating  I hoped it wasn't anything that some ice and time off wouldn't heal- I was 90% sure I wasn't doing permanent damage (I am pretty sure I know that difference now?) but I knew I was pushing it. But I felt like I had worked too hard not to. We picked up the pace in that final stretch because I just wanted to be done and somehow was able to do a 9:37.. the final .10 was on gravel. I think I actually yelled - are you kidding me? Gravel? I am supposed to dig deep and sprint on GRAVEL? But thankfully I had Maryalicia running in front of me, yelling at me to dig deep and finish strong. I was tired enough and just wanted to start walking that her "motivation" lit that fire in me to get across the finish line. She was my hero.

I have never wanted to walk so badly in a race before. But I didn't. Plus, it didn't help. Actually  the few times I started to walk, that actually felt worse and I knew I just needed to keep running. I think Maryalicia probably thinks I am insane, because I was muttering Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" over and over again. I reminded myself that Finley didn't give up. Thinking about her really helped me. Nothing like thinking about your baby fighting through their first 30 days of life to make you think 1 hour of discomfort is nothing.

2:13.XX was the time on the clock as I crossed the finish line. I knew since I started back with the 10 min/milers I had a few seconds grace... I knew I had achieved some sort of PR.. but I was already more amazed that I had just powered through 6 miles through considerable pain at a faster pace than my other HMs.

I can't wait to see the finish line photos.. I was so ecstatic to be done. I also could barely walk. I accepted my finishers medal and hobbled over to a waiting masseuse who did a 10 min massage on my ailing knee. It didn't  really help. I got a cute pumpkin "awesome costume' award (above) and personal mini-fan and carried those over to the medical tent to get some ice. Oh blessed ice.

Melissa, my other friend that did this race also came in with a HUGE PR. I think most of our car PRd that morning.

Great food spread afterwards - but I grabbed some chocolate milk and some cookies and didn't really partake. We needed to get back to Portland  and I wanted to get on my compression hose and get cozy with my bag o' ice.

This was a very well organized race, with excellent support. I would highly recommend this race to anyone thinking about it in the future.

I am happy that I surpassed 2 out of 3 of the goals I had set. Of course  I am disappointing I didn't beat 2:08 too, but I know I had/have that in me. I felt like I could have run faster if my knee hadn't been hurting so bad- so I know I have sub 2:08 in me... who knows.. maybe by next year I'll see a sub 2 hour!

Now I am taking it easy for the next 2 weeks- going to let things heal.. Then focus on some strength (while maintaining my base) for the rest of the year before I jump into a focused training plan in January. I think I'll just focus on trying to run strong and healthy and just see what happens for the Holiday Half - without setting any hard pressed goals.

Final thoughts...

**This was my fifth half marathon... in 12 months. I ran my first half marathon just last October in 2:37.

**I PR'd by almost 6 minutes. Wahoo!

**Thank you to Coach J for a great training plan!

**Thank you to so many friends who sent texts, Facebook messages, and called.. I felt so much love and support. Not to mention my wonderful friend Stacy who brought me ice cream Saturday night! (Note to self: Do not run any races over 10K when hubby is out of town again... We survived - but there was a lot of TV for the rest of Saturday.)

Next up is the Cause and Event 5K/10K - this is falling within my 2 week running break/recovery period, so I have opted for the 5K and plan on just running it for fun, not trying to break any PRs. This is going to be a FABULOUS first year event - we have a team formed- Team Ladybug.. you should join us! Or start your own team, or sign up solo.. or volunteer! My friend Amy is the Race Director and I am so excited for her... this is such a great idea and I know it is going to be a huge success. You don't want to miss out on being a part of the first year.. how many people can say.."hey, I've been doing this event since it started.." Be that person!

1 comment:

  1. Great job pushing through the pain and finishing strong! I've run with Maryalicia before and she is fantastic! Now take good care of yourself and heal that knee. :)