4 weeks and 42.4 miles

28 May

Okay, so the title is a little deceiving. I’ve run more than 42.4 miles in 4 weeks, but that’s how many miles I’ll have raced total in 4 weeks after hospital hill this Saturday! I can’t believe the crazy racing scheduled I set for myself last fall is finally winding down. I’ve definitely been busy, but the fun part of racing has definitely made it worth the time it takes out of my Saturdays.

The race that kicked off my 4 weekends of racing was the Running with the Cows 1/2 marathon on May 12th. This was the race that qualified me as a half fanatic last year, my 4th half ever! This year I came back with 10 more 1/2’s under my belt to enjoy a much more crowded, but still enjoyable race. This race was so small last year that I managed to place 2nd in my age group (I should mention that there were only 3 people in my age group, so I would have placed if I crawled the whole 13.1 miles…) The race was in it’s 2nd year last year, but they knew how to throw a great event. Lots of course support and cheering strangers along the route! I was a little nervous that the small race I loved last year would lose some of it’s small town charm when the race more than quintupled (I hope that’s a real word,) in size for the 3rd year. I ran with less than 200 people in 2011, this year there were over 1,000! Great for the race, but I hoped the support wouldn’t suffer. I’m glad I got to the race extra early due to a mix up with my registration. I waited in a huge line to park, but from what others who almost missed the start told me, it got much worse closer to the start time. The race was delayed to allow more people to get to the staging area before the start, and they left the start line open after the official start for those that were running behind due to traffic.

The race itself went off without a hitch in my opinion. The course was a little crowded at first, but opened up after a mile. Lots of rolling hills and beautiful country scenery (and some smells too, boo…) I didn’t have a goal time for this race. I’d noticed on my runs since the Illinois 1/2 marathon that I didn’t feel as strong as normal. I decided not to push myself and just listen to the pace my legs were telling me to run. I started around the 2:05 pacers, but let them go ahead after a mile or so. I ran the first 2 miles, then decided to throw in run/walk intervals because I could tell the hills were not going to be my friend. By the turn around I was running around the 2:10 pacers, which I was fairly pleased with. I knew I wasn’t going to hang onto them for the rest of the race though with my walk breaks. The second half of the race was definitely much slower for me. With the added heat later in the race and my already tired legs, I started tinkering with my run/ walk ratio to take advantage of running down hill. The 2:15 pacers passed me around mile 11, and I tried to hang onto them for a little bit. I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth chasing them if I wasn’t going to PR, so I let them go after 1/2 a mile and took it easy the rest of the race. I forgot to mention that I got a killer sunburn in Florida the weekend before this race, I was a lobster and still recovering when this race rolled around…

Needless to say, a little bit of sun and heat made me feel like I was baking in an oven. The last mile was mostly downhillish, but there was no shade. I was fading really fast, but everyone else around me seemed to be having the same problem. I was so glad to finally get to the finish line after 2:17 minutes.

I grabbed my bag that I checked and some food then started to walk back to my car. After a few minutes of walking a nice guy in an ATV pulled up and offered to give me a ride back to my car. I grateful he asked because I was parked much further away than I thought!

Overall Running with the Cows was still a great race despite the huge increase in size from last year. I love the course, it’s definitely very country!

The next weekend was the 5k for my Girls on the Run girls! It was so much fun running this race after watching my girls go from hardly running at all to running 3 miles. I ran with another coach from my location and we just took it easy and cheered along our girls as we ran. I’m glad the girls on my team all had great role models in their family that ran with them to encourage them along the way. I hope I can be a great role model for my kids like that some day. I got a little teary eyed watching some of the girls celebrate their 5k’s with their parents. It was such a sweet moment for them!

My third out of the four races was the Hot Trot 1/2 marathon yesterday. It was a teeny tiny race on a super hot day. I decided to break out my camelbak even though I hadn’t trained wearing it since last year. I debated all week whether to wear it or not, and finally decided on Friday night to take it. I’m so glad I did! There were 7 aide stations along the course, but it was so hot that even though I was drinking a lot I could still tell I wasn’t hydrated enough.

The race had 25 people running the 1/2, which made me really nervous since it was all run on a trail. I ran the same course last November for the Pilgrim Pacer 1/2 marathon and knew there were lots of hills and curves. I tend to think the worst and hope for the best, so I was paranoid I would pass out due to the heat and no one would have a clue. I also figured I would come in dead last since I’m usually a middle of the pack runner, and I figured if you were crazy enough to run this race despite the heat, you must be a pretty hardcore athlete. Both those worries proved to be incorrect, although I was fairly certain I was in last place for the first 1/2 of the race. It wasn’t until I reached the turn around and started passing people that were behind me that I realized I wasn’t in last.  I ran intervals the whole race because I knew this wasn’t going to be pretty. The race started at 9, and when I got out of my car the temperature was reading 80. I kept my 4/1 intervals for most of the race, and passed at least 6-7 people on the way back to the finish. The last 2 miles were killer, and I gave up my intervals for the most part in lieu of survival. The first 2 miles are mostly downhill, which is awesome until you realize that coming back the last 2 miles are going uphill. I knew I was in trouble when I started getting goosebumps while I was burning up. I got to the last aide station about a 1 1/2 miles from the finish and dumped 2 cups of water over my head and drank a couple cups of water as well. That helped give me some energy for about another 1/2 mile, but I was so hot that I had to stop again. I decided that I had to keep running in some capacity to get to the finish as quickly as possible. I went back to intervals, this time running 30 seconds, then walking a minute. Finally after 2:30 hours the finish line was in sight. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to see a finish line in my life!

I had some nice ice cold water at the finish. It tasted amazing! I quickly grabbed something to eat then booked it to my car to get some A/C on to cool myself down.

I was glad I ran the race since I’ve really been neglecting my outdoor training runs. One of the bad things about paying for a gym membership is that I feel guilty about working out somewhere besides the gym since I’m paying for the gym whether I go or not. I’ve definitely been enjoying my treadmill runs a little too much this spring. This was a great training run for Hospital Hill this weekend! Speaking of Hospital Hill, anyone that is running, make sure you come say hi to me at the Bondi Band booth at the expo. I’ll be smack dab in the middle of the booths on a corner and I’ll have lots of great headbands including the awesome aqua color that I’m wearing above! I’m super excited for Thursday to get here, I LOVE working expos, and I LOVE hospital hill! So much love for one event, I can’t wait!

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