Monday, June 22, 2009

The 2009 Steamworks Half Marathon

Or, alternately titled...It Started At The Port-a-Potty, And Ended With Melting Beer Cups

Stay with me for a minute on this.

This race weekend started with picking up my friend Jen, who lives an hour south of me, and then heading over several "don't look down" scary mountain pass roads from Ouray, past Silverton, over Red Mountain Pass and eventually down into Durango, Colorado, which really isn't that FAR from where we live, but takes a long time to reach because of those slow speeds and caution we have to use driving over. We got to Ilana's place and checked out our race packets. SWEET...we got technical shirts at this race with the low entry fee, and everything was in a nice reusable bag.

I got an excellent night's sleep after spending an hour or so reading some of Ilana's travel and outdoor magazines in the guest bedroom, and we were up and ready to go with what seemed like plenty of time. Now, here's where it gets dicey.

We headed over to the athletic club where the mandatory buses to the start were taking off. We got on an empty bus parked in what seemed like the first stall out of the lot, and waited. We were delayed a bit as a runner and the bus driver debated an issue that seemed to have been cleared with the race director, but wasn't actually legal with the bus company regarding taking a toddler and stroller to the start on the bus. We finally got out of there, but this bus driver kept stopping at every railroad crossing (for the tourist train, the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad which didn't even start running for the day until 8 a.m.), and asking us to be quiet like five year olds. Yeah.

We finally got to the starting area, or, to be more accurate, a few tenths of a mile downhill from the start. When we arrived, we immediately got on the port-a-potty line. Did I mention that there were THREE port a potties in total for over three hundred runners? I needed to make a pit stop, though, as did Jen and Ilana, so we got on line and waited. And waited. was getting ridiculous as I watched the clock, thinking surely they'll hold the race a few minutes with all these people waiting.

I finally got my turn and came out quickly, and Jen was THE last person to duck on in as I started running up the know, just in case they really did start right at eight. I was at near half-marathon pace when I finally reached the top of the hill, and heard them already doing the practice countdown just before the start! Crap! Here I was totally out of breath from dashing up the hill and I was going to have absolutely NO time to catch my breath, stand there and build that good nervous energy that comes from waiting at the start. No time, either, to move my way more to about where I would normally start, somewhere between the middle and front of the group. I hoped that Jen was hurrying up the hill quickly and not taking her time because just a few seconds later, the real countdown happened and the gun fired. Off we went.

I hit the start button on my Garmin...really, I do remember doing this. I swear. I didn't look at it, though, and was instead trying to weave along the edge of the pack, practically in the ditch, going past walkers, slower joggers, and then finally getting settled in maybe half a mile down the road. I check my pace and time-CRAP again! It's registering pace but no time. I slap the start button again and give it a good look to make sure it's running. This happened at the last race, too. So, great. I'm not going to have an accurate gauge of total time or anything now.

First few mile splits, starting at about the half mile point, are as follows:

Mile 1: 7:26
Mile 2: 7:44
Mile 3: 8:13

I believe I was off to sort of a gangbusters start (too fast), which isn't unusual for me before reigning myself in, coupled with the adrenaline of nearly missing the start. There was a small amount of passing/being passed in the first few miles, but it seemed like people at my pace sorted out pretty fast and there wasn't much movement going on.

Soon we got into the business of rolling, rolling, rolling...keep that course route rolling. Holy cow. these were some serious rolls bordering on being hilly out there. I didn't feel awful but this didn't feel like it was going to be one of those magical days, either, like the Eisenhower Marathon where EVERYTHING from weather to my mood to how my body felt were all just as good as it got. I felt like I was still trying to settle down from that rush from the bathroom to the start.

Mile 4: 8:09
Mile 5: 8:05
Mile 6: 8:13
Mile 7: 8:13
Mile 8: 8:21

Ew. I'm starting to feel icky now. Maybe it wasn't a brilliant idea to re-start ballet classes earlier in the week, or start this womens toning (butt kicking) class at the studio for the first time also. I did some toning work on my own and hadn't thought it would make me as sore to start the class as I was for days after. Oh well. Live and learn.

Mile 9: 8:27
Mile 10: 8:25

Ick. The wheels really wanted to come off here. Just as we talk about reading strategies with our daughter's first grade teacher to help her sort things out, I started using some strategies at this point to not let myself take on a defeatist attitude and turn the whole thing into a glorified training run. I'd keep an eye on short landmarks ahead, look at stuff around me, and do whatever I could to kind of disconnect from anything negative or mentally draining.

In this mile, I suddenly hear someone talking to me, and there's Ilana...absolutely springing along and looking great. She was having what she called the pixie dust race, WELL ahead of all of her goals, throwing her race plan out the window and just going for it. I was excited for her to see her doing so awesome, and it gave me a nice mental break from racing by myself. She bounded on ahead, and picked off a few more runners as she went, having what was turning out to be her race of the year thus far. Me...I was hurting...and the late hills were trying to get the best of me.

Mile 11: 8:43
Mile 12: 9:00

Wow, was this not how I wanted to end. I dug in and just kind of gave myself the internal pep talk of "Come on! Faster you run, faster you're done! Incessant forward motion! Go!" I slowed WAY down in the last mile but then managed to pick it up as I was coming uphill to the finish at the athletic club.

The pace for what it recorded of the time to the finish (9:22 for .6 miles, 5:36 actual time) is pretty crummy sounding versus my start, but the disparity could have been even greater if I'd just let it go and hobbled in. I just did the best I could to have nothing left at the finish, and was honestly pretty discouraged that while I was going to PR, I could see on the time clock that it would be by barely a minute off of what was already a very soft half marathon PR. Still, a PR is a PR and I did set a new half marathon mark of 1:46:29. This wound up being 9th place among open females (possibly 8th....we found a "Dave" in the female results and have a sneaking suspicion that "Dave" is not really an Under 40 "Female."

This was something like 13th overall for me between combined Masters, Grandmasters, and Open Women...I think 145 was our approximate head count. Not the hammering home a huge PR I wanted, so I think that THIS will be a big do-over race for next year. I want to try it again with what will surely be a better port-a-potty and transportation time window situation. Everything else about this race was fabulous (we got nice pint glasses and medals at the finish, and a terrific party with food from the grill, beer, and massages for runners) and it was challenging enough on the course with how much it rolled that I'm not going to beat myself up too much for not coming anywhere close to what seemed like a reasonable "gimme" time of 1:45 based on other performances this year at different distances.

As for my friends, Ilana came in at 1:44 and change, was third female Master and had a huge PR for the course and for a half. Jen, who got stuck in the port-a-potty, arrived at the start to find NOBODY there...not even WALKERS that were there with Team in Training! She isn't sure because there was no chip mat at the start-just the finish-but estimates she missed the start by a good five minutes, give or take. Despite that, her official time of 1:54 was good enough for 18th open female (well, 17th, minus Mrs. Dave), and if you factor in the time she lost, it would've been even higher up the charts. Pretty good to hang in there and not wind up with a throwaway race when all was said and done.

We had a pretty good time at the after party, with each of us getting massages (which I swear is helping to diminish my soreness...this is the best I've ever felt after a half), eating lots of food, having several beers, and going into the club's hot tub in the women's locker room, then the sauna. Ah, yes, the sauna, where plastic beer cups become works of art. But first, some photos of the finishers.

L-R: Me, Ilana, Jen

The party's just getting started at the athletic club. Check out the tent..that's where the burgers, veggie burgers (yummy, yummy veggie burgers that I had to eat, even though I am a bona fide meat eater, because they looked so good), pasta salad, chips, and beer from the title sponsor Steamworks Brewery were located.

More runners enjoying the post-race festivities with a good massage

Check out how literally twisted and warped these cups became after we headed into the locker room, and spent a little time enjoying the heat of the sauna when it started getting chilly outside. I'm glad I was almost done with my beer at that point-don't want to think too deeply on drinking liquid from a melting cup.

Jen models the melted cups. Sorry. I was just fascinated with how these cups crumpled so quickly.

We took a stroll to downtown Durango to stretch the legs, get a bite to eat, and pick up some beer from Steamworks that Jen and I could each bring back to our husbands for little Father's Day/thanks for holding down the fort while the moms are racing gifts. It was bustling downtown, with a car show and the Who's Your Daddy festival going on, complete with bands:

Lastly, we became owners of a Toyota Prius about two years ago when our very very old minivan finally died a quick death, and we decided to take advantage of the available tax break at the time with my husband purchasing the smaller hybrid car since I already cart the kids around in a minivan, and didn't need a second larger vehicle. He really enjoys his car, so I had to take this photo for him when I saw that it is also the vehicle of choice for Durango's finest:

So, there you have it. I really haven't had a home run type of race since my marathon, but it's good, too, in that I've got renewed determination to really get cracking with mileage and quality speed work this summer. Up next will be several local 5K's that I plan to use as speed work-then it's diving right back into a marathon plan for fall. More on that in another blog entry, though-this one is already painfully long!


Anonymous said...

Kristen sent me the whole spreadsheet of finishers, so I can tell you that you finished 8/123 in Female Open, 12/184 overall female, and 53/289 overall everybody. Not chopped liver!

Preston said...

Great race report. Good job on the PR too. We also have a Prius, best car we have ever had. We will probably replace it with a Chevy Volt, that is of course if there is a Chevy...

L.A. Runner said...

Way to go on the PR!!!! Also, i love your running skirt, too cute. I had to laught at the bathroom situation. That is my all-time biggest fear in a race. Great job on your race! Keep running strong!

Oz Runner said...

awesome job on the PR, and great race report!

Black Bear! said...

eeewoooowowoowww, I got the heebie jeebies with the whole confusion/long line in the bathroom thing at the start. FREAK OUT!

Great job, and I don't know why you are fascinated by the melting cups either. LOL