Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Lot Can Happen in a Month

For real. I'm notoriously bad at going back and writing things if they're more than a week or two old so I'm going to compress a few things here.

The first weekend of October brought my worst half marathon in two years. It was bad. Mentally, I was out of the race the entire time. Granted, my comedy group had a show the night before so maybe it's not that surprising. I remember waking up that morning and feeling like I simply did not have 13.1 8-minute miles in me. I sure didn't. I still had my cold, I had digestive issues. I was a mess. Maybe they're all crappy excuses but one thing is for sure, it was not a good day in my race career. Particularly when it comes to the half marathon, which is my favorite distance and at which I've been able to consistently perform. Normally if I start a bad race, I can salvage it by the end. This was highly abnormal in that the entire race was a train wreck. Let's move on.

The following weekend was the Staten Island half marathon, which was much, much better. I usually do pretty well at that race. It was all going swimmingly until the new running shoes I bought (I know, right?!) gave me a massive toe blister. PLEASE BE ADVISED: I'VE UPLOADED A GRAPHIC PICTURE HERE TO IMGUR IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING MY TOE BLISTER. That's the most graphic picture I've posted since the Blood Blister Incident of 2011 and I want you to be aware of what you're getting yourself into by clicking.

This was mostly no problem until about mile 8, when it started to be a really big problem. In the end, I finished in 1:51 and change. Considering the extenuating toe circumstances and that it was nearly 10 minutes better than my abysmal showing at Grete's (mentioned above), I was satisfied with that. I will, however, be running my next half marathon with a vengeance.

Another two awesome things happened at this race. The first was that Amortya came to cheer us on. The second is that it was my friend Jessica's very first half marathon! She rocked it, in case you were wondering.

I guess we can make this picture an annual tradition
Oh, let me back up to the day before this half marathon. On that Saturday, I went for my long bike ride and it did not go well. I got a replacement cycle computer (which I should have done last year, but go figure) and knew that I wasn't riding nearly as fast as I needed to. I was agonizing and agonizing and finally decided that maybe it would be best for me to do the half iron distance race. Once I'd made up my mind, I felt much more at ease than I had in the previous 4 or 5 weeks.

I wasn't happy about it really, but I'd made my peace with the fact that it was probably necessary. Then, my whole plan was turned on its head when I read on the website that my deadline for switching to the half was September 1 or until the half sold out. Both deadlines had long passed. I didn't know how to feel. I'd gotten so used to the pleasant ease that came with having decided to do the half that I didn't even have it in me to return to my panicked state. Instead, I dug up my athlete's guide and looked at all the cutoff times, trying to determine exactly what I could get away with.

As it turns out, quite a bit. After doing some specific calculations, I realized I probably could do it, no problem. I only had to maintain slightly less than 12.5 mph for the duration in order to make the cutoff. Even on my slowest rides, I managed that pace. So I decided I was going to stick it out and do whatever it took to finish. Not that I really had a choice, but I was comfortable with the thought that I could do it, even if it took me 17 hours.

So I went into my final weekend of training determined to do what I could. On Saturday, I went out for my ride. I got off to a late start and thought I'd probably be able to ride 60 miles before it was too dark. But you know, I kicked ass on that ride and I stuck it out for 100 miles because I was killing it in exactly the way I needed to for the race. In the end, I finished right around 7 hours. Perfect.

The next day, I followed up an 11 mile run with a swim at the Asphalt Green pool. I swam the full 2.4 miles in 1:40 minutes and knew finishing was completely within my grasp.

And you know what? I did it. On Saturday (10/26), I finished my second iron distance race in 13:58:01. It will definitely get its own race report but that will come on another day. For now, have a picture of my medal taken just after I finished.

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