Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sugar & Spice and Angie's Half Crazy! Half Marathons -- Race Report

When I registered for these two races that use the same course, I envisioned being able to improve my time in the two months between them through improved technique, increased fitness, and even a bit of weight loss.  It turns out what I got from these races was much more introspective.  But first, the race stuff!

For both of these races I drove down by myself at super early o'clock without my cheering squad.  Parking was easy and close to the start.  These races have entry caps, which keeps them very low key.  15 minutes before the start they'll exchange your shirt for another size if they have it and let you grab one extra piece of glassware.  I love race glasses and I have cats and children who break things despite my best efforts, so I definitely went for the extra from each race.  They are so well organized at FAB racing.

Sugar & Spice had stemless wine glasses and a nice grey tech shirt.  The race was so small they gave out extra shirts to anyone who wanted one as well.

Angie's Half Crazy! had so much stuff!  I also got double bling for having done two races in their series.  Yes, I got bib number 666.  Christian had run his first 50 miler at a race called Hells Hills the day before, so it was a bit of an oddly themed weekend for us.

The one thing this race doesn't have going for it is an interesting course.  It is flat and fast, though.  It's an out and back on roads, with sidewalk or paved bike path alongside for most of it.  The aid stations were always ready with tons of water and gatorade and the volunteers were really great.  At the AHC! half the turnaround point guy was throwing out unique comments to everyone -- mine was "Here comes a half marathoner!"  He made my day with his incredibly positive attitude.

They have breakfast burritos and at the AHC! race they had these awesome sno-cones.  So, so good.  They also have sports massage people there, but I'm always too lazy to wait in the line because I just want to get home.

My race
Sugar & Spice
I wasn't going to do this race because I was so worried about kid #2.  He'd just been diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and we were told his best treatment option was a femoral osteotomy.  This left me reeling and so very angry.  In retrospect, that's probably what drove me to my half marathon PR -- the need to burn off all of my unprocessed emotions.  I honestly don't remember much about this race, other than that my super fast friend Annette high fived me after the turnaround on her way to her age group win.  It felt so good to be out and not thinking about anything.  I also got the best race photo of me, ever.  I am telling myself that this photo is highly accurate and I always look like this while racing.

Angie's Half Crazy!
I also wanted to give up on this race, but this time because I was just so tired.  The intensity of caring for my Perthes kid, even once he was back at school, and keeping up with the others (toddler, I'm looking at you) was (and still is, actually) stressful.  I am convinced that my emotional, spiritual and physical wellness can all impact each other and I was feeling completely spent.  #2's wheelchair weighs, I'm guessing, 80 pounds.  Even Christian doesn't like to pick it up, and I lifted that thing in and out of the back of the minivan multiple times every school day.  My body eventually started complaining about this, and the nagging hip/knee pain on my bad side combined with my usual gym schedule being messed up led to less than optimal training.  I ultimately decided to go to give the kids the medals.  The night before there was a 90% chance of thunderstorms and I was convinced I'd drive down there for nothing but my packet. Still, I soldiered on because at least I can walk -- I feel like I should for anyone who is longing for that freedom and unable to achieve it for whatever reason.

So, with a threat of thunderstorms and an aching hip, I left my house before dawn.  I went to packet pickup and found my number was 666.  I'm not superstitious -- the number itself doesn't have any power, but it certainly has a connotation in our culture.  While I tried to figure out why they'd issue this number at all instead of skipping it like the 13th floor on buildings, I tried to keep warm while I waited for the race.  Normally I keep very much to my introverted self before races, but once you pin on 666 everyone has a joke.  This was actually really good for me to get drawn out of my gloomy mood and into the race atmosphere.  I started at my normal 12-ish pace and managed a mile before my hip and knee told me in no uncertain terms to slow down.  The good thing was that a 14-ish pace made the pain completely disappear.  I accepted my pace and walked on through the misty, cool morning.  I was thinking about my race number, the existence of sin and the nature of suffering.  I ultimately decided that getting my weird number was actually food for thought this Lent.

About mile 9 I started passing people that had given up their earlier paces.  One man and woman were doing a run-walk pattern that kept me near them for quite some time.  The man was talking about how he'd left the Catholic Church after deciding that the entire hierarchy was made up of actual, physical demons. I ultimately decided not to say anything because yelling at someone "My church isn't run by demons!"while wearing race bib 666 would probably not do anything to improve his opinion of Catholicism.  This is hands down the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in a race.  I finished with my first half marathon time over three hours, but I finished.  And the predicted rain?  It started pouring the minute I got back into the car.  

Oh, the pictures were awful this time.  I'm hoping I don't look like this whenever I'm racing.  Here's the most flattering of the bunch.

What I Learned
I am honestly so blessed to be able to finish a half at all, and I'd love to see more people joining the back of the pack with me.  More and more races are walker-friendly and the feeling you get from crossing that finish line is such a rush.  I had my best and worst half time at this particular finish line and the exhilaration of being done was just as great for both.  That said, I'm going to address the pain I'm having before I go into my race for May.  I've taken two complete weeks off due to scheduling conflicts and complete unwillingness to go to the gym at night after I put the kids to bed.  Now that the wheelchair is gone (hooray!) and I'm helping #2 relearn to walk, I'm hoping my body will start to recover a bit, too.