Monday, December 7, 2009
Starting a New Year Right
This past weekend I headed over to Austin to run the Decker Challenge Half Marathon with friends Heather, Del and Ingrid. It was also a little extra special for me as this race coincided with my birthday.
Many months ago I had planned to make this race a total effort to PR and try to break the 2:30:00 mark on my half marathon time. However my plans had since changed and I was now coming off of the San Antonio Marathon 3 weeks back and looking forward to the Goofy Challenge in 5 more weeks, so I changed my plans here to putting forth a solid effort but running below race-level effort (I suppose this equates to considering this race a 13.1 mile tempo run.)
Sunday morning I presented with a birthday card, balloon and cupcake (which I saved until after the run) and I was thankful for my friends remembering my birthday. I was having a difficult time deciding what to wear (see Karen, that problem is not exclusive to women!!) as the weather was cold and wet--in fact it there was a slow rain or heavy mist for the entire event! I decided to go with short tights that stopped above the knee and long socks that went up to just below the knee instead of long tights. I also wore a newer pair of shorts over the tights because I wanted to try them out on a longer run before my marathon, since they have several pockets for gels I wanted to make sure they would be comfortable enough before the Disney marathon trip. I also went with a tight long-sleeve shirt under a sleeveless running shirt for my top. Because of all the wetness I decided to keep my Sun-Mart running jacket on for the run as an outer layer. In addition I wore a lightweight beanie cap on my head to keep warm and wore gloves to keep my hands warm. Being from south Texas, I am no stranger to warm (and downright hot) weather running, and I can put up with running in cooler weather without being so bundled up for a time, but heading out on a long run--even a race--in these conditions was new to me, and in fact it did stay cold and wet for the entire course, I did feel afterwards that I made the right choices in my running attire.
Since I started the race without expectations other than to run a solid pace without overtaxing myself, I figured I was set for a decent run. Starting out was nice and the first decent hill didn't seem nearly as bad as it did when it was on the Longhorn Tri course 6 weeks before, and then we headed into a general downhill for a bit. Of course this downhill set up to an general uphill for a bit and so it went until hitting real hill around miles 4 and 6, with 6 being a tough one (which I walked the last 1/3 of so I wouldn't max out my heart rate so early on. I believe the first 10 miles or so of this run were also the first part of the Longhorn Tri bike, so the area seemed generally familiar and I enjoyed being more out in the country and away from traffic. Coming up to an aid station around the 10K mark I realize I am on a personal PR pace for a 10K, and I am still feeling strong and am run/walking, but running more than normal and feeling good with it. As I continue on I find several general inclines and then 2 pretty big hills in succession around miles 9 and 10, where I also realize I am several minutes of my 10 mile PR as well. I also have known for a while now that a new half marathon PR was possible and that I could even break 2:30 if I pushed hard enough, but did I want to risk my training for January for accomplishing something else now? In the end I decided to try to keep a strong pace to break my old PR time but told myself not to risk injury by doing too much for today--after all I was well ahead of today's plan and I would hate to ruin a successful run that already exceeded expectations.
I crossed the finish at 2:31:24, beating my old PR time by over 2 1/2 minutes. I would have thought I might be bothered by missing a golden opportunity to break 2:30,but I was really happy with this run because I felt so good out there that I know I have it in me. This certainly felt like the toughest course I have ever run in a race and to PR here was a fantastic feeling already. After this run, I know I can get under 2:30, it'll just have to wait a while longer. In addition to me, all of my friends PR'd as well. Heather did break the 2:30 mark that she had been chasing after for a long time running well with a time of 2:27:54, Del ran 1:49:55, and Ingrid bested her time from last year on this course by 31 minutes(!!) and also set a personal PR time with 2:01:49.
Afterwards, we grabbed some pizza and then I had to leave to drive home for a nice birthday dinner with my family, enjoying ribs and wings knowing that I could definitely celebrate the day and go off diet without worry for a while.
The last couple of years have each been pretty good to me. I've gotten ahead in my career, I've gotten in better shape, I've made many good friends and I'm getting to watch my daughters mature into the fine women they can each become. My life may be far from perfect, but right now it is pretty good. So far life at 44 is just fine.
My next running event will be the Goofy Challenge in just under 5 weeks and I hope to meet up with some friends for the first time that I have known online for a bit. I also have no plans to run these events for the fastest time but will instead be running to enjoy the event for itself and soak it all in with the people I have around me.