Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Lesson Learned

Hola, y'all.
A short one, as I am exhaustamated.
There is a new addition to the Honor Roll:


making the grand total to date that will be going to Fred's Team



Today was the Staten Island Half Marathon, run on (where else?) Staten Island. We were adding seven miles to the front, for 20 total. I could've done then in Central Park yesterday, but I just couldn't bear the thought of yet three more loops of the Park. Still can't. So at 7:30am I was on the Ferry with a number of Teammates, heading out to SI. Since it's an out-and-back course, the plan was to run the first 3 1/2 miles, then turn back.

Remember how in my last couple of posts, how much of a believer I am in going out slow? Well, I should've listened to my own advice. I was with a group of runners that normally do between 7-8:30 paces. Mine is a 9:30 pace, maybe less at this point. So as we set out for our first 7, even though I am not pushing, I am, for the most part, keeping up with them. I said at one point, "Should I be elated, or scared, that I'm keeping pace?" Because I ran that first 7 (which was more like 7.6) in 1:08. Which means an 8:56 pace. Yeah. I swear I didn't feel I was pushing, but without other people around me, and only them in front of me, I was having a lot of trouble holding back. Obviously.

When we hit mile 6 of the half, I was done. I bonked big-time. Totally ran out of steam. Even scarier, I got a side stitch at mile 6 1/2. I never had one before, believe it or not. I somehow managed to get completely dehydrated, despite drinking at every stop and two cups of Gatorade at mile 6, which made me ill, but I figured I could take stomach upset if it gave me energy. Someone told me the wind (we were by the water for a number of miles) plays a factor in dehydration. I don't know. I did drink a lot, I could feel everything sloshing around in there, and I never stopped sweating, but I was caked in salt by the end.

I had to walk a couple of times, which I haven't had to do in months, though I did make it up all the hills running. And except for the two miles where I was working out the side stitch, I was still clocking decent times. Total time for the Half: 2:04:58, or a 9:32 pace. Which again, is not bad -- 9:30 would be an excellent pace for me for the Marathon.

BUT I am really upset because I KNEW I was going too fast for those first seven and I didn't feel it, and I didn't stop myself, even after we did the anti-speedwork. I know I could've clocked a much better time.

When I crossed the finish line I started to cry. It was the worst race ever. I've never run on fumes for so long, and with such a doomsday attitude for a large chunk of it.

The only things that kept me going:
-the crowd support in SI was GREAT. They hand out water at the water stations instead of you getting it yourself, a nice touch. Most of those volunteers are high schoolers who cheer you on and really get into it. Crowds along the roadway were great, too. (another interesting and very smart thing about this half is that it's not a true out-and-back. The turnaround point is on a two-way street separated by a berm, and once that road ends, there's a detour down to Fort Wadsworth -- the starting point for the Marathon -- before you go back to the original course, so runners aren't crashing into each other as the faster ones pass the slower ones)
-this was the weekend of the Phedippidations Worldwide Half Marathon Challenge, and while I ran my half last week (when I only ran half) this weekend the majority of Phedippers ran. Even with all of the runners around me, knowing my Fdip buddies were on the road around the world running their halfs and 5Ks, gave me a real boost.
-thinking about everyone on the Honor Roll, and how hard I've worked to get to this point and really do the best I can to earn your investment in my marathon effort. At mile 10 I started saying 'I am strong, I am strong, I am strong," trying to drown out the negative voice in my head that really took over from mile 5 or so on, the one that spent the majority of the half yelling at me for going too fast earlier on. I didn't want to let any of you, or the Team, down, and even though I spent most of those last 6 miles praying for a water station so I could walk for a bit, I was determined to finish strong.

So I'm still upset about this, and I know I should just chalk it up to experience, learn my friggin' lesson once and for all, and move on. And I know I will, but right now I'm too tired and dehydrated to take comfort in the fact that a) I ran over 20 miles in 3:13, b) when I'm on fumes I can maintain a 9:30 pace, impossible for me even a month ago, c) maintaining proper pace will be much easier in the marathon, when I have more people around me at the start -- yeah, just a few more (like 37,000 more!) and d) I ran 7 1/2 miles in 1:08. I'm not writing them to brag, I'm trying to put things into perspective and remember that even with a sucky race, some good came out of it. When I re-read this tomorrow or Tuesday, this will make me feel better.

Much love to Fdippers who ran the WWH and the 5K this weekend, to fellow Teamers, and to my beloved Honor Roll.

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