Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eugene Women's Half recap...and a revelation...

Well, another half-marathon down. It was fun to race again, especially since I've done so few events this year, but it was hard. At least, the latter half was hard; I mentioned in one of my previous posts that it was predicted to be pretty warm, and suffice to say, the weather gods did not disappoint as far as that was concerned.

Saturday was packet pick-up day, and Kim from (Just) Trying is for Little Girls arranged for a blogger meet at the 5th Street Market fountain.

 Me, Kim, Jenn and Laurie

Jenn, as most of you probably know by now, is from My Quest for a Smaller Chest, and my trusty wingmate. Laurie blogs from (Mis)adventures of a Jogging Stroller Mom, and she rocked this race big time.....I think she was finished, showered and actually headed out to the mountains for a camping trip before either Jenn or I got anywhere near the finish line.

A little later, we were joined by a few other awesome running bloggers:

 Jenn, Meredith, Kim, Me, Julie D. and Ashley

Here we have Meredith from Therapeutic Runnings of a Mom, Julie D. from The Finish Line Diaries, and Ashley from Inspired Miles of a Mom. All these ladies are wonderful and you should go check them out right now! (Or, after you finish reading this post, of course.....)

We wandered around the Market and chatted, checked out the starting line and traded war stories. Jenn and I were truly in some awesome (and fast) company. After a while, it was time to go check into our hotel, grab some dinner and watch the Ducks game (unfortunately, a loss) so we all parted ways with our cool goodie bags in tow.

Race day dawned with not a cloud in the sky, but unfortunately with a noticeable haze from the wildfires that were raging in various parts of the state (a few of them still are, I think.) It wasn't so strong that one could smell it, but it was very obviously there. The temps were great, but were expected to hit at least 90, so we knew that the latter part of our run was going to be in pretty warm conditions.

  Typical pre-race smiles! Seems like we should just get a jump on things and practice our exhausted, sweaty frowny-faces instead....

And then, we're off! Those smiles still plastered on our faces.....silly smiles! You will soon be gone....

Wave bye-bye to the nice spectators!

Over the hills, through the woods, to the finish line we go....only there weren't any hills (just a few bumps) and several water/Honey Bucket stations (which came in handy.......really handy.....twice.) There were a few woods, somewhat. We got stopped by a train just before the 1 mile marker, and they ended up adjusting the finish time by a whopping 8 minutes. Much of the first 9-10 miles were either not an issue due to the time of morning, or nicely shaded, and then the shade went away - about the time it really started to warm up.

Jenn and I stuck together until about mile 11, and then I just sort of faded and told her to go. So she did. Which was fine, because then I could just revert to my tried-and-true stoic "death-march" walking pace that has brought me across many a finish line in the past - with a few half-hearted spurts of "shuffle running" thrown in for good measure.

Right about the 13 mile marker, where I could see the balloon arch of the finish line and hear the music, Kim was waiting for me, having finished in an awesome 2:03 - and she instantly became my new best friend forever as she firmly coaxed me into a run towards the finish, dropping away just before I crossed.

So, yeah.

13.1 miles later:

See? No more smile. But at least I'm not crying. No, really, I'm not.

It was about 75 degrees when we finished. Not baking or broiling, perhaps....just a light sautee on the small burner. Thank goodness I'd (very) liberally coated all exposed skin with SPF 40, because even through that I'd started to get a bit on the pinkish side.

We got our obligatory finish line picture - notice the smiles are back - this was after lots of water, a bit of walking and some emergency carbs:

Once again, all is right with the world!

I was very happy to finish. And tired. And sore. And, well, feeling kinda like I'd been walloped by that train from earlier that day. All things considered, my time wasn't horrible, but it really wasn't all that awesome either. I've done better. I've done worse, but I've done better.

Which leads me to the revelation alluded to with my post title.

After every personally disappointing finish, many well-intentioned people always say the same thing (usually in a chipper, hopeful sort of voice): "Well, you finished! That's all that matters!"

I hear this every. single. time.

And like I said, I totally get the well-intentioned part of it all, and I would never chastise my friends and family for saying those sorts of things. But something fundamental has shifted in my thinking - and I can't really put a finger on it other than to say that quite honestly, "just finishing" is no longer sufficient.

In 2010, I finished the Helvetia Half in 3:07:15, which is still not overwhelmingly stellar, but was a slightly more than a full minute per mile faster than this race. In the Running Universe, this kind of gap is huge. Twelve years before that - which, granted, there was over a full decade spent doing all those silly things, like aging and gaining/losing weight, and not doing much running  - I finished my very first half marathon - the Hartford Half Marathon - in 2:43.  


The bar needs re-setting, my friends.

Yes, I'm getting out there and I'm running. Yes, I am finishing the races. Yes, I'm full of awesome determination and grit and yes, I hear the "Oh my gosh, I couldn't even run to my mailbox and there you are, running 6 miles and 13 miles and 26 miles!!"

But - and I know ya'll know this is true - it is totally within the realm of sane possibility for a 43-year-old me to run a sub-3-hour half marathon...and a sub-6-hour marathon - perhaps even a sub-5. This just has to be true, because these expectations aren't unreasonable, not for a healthy 43-year-old person who is dedicated and consistent and challenges herself with her training........

And guess what the answer is? I just said it in my last paragraph. 

More on this later.


(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

I love your report. And, I'm looking forward to reading about how you choose to reset the bar.

Your new BFF

Meredith said...

Love your report and love your post! You've truly inspired me! Thank you!

Charles said...

No kudos for the staff photographer? :-(

Julie D. said...

Love how you write, Julie! great report. Can't wait to read your determination and wanting 'more'. I get it. Congrats on your race!! Loved the smiles at the start...and (after) the finish!! :)