June 1, 2014

Spokane -- Windermere Half Marathon

This weekend, E and I headed to Spokane to have a family meet up with my sis, her husband, my adorable nephew and niece, and my mom and step-dad.  Yay, family weekend!

Saturday, we spent the day celebrating the nephew's birthday at a local kids' science play museum, which was oddly exhasuting.  After walking there, half an hour of set up, 2 hours of toddler wrangling (including at least an hour of infant niece holding -- she's still at the age where she does best if she's in someone's arms, and bonus, my voice is so similar to my sister's that I don't completely register as a stranger even though I haven't seen her for the last 50% of her life or so), a half hour of take down, another half hour of just getting all the gear and stuff loaded in the appropriate vehicles, and then another half hour of picking up our race bibs at the expo, I was exhausted and needed a nap.  So, for the second race in a row, I took a pre-race nap the afternoon before.  I think the day-before race nap is going into my bag of required tricks for an ideal race.  (Mom and sis simultaneously napped too, so I feel good about that, like we were doing family bonding on the sleep plane.)

After the nap, we hung out with sis & bro-in-law and the niece and nephew for a bit and then met with grandma (aka my mom) and grandpa and walked along the river, looked at the falls, walked across several footbridges and just enjoyed being outdoors in gorgeous nature and weather with family.

It was very strange for these Californians to see so much water.
To close out the day, we carb-loaded with a leisurely family dinner overlooking the river, walked back to the cars, and headed to the hotel.  Upon arriving home, I realized I'd been out and about, on my feet from 5 PM - 8:30 PM -- not exactly my ideal pre-race routine, but then again, I'd rather hang out with my family than race a minute or two faster on a just-enjoy-it race.

Sunday AM, my sis and her husband picked me up at our hotel and we drove to the start of the half while mom & step-dad hung out at their house to watch the kids (How adorable are they to get up at 5 AM to drive to sister's house to do kid duty so sis & her hubby could race?).

We arrived at the race at 6:20, which was good, because upon arriving, I realized I'd forgotten to pin on my bib (in other words, it was back at the hotel).  Seriously?  This was, according to my records, my 41st half marathon, and more than my 60th race since 2005.  I *forgot* my bib?  I've never done this before.  WTF? 

Thankfully, this is a small town in the pacific northwest and the race organizers laughed at me, mock threatened, "No.  You can't run!" and then gave me a new bib and promised it would be corrected in the system before I finished.  Awesome! 

You know that cold temperature PR I was looking for?  Yeah, Spokane was in the middle of celebrating unseasonably hot (but beautiful) weather...It hit 70+ before the finish and most of the race was in full sun.  Oh, well, at least I'd trained in the heat.

Despite the heat, it was a gorgeous, fun course, and very well run after the start (we didn't get under way until 30 minutes after the scheduled start...).  Impressively, there were about 10 aid stations on the half.  Almost all had sports drink *and* water, plus there were two gel stations, and, bonus--many of the stations had little mini cups of gummi bears, plus all aid stations had 2 potajohns.  This race is definitely in contention for one of the best aid supported runs I've ever ran.

The first seven miles ticked along exactly as I'd planned, roughly 9:55 pace average, faster on the downhills, slower on the uphills, walking through the aid stations, but maintaining nice and easy effort and breath.

Mile 8, unfortunately, did not go so well...mid 10s were a bit of a struggle and it became clear that I had GI issues... Annoying!

I pushed through the last long(ish) uphill in Mile 9 for a mile split of 10:25, watching my time goal of 2:10 slip away.  But, the one good thing about the GI pain is that I didn't have much brain space to be disappointed about my decreasing speed.  The joy of seeing the aid station with portajohns at mile 9.23 almost made up for the decreased pace. (Almost)

1 minute and 42 seconds later, my belly felt much better.  But my legs had tightened up...And, the rest of the race was a slog.

0.7 miles at a frustratingly high effort 10:27/mile pace.
1 mile @ 10:50.
0.34 miles @ 11:06/mile pace. (???)
14 seconds walking through an aid station
0.59 miles @ 10:51/mile pace
1 mile @ 10:27
0.14 miles @ 9:19/mile pace to the finish.

So, I finished.  But it wasn't pretty.  Around mile 10 or so, I decided that my much modified goal would be to finish faster than SLO if I subtracted the portajohn stop.  Mind you, my original A goal had been to finish at 2:10 or below, and I (mistakenly) had thought it was a very conservative goal due to the cool temps (that didn't materialize) and the net downhill course.  Today's reality said otherwise...(2:15:53 says the Garmin).

Somewhere in those last miles, I slowly did (and redid with late stage race brain that has trouble) the math and figured that 1:42 + SLO's 2:14:XX meant that I should try to shoot for 2:16 or lower on the clock when I crossed the line.  I did what I thought I needed to do to make that happen.  Finally, I turned on to the Howard Street bridge and saw the finishing clock reading 2:18:XX -- WHAT??? I was supremely disappointed and the sadness definitely killed my ability to finish strong.  I smiled at E when I saw him waiting there, but there was no last minute push.  It was only after I crossed the finish line and pushed stop on my watch that I realized the clock was set for the marathoners, who had started a few minutes before the half.  So, technically, I actually met my late stage make-up goal, but barely.

Overall, I felt *meh* about the race, but *YAY* about the weekend.  Anytime you're healthy enough to finish a half marathon, it's good.  But I had been looking forward to seeing some obvious fitness improvements, and it didn't happen.  However, my sis ran sub 1:50 to PR by quite a bit (not surprising given some of her recent stroller running exploits) and my bro-in-law ran a healthy sub 1:28, so it was a good day in the family for running, and any day you can go run a race with family, finish healthy, and enjoy a hearty breakfast afterwards with your parents, niece and nephew, everything is awesome.

Weekly total mileage: 28.31.  Below 10/mile: 33%.  And, just like that, I'm officially in my first week of training for the Chicago Marathon.  Wish me luck!


Jen said...

Toddler birthday parties are EXHAUSTING. How you ran a half marathon the day after is pretty darn impressive in my book.

I can understand your frustration with the race not meeting your expectations, but considering the heat and GI issues, I think you did great! Plus, racing with family sounds so awesome - I would love it if my sisters ran a race with me.

bt said...

@Jen -- definitely, the fact that family ran the same race made it more than awesome. I hope you do get to run a race with your sisters one day!

L.A. Runner said...

Agreed that museum walking all day IS exhausting, but also don't discount how much GI issues can impact a race. After the port stop, your energy stores could've been compromised, if you catch my drift…

Glad you had a nice weekend and good things to say about the organization of the race. Best wishes w/ your Chicago training!

bt said...

@L.A. Runner -- thanks for that insight. I hadn't considered that reality, but I think it definitely contributed...

Angela Knotts said...

I agree, sometimes just finishing is enough. I have definitely had those races were optimal conditions didn't materialize (or didn't work) so I've spontaneously changed my goals mid-race, because I really need *some* kind of realistic goal to get through it.

I've been curious about this race for a while! Don's parents live in Spokane & his dad is a runner, so I've heard quite a bit about both Windermere & Bloomsday.

Biting Tongue said...

@Angela -- I highly recommend Windermere.

According to my sister, Bloomsday is a bit of a fiasco. It's like Bay to Breakers but more wholesome.

My sis has one last year in Spokane before they have to move again, so I may try to make it back next year for one of those two or a favorite small race of mine ran by a woman I met at the Coeur D'Alene marathon the Race 2 Place: http://www.race2place.org/.