I’ve discovered over the years that one of the things I love the most is when I can be there, or better yet take part when someone dear to me (family and friends) achieves something greater than they thought they could. In some ways, in many ways, it’s an even greater feeling than when I achieve things I didn’t think I could do myself. With that as the backdrop, here’s my race wrap up…
… for me this race was all about two things:
1) Help Callie G. get a sub 2:00 half marathon (I knew she was capable, just had to help her prove it to herself)
2) Redeem myself for my horrible performance in last year’s Area 13.1 half (I knew if I accomplished #1 then #2 would come with it)
Steve P. came down from Charlotte and we were going to run with Callie G. A week or so before the race we were lucky to gain another awesome partner to run with us when Katie R. said she would like to try for that general pace. So, with my race OCD kicking into full gear, I picked up Steve since he was staying near me and off we went. The race started at 7:00PM and I think we got to the parking lot right at the start/finish line around 4:40PM. From that time one we saw many folks like Sang Y. (1:45 pacer extraordinaire), Rachelle K. (pacing the lucky 2:00 group… lucky to have her as a pacer!), Stacey O. (2:15 killer awesome pacer), Spurgeon H. and Shawna B. (2:30 pacers beyond amazing who NAILED this pace for their group), Gail N. (AG winner and 6th female OA), Kate B. , Bill E (2nd AG, 21 OA, 1:30:13!!!), AnnMarie, Joy S. (OMG THOSE CUPCAKES WERE AMAZING!!!), Brian C. (who I finally got to meet IRL and who NAILED the time he told me he wanted) and his lovely family, Laura R. and the kids who were fantastic cheerers and made a HUGE difference at just the right time, Christy, Debbie, Slade, Rodney (who also won his AG)… I’m sure I’m leaving at least a few people out but there were so many!
We killed a bunch of time hanging out with everyone and then lined up. The pre-race singing of the National Anthem was very inspiring and beautifully done and then, without further ado, off we went.Steve P. and I had discussed our plan for the race and Callie G. made it very clear she didn’t want to know anything other than “speed up” or “slow down” or things like that but definitely nothing about the pace or the time. We had decided that the first 3 miles would be an easy 9:15 pace, then we’d pick it up to 9:05-9:10 for a bit because we’d get a little downhill, and then try to stay around that 9:09 pace, slowing down to go up any incline or hill, and at 10 miles to go we’d pick it up and go hard until the finish line. For the most part we executed this plan right on the nose. The one glitch I had was both technical and biological. The latter causing the former. About 3 miles into the race I started feeling like I needed to use the restroom. That’s happened before on half marathons and I usually can finish with no problem. But at about 5 miles I knew I needed to make a fast stop. So I told Callie I was going to pull ahead and then catch back up. That worked just fine and I was able to catch back up to the rest of the team in short order. However, I forgot that I wasn’t running a programmed workout on my Garmin and that the auto-pause was set, so for the 1:15 or so that I was stopped, so was the recording. It gave me a little more confidence that we were way ahead of schedule but in the end probably gave me the confidence to make sure we relaxed up the hills and keep relaxed when we decided to refill Callie’s water bottles at the second super-hydration station at the turn-around. Somewhere around mile 7 or 8 Katie R. decided to back off a bit from the pace we were setting and Steve P. kept her company while I pushed on with Callie. Oh and who else is awesome to get a PR… Katie R.!!!!
After the turn-around we took the last real hill at an easy pace to make sure the walk through at the station didn’t tighten up the legs. And then it was go-time. The top of the hill was essentially 3 miles left and the launching pad for the fast kick. Callie put in her music (which we had talked about a few times and would help her focus) and away we went. I never told her just how fast we were going and I gradually picked her pace up to around 8:30/mi. It was an act of great faith that she put her trust in me. We saw a bunch of our friends on this leg of the race and every time we passed we heard “GO CALLIE AND ADAM!” and it was really amazing how much that energized both of us.
My main focus over the last three miles was to listen to see if the breathing was getting labored and periodically give Callie reminders to focus on her breathing and at those points I’d back off just a step and then, after a few seconds of getting her breathing under control, we’d be back up to the fast pace. We took it a bit easy through some slick and dark areas of the final 0.25mi and in the end I just kept telling us both to push hard. As we neared the finish line I could see the gun time clock was still under 2:00:00 and was so thrilled because that’s when I really knew we had achieved the #1 goal and, like I said, #2 came right with it. It felt like I had PR’ed the race myself.
After that we celebrated and eventually Shawna B. , Steve P. , Callie G. and I hit the Waffle House. Waffle House food has never tasted so good as it did last night. LOL!!! But not as good as those CUPCAKES (Joy S. you are fantastic!).
From a physical perspective I am also very pleased with this run. I never felt like I was pushing out of my comfort zone. The effort level was such that I felt I could have easily gone for at least a few more miles at the 8:30 pace with relative ease. I fueled at the intervals I am planning during the marathon and used the specific gel types and flavors. I also got in some hydration practice. I had my own water but I decided to use this race to practice running at speed through the hydration stations and taking on water and trying to get more IN me than ON me. It worked so I’m also happy about that. All around this was a great run and now I am almost looking forward to trying to get in my tempo interval run today in about an hour.
Well done Piglet… well done Pooh, you silly old bear!
p.s. Pooh did take a few moments after the race to de-activate “Auto-Pause” on his Garmin 😉