Monday, October 19, 2009

Part Two: Mrs. Honaker's Columbus Half Race Report- The really LONG Report

Columbus Half Marathon 2009
Official Time: 2:08:32
Overall place: 3544 out of 6910
Gender place: 1660 out of 4113
In case you have not heard this before I use to, in the very recent past, hate running. I was never that good at it (except sprints in school), and normally had too many aches and pains that I would just give up. When Chris (the husband) went from running for fitness, too running in races I knew I was in trouble. I decided that since I no longer was dancing, or doing any physical activity (if you don’t count walking the shopping malls), that now would be the time to get my butt moving and try running AGAIN. Once again a few weeks into picking up a pair of shoes at the sports store, and going out for some runs (not having a clue how far or how fast I was running) I got pains in my shins. The shin splints persisted through last fall (this time last year I couldn’t run two miles without pain), and I asked Chris if I could go to a doctor to have it checked out. He agreed and after several failed attempts I was finally successful with Active Release Therapy. In December of 2008 I had several weeks of treatment, and began running in January of 2009 (and I haven’t stopped).
Chris was running his second full marathon, and was going to try for a 3:10 (his Boston qualifying time), so the nerves in the Honaker house where high. We got up at 3 a.m. and I had toast, peanut butter, and honey with my half a cup of coffee. I also sipped on some water that morning….and I will later learn that I should have stopped earlier in the morning (more on that later). After getting dressed and layering up with throw away clothes for the COLD morning we had, 30 some degrees that morning, we were in the car by 5:45 a.m. and headed to the race start.
Parking was uneventful, but as we were driving down to the race I had that feeling in my stomach that said I better hit the porta-potties FAST (ummm I thought by getting up so dang earlier I would avoid this exact issue). We got to the start before the masses, and had an easy time getting a potty (I had a fresh one which was nice if you had to use one at all). That was over and I met up with a friend that was also running the half marathon and my other special best buddy that came to the start to wish Chris and I luck. A little after 7:00 a.m. We said good bye to Chris because we could see people pooling into the 3:10 pace area, and I didn’t want him to fight for a spot. I then handed my phone and camera to my friend’s parents to hold so I would have easy access to them after the race, and then went to check my race bag of clothes that we wanted for after. This is when drama event ONE happened….my recent nightmare almost came true. I already had my bag tagged with name and Bib number so I just handed to the attendant and they tossed in the mass of other bags. Not 5 seconds after I turned around I realized I had left my water bottle handheld that contained my shot blocks in the bag. I darted through a mass of people and yelled at the attendant something I doubt she understood other than knowing I needed my bag. As I started looking through the mass of Black bags I panicked when I couldn’t find mine right on top….seriously it had only been 5 seconds since they tossed it into the truck it had to be there. What felt like 10 minutes of searching I am sure was just a few seconds, but I found the bag and said WOW hope I got the worst over with. My nightmare of being out on the race course and no one giving me my shot bloks was NOT going to come true.
After that heart pumping adventure I had to pee, and badly. It was not 15 minutes till start and with friend and her family in tow I went in search of a porta potty. We waited way to long for one, and getting in an out I had about 4 minutes till the start. Drama event number TWO coming right up. Now with 4 minutes to the start and the number of people in line still or not even in line was just baffling to me. I had spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what pace group area I wanted to start with, and I was determined to get lined up with them. Now I am only 5’4” and so I bent over and screamed “excuse me” and “opps sorry” as I weaved in and out of people just hanging out. The start line had fences along the side that I knew would be easier to jump over then come through the back which was bottlenecked with 5k walkers and runners that started 30 minutes after us. As I make my way just about to the fence and I see the 4:30 pace group (for the marathon) I feel this tug on the back of my neck. I try to move forward, but someone has grabbed me. I turn around and this 6’2” plus guy has a hold on my hoodie and my hair. I ask him and not so nice words what he thinks he is doing, and he said I would need to wait my turn like the rest of the people. OK dude first off you have NO right to put your hands on me, secondly you were not even a runner , but a spectator, thirdly this wasn’t some single filed line waiting for a bathroom or something….I was trying to get to my race start. I responded with I am just trying to get to my race spot, and get your hands off of me. At that point he still had my hair for the 10 seconds that this craziness took, and the crowed was so bad I really couldn’t give him a swift kick like I wanted too, so yes I resorted to violence and took a swing at his stomach. It was very much a girly swing, but hey I needed him to let go, and the other people around asking him what he thought he was doing didn’t make him let go so I just did what I thought I needed to do. Now that my heart was really racing….I dashed to the fence and begged for a spot to crawl into. I another gentlemen kindly let me in so I took a deep breath and told myself that everything was fine…the worst of the day was over.
About 5 minutes after what sounded like the start my area began to move along. People started dashing across the start line and my number one goal was to not get caught up in the excitement…FAILED (please not the splits I list are from my garmin, which I questioned several times while out there)

Mile 1: 8:42 I actually saw this on my watch, but my effort level didn’t not seem to match up. I mean this is my 5k pace I am trying to get. I have the 4:20 pace group behind me, but right behind me. I ask them what pace he is trying to hit and he said 10:15ish. I decided to just keep going and just make sure I don’t get too far ahead of the 4:30 pace group.

Mile 2: 10:04 much better.

Mile 3: 9:49 About this point I am still dealing with people either speeding past me, or I am speeding past them. I can’t seem to find anyone looking to run and even 10 minute mile, and I can feel it is taxing me. I had been watching some multi-colored balloons in front of me a ways for awhile and wondered what that was all about. The pace groups did not have a 10 minute mile pacer, which I heard a lot were asking for, and it made me wonder if someone was doing it unofficially. Over the next mile I decided to find out.

Mile 4: 10:08 Between 3-4 I caught up to a group from a local marathon training club I knew about (my doc that cured my shin splints was their club doc, and a great marathoner too) from the area. I asked one of the men about the balloons, and he gives me the best news of the day. I don’t know her name, but she was the unofficial 10 min mile pacer and was guaranteeing that pace for the first 13 miles. I smiled real big and said that was all I needed, and joined the club.

Mile 5: 9:41

Mile 6: 9:42 I hit my local running stores water stop and took this time to refill my hand held water bottle. I lost the pace group, but was determined to catch up. Nerves made me dash after them too fast and I fought a side stitch for a few minutes, but luckily it went away. I also took three cliff shot bloks at this point.

Mile 7: 9:55 During the time I was running with the group I was always looking around having a blast yelling back at the crowd, and looking for my buddy Lou. I knew Lou was shooting for a PR and 2:10 time, and I really had hoped I would find him and be able to run with him just like my recent training runs. About mile 7 I look over to the side and right there in front of my eyes was Lou. This was the second blessing of the day. Lou and I met up, and I told him the 10 min mile pacer was behind us, and we never looked back (or saw the pace group again).

Mile 8: 10:03 Got rid of the ipod altogether. Never used it the whole race.

Mile 9: 9:43 This was when I knew that I had to keep the 10 min mile group well behind me and work to stay under this if I had any chance of getting my “secret” goal. Lou and I talked some on and off, but we both settled really well into a great rhythm.

Mile 10: 9:41 I never felt so close, but so far away. We were headed to an area I knew well, but I kept thinking how far it was even in a car. We also passed the worst music on the course…someone was signing Unforgettable. I was done nicely, but I wanted to yell this is mile TEN and we need a pick me up…..not snooze music. Even my 70 some year old pal Lou snarked at it…..he was looking for something to push him along.

Mile 11: 9:53 We were coming out of the beautiful course and getting ready to hit the straight away to the end. Wish I would have paid better attention to this time, but we slowed for a over head picture through the park and dodged some cramped water stops (oh I had to stop and refill too).

Mile 12: 9:35 The only discomfort I was feeling was by lower back. I had been an issue since mile 8ish, and it just felt like I was wearing a water belt. I could feel I was pushing Lou now, and I also knew that I had more still left in me (which was exactly how I wanted my first race to feel). We powered through the first of a few up climbs, and I felt great getting over it. Right before we hit it Lou gave me the go ahead to take off. I knew he wasn’t slowing off pace I was just going faster, and had more left to do.

Mile 13: 8:49 WOW I really had something left. I just kept passing one after another (and I was checking to make sure they were half runners, full runners didn’t count). I had the second up climb to take and I just kept powering pass groups of people saying “so sorry” a lot. I also worked hard to run the tangent and move towards the curb since the half made a sharp left to the finish. I didn’t want to waste road by taking it wide.

What I did forget about was up climb THREE, I kept thinking I just had to power up that last up climb then I had the fast downward finish to the end…..opps it climbed a bit more AFTER the turn too. No biggie though I powered that too, and actually was mad that the people in front of me on the downward finish were going so slow. I kept thinking of the power finish was I dreaming of having, but the mass of people in front of me just would not move. I actually went outside of the cones that were set up dividing the half and full marathon ( I knew the full was not coming through yet), and made my dash that way.

Crossing the line with arms in the air I cried, and then got a really silly picture. The mass of people being ushered in was crazy, and even more motivation to get faster for my next one. My back was really feel ing that swift finish now. I bit more of an issue finding my friends parents after the race, so I had no phone or camera to take pictures. When we figured out that I better get a spot to watch for Chris to finish we head back to the masses. I really love the finish area, but the organization is the worst to get around and we had to sneak through gates just to get up to the finish line. With about 15 minutes to spare we stand on some bleachers and wait. I think at this point I was cursing not having my phone to see his splits updated on TweetMyTime, but it also makes everything so much more exciting. I had a really bad view and knew that I was not going to see him till he was right under me….I also was trying to think of him and give him strength to finish strong. One after another runners race by, and I look at the clock wondering how long it took for him to get across the finish…..then she says it my much taller friend said there and YES there he was tattoos, arm pantyhose and all. With a big old smile on his face and one of the strongest finishes I have seen from him.

I’m screaming like a mad woman, and the tears start to fall. Again we dash through the gates (no one was stopping me) and I crash into him before he even got his medal. He is smiling from ear to ear and all we can say is “I did it”…”I Boston Qualified”. I am jumping around STILL and then we run into our doctor (mentioned earlier), and I start screaming he did it, he did it. At this point I don’t think he even recognized us. We both had hats on, and with me looking like a lunatic……ohhhhh he must have been scared (sadly I have an appointment to see him tomorrow, do I admit it was me and apologize).

The excitement didn't end there. A good old pal, friends from Runners World, and Columbus Running Company all continued the celebration at our house. This race for me and Chris was exactly what should happen when a runners dedicates themselves to their training. So many times outside influences we have no control over, take hold. No matter how much you worked it’s just not your day. Today we conquered that old myth, and on this race day it was our day.

Next we plan our trip to Boston, and I am going to work on building my miles to a steady weekly mileage of 30 miles per week (I’m at 26 now), before I start training at the first of the year for my spring half marathon. Right now I have a time goal I am thinking I just might be able to TRY and shoot for. I think I may wait until the training is under way before sharing with the public.


megan said...

AWESOME job!!!!! So excited for both of you!! MIT had some 10 minute pacers out there, so I'm sure you saw them. :) Congrats to you and the hubby on the great races!

Stevi N. Honaker said...

Megan-Yes a big thanks to the MIT pacer I am sure it was them that I found after mile 3. I had my eyes beaming around for you, but it was so hard to see everything.

MrsCJ said...

That is nuts some guy put his hands on you to stop you, that is very uncalled for.

You ran a very strong race! Congrats on an awesome first HM!! And to your hubby for his BQ!!

You guys are quite the running duo! I'm SO happy for you both!!


Girl In Motion said...

Stevi, I am so flippin' proud of you! (or course, Chris knows what I think of him already :-). What a fantastic first Half, just perfect. And I'm super excited to meet you guys in Boston and now, possibly Philly next year? Awesome!! (and I never say "awesome"). Here's to many more fantastic races in your future. Woohoo!!

Stevi N. Honaker said...

Christine-Thank you so much...very flattered coming from you.

Flo-Your well wishes mean so are the super runner chic, and always inspiring me to push.

Gals, I'm already looking to DH to work up a schedule starting in two weeks that takes me to 30 MPW before the first of the year. I want to start my next training program with a base of 30 and a peak of 40 mpw. I'm excited, and I hope going into my second full year of running in 2010 will mean great things. Thanks for keeping me motivated.

screaminzab said...

Great job, Stevi! That had to be such an amazing day for you two. You both have such great running futures in front of you. I'll be glad to have a front row seat for it.