This is not your average race report or average blog. It will likely be long, so grab some Thanksgiving leftovers and settle in.
On Saturday, Nov. 21, I had a 16-miler on tap. My boyfriend wanted to do his long run on Sunday, so that left me without a running partner. Normally I would have been fine with this, but I was so sick of the W&OD trail that I decided to join my running club for their Saturday run. They had a 15-mile route planned, and I figured I would just tack on an extra mile at the end. I looked at the elevation profile prior to meeting up with them and it was hilly. I knew I could stand to get more hill training in, so I was game for it.
When I arrived, there were about 30-35 runners. We started out and I was probably the 10th person in the pack. Surprisingly, no one was talking to me. I found myself running alone, but I didn't really care. The route was hilly. Very hilly. And the first half was more uphill than downhill, so I was very discouraged. I would have been okay with a few hills, but these hills were much steeper than what I was used to (I had to walk several times) and there was no part of the run that was flat. It was just one hill after another. I noticed that my HR had me above my lactate threshold on some of the hills, so I decided to slow down so as to not wear myself out too much. Well, this decision cost me the group and the 5 people who I was following disappeared into the distance. After awhile I got so discouraged so I figured I would turn around. To my surprise, I didn't see anyone else from the club. I KNEW there had been a bunch of people behind me, but I retraced the route and no one was there. I guess they quit once they realized how hilly it was.
I got a little bit lost, but eventually made my way back to my car. I only logged 13 miles, but my legs felt like I had done 22. Everyone was saying how this was the hardest route ever (it was a new route). I was kind of frustrated with myself for only running 13 miles, with my heart rate being so high and yet my average pace was only 10:12. On a flat course, my average HR would have had me going at about 8:40.
On Sunday I did a slow recovery run, joining my boyfriend for the last 5 miles of his long run. My legs felt so heavy. I had to go so slowly.
On Monday, I had 9 miles planned but my legs wouldn't have it. I decided to take a forced rest day in preparation for the Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot.
On Tuesday, I ran 8 miles and my legs still felt dead. I had to go at a snail's pace. I have recovered from half marathons faster than this. My boyfriend made a good analogy. He said that it was like lifting weights for the first time and you are sore for the next 5 days. But once you are used to it, you aren't sore for more than just one.
On Tuesday evening, I came home from work and my BF's apartment was all dark with candles everywhere. He had taken most of the day off to make us our own Turkey. It was such a wonderful evening with great food and wine. I even made brownies for dessert. At the end of the evening, just as I was ready to fall asleep, he started talking about our relationship and how much it meant to him. We had a conversation about how wonderful everything was and how happy we made each other. And then he came over to where I was sitting and got down on one knee, made the sweetest speech about how thankful he is for everything he's found with me. And then he asked me to be his wife!
He was shaky and my heart started to pound. I instantly said yes, at which point he pulled out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen! He put it on my finger and boom-- we were engaged! I was so excited and bouncy and I just couldn't contain my energy. I love him so much and he had just made me the happiest woman in the world. Never in my life have I been so happy!
My excitement lasted through the night and I only got two hours of sleep. And I could not stop looking at the ring! The next day I was still high on adrenaline. I decided against running because I was using that time to try and sleep, but it didn't happen.
I left work early on Wednesday with the intention of napping, but that didn't happen. I was still too hyped up about the engagement and calling all of my close friends. I even went over to my sister's house to show her and my mother the ring. On Wednesday night, I tried my best to sleep because I wanted to get a PR in the Turkey Trot, but to no avail. I was extremely restless and too excited. I got about 4 hours total.
Going into the Turkey Trot, I told myself that I couldn't use lack of sleep as an excuse for not pushing. I told myself that no matter what, I had to try my hardest and push my hardest even if it wasn't going to be a PR.
My fiance and I lined up at the start line and his goal was to average a 7:00 pace. He continues to surprise me with how fast he can run so I had no idea what he was capable of. My plan was to start out at 7:25 and try to hold on.
The race course is rolling hills with some larger hills in the second mile. The weather was foggy and low 40's. I was quite cold in my skirt and short-sleeved shirt. There was very little visibility, which I think hurt me because I am motivated by seeing the runners way ahead of me.
I ran the first mile in 7:25 which was exactly what I wanted. The second mile was a lot hillier and I ran a 7:44. I told myself to really push in that last mile and I could still possibly PR. I ran it as hard as I could and I maintained a strong effort, but the best I could muster was a 7:37.
Particularly disappointing was the last 0.1 and the final kick. Because of the fog, I couldn't see the finish line until I was pretty much there. I knew I had energy for a final sprint, but I didn't know when to lay down the hammer. My Garmin has me running a 7:17 pace for that last bit, and I am certain I could have run a 6:30 pace for that stretch. However, it would only have taken a few seconds off of my time at most. I found my fiance waiting for me at the finish. He pulled out a 22:02. Very impressive!
I ended up with a 23:40 which is 18 seconds slower than last year. Normally I would have been extremely discouraged but I totally didn't care because I was still on cloud nine about the engagement. And of course, I think lack of sleep was a factor. Placement wise, I did rather well:
I placed 13 of 370 in my division (ages 30-39). This puts me in the top 3.5%.
I placed 74 of 1619 women. This puts me in the top 4.5%.
I placed 1 where it matters most-- in my fiance's heart. :-)