Friday, March 1, 2013

After the half

My second 13.1 is in the books. My second half marathon is but history. (Butt history?) It was a horrible, humid, wonderful, tiring, painful endeavor.
That doesn't mean I have any regrets, or that I won't do it again. Actually, on the contrary - I may actually be looking forward to it more. But my approach will be different, and there will be a new strategy between then and now.

But that's another story for later. For now, here's how the weekend played out.

First of all, as is the tradition, the morning we left was a snowstorm. But we were thankfully able to take off without incident and soon we were in 80 degree blissful warmth. We went to the expo, which was damn crowded and made me cranky, and then to the Pasta in the Park Party.

I love this event. It's a way that Disney really makes you feel special, and I enjoy it very much. But this year I was really tired ... not unlike last year ... and morning was going to come early because we were running a 5k. So I did not take advantage of much other than the meal. Day one, and I was already cranky. It did help, though, that I ran into my friend Cindy, whom we met on the plane headed to Orlando last year. We have a tradition now!

The 5k was a lot of fun, but I'm not sure I would do it again. It isn't timed, and there are a lot of people but not a lot of character stops. Sure, it's fun to run through Epcot, but I wanted a little something more. Not sure I'd do the 5k again, especially since it means getting up super early.
Me, run-ready. I seriously love my running kilt.
After the 5K, we showered and headed to the Magic Kingdom for dinner at Crystal Palace (and Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore). And while that was good, the real draw is DOLE WHIP! The only other place you can get it is at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii, so this little taste of goodness was a lovely reminder of a place I love just as much (if not more) than Disney World. Delish.

Me, Linda and Dole Whip.
We spent the remainder of Saturday trying to rest up and save our legs for the main event. Not that it mattered all that much; Sunday morning dawned humid and altogether crummy. But, if I may put on my Pollyanna pants, I'm glad the forecast didn't come true. There could have been thunderstorms and constant rain, so I guess I'll feel lucky the race went on at all.

We reported to Epcot and checked in to the Race Retreat. This is a runner's paradise, with everything you need for pre- (and post- ) race prep. 
My sister Kathie and her friend (mine, too!) Carrie at the Retreat.
They are my family, my coaching team, my mentors,
my inspiration and most of all ... my friends.

Have to take a moment here and acknowledge that, on this trip, I was surrounded by support. My sister Kathie was my first real-life example of an athlete. She showed me that real people - people I knew and loved - risked failure by putting themselves out there and trying to complete races. People just like me. Well ... like the me I wanted to be. By her example, I could see myself becoming something different. The Maggie I was in the beginning only dreamed of the failures I have today, because I wasn't even in good enough shape to fail this way. I couldn't even try. Kathie, and Carrie, and my friend Di - all of whom were on this trip - told me I could do it before I even tried. Then, once I started, my friend Linda bolstered me through a lot of the long, laborious runs. Shelly came along later, and has been consistent with her love and support, too. Everything, it would seem, takes a village ... even if we're just building a stronger Maggie. I can't begin to say what it meant to have this whole team along for the weekend. It was everything my soul could have asked for.

But back to the Retreat. Bagels, bananas, coffee and a place to sit down is most appreciated, as are the private bathrooms and bag check. Soon it was time to walk to the corrals. But not before we took one more photo!

Shelly and me; we were both in Corral G (the slow corral).

Soon it was time for our corral to start, and off we went. And it was horrible. Hot. Humid. Ew. My first mile or three went well - I was on target to finish in sub-3 (less than three hours, my goal). Then at about the halfway mark, after the Magic Kingdom, it seemed to hit everyone. The entire field slowed down, everyone began to walk, and there was just no chance of running at that point. I think it was mile 9 when I realized I was not going to hit my goal. Sub-3 was not in the cards. But I kept repeating my mantras to myself in my brain:
  • Execute the plan.
  • Keep moving forward.
  • Be relentless.
So I finished, eventually. It was really hard! I learned that heat and humidity make it really difficult to effectively run; it was important for me to let go of my expectations and just run (or walk) for the sake of moving forward.

My totals looked like this:
  • Total run time: 3:22:16
  • 15K split: 2:21:13 (15:09 minute mile)
  • 10K split: 1:32:21 (14:52 minute mile)
  • 5K split: 44:48 (14:25 minute mile)
  • Division place: 1,225 out of 1,749
  • Gender place: 15,608 out of 21,222
  • Overal place: 16,792 out of 22701
Pretty abysmal, until you consider this:
  • I beat my 2012 overall time by two minutes and 15 seconds.
In terms of placement, in 2012 my placement stats were:
  • Division: 1,183 out of 1,417
  • Gender: 13,666 out of 15,802
  • Overall: 14664 out of 16,906
So in 2012 in my division, I was at 83.48 percent; 16.52 percent of people were slower than I. In 2013, I was at 70.04 percent in my division; damn near 30 percent of people were slower. This is a huge improvement. 

In 2012 in my gender, I was at 86.48 percent; 13.52 percent of people were slower than I. In 2013, I was at 73.54 percent; 26.46 percent of women were slower than I. 

And overall in 2012, I ranked at 83.73 percent; 16.27 percent of all finishers were slower than I. In 2013, I ranked at 73.97 percent. Fully 26.03 percent of people sucked at running even more than I.

In every comparison, I improved by more than 10 percent. So clearly, everyone struggled with the humidity. So when I do the math, I can appreciate the progress that didn't necessarily show up in my finish time. 

Okay. Enough with the math. We spent race day at Epcot, drinking margaritas and eating anything we damn well pleased. Then we went to the Grand Floridian for dinner with Cinderella. Fun! Bedtime that night came early, and wakeup the next morning came late. We had earned a good night's sleep!

Monday morning, we had breakfast at Cat Cora's new restaurant on the Boardwalk. Delicious! Then we spent the entire rest of the day lounging, poolside.

Literally, lounging poolside.

This was the perfect Florida day, and at this point we deserved it. Such a delight to relax and do nothing except drink something frozen and fruity, and go down a water slide, and eat watermelon rind salad. Seriously, perfect.

It was not a wonderful race, but it was a wonderful weekend. I'm so glad I did it, and we are already making our plans for 2013. It's all worth it when you consider you get to be with friends for an extended weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth. Plus ... Bling.

Heavy Medal.

So now, I have something to prove to myself. I will go the distance at least two more times, pressing myself ever forward toward my goal of a sub-3 half. In May, I am registered for the Great Western Half Marathon, and in July, it's Rock-n-Roll Chicago. One of those will be MINE! 


The Substance of Things Hoped For said...

You go girl. So proud of you. Can I be you when I grow up? ;)

Maggie said...

Ha! You can be the best Em there is ... and I'll be the Maggie. We will make an awesome team!