the wonderful world of veena.

22 October 2013

1/2 marathon monday: I. DID. IT.



Monday: 5mi run around the neighbourhood [5.3mi according to my GPS, but I'm pretty sure it's jacked]. it was a gorgeous morning, and instead of creating some crazy route, I just ran to Walnut Grove and back twice. the return incline is a bit longer and more gradual than anywhere else in the neighbourhood, and it was a nice feeling to conquer it twice. all in all, a pretty good start to race week.

Tuesday: 3mi run around the neighbourhood. although the weather was pleasant, you could feel the humidity from the rain clouds rolling in, and I wanted to make sure to get in a run before it started coming down. this one was important as it was my last run in Memphis before the race and hopefully my last early morning run for the next few months.

Wednesday: 15-minute NTC Perfect Alignment with Gabby Douglas workout. good to limber up the joints a bit.

Thursday: technically a day off, but I attended a Zumba class with Miriam and Maren in San Francisco. my first ever attempt at Zumba, and it was pretty fun. the class was super crowded, so it was difficult to be able to do all the moves properly, and some of them I was just too uncoordinated to accomplish, but overall I had a good time. Maren has only been a few times before, so we kept each other company in the back and laughed when we kept bumping into each other.

Friday: day off, but lots of walking around town.

Saturday: 2mi run near Miriam's house. was good to get in a run and to get a little feel for a few of the hills in town. I know they weren't as steep as a few of the ones on the race course, but it was still good to just get out and run. made me feel a little bit more ready for Sunday's race. and I went for my run at 11.30am! it was incredible. the weather was fantastic, and it only got warm at the very end when there wasn't a whole lot of shade.

Sunday: RACE DAY. I ran 13.1 miles and lived to talk about it. definitely the hardest and probably most rewarding thing I've ever done. I hit a mental wall between miles 8 and 9, but I pushed through. I hit a physical wall between 10 and 11 and was just starting to get a little hungry, but then Whole Foods was handing out chocolate bars! those, and the orange slices at mile 8, were the second best things ever. the best thing? seeing Miriam and Maren at the top of the hill at mile 7 and again at the end of the race. finding them just past the halfway point put such a smile on my face, and then I nearly started crying when I found them after gear check. I cannot describe how amazing it was to have their presence and their support. [for more details, see the section below]

pre-race thoughts [written Saturday night]:

I'm feeling ready for the morning. getting in that run this morning really got me in a good place mentally for the race. I know it was only a couple of miles, but there were a few fairly steep hills along the route - definitely steeper than anything I've run in Memphis - and it felt good to be able to get through those and still have something in the tank.

I am also going into tomorrow with the full knowledge that I may have to - and probably will - walk up portions of a few of the hills. it's nothing to be embarrassed of, and I'd rather do that and be able to complete the whole course rather than exhaust myself and end up having a poor race. from looking at the course map and speaking with Miriam and her roommates, I've realised that miles 6-8 have the worst of the hills, so I also know that if I can get to mile 9, I'm good to go. I also know that my own adrenaline and the adrenaline and energy of those around me will propel me forward, too.

so here we go, 13.1. let's make it one for the books.

post-race thoughts [written Monday night]:

wow. I did it.

it was by far the most physically demanding thing I've ever done in my life, but it was also such a feeling of accomplishment to cross the finish line and know I had done what I set out to do 15 weeks ago when I started my training.

it was an awesome, cloudy, cold, foggy morning, which is my absolute favourite weather to run in. the first 3 miles were deceptively flat, but it was cool to run by the Ferry Building and along the piers that early in the morning. it kind of felt like the city was empty and the runners and the volunteers were the only people in the entire place. the first few hills - down by Fisherman's Wharf - were challenging, but I ran through them. the bigger ones, between miles 6 and 7, were tough, and for both, I ran the first half and walked the second. and at the top of the hill in Presidio, right after mile 7, I saw Miriam and Maren, who had come to cheer me on. it was so wonderful to see them, and the poor girls got a big shout and a very sweaty hug for their trouble.

I started to hit a mental wall between miles 8 and 9, but the orange slices the volunteers were handing out got me through it. Miriam had mentioned them to me on Saturday night, and she wasn't kidding when she said how awesome they were. it was the middle of the last big hill, and it gave me a break to walk and get my head back in the game, and it was perfect.

I started to hit a physical wall between miles 10 and 11. my hips were hurting, my hamstrings were starting to cramp, and I was starting to get hungry, which is something that's never happened to me during a run before. but nevertheless, hunger was coming. and then I turned a corner, and there were volunteers handing out chocolate bars from Whole Foods. it was the definition of perfect timing. I grabbed some chocolate and some water, chowed down, and took a minute to stretch out my hamstrings. by that point we were at the turn for the half-marathoners and only had about 1.5 miles to go. after 11.5, that's pretty doable.

my pace definitely slowed waaaaayyyyy down toward the end, but I don't even care. I finished a half marathon. I ran the hills. I made it. that's all that matters.

the highlight of the race: besides the orange slices and the chocolate bars? definitely Miriam and Maren. seeing them at the top of that Presidio hill put such a huge grin on my face, and the adrenaline carried me nearly another 1.5 miles before I crashed. and when I found them at the end, after the finisher's necklace and the tee and the warming blanket and the food bag and the gear check [even more exhausting than it sounds], I nearly burst into tears. I was on such a high while simultaneously being drained, and the combination of that with finding my friends who had gotten up stupidly early to come support me nearly did me in [if I'm honest, I still get a little emotional just thinking about it]. they were definitely my heroes that day.

the oddest part of the race: the number of women who kept stopping to take pictures along the way. like at every single mile marker and with every single sign posted along the way. the number of women texting while walking. the number of women talking on the phone while running. I don't know about you, but I have zero desire to do any of those things while I'm in the middle of running 13 miles. but maybe that's just me.

the best sign of the race: "GO! GO! GO! You're running better than Congress!" truer words have never been spoken.

the most misleading sign of the race: "Keep running! Hot firefighters are waiting for you!" so every year, one of the big pulls for the race is that there are "hot" firemen waiting at the finish line to give you your finisher's necklace and take pictures with you. well, that's only half true. yes, there are indeed firemen at the finish line, but they're not exactly hot. I passed some hot firemen around mile 2 outside their station, but the ones at the finish line weren't really doing it for me. the ones handing out the necklaces were rather old and had seen their better days about 15 years ago, and the ones in the picture area were far too pretty. [I found out later than the ones at the photo-op area were actually models who had been hired for the event. nice job on the fake promo, Nike] needless to say, after all that buildup, it was quite the letdown.

the low-point of the race: the area just after the Finish Line. with 5,000 more runners than last year crammed into a smaller area, it got super congested. the line for the food bags got backed up, which backed up the area for the warming blankets [which were much needed. it was cold], which in turn backed up the line for the Finisher's Tee. I was stood still for 20 minutes after just having run 13.1 miles, and my muscles were not happy with me. we all needed to stretch, and there wasn't enough room, and it was super frustrating [I found out later that at one point, the line was backed up to within 20 feet of the finish line. that would not have been a good situation]. by the time I finally got my stuff from the bus, I just wanted to get out of there and away from the crowd and to anywhere I could have some personal space. the main thing that frustrated me - other than not being able to stretch, of course - was that up to that point, I had zero complaints about my race experience, and I hated that it ended like that. I didn't get a picture in front of any of the signs, I didn't see what they had for sale in the Finisher's Boutique, and I didn't get a chance to just hang around and soak up the experience, because all I could think about was getting out.

beyond that, though, it was an awesome experience, and I'm already thinking about the DC race in April 2014. I can't wait for the lottery to open next month. I still think a 10k is my favourite race, but the Nike Women's is just a cool experience to be a part of.

and the Tiffany necklace certainly helps.

[definitely wearing this one until kingdom come]
and now for a few days off and a lot of unhealthy eating. I think I earned it.

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