Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How I ran a 10 mile warm up for a 5k

This is now my 3rd attempt at writing a race report. 

I am going to make this my best attempt YET at staying on topic. If I manage to go off on tangents just skip to the parts you want to read about. My feelings aren't hurt.

What race?

Rock N Roll Vegas--half marathon

Before I even go into my race report, let's talk about this for a minute.

I had a lot of people complain about the price of the race, the price of travel, the cost of the hotel accommodations....

Here's the deal. There are THOUSANDS of half marathons and marathons. I bet if you looked hard enough, you can probably find one near your home.

THIS IS A DESTINATION RACE. YES it's expensive. YES you have to pay for all that stuff.

DON'T GO IF IT'S TOO MUCH FOR YOU. This was a race that I had planned with my friends. It was a getaway weekend that was a BLAST.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I recommend this race to everyone. I knew that I'd eat alot. I knew that I'd be up late at night. I didn't even care. 

I'd heard some people complain about the race from previous years (when I was at the start). I'll go through all of those. Either the RD listened to feedback or I just didn't have any of the issues people have had in previous years. 

The day before the Race

I signed up for the pasta dinner because it was the only night I didn't have plans. My friend Suzanne arrived earlier in the day and was meeting a friend for dinner. 

You know how the pasta dinners are, rather mediocre and bland. But, I really wanted to hear John The Penguin Bingham and Frank Shorter speak.

Due to a comedy of errors, I barely made it. I got to the dinner after the speeches were done and the dinner was almost over. 

Wasn't exactly what I was planning. I was tired. I had walked miles and miles getting from one place to another to the expo to the dinner and being lost all over the place.

When I got back to the MOST AWESOME room EVER, I decided to call it a day. I'd gotten up early. My legs were starting to get sore from the miles. (Probably not good the day before the half). I stretched and relaxed.

The Day of the Race

For those of you who are unaware, last year RNR made this race a night race. So, we have all day to hang out in Vegas.

I met Suzanne for the RNR Brunch. THIS time we got there almost right at the start. Still, all the tables were full with the exception of one table in the front.

This table has a wonderful couple from NZ, a guy from Ireland and two other guys.  We were all talking when the announcement was made that The Penguin and Shorter were going to speak!

BONUS! I was going to hear the speeches after all!  I turned to the guy next to me, and say, "I'm so excited I missed this last night!" 

But he didn't hear me because the two gentlemen had gotten up and were heading to the stage.


I was having breakfast with The Penguin and Frank Shorter and had no clue. If you know me, that shouldn't surprise you. 

After breakfast, it was a blur. I honestly cannot remember what we did. Somewhere in there, I had these banana crepes that I just drooled all over....really....THAT good. 

I don't know. 

At some point, I needed to get off my feet. 

BUT I JUST COULDN'T. Suzanne played blackjack. She couldn't walk much because of her broken foot, but that didn't stop me!

OH worthy of a mention here. WHAT TO WEAR was a pretty big deal. Suzanne and I went back and forth. The highs were going to be 70, but the CA storm was bringing in 40-50 mph winds. During the day, it was quite comfortable.

But once the sun goes down AND it's windy....I decided to go with the long sleeved shirt that I brought. My thinking was that I've run races and been really hot. If it turns out that way, I'll drink a little more and deal with it. I just cannot stand being cold, and I have a low tolerance for cold. I run in the cold, but I always bundle up.

The night of the race....well, afternoon really.

If you plan on doing this race, make sure you stay at a hotel that has a free shuttle to the start. The walks are not that far. (My hotel was 1.5 miles from the start). BUT, there is a ton of walking once you get to the start, and it's a long wait for the half marathon start and then for your corral to start. I was in corral 19. Suzanne was in 26. From the time we waited to catch the shuttle to the time I started running, 3 hours had passed.

None of this bothered me. You have to enjoy the experience. We stayed at the Palazzo. They had the best set up for the shuttle. It was incredibly organized.

The RD had tons of water and snacks at the start. Bands were playing. We all went over and watched the marathon start.

This is more than just a race. The whole experience was so much fun. I think the participants understood this. I talked and met so many people, and they were the nicest people I have EVER met at a race.

Just FYI: port-a-potty lines were long. Took me 30 minutes to get through it. Get in line early! (When I saw the lines, that's exactly what I did).

When Suz decided to go check her bag, we lost each other. I had to move from where I was as the street cleaners came through. With 60,000 people, be prepared to lose your friends.

Another note, please don't bring family and friends to the start. Sign them up for the text tracker and have them cheer you on from the hotel. Honestly, it will save THEM a ton of headaches. I didn't mind all the supporters there, but you could tell they were tired, especially the ones with small children. It's a long time to wait with kids. 

I'm a little sensitive toward the sherpas because poor Mr. Tea watched the boys for many years when they were small. He always looked more tired than me at the end of a race.

Learn from my mistakes.

The Race

This was going to be my 3rd race in 3 weeks. Until I did the half marathon in FL, I hadn't really considered going for a PR.

As I said before, there were SO MANY reasons why I shouldn't go for a PR here. 

The weeks leading up to the race, I didn't want to tell anyone. 

Then I read a quote on twitter. The gist of it was "Nothing great happens from conservative goals."  

Coach and I had already come up with a plan. I thought about it, and I said, "I want to be more aggressive." 

What did I have to lose? 

He sent me a new plan, not my traditional, 5/5/5 plan....noooooo, he sent me a beast of a plan.

If you want to know what it was, you have to hire him and go through all the punishing workouts that I endured over the past few months.

I will say this though. The first thing I thought was, "This is really going to hurt."

But that's what I wanted! I've spent too many years plodding along and just finishing half marathons. My times always come in a minute or two north or south of the same time.

At this point, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to get close to a PR. 

The question was, would I be able to handle it? If you have truly raced a half marathon, you know what I'm talking about. I don't care if your pace is a 6 min mile or a 13 min mile, if you are racing feels different.

I packed my garmin. I set my race, and I was going to go for it.

Of course, I had some parameters. I wasn't worried about the first 5 miles. I had to clear 10 miles in under 1:50 if I wanted to have a chance at a PR. 

I didn't care about the wind (which lived up to the forecaster's warning).

I was going to go for it.

I didn't execute perfectly. In fact, I screwed up in some spots. I ran too hard early and really throughout, but I was so into the crowds yelling and the other runners and bands playing. Given that, I think I did a pretty good job. I just wasn't as disciplined as I could have been. I don't think it really cost me. But I don't know, maybe it did.

It took a lot of discipline, though, to NOT check my time. I didn't want to stress about not making the 1:50 time for 10 miles. Finally, at mile 9, I realized how much my pace was dropping. I knew that I was going to make my goal of 1:50. 

miles 8 and 9 were a  pretty hard effort. When I hit mile 10 in 1:47 or 1:48, I knew I had a chance at a PR.

BUT I COULDN'T SLOW DOWN. I had to give it everything. Anything that I had, whatever it was, I had to give it if I wanted the PR.

At mile 10, 80% of the field was walking. It was a matter of weaving in and out for me. I would run all the way from left side to the right side. It was crazy.

I kept thinking "Stay focused. keep moving fast. don't slow down."

That's when I saw her.

A woman, dressed exactly like me, running my exact pace.

She's the one. For the next 3.1 miles, we raced. We didn't just run. We RACED. There were times, we bumped each other. There were times we lost each other at the aid station. 

But we were running. The previous 10 miles were just a warm up for this last 5k. Over the 3.1 miles, my pace dropped from 10:50 to 10:40 to 10:34. 

Let that sink in, my average for the entire half marathon dropped to 10:34 over the last 5k. 

It was the hardest I have ever run at the end of a half marathon.

My watched click: 2:19
Then 2:20.




Then we saw the finish. 

I didn't think I could hold it. The longest part of a half is that .1 miles. 

THEN I lost her. I stepped on the timing mat, and I couldn't find her. The person that pushed me to run harder than I have ever run. 

I was so tired.

Every part of my body hurt.

I just wanted to hug someone. I just PR'd. 

I wanted to thank her. She was gone.

The finish shoot is the longest finish shoot in history. I limped my way out. I started walking back to the hotel.

Still in disbelief. I did it. I thought I was a few years from getting a PR. Yea. I wanted it, but I....don't know. The reality hit me as I walked thinking about all of the hours I've put into training this year. 

Just then, I looked up. 

She was walking right in front of me.

I went up to her. I told her thank you. I told her that if it weren't for her pushing me I don't think I would have PR'd.

Then, she gave me a funny look. 

And with a very heavy Jamaican accent she said, "Lemme get a look atchoo girl."

She squints at me, "NO. Wait."

Then she grabbed my shoulders, AND I thought she was going to give me a hug. Instead, she spun me around.

"AH YES I RECOGNIZE that caboose! YOU! You made me run faster than I have ever run!"

WE talked and walked for a few more minutes before going to our own hotels.

The one really special thing about running in Vegas is the crowd. As I walked back to my room, people were giving me high fives. They were yelling CONGRATS RUNNER!

It was really amazing.

When I got to my floor, I was just overwhelmed. I was tired. I was hungry. I was hurting. I was happy. I wanted to tell my special people about my race. I knew they were tracking me, but I couldn't thank them. 

I started crying. Not just the little tears running down my face. I was bawling, right there, in the hallway of the Palazzo.

I finally reached my room, and I laid down. It was the best bed EVER.

And at that point, I won't say anything else. EXCEPT that it was a very late night consisting of eating and dancing until the wee hours in the much as you can call what we are all doing "dancing".


The whole experience was amazing.

I thought I wouldn't be ready for a half marathon PR for a few years. 

If I did it once, I'm going to do again. I don't know when, but I have my sights set on 2:15.

Maybe next year. Maybe the year after.

When I finally do get to 2:15, I'll be ready to tackle the 70.3 again.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy this PR. I usually don't save my race medals, but this is one that I'm definitely going to least until my next PR.