Sunday, February 27, 2011
First Endurance Challenge
Today, I ran the Post Oak Challenge Half Marathon. Let me tell you it was a challenge! Thank goodness for KT Tape! I woke up to beautiful weather, a little humid, but beautiful compared to yesterdays forecast. In the morning before races I have a routine that I go through all the while trying to contain my nerves. This morning was a usual race morning.
Once I arrive at the race I realize that I forgot my chip that goes on my shoe that interacts with my watch to keep track of my pace and time during the race. Luckily, I still had my regular watch with a stopwatch feature. It would suffice. I continue my morning routine to stretch and check out the crowd. I get lined up two minutes before the count down. In what feels like a second the count down was over and I was running.
As I start with my first few steps I start to think, "Cassie, why did you decide to do THIS race for your second half marathon?!" In that moment I was thinking about the monstrous hills in that 3 mile entrance I had to drive up to arrive at the starting line- knowing that it would be under my feet in moments. Good news, that I soon realized is that I would be going down the hill! ....for now. I manage down the enormous hill trying to control my feet in fear that I was going to topple over head first any moment. Thanks to the large downward slope I managed to run the first mile in 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
However, I know that I can not keep that pace for 13.1 miles. I began to slow down my pace. Second mile I finish at an 8:20 pace. I still need to slow down. It is hard for me to go out slow in the beginning. I am still learning how to control my pace to be able to endure through longer races. It will come with time I am sure. Some where between mile 2 and 4 I begin to hit my target pace of 9 minute miles. Yes, I realize that that is a two mile spread. I was a little concerned myself! I never saw the 3 mile marker! So there I was wondering where I was on the course and what pace I was running.
About another mile in I look down at my watch to see that my timer has accidentally been reset! I start asking people as I pass what time they have so I can do some quick calculations. I figure out that I am still on pace! My legs are starting to get tired, but I am still feeling pretty good. I am now on a smaller trail and begin to wonder if we will be having a turn around where we run back in the way we came out. I was hoping for the better option of a loop. In a loop case scenario I have a good chance of not having to run those awful hills again. Although if it is a turn around I will have to run another 3 mile stint of hills including that huge hill at the end of the race.
I am now between mile 5 and 6 where I see a 8 mile marker on the opposite side of the trail which indicates we have a turn around course today! Here I come hills! I then at that moment begin to prepare myself mentally. I tell myself I am doing good, I still feel great and I am keeping pace. I will be able to conquer those hills! All encouraging things to tell yourself in a race! A few strides later I see the first place runner and then the second and so one. I begin counting how many women are in front of me to see what place I am in. At the turn around I am in seventh place for womens! "Not too bad," I think to myself.
The next four miles are pretty good. I am in my running groove with only pain coming from my toes. Minus the part where my watch got reset again, but I got it all figured out! I was on pace to finish a 1:56:00 when I rounded the corner to the last three miles of hills. At this point my legs where fatigued and all I wanted was more flat land. That clearly was not an option! I find myself saying out loud to myself, "Come on Cassie. You can do this!" I then give a little chuckle thinking, "I am glad no one is close by, they would think I am crazy talking to myself." I continue on. Pushing. Forcing my legs to move each inch that they need to move to take that next step. There was a bit of a flat area that gave me a little rest. Good thing for that before the outrageously huge hill came into my perspective.
My pace slowed down a bit through the hills as I knew it would. I chat with people on the course as we approach the hill. Comments are being made like: "Is this the stairway to heaven?" or "Is this where we buy our lift tickets?" People were trying to stay light hearted about the hill, because that is all you really could do. As I inched up the hill my legs were so tight and aching that I felt like I could collapse at any moment. I pushed a bit more, which seemed like time had slowed down. Then, at that moment I joined most of my fellow runners and began talking steps instead of strides up the hill. I walked for less than a minute thinking, "This is endurance. You have endurance. Lets endure." I picked up my speed and ran the last half a mile in to the finish line where I crossed over right before two hours!
Although I would have loved to finish in 1:56:00 my ultimate goal with this tough course was to finish it in under 2:00:00 and that I did! Not only did I finish this amazingly challenging run, I did so placing 2nd place in my age group! This race definitely pushed my physical and mental capacity! I find it to be good practice for my up coming marathon. As hard and rigorous as that race was, if it only takes me doing that double the distance to help our students gain the materials they need to be successful, then it is simply worth it!
I am excited to tell my students' about the race, show them my award, and add the distance to our link and map! On Friday the students' knew I was racing and were already asking if I would have an award to show them. I had to explain that some races give out a medal just for completing the race and other awards are for winning. They then asked if I was going to win, as if it was just a simple decision I had to make! They put a smile on my face with the excitement that they show towards this project!