The night before…I had a great dinner. I had a small chicken breast, 1/4 cup of whole wheat pasta, numerous pieces of garlic bread, and about 10 Vanilla Wafers. I drank water much of Friday.
Overnight, I slept pretty good given that I had to wake up pretty early and had a huge goal ahead of me. The cold temperatures were not going to be easy to overcome! Woke up around 525 am. I had already laid out all my stuff the previous night ensuring that I wouldn’t forget anything. I ate 3 toaster waffles (Kroger brand) and a small amount of cereal. Took my vitamins (vitamin D, Calcium, multi-vitamin, B-12, Fish Oil, and Glucosamine) and drank a cup of coffee.
I packed my dry clothes in the bag I got from the expo. My mom arrived at our house at 6:15 am and then Lisa and I took off around 6:30 am. Driving downtown was uneventful. We took Sam Cooper (I-40 until it ends) to East Parkway to Union. Traffic was pretty bad just past Madison. We turned left and took a right on Linden. Lisa wanted to watch the start of the race and then check me out at around mile 3…so we parked at the FedExForum. It was $5 which was pretty ideal since we just got out and entered into the entryway of the Forum. Lisa snapped a few pictures in the garage of me in my warm up/throw away gear.
I had dressed in 4 layers on top and two on bottom. I was sporting an Underarmor turtle neck compression shirt, a race jersey with my number pinned on it, a light training, wicking zip up jacket and a sweatshirt. My legs were adorned in Underarmor underwear (6″ boxerbriefs), Underarmor tights, and sweatpants. In my pockets, I had Mizuno running gloves and a Nike hat (covered my ears!). I was ready to be warm before the race. It was 23 degrees outside.
Once inside the FedExForum, I grabbed a water and began stretching. I sipped on my water. The 5k was about to start and outside people were getting ready. Lisa had to make a bathroom stop…so I went outside to jog and warm up. I saw the start of the 5k which was pretty cool! I jogged all around Beale and down to the Marathon/Half Marathon starting line and then back to the FedExForum. I met back up with Lisa and had a good sweat going. I was actually pretty hot. So I took my sweatshirt off and sipped more water. When I had 15 minutes before start time…I took one of my two Gu packets. Drank some more water…went to the bathroom (my worst fear!) and took off to the starting line.
I was in corral #1 with a goal pace of 6:52. I found the 3:00 marathon pace group and got behind them. The elites took off first. I shed my zip up jacket and gave it to Lisa at the starting line…and got ready to go. Our group was let go at one minute past the official time/elites left the starting line.
We were off. I felt great. My watch/footpod/heartrate monitor said my heartrate before the race was around 100 bpm! So the pace group I was with was running really, really slow. My watch said our pace was near 8:00 min/mile which was way too slow for my goal time! I passed the pace group so my watch was showing my pace closer to 7:00 min/mile pace. I didn’t want to go too fast at the first of the race.
I passed mile one without noting my watch time. Usually I hear the beeps at every mile…not today! My hat was too thick over my ears…so that wasn’t happening. Too cold. Anyway…before mile two…the 3 hour pace group flew by me. My watch was showing my pace at 6:40 min/mile going downhill (down Riverside Drive). They were pulling away from me pretty fast. By the time I hit Beale, they were at least one quarter ahead of me! I had my mile splits taped to my wrist so I could double check my pace with my stopwatch. Needless to say, I was in trouble. I was about 10 seconds off at mile 2…and it just got worse as the race progressed.
Mile 3 was just as we turned off Beale and I knew Lisa was going to be near. Little did I know that the streets in this area were really, really filled with a huge crowd! I couldn’t pick her out unless I started walking. Both sides of the street (I think 3rd) were packed with people. Pretty cool, but I had other things on my mind. One was the heat packs in my gloves. They were really too much. I had to ditch them! So I threw them out where I thought Lisa was…and kept running. On to mile 4!
This portion of the run was filled with me trying to catch up to my pace group. At times, during this mile my watch said 6:30 min/mile pace. I felt no pain and I didn’t feel like my lungs/heart were working that hard. I guess the adrenaline rush was keeping me going. The field was really spread out at this point…so no one was really around me. I saw people in front of me though and I was just trying to keep going. I couldn’t wait to be at the Zoo (which was mile 7 and 8). I ran through the St. Jude campus…but I was running so hard, I couldn’t really appreciate all the nice folks cheering the runners on. I did notice, especially here, that St. Jude “Heroes” (people who got sponsers and money donated) got many more cheers than us low lifes just trying to have fun with the race/run. Anyway – one of those “Heroes” was behind me…but I imagined they were cheering for me. 🙂
North Parkway was 3 miles of sparse race cheering folks. I hated this stretch of the run! There were two hills that really took it out of me. One was just before the midway point…and the second was just before we entered the park…just past the zoo. I took my Gu at mile 8.25 or so. I just entered the park trails and thank goodness I had one bottle in my FuelBelt. I drank my very cold water to wash my thick (due to cold temps) Gu down a little further into my belly. My pace really slowed down during mile 8 into mile 9. Once I got out of the park…my pace picked up a little. I was really hurting and the temperature really started affecting me.
The run down Poplar…heading back downtown was much longer than I remembered last year. There were two killer hills on this section. I was getting irritated by folks carrying on a conversation about chaffing and Gatorade…the burning, etc. Blah blah blah…if I could have talked, I would told them to shut up and run faster. That way they couldn’t talk…like me. HA! They were marathon runners too…so they had way farther to go than me.
My thighs were starting to burn…and it took all I had to keep my legs turning. I felt like my heartrate was near max from mile 8 until the end of the race. I remember hitting mile 10 and thinking…I have a 5k left, about 25 more minutes. Quick calculations of my stopwatch made my estimated finish time around 1:39. Still a PR..but not what I was shooting for.
I felt pretty good at mile 12 and I thought – only another mile…slightly farther. I can do it. Plus – it was mostly downhill. Finally getting a break!! There was one guy ahead of me and I couldn’t pass him. One guy ran by me and was moving. I couldn’t pass the guy until we entered AutoZone Park. Then I felt more adrenaline and picked up my pace until the finish. My stopwatch said 1:34:47. The official time was 1:34:44 – my best half marathon time EVER. A P-R (Personal Record), as they say in sports circles.
I hope to run a 1:30 or less in the near future. I guess I’ll have to rethink my training…or pick a better time/temperature to run one. The G’town Half comes to mind….in 2011. Lookout! I’ll try Seattle in June 2010. It looks like a tough course though.