Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Newport Liberty Half, USATF-NJ Championship Half Marathon, Jersey City, NJ, 9/18/16

Photo shared on FB by Jamie Mantari
I only ran because I love being part of a my racing team, Clifton Road Runners, and this was an important team race.

I had hoped that even if I ran at less than 100%, I would still be helpful. My toes were still sore from getting destroyed at the marathon last weekend.  I lost three nails. I have new racing flats to try so I was hoping for the best.  My quads are not recovered fully, but they were good enough to run 13M. I was most worried about my hamstring.  The left still felt like it had some tightness and that really concerned me.  I told Anthony I would run as fast as I could comfortably run without hurting myself and if anything felt badly I may not make it the whole way.

I had 11 runners racing this one race today so I wanted to be there to see how my athletes did.  

I was a little disappointed because the day before was nice and cool, but this morning was oppressively humid. 

When looking at the comfort scale we were at a 138 (Air Temp + Dew Point) and anything over 130 is not good for racing PR’s. The scale was a 122 when Kim and I ran half marathon PRs last month on a cool morning in Calicoon, NY. 

I already knew this day would be much tougher than many expected it would be. Fast forward to the finish line. As I stood there watching the stream of familiar faces race towards the finish, it was clear that most people were coming in about 3+ minutes slower than their ability and looking toasted from the humdity.  Sure there were a few amazing outliners who managed to set new PR’s in the humidity, but most suffered from the weather.

I wasn't sure how the race would go, but I still lined up towards the front.  I figured this would likely be very very hard for me but I did not want to rule out he opportunity for a surprise good day.  Adrenaline can sometimes be magical, so why now go out strong and adjust from there.  This is not my goal race. Last week was my goal race. This week I can play around and do things wrong without too much worry.  I decided to get a good start, and then listen to my body.  M1 6:45

Photo shared on FB by Elaine Acosta
I was surprised to find my legs could move this fast, but I could tell I was not keeping this pace up for any duration. My hamstrings were not as tight as I feared they would be, but I still felt limited range of motion. My back started to hurt, just like last year but not as bad, so I tried to gradually slow down until I felt I was at a pace that would not hurt me but still represent a good effort. 
M2 6:57,  
M3 7:03,
M4 7:05,

By M5, I started to really feel like my legs were made of cement. I felt heavy and sluggish and had no real spring. My back pain was impacting my ability to run comfortably.  I felt that I should have really just stayed home today, but now I was in this.  I slowed down more to try to find a sustainable pace.  I knew if I could get to 9M, to go, I could try to pick the pace back up and finish strong.  5 ladies passed me as I tried to find a place where my back hurt less. 
M5 7:13
M6 7:18
M7 7:24
M8 7:22

Photo shared on FB by Elaine Acosta
Once I settled down, I stopped really caring what the watch said. I really did not have much of a choice.  This was the pace my body could handle today and I was ok with that.  

Every day cannot be a PR and one week post-really-hard-marathon, is not the time to expect great things to happen.  But even as I settled down, I knew I still had another gear. I just needed to decide when to use it.  I wanted to start picking back up at 9M and ideally make a second surge at 11M to the finish.  As soon as I hit the 8M mark I opened up my stride to the best I could, but my back pain was still there  I could feel myself running so tight, but I could not loosen up without triggering back pain… so I just ran the best way I could.   7:00 minute pace for 9M to the finish was not sustainable, but I felt 2 final fast miles could be possible if I could get to Mile 11 feeling ready to work for it.
M9 7:00
M10 7:11
M11 7:09

Just by bumping up my pace by 20 seconds per mile over the lats 3M allowed me to pick off 4 ladies, but one woman did come with me. I was not sure who she is or what team she runs for, but my entire purpose today was to try to place as best as I could, safely, for the team, so I really wanted to try to make sure I finished ahead of her. 

She mentioned something about this not being the pace she normally runs, which seemed to imply this was slower than her usual, but maybe not. Maybe she was having a great day.  I wasn't sure how to respond to that remark so I just commented that "today may not be so much about pace as it is about place…" 

Then Ryan, pulled up next to me and said, “Oh Wow, you recover fast!”  I added “Well, everything hurts! I am really happy to be running this well but I am tired.  The only thing I know to do to make the pain stop is to hurry up and run faster!”  Ryan agreed and we all picked up the pace as soon as we hit M11. 

It felt great to run faster, but I was worried about popping something.  However, since I noticed the woman was still going with me, I had to push on.  A guy in long pants was just ahead of me and we pulled the pace down. We passed as many as possible as our pace dropped to a mid-6.  Just after M12 my watch dropped the signal in the building. I had no idea what the pace was, but we just did not let up. 
M12 6:27
M13.1 8:30 for last 13.1 
(which is really at least 13.3 on this notoriously long course for a 6:23 pace)

Once I stopped running, I felt a wave of dizziness wash over me and my legs almost buckled.  It was hard to keep my balance.  I know this was the humidity kicking my butt.  

I am thrilled to have been able to run so well when my entire body was will still exhausted and recovering.  Had this not been a team championship race, I would not have raced at all this weekend.  But I do feel like my presence did help a little. 

Photo shared on FB by Kerry Monahan Gaughan
Our 40’s women (which includes our top scorer who is over 50) beat the second place 40’s women team by over 28 minutes, so maybe they didn't need me much there.  However, our Open women team placed 3rd OA, which made me feel like I did help the Open ladies place well today, and that makes me feel great to have run hard on tired legs. 

Time: 1:33:30 (This course is always at least .25-.35M long… every single year on almost everyone's watch. Normally I don't complain about a course reading long, and Garmin data is not reliable, but in this case I think people should know).
Gender Place: 11th 
Master’s (All women over r40):  4th 
Age Group:  2nd. 

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