Why the Gummi Bears theme song reference? Because I have decided that Gummi Bears are freaking AMAZING. But more on that later.
NYCRuns Queens Half Marathon. This is the first time this race is being held. I registered for it months ago to be a PR attempt race. The plan was to TRAIN, work on speed work, get a faster time. The course was local, flat and the race was inexpensive. Of course I completely abandoned this hope for a PR when, well, in all honesty, I didn’t train at all. I did a 5 mile run and whatever shorter distances CrossFit covered. I was tempted to not do this race at all, but I was using it as a kickoff to Goofy training, so I had to.
I had a bad feeling about this race. Queens, thus far, has not been good to me. The NYRR Queens 10K last year was horrible. The Michelob Ultra NYC 13.1 was, well, worse. While the course route was different, it still overlapped with both these races as they’re all in Flushing Meadow Park. Spoiler alert…while the scenery still isn’t fabulous, it’s A LOT nicer in September than March. I mean, there were actual flowers and green and is was actually pretty at certain parts. Of course the roads themselves leave a lot to be desired. There are numerous locations where the road is uneven with bumps and dips and can be hazardous if you’re not paying attention.
Adding to the panic is this is a smaller race. Originally it was advertised as being capped at 500 people, but come race day, I think it was up to 900 something. There was also a 3 hour cap. Now, my PR leave me PLENTY of time to finish under the cap. However, if I’m having a VERY bad race…I get a little too close to that number than I’d like. A little added anxiety…yay!
Wow, I’ve done a whole lot of talking and I haven’t even gotten to the race part! My bad!
Race day morning. It was sunny, 55 degrees, 77% humidity. Temperature yay! Humidity eh. It was very weird to be freezing and sweating at the same time. Regardless, the weather gods seemed to be in our favor that day and I was thankful. I also stood by the bag check until the last possible second so I didn’t have to part with my jacket.
Checked my bad, parted with my jacket and headed to the start. There were no corrals. There were no markers to indicate “if your pace is this, stand here.” Basically it was a free for all. Stand wherever you want. Surprisingly, not as chaotic as it seemed. I know I’m slower so I just stood in the middle of the pack off to the side to try and not get in anyone’s way.
The race was scheduled to start at 8:00am. This is probably where my only/biggest complaint is. We were all standing at the start line, anxiously waiting, and we started about 20 minutes late. It’s not the end all of race day faux paus BUT it did lead me to dip into my gummy bear stash a little early to calm my nerves.
I was doing a race day no no. Nothing new on race day. I’ve noticed that come the end of the race I’m running on empty so I had wanted to try actually “fueling” for/during a race. Gummy bears were the easiest to locate on short notice, so I decided to give them a try.
A few gummy bears later, the race started and we were off! Before I even hit mile 1 I was immediately discouraged…even more. I was having wardrobe malfunctions. I hadn’t tied the string on my pants tight enough, so they were falling down. Ugh! I wasn’t going to stop already. So I ended up doing a very entertaining pants hike every few steps until finally all was well. And then issue number 2 hit. This course is a 2 loop course, so I would be plagued by this for the next 6 miles. BEFORE I hit mile 1, I see the sign for mile 7. Ugh. Come on! I’m not even close yet!
Anyway, somewhere during this first mile is when my race day strategy would begin. I would pick people and use them to pace me. Mile 1 was the lady in black. I was following behind her. She was going a pace where I wasn’t dying. I hit the first water stop, so I walked (because, as I’ve mentioned lots, I cannot drink and run at the same time because I suck). Somewhere after the first mile, the lady in black started walking, so I ended up passing her and having to find someone new!
Next was the lady in blue. I would follow the lady in blue for a few miles. I think I followed her a little too closely (sorry!) but I eventually became memorized. I would just stare at her feet, listen to my music and just sing to myself “just keep running, just keep running.” If I walked for a water stop, I would pick up the pace to catch back up to her. Around mile 5, given the pace I was doing and how good I was feeling, I decided I WOULD PR THIS RACE.
Around mile 6 I took a gummy bear “break”…apparently I can also not chew and run at the same time. This is the one downside to the gummy bears. They take a while to chew. So I decided to run while chewing, that led to a fun little bit of choking, but I survived! And “just kept running.”
I was doing good with only walking for liquid stops (and a gummy bears). Somewhere after mile 7 I decided that if I was going to PR, I needed to stop pacing off the lady in blue. She had done well for me, but I had more in the tank, so I passed her, thanking her in my head.
While I was following the lady in blue, I picked up the lady in the spotted shorts. She was running right next to me while I was following the lady in blue and ended up sticking with me when I passed her. We essentially ran together for the next few miles, pacing each other. She wouldn’t stop for the water stops, so I would speed up when the station was approaching, and then catch back up after I was done drinking.
And then we hit mile 10. The dreaded mile 10. This is where I REPEATED mentally breakdown and my body just stops because I am SO CLOSE. I was still on a PR pace at this point. I decided to call Doug to help try and pick me up. I was multi tasking and eating some more gummy bears while I was at it. Unfortunately, I still ended up with an extended walking break that I should not have taken. Stupid brain.
After getting off the phone, I tried to shake it off, focus, and head on the quest to find the lady in the spotted shorts again! I caught up to her at the 11 mile marker. At mile 11 I decided I would push hard and make up the time lost at mile 10. I WOULD PR DAMMIT! Mile 11 was one of my faster miles. I ended up passing the lady in the spotted shorts (again thanked her in my head for pushing/pacing me) and kept going.
Then I hit mile 12. After the water stop at mile 11, that was it until I would finish the race. No more “allowed” walking breaks until the finish. I was STILL on a PR pace. All I had to do was maintain a comfortable mile pace for that last mile and I would PR. And that’s when my brain decided to sand bag it.
I don’t know why, but that last mile, I just couldn’t push myself/force myself to run. Maybe subconsciously it was because I felt I didn’t deserve to PR because I didn’t train for it, I didn’t work for it. I was SO CLOSE and my brain just kept telling me I can’t run any more. I would try and run, last about a minute and then walk. This is how the entire last mile went. IT WAS HORRIBLE. Stupid brain. My PR was slipping through my fingers and I was letting it!
When I hit the mile 13 marker, I could see the finish line. I saw that if I busted my ass and sprinted that last .1 I could still maybe PR. And with that, I snapped my head back into place and sprinted to the finish with a 8:38 pace. OK, that’s not really a sprint for some people (*cough*Lisa’s “easy run” pace*cough*) but for me, ESPECIALLY after 13 miles, that was pretty freaking fast.
And finally, I crossed the finish line! …with a 35 second PR.
I’m psyched about my PR. But I’m of course still angry with myself. My splits were all over the place and I shouldn’t have had to sprint to PR. Stupid brain. Have I mentioned stupid brain? Because stupid brain.
Either way, it’s a PR in the books and I’ll take it!
I would definitely like to run this race again, although with a mid-September date, who knows if I will luck out with the weather again. This race has also made me look forward to the half marathons I have upcoming as part of my Goofy training. Hopefully my brain will snap out of this.
Damn this was a long post. Sorry! :)