Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon


*I typically type up most of these posts a few days after my race but choose to wait and post them in hopes of getting my finalized results and some other fun photos to add to it. So all the emotions and feelings were fresh in my brain but the tech side was added later*

PACKET PICK-UP & RUNNER'S EXPO
With the city-wide garage sale going on over the weekend I knew that race packet pick-up would be kind of quick and rushed for me. I know this sounds like the most ridiculous thing but one of the biggest things I look forward to before a bigger race is picking out what I'm going to wear and getting to stick on my bible verses and inspirational quotes to the back of my bib.


My race day outfit is methodically planned out and quite often I have to match or it freaks me out. I walked around the sporting goods store for a good hour on Thursday just not finding anything that really popped out at me. I bought a few things, went to another store, bought a few more things and went home wondering what I was going to put together and wear. Then, packet pick up day I went yet again and walked around for awhile before a kind sales assistant came up and joked that she could tell I was struggling finding something because she saw me there the day before. Long story short, she helped me narrow it down and we got to talking about photography. She too is a photographer so we swapped info and I told her I'd hoped to see her at the race on Sunday.


At packet pick-up we browsed through the runner's expo after grabbing my packet and didn't find anything that really stuck out. I was complimented on my Good Life Halfsy shirt I was wearing and I assured them I was thrilled to be seeing them again this November. The only other thing I saw that I felt the urge to buy was running shoes and I forced myself to continue through without stopping because I have no need for new shoes (right now). The expo was a lot smaller than I'd expected it to be but they had a lot of neat vendors and I was so glad to see other local races there supporting each other.

Packet pick-up overall was smooth. I didn't have to wait in line to grab my packet, they had a table set-up with clothes and other race goodies you could purchase and the expo was upstairs. The only complaint is that the isles for the expo were extremely crowded and I felt claustrophobic so I went through it fairly quick.


RACE DAY MORNING

Everyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a morning person let alone someone who can get up and run early but this past Saturday was an exception. At 5:30am when we were pulling out of the driveway my only thoughts were about focusing on my race coming up in less than two hours and how much more nervous I was about this half marathon than my last one.

I knew going into this race that it'd be tough. To be completely real and raw, I didn't give my training a real effort. I know my longest "training run" since my last half marathon was only about 6.75 miles so I built myself up to have no expectations coming into this race other than to enjoy the experience and finish.

Getting there wasn't that bad. With almost 12,000 runners I expected A LOT of traffic but we walked a few blocks while dad parked and we were at the starting line with time to stretch and double knot the shoe laces. Once I was there I wasn't exactly confident in my race day outfit choice, I felt the humidity and questioned the capris but knew there wasn't another option at that point. I threw on my compression sleeves because I knew they'd be easy to lose if needed on the course and my arms were still a bit chilly with the morning air. I gave mom one last hug, handed over my bag and headed towards the chute. Ready for nothing!

Pre-race jitters are always something I go through and they bring on a million emotions but this time I really tried to brush them all off. It isn't until I'm in the chute waiting to start my Garmin that I start thinking about the race I'm going to be running.



RUNNING THE RACE (THE COURSE)

With so many runners they released us in sets of 400 so waiting in the chute can be intimidated and the energy is so high that you can't help but to be extremely nervous. I met some wonderful ladies and the conversations settled my nerves quite a bit. Between the rookie, the vet and the BQ wanna-be we were at all different levels and each had our own reason for running but it was so cool to see we were all in it together.

We took off out the chute and I struggled starting the Garmin and attempting to not run into the many runners surrounding me but once I was set I fumbled with my armband to put it on then took off. I looked on the sidelines in hopes of finding my parents but just as luck would have it, I was on the wrong side! I'm not sure why, but it's "my thing" to always find them and at least high five or hug them, knowing at least one person is there cheering for me.

After the starting area was out of sight and I realized I wasn't going to see my parents until either later in the race or at the finish line I focused on me. I regret not having headphones. I typically listen for my audio cues to see what my pace is and my distance and this time I choose not to listen. Perhaps in hopes of not focusing on numbers but on the race course instead, or perhaps because I wanted to just go off of how I felt, but either way. It was a horrible idea!

The first few miles were alright, working on steadying my breathing and then focusing on finding my pace. Once I established those two things it was basically just time to check out the crowds, read the signs along the way and try to keep up with my 2:20 pacer in hopes of finishing somewhat close to that time.

Looking at my splits mile one was right on cue for what I was hoping for as my race pace. Then mile two fell off a little and then it went downhill from there. I realize now looking at the elevation map from the course that I really should have focused on hills and sprints in my training. Pretty much from miles three through six were hills, bigger hills than what I'm used to. So I think that has a lot to do with my split paces and why I was feeling so winded right away. 

I think towards mile 7 I could feel a sharp pain in the top of my left foot, I'm associating it with tying my shoe too tight. I attempt to block out the pain and tell myself that it'll eventually go away but somehow it just made me angrier at myself for not training.

My Garmin was reading my run a lot faster than I was actually running so most of the race I was almost a mile or so ahead. Around mile 11 I can remember reading my band thinking alright I'm about done only to later learn that I still had a few significant miles to run. 

I normally am not the type of person who stops at every water station but I could tell this race was going to be rough for me. After feeling extremely dehydrated and getting cold sweats on me I made the decision to refuel as much as possible while on the course. The heat index was higher than average and the race directors warned us many times to watch for signs of heat exhaustion. I think that might be another factor as to why this race was tougher on me, I'm used to heat but I really hadn't trained a lot over the winter in humidity like we had that day.

I can distinctly remember thinking to myself I can't do this. I just cannot finish this race up. It was the last water station I grabbed a cup (with a straw, much easier to sip and run with) and then slammed it, then grabbed a cup of ice from a kind volunteer and chewed it up as quickly as possible and telling myself you've come so far to give up now. It was the toughest race I've ever ran to date and the heat just killed my good mood vibes.

I was exhausted.

I was hot.

And I wanted to be done.

Not necessarily knowing Lincoln downtown streets by heart but knowing enough to know that the stadium couldn't be too far away I continued onward. Thanking each and every officer in uniform that I ran past. I keep telling myself it's almost all over and then I can rest. My knees started hating me halfway through the course but that's just a curse of training on gravel and I'm getting used to the feeling of the horrible pains that come with pavement.

The last few blocks of the course I finally saw the stadium come into view and I was so thankful to know the end was so near. I have never been so grateful for the end of a race as I was for this one to get over.

At the half marathon turn I can remember looking behind me to see if there were any runners that were planning on going straight to complete the full marathon. I wanted to offer sympathy and good luck, I realized there was no way I could possibly finish a full anytime soon and I had to give someone credit for such a tough task.

I turned into the home stretch and prepared my best "smile" I could muster knowing that the cameras were going to be capturing at least a few shots of me crossing the finish line. I hated every single step I was taking but I sucked it up and tried my best to remember each and every scene while running into the stadium. The people, the cheers, the high fives. I loved it all.

Then I stepped onto the turf and remember just sighing with relief. It's all over with. The entire race is coming to an end and I can finally tell my legs to shut down and return to a walking pace for awhile. So grateful for this race to be over and feeling so blessed that I have the strength that so many don't to do these types of events I thankfully took my medal and continued through the corral.



POST RACE 

Hands down one of the toughest pills I had to swallow was my selfishness. I crossed that finish line without a huge crowd of cheers, without posters or flowers waiting for me, and without "fans" there to greet me with hugs and congrats. I crossed the line quietly, smiling as the nice photographer took my picture and then proceeded through the fuel up line before entering back onto the field to enjoy sitting on the turf to stretch and just soak up the beautiful sun.


One thing I liked about finishing this race is the way they had the finish line set-up. You'd receive your medal then continue off the field under the tunnel and there they had anything and everything you could imagine waiting for you to indulge in. Gatorade, water, chocolate milk? Yup, I took and drank one of everything! Apples, bananas, oranges (I actually shoveled in 2-3 of these), crackers, yogurt, heck they even had SOUP to try! Yes, their "food selection" was amazing and you can bet I did my best to try one of everything. I mean, I did just finish a half marathon therefore I'm allowed to consume as many calories as I'd like for the next few days guilt free!!

After I got through the crowded area of post-race food goodies I walked back out onto the turf and decided to just take a seat and relax. This is the first time I've ever been on the Memorial Stadium field and I was so proud of myself for working hard enough to make it there. What an honoring feeling to be able to run on that field and then be able to sit and relax, soaking up my running journey.


Once I was done basking in my moment I found my parents and we headed to go find something to eat. I wasn't allowed to pick my all time favorite place (Chipotle's) so instead we opted for something close, Famous Daves! I ordered a HUGE platter and knew I wouldn't eat much while we were there but knew I'd be hungry off and on all day. It was nice going out to eat with my parents. I honestly can't remember the last time it was just us three together. I am so thankful that I can depend on them to be there for me at races. It's nice to have a few familiar faces in the crowd!!
Run. Ice. Rest. Repeat.

Once we were done with dinner and I was back home I pulled on my compression socks, popped a few pills (anti-inflammatory), chugged a few more glasses of chocolate milk, grabbed an ice pack and laid down to watch some tv and rest. 

Whoever said race days were easy lied to you! They're tough and I was still on my runners high so I could not for the life of me fall back asleep and relax even after waking up so early and exerting so much energy while running. I laid there, surfed the fbook groups to see what others thought of the course and just tried to relax. I did end up drifting in and out of sleep between getting up to go snack on more food and stretch the legs. 

Overall, the afternoon was spent relaxing before getting up and heading out to go get some oranges and icy hot from the store. I was seriously craving oranges all day and couldn't resist the urge to go get some! 


RACE RESULTS
I'm beyond disappointed and embarrassed about this race. I KNOW I am better than these numbers and I know that this doesn't represent me at all. I live to push myself, to strive for perfection and never give up on myself. I'm posting my race stats strictly because I'm working on documenting both the good and bad things in my racing journey and I feel like I need to show where I started to truly appreciate where I will someday be.

So with that being said here you go, I ended up finishing with a time of 2:36 which gave me about an 11:56 mile pace. Horrible, but that's just part of the journey. Some highs and a few lows. Gives me incentive to train harder for my next half marathon in Alaska here in less than TEN weeks!


I think looking at my pace between each split kind of makes me laugh, my 5k was obviously faster than my 15k mark but by an entire minute?! I for sure burned way too much of my energy up early in the race and that killed the rest of my course times.

So there it all is. I'm not proud of it overall but I know that it was a tough course for me and I did my best the entire time! I think seeing all of the visuals will encourage me to really push to train harder for my upcoming races as well as showing me what a difference even just some training can make.


OVERALL RACE REVIEW

It was great! The race was extremely well organized and you could tell it wasn't their first go at organizing such a big event. Everyone told me that I'd love this race way more than the Good Life Halfsy but after running both I'd have to say I loved the crowd and enthusiasm that the Halfsy gave. They had more music on the course, something I guess I just expected along this course. I will more than likely run this race again but next time will make sure to grab my headphones and throw on some jams. I loved the finish line, running into the stadium was inspiring and I'm so grateful I can use my legs to move me places! What an awesome and amazing feeling to say I've ran onto the field and finished at the 50 yard line!!

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1 comment:

  1. You did amazing!!! I can not wait to be able to do a half! Congrats!!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are the most flattering form of letting me know you're reading along! In the blogging world these comments are bigger than "likes" and "retweets" and while you guys are all super awesome forgive me if it takes a couple days to get back to ya'll. I want to make sure I get back to each and every one of you! If you have a specific question by all means PLEASE email me (kelseyhomolka@hotmail.com). Plus, you'll get a faster response from me! Thankie again for reading along and don't forget to Keep On, Keepin Up!