Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rock CF half review

Sunday was the Rock CF half marathon on Grosse Ile, which was my first real race of the year (I exclude Disney from all consideration of races and times because it was a "fun" run for me, and my hip/leg were in a ton of discomfort). It had been gross and cloudy the past several days, but the forecast looked good for Sunday. It also looked cold for the start, so I had to dress warm, but not too warmly that I would be discarding clothing.

Woke up early and headed to Grosse Ile. The parking lot at the high school closed at 7am and I hadn't even left my house by then, so I went directly to the alternate parking at the airport to take a school bus ride to the start line. That has to be such a hassle for Emily (race director) because there were 100+ people in line and we all wanted to be moved immediately!!! Yet, within an hour it would no longer be an issue. I wound up waiting about 20 minutes and it was so insanely cold!!! While waiting and shivering, the negative thoughts started creeping in. "It's really cold. I can run this one for fun and worry about a PR when it's warmer." STOP! Deep breath! "Negative thoughts get OUT of my head!!! No brain space for that!"

We made it to the high school and I needed a bathroom stop, so I finally made it to the starting line at 8:12 for an 8:15 start. Oops! Kelly and I had planned to run together, but I didn't have time to look for her beforehand, and didn't see her at the start. I figured we'd meet up at some point during the race. We had done the math and to PR, I would need to average a 10:39.

I couldn't see exactly where it started so I edged closer and closer and wound up much closer than I normally do. It was so cold and I was a bit hopped up on RedBull and my legs wanted to move! The first time I looked at my watch was at around 0.3 miles and I was at an 8:44 pace, which is manageable for the short term, but not sustainable for that long and I didn't want to crash and burn at the end. I slowed it down and finished the first in 9:24. I figured the second mile would shake down closer to a 10:30, but that was 9:37, so I started rethinking and went with what felt ok for as long as it felt ok. At least I'd have time banked for when I slowed down.

Four miles, five miles, six miles in, I was still consistently below 10s. The only one above was mile 4 at a 10:03 when I walked for 20 paces to drink water.

Seven miles and I felt great. Eight miles and I started to entertain thoughts that I was definitely going to PR. Nine miles felt great, ten miles and I started to think I wouldn't just PR, but destroy my PR.

The course was around the perimeter of the island and it had nice views of the river, but nothing too spectacular. Mile 10 was fun though because it was at the airport. We ran through the hangar, then out on the runway. Crossed the timing pad at mile 10 and realized there was only a 5k left and I've been consistently doing those sub 30, albeit on a treadmill.

I ran into a headwind in mile 12, which temporarily slowed me down a few seconds, then into a subdivision where the wind stopped, onto the track and I finished a huge PR. One of the absolute greatest feelings in running is KNOWING a PR is happening and savoring those last few steps, wanting to soak it in, but pushing the pace to PR by as many seconds as possible. My final time was 2:08:49, which was an 11:04 improvement over my last half. I've never PRed a full marathon by such a huge margin.

It always feels good to PR, but even more, this race validated my hodgepodge plan and my self-created "run less, run faster" approach. It made me really hopeful for Toledo. Let's tear down another PR :D

At the finish was the PR cymbal, so I crashed that, took a picture with Mom who came to see the finish, then grabbed some homemade cookies - yum!

Driving in, I heard my theme song for this race - Pharrell's Happy - "Because I'm haaaaaaaapy!"

After I got home, I received the following email from my friend Ethel who lives on Grosse Ile:
I thought I saw you today @ West River/Ferry Rd. wearing a hot pink vest with neon green long sleeves and your hair up on top of head.  However, when I got out of my warm car & yelled your name, no one looked.  Even though it was 31 degree, some of the runners were only wearing tank tops @ that point.   

When I got to that spot, fans told me about half of the runners had already passed.  You must have been in that 1st half of runners.  I did wait, watch, & finally slowly drove on opposite side of the road, all the time looking for you.  

Yep, that was me :D I have a soft spot in my heart for races where I set PRs so I'll see you all next year!!! :)
Blue tech shirt for runners, gray cotton for volunteering on Saturday at start line set-up
Shirt backs - A big part of deciding to do this race was the shirt design :D


  1. Michelle, YOU crushed it. I love that you continued to feel good, therefore "Went with it." Once you determined a few weeks back that you were going to dig your training in, YOU REALLY did. Congrats on a kick butt run. I look forward to reading about so many more!

    1. Thanks! :) It was pretty much the best race of my life (so far!)

  2. AWESOME!!!!!!! That is a huge PR!! It was nice to see you Saturday. Too bad we didn't get more time to chat. Oh, and I spotted the medal bucket outside Sunday morning but never did find them on Saturday. Strange.

  3. Thanks :D Congrats on your PR as well! I left my medal with the woman at the information desk. She promised to drop it in the bucket on Sunday :)