Fox Cities Half Marathon ::: Recap

Last year I slipped on some gravel and my ankle bent one way and the rest of my body went the other. It swelled up pretty quickly, and the next day I went into the doctor where he immediately informed me that I tore the ligament in my left ankle. It was the middle of the summer and I was training for the fall races, but that was going on hold.

It was hard to be patient while it healed. I knew I was not going to have time to train for the fall season and that was a bit disheartening. The brisk fall air was out, and I wanted to be pounding on the pavement. Instead I was wrapping my ankle trying to be a good patient. I felt a bit lost.

Sunday was the Fox Cities Half Marathon. I have been training for this since the doctor gave me the go ahead that everything was healed up. I followed my training schedule religiously, took my cross training seriously, and have been eating like a lean-green fighting machine.

And in part of that preparation I made schedule from my anticipated pace so that my family would know where to show up and cheer me on at what time.

Unfortunately my prep work was slightly flawed, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Half Marathon Start Line

The Start

Mom proved once again why she is a saint, she picked me up at 6am and drove me to the starting line. She also served as my official event photographer.

The guns went off at 7:00, and it took a few minutes before my pace made it over the start pad. I did have my 2 seconds of fame on the local news. In their marathon video package I appear for a blip at 0:21 mark. At least they captured us when we were still looking fresh.

For the first couple of miles I just went with the pack of runners, and maneuvered my way around until I found a group of folks who were at a comfortable pace. It appeared we were all strangers, but keeping up a nice conversation. I do not know if it was the adrenaline, but I felt amazing, me legs were fresh and the weather was crisp and perfect for running.

We approached the first "hill" of the marathon, an overpass going over Highway 441. I felt confident, having added a lot of hill practices to my training schedule. I cruised over, and lost much of the group I had been pacing with the first couple of miles.

Settling in I turned up my tunes and ran to my own groove.

The Pace Sheet is Going to be Off

I hit the 5K marker and looked at my watch to see my time at about 25:25. Doing some quick mental math I panicked for a bit.

Alright, I might have slightly hyperventilated, but nothing bad enough to scare the other runners around me. I was way ahead of the pace I set for myself, but I had found such a groove that the miles just slipped by.

Worried I would overwork myself now and have nothing left for the end, I pulled back a bit. Even so, I knew I was ahead of my pace chart now.

At the halfway maker I glanced at my watch and knew I was just a bit over an hour. Still well ahead of pace. Scarfed down an energy gel and continued on my merry way.

It was at mile 9 that I finally found my Mom again. I waived frantically to get her attention. It was apparent that she was not expecting me yet, because she fumbled for the camera and tried to get a snapshot. Of course she yelled for me to stop to make sure she had a record for photographic posterity, but I knew if I did, I would never start up again. Thus starting the first in a series of amazing rear shots.

Half Marathon Backside #1

The second came a mile or so later when my Mom drove down a side street and found me again. Unfortunately resulting in another derrière exhibit.

Half Marathon Backside #2

Of course, the only shot of me actually running where my face is visible was taken at the start of the race and I look entirely too happy.

Half Marathon - A Little Too Happy

The Finish Line

My race settled in so well that I started to pick back up again after the halfway point. I cruised through the final "hill" aka bridge, surprising myself as I continued to pass folks during the charge. On the final stretch I began looking again for my family, needing some support to carry me through the last mile and a half.

I scanned the crowd lining the street, Mom was ahead. I gave her a grunt in acknowledgment and she cheered me on. One of my friends was there cheering on her husband and gave me a shout out. The rest of my family was MIA. I had a feeling that they were following my original spread sheet quite religiously, and were going to show up after I had passed through.

Knowing they would be there in spirit, I rounded the final turn up the lake front. The last time I ran this stretch in the half marathon I had been chaffing and feeling ready to throw in the towel. This time I was moving steadily and determined to finish strong.

The final 200 meters were killer. I wanted to sprint it in so badly and finish strong. My legs were jell-o. I ignored the pain and just pounded in. The clock overhead read 2:03, and something or another. I knew I started about a minute after the gun went off.

The volunteers wrapped us up, gave us our metals, and pushed us to the food tent to refuel. All I could think was my time was somewhere in the 2:02 range. I had beat my PR by over 15 minutes!
Half Marathon Splits
It took me a bit to find my Mom in the crowd. She was by the finish line area when I came up behind her as she was talking to a woman who had her blackberry out. The woman asked my mom, "What's your runner's bib number?" She looked at the screen, "She already finished."

"What?" I head my Mom say.

Coming up behind her I said, "Hi Mom!."

"Oh my gosh! When did you finish?"

I shrugged and looked at the time clock, "About 10 minutes ago."

"But, how did you get past me?" I shrugged again.

Mom was distraught she did not get a finishing photo, and after promising her I would buy one of the official race photos, she smiled and we took a couple of celebratory shots with my metal.

Half Marathon w/Finisher Metal

My official finish time was 2:02:56, demolishing my previous PR. I had to push myself--there were a few times during the race where I grimaced, but my thoughts were positive and I knew I was well trained. I was determined to finish that bad boy.

And now I am mentally getting to a place where I can start training for the full marathon. I felt good during the race, my recovery after it has been fantastic. Now I want to work on the next challenge.

I also want to work on pacing charts, because *ahem* apparently I am not too efficient at that.

Fox Cities Half Marathon Finisher Metal

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