Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why 2012 really was(is) the best year ever.

Okay, maybe my title isn't meant for everyone.  But for me, 2012 was for sure (and still is!) the best year of my life.  Running wise, I had PR'd in every distance (except the marathon, more on that below), was honored as the Clif Athlete of the Year and even won a marathon.  I married my best friend, moved into an incredible house, and started working in an unbelievable school district.

Well, after the Milwaukee Marathon, I wasn't satisfied.  Yes, I was ELATED to WIN a marathon.  BUT, some people made comments (I never heard them, I was just told about them) that I won with diluted competition.  Okay, true, many of the elite athletes WERE racing Chicago. However, I still had to choose which race to run and got lucky with my decision.  And really, a sub 3-hour marathon isn't anything to poke fun at.  I ran from mile 10 on all by myself, and if you've ever run a marathon solo, you know it's no easy task.

You see, I didn't break my PR, knowing that I was fully capable.  You see, last year when I ran Milwaukee, I tore my hamstring and ran a 2:54:46....this year, I knew I was in better shape so figured I'd just break my PR no problem.

Unfortunately, my IT flared up at mile 17 and I decided to be smart and slow down the pace a bit in hopes of not injuring myself.  It worked, but my goal of setting a PR didn't work.  If I had run a 2:54:45 (yes, just one second faster than my PR), I would have been happy.

So, a few days after our wedding, I signed up for the Indy Monumental Marathon.  I had run the first 13 miles of the marathon course back in 2008 while training for the Memphis Marathon (in December), and REALLY had regretted not finishing it ever since.

Choosing to race Indy was an easy decision, writing out my training wasn't as much.  I just ran when I could after Milwaukee (Sun 10/7) as getting things ready for our wedding (Sat 10/13) was much more important.

I looked at what Coach Cari had me do in between Milwaukee and CIM last year and kind of pieced my own training together.

It worked.

I ended up running a personal best by 1 minute 24 seconds with a 2:53:22 (6:32 pace).  This is how the race unfolded...

Mile 1: 6:04 on my garmin, 6:20 on the race clock... YIKES. SLOW DOWN!!!
Mile 2: 6:39...MUCH better. I've got this.
Mile 3: 6:42...Hmm, why is 6:40 pace feeling like a struggle? Did I try to come back too soon?  Nope. there's my husband cheering for me like crazy and making me smile so big. I've got this.

Mile 4: 6:24... okay, this one felt easy, I can totally do this thing
Mile 5: goal pace. sweet.  I kept telling myself that Ryan devoted 5 hours of his Friday to drive out here (4 hours, plus one for eating) with me to watch me run a marathon. The least I can do in return is not drop out, and hopefully win us some $$.  Dropping out, regardless of how much I hurt, was no longer an option.
Mile 6: 6:31...heck yes, this is perfect and feeling great.
Mile 7: 6:33...I can bust these out all day. AND I'm gaining on the girl in front of me.  what? I'm 5th place girl?  That's $100. I like the sounds of this.
Mile 8: 6:44....umm, woah. I know there was an "incline" in this mile, but a 6:44? I need to focus.  **the 1/2 marathoners left us just before this point, so the race thinned out quite a bit. It was hard for me to get back up with a group. This guy in a blue singlet with arm warmers talked to me a little so I decided he was the guy I'd fall back on if things got tough (so I'd have someone to run with)
Mile 9: 6:31...back on track! Stay focused like Chicago 2009 (in Chicago 2009, I had some guy running with me from 3 through 21, which helped me PR HUGE, so I liked having the guy in the blue singlet with arm warmers nearby...I figured the same situation was about to occur)
Mile 10: 6:28...went through at 1:05 on the clock, 6:30 pace, YES YES YES! Ryan took an AWESOME picture here of me with the clock, but told me he wouldn't see me again until Mile 20... there was no way I could drop out at this point, even if I started feeling bad/fatigued from Milwaukee.

Mile 11: 6:33...just passed the 4th pace girl, 3rd place is in sight, this could be a very good day
Mile 12:'re catching her, just stay calm and relaxed, the race isn't won in the first half. Started to feel a little fatigued, knew it was from Milwaukee, decided not to care.
Mile 13: that Dave Schaefers?! OMG. Dave, why am I running another marathon 4 weeks after I just ran Milwaukee?  Jacqui, go get that girl in front of you, she's fading, c'mon Jac, PUSH.
Mile 14: 6:26...thanks for that little push, Dave:)
Mile 15: 6:33...alright, back into the groove. Blue singlet guy is up with me again, made some comment about my pink arm warmers (something good), so I figured we'd stay together again.  He commented to me, "The race doesn't begin until Mile 20.. you can see this girl in front of you is dying...focus on timing now"  (I had been about 10-20 seconds behind her for the past 5 miles at this point)
Mile 16: 6:40...this is not when the race is won or lost. Stay focused and you'll still PR and still get 3rd place. Time for a gel soon and then Ryan will be at mile 20...get through this.  Blue singlet and arm warmer guy and I pass the girl in front of me at right as 16 turned to 17.
Mile 17: 6:30...back in the 6:30s and feelin' good. YES.  Plus, I'm now in 3rd place which is $500... gotta keep this up.  Almost missed a turn at this point as we hit a water stop and then have to quickly turn....and the volunteer almost didn't tell us!  It was me, blue singlet guy, his friend (white singlet, arm warmer guy) and the girl I had just passed (she was about 3 seconds behind as i had just passed her).  I apologized to my group, who nicely said it was the volunteer that didn't tell us where to go.
Mile 18: 6:34....still feelin' pretty darn good.  Blue singlet guy told me I'm now 5 seconds ahead of the girl.  AND I SAW RYAN AT 18.5!!!!!!!!!! He had Alex (little brother) on speaker phone so I yelled out some nonsense and started to break away a bit more.  We were 7 seconds ahead of the girl going into mile 19.

Mile 19:  6:25....okay, um, this is way off.  (we basically went down an exit ramp, but my watch AND the two guys' watches beeped for the mile split at the top of the exit ramp...and then we still had to curve around to get to the this is where the course became long)  UM, as we hit the off 19mile mark, this girl is now attempting to not only repass me, but also have a conversation with me ("are you from around here?" "No, Illinois, you?" "Oh, Ohio."). Whaaaat??? And then white singlet arm warmer guy asked me if I had raced Huntsville (ironically enough, one of my teammates from college whose blog I follow is actually doing that race!!) as multiple people had cheered "Go Jacqui" for me...I'm sure he was thinking of the phenomenal Jackie Pirtle-Hall, but I was flattered that he thought I was that good :)
Mile 20: 6:34...this is where the race begins.  Get away from this girl now.  You've GOT this.  This is YOUR day.  You dragged your husband out here to watch you ROCK a race, not get beat in the last 10k.  Let's GO.  Blue singlet arm warmer guy and I broke away.
Mile 21: about consistent.  If I can keep this pace, I'm looking at a 2:51...SWEET!
Mile 22: 6:34...well, not bad, but probably a 2:52 at this pace.  Which is still a HUGE PR so YES!!!
Mile 23: 6:34...OMG, Ryan!!!! How happy am I to see the love of my life?! Best "almost done with your marathon" surprise ever!! Ryan told me the girl was fading a bit but to keep up my pace, so I tried my hardest to do so.

Mile 24: 6:33...YES! Ry, I'm SO close to being able to give you a huge hug, I can't even wait!!! A guy in a blue long-sleeve passed me at this point and I went with him for a bit...until we met up with the 1/2 marathoners and had to weave in and out of them (well, technically one lane was for us and one was for them, but they apparently didn't get that memo).
Mile 25:, whaaaaat??? FOCUS, girl. Now is NOT the time to blow up! At this point, a bicycle (race official) came up and brought me in, which was nice because then all of the 1/2 marathoners that were on the wrong part of the course moved over so I could get through.  I also passed a 1/2 marathoner with "this is my first half marathon" on her back, and congratulated her.  The look on her face just about made me break down...she was SO happy to get that encouragement, I wanted to just stop and run her in!!!
Mile 26: 6:32....a little too late, but at least back in the 6:30s.  You are SO close to finishing this thing. And PRing BIG!  Kind of cool that my last mile was what my overall average pace was!
Mile 26.2:  1:38 (6:32 pace)/1:33 (6:04 pace)....YES, YES, YES!!!!!  The reason I have two .2 splits listed is because I split my watch at where the 26.2 actual mileage is.  I knew at 19, when my watch showed 19.3 that it might be a little long.  I finished the course with a 26.51 on my Garmin and a few other people reported similar distances to me...there were a lot of turns, and with the 1/2 marathoners I know it was hard to run the tangents, but I did just want to see what I ran for an exact 26.2 so decided to split my watch.  It would have been a 2:51:51, so that's kinda cool:)

Thanking my blue singlet arm warmer friend (he ran like 8-23 with me!)

I think after having a race like this, my biggest words of wisdom would have to be that running with others truly makes SUCH a difference in a race.  I know there are a lot of times when this isn't possible, but when it is, I will always take advantage of it.  Even if it's the person you're competing against, having SOMEONE there with you really helps you mentally and physically.  For me, when I was running with blue singlet arm warmer guy, the miles just FLEW by!  I'd look up and see the next mile without even realizing it until my watch beeped.

I also am weird (according to Ryan) and "play" certain songs in my head to make time go by faster.  My playlist went like this (and some were randomly thrown in because spectators would be playing them, and the song sounded good enough for me to get it stuck in my head):

Mile 1--let's get it started, black eyed peas
Mile 2, 3--kesha's new one, die young
Mile 4, 5--california girls, katy perry
Mile 6--ghetto superstar (yeah, bringing back the 90s, thanks mister spectator!!!)
Mile 7,8--we found love, rihanna
Mile 9, 10--without you, david guetta/pitbull
Mile 11, 12--california girls, katy perry (they were wide awake, but that's too slow to run to)
Mile 13, 14--we found love, rihanna (got back in my head again)
Mile 15, 16--blend of TSwift as someone was playing her songs
Mile 17,18,19--live while we're young, one direction (hey, it's catchy)
Mile 20,21--train song...hey soul sister, was playing...that's a hard one to get out of your head
Mile 22,23--can't remember these two for the life of me!!!
Mile 24,25,26--locked out of heaven, bruno mars (LOVE the beat!)

On another note, I did frequently think about those unable to run the New York City Marathon this weekend.  Ryan was actually supposed to be out there (PowerBar convention followed by racing); his trip got canceled on Thursday, so he was able to work all day Friday and then come with me to Indy because of it thankfully.  Hopefully all who were supposed to run NYC realize that there are much bigger things happening in that city right now and the people in that city need to recover before being able to host a marathon.  I know that the race being canceled less than 48 hours in advance was a very poor decision (whether political or not), but it was without a doubt the right one.  I sincerely hope that the funds that the marathon received will be used toward relief efforts of those affected by Sandy.  Please keep all of those people in your prayers as the recovery process will be long and they can use all of the help they can get.  Finally, hope all who ran the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k today enjoyed it and got some yummy chocolate at the end.

Hopefully I'll be updating my blog within the next week or so with an exciting announcement for next year... :)


WendyCity Productions said...

You have the heart of a champion, no matter what the finish line clock says! I'm so proud of you on so many levels. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for you!

jacqui said...

Awww, thank you Wendy!!! I can't wait either--I want to be a success story in your film :)