Two Fridays ago, Coach Bill came and swam with Ryan and me. He worked on us with our form and pointed out things that we can do to help us get faster. We had a workout to do consisting of 2 sets of 7x200 with :20 rest the first round, :10 rest the second round. Bill had told me times to hit, and, while I was hitting them, it was obvious I was getting tired.
He changed my second set to 100s instead and had me do those at a slightly faster pace. He told me I had it in me to hit sub-1:40, but that I needed to believe it and really push myself through it. He told me I was getting comfortable and pushing more at tempo speed than race pace, and that's not the point of the workout. So, a bit angered by this comment, I KILLED those 100s. And then he was happy.
While I may have come out of that workout frustrated and annoyed at Bill, I have to say the lesson has worked miracles on my training.
Last weekend, I ran the Lakefront 10mile. I ran most of the race with my teammate Columba, which was great. On mile 5, she pulled a little ahead, and I just kept telling myself I'd catch back up to her if I just focused on good form and staying positive. I did, and we ran together for almost the rest of the race.
Ironically, a very similar thing happened this weekend at the U of I 1/2 marathon.
As I've mentioned here before, Bill has our cycle divided up into four weeks: 1hard, 2harder, 3hardest, 4recovery week. This past week was our recovery week, so we had briefly talked to him about possibly racing the 1/2 at U of I as it had special meaning to us. Not only did we both go there/meet there, but I knew I had the potential of getting the course record (1:19:59) and that made me pretty excited.
On Wednesday, I threw some pickups in during my run and felt AWFUL. Like seriously awful. I told Ryan to can U of I and that we'd just do the recovery week as planned. He reminded me that we'd be fresh going into this and that I still could PR after seeing what I've done so far this season. I had just seen Earl on Tuesday to fix my hips as I could tell during Saturday's 10miler that they were out of alignment again. Sure enough, he showed me that they were off...and adjusted them to make me feel good again! Friday I threw some pickups in again and told Ryan I didn't want to race. He didn't listen and we drove down to Champaign anyway.
It took us FOREVER to get there as I had to drive to the city to pick up Ryan from the event he was working before we could head down. I was starting to feel antsy and think that our late arrival would worsen the feeling of my legs the next day.
We arrived, dropped our bags off in our (SMOKING) hotel room (yuck), and headed out to eat. A restaurant that I had worked at, Jim Gould's, had been replaced and they had BISON--my preferred pre-race meal. Ryan and I pulled in the parking lot and spotted the Polar rep's car, not connecting the two until....we were probably 20minutes into dinner and I realized, as talking to Ryan, that our former teammates Brian and Tim (plus their Polar rep friend, Tim) were sitting right behind us! Brian realized it just as I did and called out to me. It was a pleasant surprise and super fun to catch up. This made me a little more excited about racing the next day.
5:30am Saturday, we left our hotel room to make sure we'd get parking and a proper warm-up in before hitting the 7am start. When we went into the athlete's room, I saw my running friend Julie Ralston and was able to catch up with her for a bit, which is always nice:) As we were leaving to do our warmup, I ran into another running friend, Marisa, who's fiancé would be racing (and eventually winning) the marathon. I was so excited to get to catch up for a few minutes with these girls!
Ryan and I warmed up, did some drills and strides, and headed to the start. Right at 7:00, the gun went off....and so did the girls.
Mile 1--5:52. Downhill start, everyone's going fast. Whatever, no big deal.
Mile 2--5:56. Umm, probably shouldn't be running sub-6's this early in the race.
Mile 3--6:00. I'm okay with this. At this point, our group of three girls turned into a group of two girls...who were lucky enough to run with probably 8 other guys.
Mile 4--6:02. Feelin' my groove. Not sure who this female is that I'm running with. Must not be from Illinois. Hmm...
Mile 5--5:53. This is when the girl (Christina) started to pull away a bit. This is also where Columba started to pull away from me last time. "She's going to drop back/you're going to catch up. We started off too fast and it's gonna only hurt your legs by keeping up with her." Downed a chocolate PowerGel here in hopes of some instant energy--I'm thinking it worked.
Mile 6--5:51. Yeah, um, she for sure ran a 5:45 for this mile. She is definitely out of my league. Stay within striking distance though; ya never know.
**I looked at my watch at 6.25 to see 37:10...and immediately told one of the guys I was running with (a running friend, Paul Erickson) "that's cool, I just ran a 10k PR in this 1/2 marathon. neat"
Mile 7--6:05. That darn incline got me out of my groove. Stay tough, you've GOT this. (Christina is about 30seconds ahead at this point). Heyyy, all I have to do is run 6:10s and I'm gonna get a new PR. Yeahhhh, this is amazing!
Mile 8--5:59. Right back in it. Both of us are running the same pace, I can close the gap.
Mile 9--5:56. Running through "Statues Park" felt great, but the turns probably cost me a little time.
Mile 10--6:00. Keep it up! 5k to go. Holy crap, 1:00:04, I just ran a 10mile PR! Yikes!!
**Fellow U of I alum and track/xc member Dan Walters (cheering on his wife Allie) passed me on his bike at this point, yelling to me to catch the girl...Dan, thank you. I needed that push.
Mile 11--6:02. She's less than 20seconds in front! GO legs GO!!!
Mile 12--6:04. Dang it! 15 seconds! Why can't I run any faster?!?!?!?
Mile 13--5:52. Seriously giving it all that I have. Almost tripped here, twice. Embarrassing.
.1--1:13 (5:35 pace).
First place female's final time--1:18:41.
There is NOTHING worse than watching someone else win something you have wanted SO badly and that means so much to you.
BUT, as heartbreaking as that was....the look on Ryan's face made me forget that I was 2nd.
He was STUNNED that I not only broke 1:20, but also broke 1:19. And shattered my old 1/2 marathon time by 2min 5seconds. And then he told me he WON and I about lost it. Seriously almost started crying happy tears. I was SO incredibly proud of him!
Have to also give a HUGE shout out to my friend Julie Ralston who made a KILLER comeback and ran a 1:23 1/2....incredible. Another shout out to Julie Wankowski for her huge comeback as well-- after enduring a stress fracture, she bounces back and runs her 2nd fastest marathon ever. A big congrats to Camille Herron (Facebook friend who I finally had the pleasure of meeting in person!) on her marathon win in a blazin' 2:45! And finally, to my favorite relay team out there--Megan Hode, you guys (and birthday boy Todd, who ran the 10k Friday and marathon Saturday) freakin' rock!
I've discovered a few things from this weekend:
1. Swimming after last week's Lakefront 10 had to have done wonders on my legs. Well, that plus the type of training we do. But the swim for sure flushed out a bunch of junk.
2. It's possible to run PRs within races, which is pretty cool.
3. Running with people makes everything a million times easier than running solo.
4. Triathlon training has turned me into a faster, stronger runner.
5 (and most importantly). If you're strong mentally, you can do ANYTHING physically. I just proved that today.
Thank you so much to all of my friends and family who support me like crazy. I seriously would not be able to run (and I guess bike and swim:)) like I have been able to without your support and encouragement.