12 weeks, 13.1 miles, and 4 minutes

Doesn’t this picture say, “I’m so glad I paid money for the chance to pound pavement for two hours?”

Ok, I kid, because it was totally worth it. Team FWhale (me and Andrew, as well as the memory of Matt’s knees) ran a half marathon in Newport this morning. This was my second time through the ol’ 13.1, but this time… I did it four minutes faster (1:52:58 was my official time).

So. Excited.

Before the jump, let’s do the “Hey, some people think running is boring, and they sure as heck think reading about running is boring,” disclaimer. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, no hurt feelings here if you want to bail & come back later this week for food sans Sauconys. But if you want to hear about my trip to Crazy Town down the hill into the end of mile 13, carry on.

Four minutes doesn’t sound like a lot – I mean, really, that’s about as long as it takes to throw a bowl of microwave oatmeal together. But after spending 12 weeks running up and down hills, sprinting in speed intervals, and slogging through weekend long runs, not spending another four minutes in the race is pretty awesome.

Team FWhale at the finish

When I trained for Providence, I didn’t have a time goal in mind and just ran through the mileage for each training week. But this time, I wanted to get faster and used a training plan from No Meat Athlete that was lower mileage but higher intensity. Honestly, I doubted this approach several times over the twelve weeks, and as recently as last night I was telling Tim that I didn’t feel prepared for the halfathon.

But, as I ran up that &%#!ing 80-foot climb early on and then repeatedly over the rolling hills of the Newport course, I found myself thinking, “THIS is why I did all that hill work.” Every time a song came on my playlist that I had picked because the BPM matched my target-pace cadence, I was so glad I did those short but instructive tempo runs.

Andrew & me at the start

I still had the moments of doubt during the race, same as in my first halfathon. In Providence, it was around mile 12, but in Newport it was mile 10. At that point, I started thinking, “Well, walking from here isn’t a DNF; that’d be fine.” I’m not sure what helped get me through: my second energy gel kicking in; the 20-second walk reviving me; or the mental math that I could match my PR just by running 10-minute miles from there. But I kept going, and when I suddenly found myself at the top of that ^$%&#!ing hill from early in the race, I headed straight for Crazy Town.

By which I mean, I started running hard and just flat out yelling. I knew it was roughly a half mile to the finish, and my legs felt good, so I went for it. And that wasn’t easy, so there were a lot of outbursts. Mostly G-rated. All probably like a crazy person. At one point, I was about to unload some language unbecoming of a middle-aged suburban mom, and caught myself in time to instead yell (verbatim), “Long string of expletives!!!” I finally hit the straightaway, ran through the cowbell-ringing crowd, and crossed the line four minutes ahead of my PR.

Ok, back on topic, sort of. I prequeled the nutrition plan in an earlier post, and by & large I stuck to it.

In the morning, I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor in our hotel, eating Cream of Wheat from a measuring cup, trying not to wake up Tim and Miles. During the race, I carried my water bottle & drank most of the 22 ounces (plus a little table salt to replace sodium) and ate two chia-seed energy gels (at 30 minutes and at 1 hour 20 minutes). Post-race, we met up with Tim and Miles, who once again brought me my recovery smoothie.

Despite the mocking teasing I got from Andrew & Tim – who called my gels “hippy heroin bags” and just made some gagging noises about my smoothie – I’m pretty happy with the homemade concoctions. The gels, especially, are about 1000% better than those antifreeze-tasting chompy things.

Right now, though, the only thing I’m interesting in consuming is this large glass of red wine sitting next to me. So I’m going to get going on that, and will return with some non-sweaty, no-running recipe stuff later this week.

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