Thursday, October 01, 2009

Back of of the pack

Here's my long overdue report from the Women's Half Marathon back on 9/12. I started it soon after and had to change the first line from 'this past weekend' to 'last weekend' to 'a couple weekends ago'. I'm not changing it anymore. Enjoy!

A couple weekends ago I completed the Women's Half Marathon for the second year in a row. It's a great event put on by the VHTRC and is used by many as an introduction to trail running. For my girlfriend, it wasn't an introduction to the Bull Run-Occoquan Trails as we've traipsed over the dirt and roots many times, but her first ever race, with a bib pinned on her shirt, road or trail. For the past few years she's been by my side, at the next aid station, and trudging behind or on separate trails while I was out training for the next epic fail.. er, adventure. She's hiked enough miles and covered enough ground that I figured she could do the WHM and finish before the cutoff. Piece of cake!

So after enough nagging, she signed up. She signed me up as well, and said if I wanted her to do this race, then I would have to run it with her. Fine with me. I knew it was the week after The Ring and had no problem hanging in the back of the pack with her.

We headed out to Fountainhead for some training runs, doing the first out/back of the Do Loop one weekend, and the out and back to Wolf Run Shoals another weekend. Training was pretty inconsistent during the week for the both of us. I think she's been hanging around me too much and picking up on my 'run every 3 weeks' motto! Needless to say, neither of us were in the greatest shape, but knew we would finish.

After chatting with a few friends and a morning ritual of standing around and not stretching or warming up much, we were off with the rest of the ladies and quickly took hold of the back of the pack on the opening road section. Since we weren't in a rush, we walked most of this section. Upon entering the trail, we walked more to let the burning sensation in her shins ease up. Eventually it did and we started a run/walk pattern on our way to the Do Loop. We had enough beverages and snacks for the trip and passed through with a quick 'hello' to the volunteers on our way out to start the Do Loop.

We were familiar with this section and moved a tad faster since the trail was well marked and we were without the dog, so no stops to pee/mark, poop, sniff, look at things, sniff more, and mark more. At least not as many stops. It felt like any other training run and not like a race since it was so quiet with no other runners around us. It was refreshing, calming and laid back, but would soon change.

We briefly chatted with the volunteers on our way out of the Do Loop as we headed back to Fountainhead. We knew we'd make the cutoff and continued our walk/run pattern, using a runner in front of us to keep pace, and made it with 10 minutes to spare.

This next out and back section is where we missed the solitude of the Do Loop. It's great that female only races are cool and can be awe inspiring, but enough with the cheering. Seriously. No I mean it. It's cool to be all rah-rah during a road marathon or a triathlon, but lose the pom pons on the trail. I don't need to know how good I look, how I'm almost there, how I should 'go girl!', how awesome I am, that I'm doing a good job, that I rock/roc/rawk, and that I'm awesome. Okay that was me at the end telling myself that I'm awesome. I ignored it since I've somewhat used to it, but I thought my first-timer GF was going to punch someone in the face even though she kept threatening "the next person.." between gritted teeth. If I know you, it's fine to exchange pleasantries; if I don't, a grunt or a nod goes a long way. Silence is golden.

We enjoyed an ice pop, and peace and quiet, at the 2.5 mile mark, and chatted with the volunteers (who we knew!) before heading back. We walked most of this section as the lack of training reared its ugly head. Any mention of doing the race again brought replies of 'never again' and 'I'm going back to crewing'. End of discussion.

So instead of saying she ran a half marathon, my GF can say she completed one as we finished together in a snails paced 3:35. She also has her own official race shirt so she can stop borrowing all of mine.

And once the pain started to wear off, she said to me, "Y'know maybe I will try it again next year." WHAT!?!? "I mean.. I have to beat my time. And maybe I'll actually train for it."

You go, girl!


At 12:31 PM, Blogger ultrarunnergirl said...

Sweet! So glad you sweet-talked her into running. You RAWK!!! ;)


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