PRs for everyone at the SunTrust National Half!

28 Mar

One year after we ran the SunTrust National Marathon — our first 26.2 race ever — Epod, Heather, and I were back at RFK on Sunday to race the event again.  This time, though, we “only” did the half.

Eight months after they moved to Denver, Heather and her boyfriend D were back in DC to visit and run the National Half.  Their goals were to beat a certain time, maybe even get a PR.  My goal?  To run the whole race pain-free.

Also, to not fall while filming it:

Race week started with a couple of 5+-mile runs that felt great.  I had been icing and stretching and foam-rolling my right knee all week, determined not to fall apart at the end of the half on Saturday.  By Friday, I was feeling strong and confident as we went to the Stadium Armory for packet pickup.

There, I met a couple of giants in the racing world.  Kara Goucher, who’s running Boston next month and who seemed genuinely excited to meet me (celebrities sure seem taller in person):

And Dana Casanave, who last year raised thousands of dollars for an African charity by running 52 marathons in 52 weeks last year.  She gave a really inspirational speech and was super nice to random people approaching her and asking for photos (also, VERY tall):

On race eve, Epod, Heather, D, and I went to Pasta Mia for a carbo-loading dinner.  We consumed two bottles of wine, two baskets of bread, and four plates of enough pasta to feed a small village.  Seriously, we could have split one dish and I still would have eaten enough glycogen to get me through the race.  But since I’m not a quitter, I ate way too much and followed dinner up with a few beers at a buddy’s BBQ that evening (not the way to get a PR, by the way).

I had trouble sleeping and woke up at 4:30am on Saturday groggy and bleary-eyed.  I picked up Kate and we all drove to the madness that was RFK, where no one knew anything about parking or where to go but where we luckily found a spot on East Capitol that a cop implied would “probably” be OK to park in.

We hung out and stretched for a while inside Stadium Armory (and admired the hell out of Kate’s awesome running tights) before we headed out to the cold to start the race.

My goal, like I said, really was to just run pain-free.  For the first time in a while, I had no number in my head when it came to a time goal, so it felt sort of liberating not to worry about a quantifiable target.  I knew that if I ran too hard and aggravated my IT band, I would be pissed at myself.  And I knew I couldn’t break my PR of 1:54:44 so I decided to just have fun.

This goal was further cemented by the fact that there would be a huge hill around mile 7 that would wipe me out if I didn’t conserve enough energy.  Running up Connecticut and Columbia avenues is not the most fun aspect of running; luckily, there is so much support from Dupont to Adams Morgan that the time flies by.

Race support matters so much it’s almost surprising.  Random strangers cheering you on just makes you happier and you (subconsciously, at least) run better hearing their cheers.

I also had several friends who came out to watch:  MJ at mile 4 on Constitution Ave, and Ryan and Nicole both at mile 7-ish on Columbia.  I like to stop and say hi when I see friends but they seem to think I’m in a hurry or something and often make me keep going.  How about a breather, come on!

By mile 9, I was dragging and it was all too easy to walk a bit longer during water breaks.  But at mile 9.3, just as I was about to eat my second serving of shot blocks, I felt a hard slap on my ass as a runner flew by, her blonde ponytail swinging side-to-side.  “Fuck!” I yelled as I realized Epod, who had taken an early 3-minute port-a-pottie break, had caught up and passed me.

No time for shot blocks, I thought, my competitive juices flowing.  I cannot let her beat me.  I picked up the pace and started to trail her in the hopes of reeling her in.

Yet step after step, I could not catch her.  Her stride looked effortless and I knew she was running a special race.  Passing her would just be a dick move, I thought, even if I could catch up to her.  By mile 12.5, when I knew my knee would be OK, I finally ran faster and caught her.

We ran the rest of the way together, with Epod showing a surprising kick that left me in the dust the last few yards.  We ran the last mile or so at an 8:45 pace and finished with the same chip time of 2:08:38.

It was my third slowest half marathon time but one of my most enjoyable.  It was Epod’s PI-PR (post-injury personal record), which gave her a runner’s high the rest of the day.

We got through the clusterfuck of the finish line and food tent and met up with D and Heather, who ran a PR of 1:42:04 (maybe a slight hangover is good for running).  We also saw MJ, who I know wished she had been able to run it with us.

We warmed up inside the Armory and then went back out to cheer on Kate, who was running her first full marathon.  We saw her just as she crossed the finish line in 3:27:56 and had so much energy she was reportedly dancing at mile 16.

Kate invited us to her place for  a post-race brunch.  One of the great benefits of running is how tasty food is after a long race.  We scarffed down cookies, quiche, fruit, banana bread, and mimosas like it was going out of style.

When we got home that afternoon, Epod and I fell asleep and snoozed for I don’t know how many hours before waking up around 6pm.  It was a great race day, one I won’t forget anytime soon.

Next race?  Cherry Blossom 10-miler this Sunday!

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14 Responses to “PRs for everyone at the SunTrust National Half!”

  1. Epod March 28, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    I’ll tell you a secret: I’m *still* on a runner’s high – at least every time I think about the race.

  2. Beth @ 990 Square March 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I always seem to run just a little bit faster when I’m hung over…

    Thanks for coming by and checking out my RR on the Relay. Although we did have a lot of fun, the race didn’t get a lot of points in my book for organization, especially for the relay. And the finish line area was a complete mess. Still, our team was happy with our time and the experience!

    • DC Runographer March 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      Hangover running seems to work in mysterious ways!

  3. Heather C March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    “maybe a slight hangover is good for running” – And to quote you, Annapolis 10-miler 2009, thank you for teaching me this lesson! To be fair, I drink enough water before bed that I never *feel* hungover the next day…maybe that’s the trick?

    Such a kickass weekend, we’re pretty good at this running (+ eating + mimosas) thing.

    • DC Runographer March 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Also, going to bed early. No matter how much you drink, it’s lack of sleep that’ll kill ya.

  4. Dana Casanave March 29, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Great write up and glad I got to meet you at the expo! The boots I was wearing gave me a couple extra inches so my tall factor is limited to just 5’10” without them 🙂

    Keep running strong and enjoy the cherry blossom race this weekend!

    P.S – love the medal this year – really cool!

  5. Katy March 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Wow, Kara IS tall 🙂

    What a cool race! I wish I was better at running with people, but my one and only time running with a friend, it was a disaster. I’m really an iPod in, all others sounds out kinda girl.

    • DC Runographer March 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      I definitely need to alternate, even in training, between running alone, running with friends, and running with the girlfriend. This time, it was fun being pushed to go faster.

  6. Bekah @ runtrackmind April 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    I just came across your blog and was so excited to see your National Half video and to discover that runography exists. Having run the half too, it really brought back the great feelings I had during the race. So creative!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] it was my cool new swim cap that I picked up at the SunTrust National Marathon expo.  Maybe it was because there were several cute girls watching.  Or maybe it was the numerous […]

  2. Looking at me, I’m yogaing! « DC Runographer - April 1, 2011

    […] week, while Heather and D were visiting DC for the SunTrust National Half Marathon, I commended her on the yoga progress she had […]

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