Sunday, June 2, 2013

North Shore Half recap

Let me start out short and sweet: Finished, loved it, feel great - so glad I did this!

Longer version:

I wouldn't have been doing this race, but a friend of mine offered me her bib when she accidentally double booked herself for both the North Shore Half and a half out in San Diego. Unsurprisingly she opted for San Diego (and did awesome!) which left her bib for the North Shore Half open. This just seemed like fate - it was a race I really wanted to do but couldn't justify full price for because ... well... I couldn't run it competitively. I couldn't try for a PR. And I just felt like with as expensive as the race is, if I can't give it my all..we just couldn't justify paying for it :( I hated that because I really wanted to do it, but it made sense. My husband chose, after we decided that I couldn't, to run the race (...after not being interested in before? ....) and so I never really stopped obsessing over it - so when she offered her bib I just...felt like fate. Even though I was undertrained, I knew I could finish it - and I really wanted to go out on a more positive note than Lincoln. (So Jennifer - again, thank you. REALLY really grateful!)

After arranging childcare and confirming I could run I started planning and really thinking about what went wrong at Lincoln. I decided that my problems were two-fold:

1) Pacing - I overestimated my pregnant body's abilities and paced myself in a way that caused me to short circuit after 10 miles. This wasn't intentional, of course - when your body changes fast, your capabilities change fast too and sometimes your capability changes before you've caught on. But adapting was going to require taking a VERY realistic look at what I can do hauling a much bigger pregnant belly than I did last time.
2) Attitude - when I realized my body wasn't capable of 13.1 that day, instead of accepting that I still completed a half and that by itself, I got mad at myself. I got angsty and felt like I failed. And in retrospect - this wasn't true. I didn't fail - I finished. I'm pregnant and my body can't currently do everything it did before in the same way it used to. But because my head wasn't in the right space, I robbed myself of fun - which is really unfortunate, because it was my last run with my husband (he's ramping up marathon training, and pregnancy is slowing me down) and I didn't get to enjoy it like I wish I had.

So going into this, I planned to start at 3:2 run/walk intervals - running the run intervals comfortably so as not to stress my body, and drop down to 1:1 when that started to feel like work, with the caveat of dropping down further if that proved to start feeling like work too.

But more importantly, I planned to eke every bit of fun out of this I could. Funny signs? I wanted pictures.

Sadly, it rained almost the entire race, so this group was the only one holding signs not meant for a specific person (like the ones that read, Go Mommy!). But I laughed with them and said they were the only ones holding signs, could I get a pic? They were excited - I was the only one who asked them to get one!

Kids who wanted high fives? They were gonna get them. Volunteers and course directors? I chatted and joked. I talked to runners around me. And more importantly - I don't think the smile slipped off my face except at the mega hill around 7.25ish. I literally grinned, as rain poured, as it drizzled, as the miles ticked by. I was happy to be out there, and it showed. Photographers even commented on it, because each time I saw one I threw my arms in the air as I ran past; I was already grinning, but probably grinned even wider.

I won't bother breaking down how the miles passed - my time wasn't a goal (although I suspected if I planned it carefully I could beat my Lincoln time - that wasn't a goal, just a hunch - if I hadn't done it I wouldn't have cared). I will offer these awesome highlights:

  • The course was awesomely supported - aid/potty/water-gatorade stops every 1.5-2miles mostly. The bathroom stops made this pregnant woman VERY happy - I thought I'd need each one and was never so happy to see a portopotty in my life than I was at mile 1.75ish. That was awkwardly worded, but you get the idea. Props to RAM racing!
  • Mile 5.5 was the best part of the first half. You know why? I got to see Kim! I didn't notice her at first - she was helping direct racers on the course, and while I knew she was volunteering I for some reason thought she'd be at a water stop so wasn't looking for her there. I had a present for her, but was so caught off guard that I forgot it until about a quarter mile after I passed her! :( Sorry Kim but it was so cool to see you - I have NO idea why but as soon as you called my name I totally knew your voice, it sounded just like you. (I don't know what that means, but my brain totally recognized your voice!) And let me say - she was pretty rad with the cowbell. MOAR COWBELL PLZ.
  • I ran 3:2 intervals the first hour, and 1:1 the second. Into the third I did a mix - mostly 1:1, but towards the end I did some 30 second walks and runs, and then some 1:2s - I could have run longer but it was more important to me to run to the end, so I added more walking. I'm glad I did; it let me finish the race running, which is something I hadn't managed at Lincoln. It was important to me to never stress during this race - I wanted it to be fun. If I was starting to huff and puff, that's not fun - so I didn't do it. Period. And it worked out perfectly :) 
  • I felt bad when I passed people....there were a couple people who groaned out loud when I'd pass them and I knew it was the obvious baby belly causing that reaction. There was one guy who kept glancing between my face and my stomach when I'd be next to him and groan when I passed - I don't know if he even realized he was doing it out loud. He tried so hard to run past me but...he was clearly out of gas :( I did take a bathroom break at the end so he might have passed me then, but he sure caused some guilt, haha!

I ended up finishing in 3:10:31, which is about 2:15 faster than Lincoln. Not intentional, but didn't surprise me either - my attitude was better and I was a lot more careful AND mindful of my body. I had an absolute blast, smiling until the end. (Except the monster hill. I did walk most of the uphills that were more than gentle and smiled, but that monster - even walking it had me out of breath! Rude!) The course was awesome and so well supported, and I couldn't have asked for better weather - mid 50s and drizzly. Rain is usually not something to hiope for but I really think it helped me manage my temps better - I overheat really easily right now, which is why heat running hasn't been happening, and it helped keep me cool.

If I have a negative, it's that I ran under a friend's bib. I didn't realize until the day before that you're not allowed to transfer your bib - I'd heard of other runners using a friend's bib and it didn't really occur to me until I came across the tidbit on the website when I was looking up packet pickup info. I feel bad about that in retrospect; I'm not a rule breaker by nature and I am a little uncomfortable with it. Totally my fault and nothing to do with the race itself, but I do feel bad that I did that.

But, I'm overall very glad I did this race. I proved that I haven't lost all my fitness, and I got to go out for distance racing on a -fun- note, with a positive attitude. I felt very very accomplished at that finish line :)

Awkward belt is awkward, but there's no where else for it to go - it's wear it like this or go without! 

Very obviously pregnant, 22w2d in these pictures, but can you tell how happy I was? And I have to say - all the rain made my hair look a lot nicer post race than it usually does, since it was damp! :P


  1. Way to go Heather- that's super impressive! Sounds like a really well done race! I will have to keep this one in mind for next year...I like that it is early on in the summer so it isn't too hot yet! And those posters are hilarious!!

    1. Thank you! I heard last year it was pretty hot, but the course has a lot of tree cover in a lot of places so I imagine that helps shield - it helped shield from the rain a bit too. I bet it's probably a hit or miss race in terms of weather since it's early enough that it really could be cool or horribly hot, but I loved the course support and thought RAM did an awesome job. They get a lot of flack usually so I do want to give them props.

      One weird thing was a water stop at 12.5 miles - while I personally was grateful because being pregnant I needed the portopotty, it seemed like for most people it was a weird place for it!

  2. Yay! What a great race! I love how you changed your attitude going in to this and had such a great walk:run plan! :) You totally rocked it! Ha ha. I am not surprised you were getting groans when you were passing people.

    Too funny that that gal put her # on the poster! LOL!

    It was so nice to see you! You were looking great! I am excited for seeing you for more than a passing moment. Hee hee.

    There are hardly any races that allow bib transfers! I can see why they don't, but it's so nice since a lot of people sign up and have to back out.

    1. I have to admit I am still buzzed about this race, I had such a great time and just...feel so much better after this one than Lincoln, both physically and mentally! I almost want to do it again but with summer heating up I think my plan to retire to 10ks and 5ks is probably best lol.

      I know! I almost didn't put the picture up because of that but then I decided, my blog is tiny and she willingly posed for the pic so I don't think I'm exposing her to anything, lol!

      Me too - we definitely have to meet up! I am trying to figure out if 6/21 works but crossing fingers.

      I didn't realize that! I'd heard of so many people doing it that it just didn't occur to me. I know it's still but I still feel guilty over it, lol.

  3. Amazing-- great work and doing this all while you are preggers-- Awesome!