Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hyannis race report - hip hip hooray!

I had every intention of posting once more before the Johnny Kelley half marathon in Hyannis, but with a bad stroke of luck my internet blew up on Friday and wasn’t repaired until yesterday, when I was already at the Cape.  If I could have blogged last week, I would have given the latest and not-so-greatest update on my hip injury.  It no doubt would have left you on the edge of your seat, wondering for days “will she or won’t she run Hyannis?!”  Sorry to spoil the surprise.  I’ll just give a quickie update on the hip and move onto the race report.  (Um, surprise!)
As I’ve mentioned a time or two, I’ve been seriously stressing out over my ability to run this half marathon ever since my hip injury in April.  I’ve been able to run lightly over the last few weeks, with the exception of the week following the dreadful arthrogram, at which point I was barely able to walk.  This past week I did a few light runs, and the hip held up fairly well.  What didn’t hold up quite so well was my ability to run in the heat.  Summer arrived in New England this week, and like a typical New Englander, I will complain about the weather even when it’s perfect and just what I had been praying for.  The problem was that it just came on so fast, my body wasn’t ready for it.  Wednesday was a fairly hot run, but Todd and I ran Jaimee’s route at lunch, which turned out to be 4.5 miles (I would’ve guessed closer to 5).  It took me all afternoon to cool down after that hot run.  Then on Thursday, Todd, Kerri and I opted for the trail run.  Since it was very hot that day, we thought the trail run would be a cooler option.  It was, but the problem was the 1.5 miles in the sun down to the trail, and the 1.5 miles in the sun back from the trail.  On the way back, I was cooked.  I had to walk, and really didn’t know if I would get back to the building alive.  My heart was beating like crazy and I was just a big melting mess.  At that point I decided I won’t be running during lunch on hot days again.  It’s just not worth it.  Last summer I ran before work or after, and that was fine.  I’ll be doing that again from now on.
If it hadn’t been for the heat, I would have considered those two runs to be successful.  I had some hip pain after but not too awful, so I definitely leaned towards running Hyannis this weekend.  The final roadblock was my doctor’s appointment on Friday.  This was the follow up appointment to review the results of the MRI.  The news, as it turns out, was pretty much exactly what I expected.  I have a labral tear in my hip.  He said the type of tear I have is fairly uncommon and there aren’t a lot of surgeons that repair them, but lucky for me there’s one in the Boston area.  It may not even need surgery, but I’ll need to meet with the surgeon to discuss the pro’s and con’s of having it repaired.  He said there’s a chance that by the time I meet with the surgeon I’ll be feeling good enough that I won’t want surgery.  In the meantime, we’re going to give the steroid shot a chance to work and see how it goes.  He said there’s no problem with continuing to run lightly.  I nodded in agreement, intentionally not pressing him for specifics on his definition of “lightly”, because I thought it might trigger a debate.  I just kept nodding and solemnly swore to myself that I would run Hyannis “lightly”.
That brings us to this weekend!  Yesterday I packed up and headed to Hyannis.  It’s hard enough packing for a race, but this was my first overnight stay at a hotel the night before a race so it required extra forethought. 

Organized packing!  (3 pairs of running socks, just in case)
 I got to Hyannis, checked into my hotel, and then walked down to the town green where they were handing out race packets.  I intentionally booked a hotel within walking distance to the race, and this worked out really well.  It was a picture perfect summer afternoon and I had a nice time, although it would have been better if I had some buddies with me.  After picking up my race packet, I strolled over to Ben & Jerry’s, picked up a small ice cream, and ate it on the grass in the park.  I did lots of window shopping, scoured the streets looking for my next meal, and then went back to my hotel to rest and freshen up.  I went to a great little restaurant downtown, sat at the bar, and had bruschetta, linguine, and a glass of wine.  (And two waters!)  After dinner I relaxed in the hotel room, continued drinking lots of water, and set my two alarms for 6am. 

Had lots of spare time in the hotel room to prep for the race!
Here are a couple of my mistakes I noticed right off the bat this morning:
  1. I woke up with sore legs.  I believe this is due to the amount of walking I did last night in flip flops, which my body isn’t used to.  Which brings me to mistake #2.
  2. My feet were covered in little blisters and raw spots, due to the amount of walking I did last night in flip flops.
  3. Although I carefully set the alarm clock in the hotel room last night, I neglected to notice the time on the alarm clock was set as AM when it should have been PM.  Luckily I had set the alarm on my phone as well.  And if all else failed, the front desk was kind enough to call me at 6:30 for a wakeup call, even though I didn’t request one.  I politely thanked them and didn’t bother to tell them they dialed the wrong room.  I laughed wondering whose morning plans I just foiled.
Another oddity of my hotel room: I woke up this morning and everything in the hotel fridge was frozen.  This included my bottled water and my peanut butter sandwich I had packed for breakfast!  There’s almost nothing less appealing than eating a frozen peanut butter sandwich at 6am and washing it down with slushy water.  I managed to eat half the sandwich and tossed the rest.
At 7:15 I left my hotel room and walked to the race start.  I got there just in time to see the 5k runners starting off at 7:30.  I walked around the common for a while, drinking lots of water and eating a package of Sports Beans.  I thought about hitting the toilets but I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I know this was covered in the “things to remember” email from the race director a few days ago, and I was kicking myself for not paying closer attention.  I lined up close to the 10:00 pace section, because I knew the only way I had a shot at getting through this race would be to start slow.
Sure enough, the race started and I was SLOW.  I honestly felt like I wasn’t moving.  I was just shuffling along, not breathing hard, not sweating, and not passing a single person.  I wasn’t really thrilled about this approach but I was determined to stick to the plan to avoid the humiliating DNF.  The good thing was, now that I mastered my Garmin I’m able to track individual miles, and that would keep me in check.  Mile 1: right on target at a 9:39 pace.  Mile 2: still barely moving at 9:25.  I have to pee.
Mile 3: I swore I’d never be one of those people that can’t get through a race without hitting the outhouse, especially in the first 20 minutes of a race.  I broke that rule today though.  I figured, if I’m already running slow anyways and not trying to PR, then who cares if I lose another minute or two?  I spotted the outhouse and made a beeline to it.  The stop was totally worth it.  I felt like a million bucks afterward.  It was like Clark Kent went in, and Superman came out.  Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but still I felt pretty refreshed.  I immediately picked up the pace and it didn’t take me long to catch back up to people I had been running with earlier.  Mile 3’s pace was 10:40, which is pretty good considering the pit stop.
Miles 4-7 I continued to take it slow, averaging about a 9:20 pace.  I didn’t want to edge my speed up until I was well past the halfway point.  At Mile 8 I started to speed up and clocked my first sub-9:00 mile.  Miles 9-12 were all right around a 9:00 pace.  When I hit the 13th mile, it was so refreshing feeling like I still had gas in the tank.  I easily increased my speed and hit the last mile in 8:40.  I was absolutely thrilled to see I finished the race in 2:02:29, and felt great when I crossed the finish line!  When I started the race so slowly, I thought I’d be lucky to cross in 2:10.  I never imagined I’d be just over 2 hours.
I remember back to New Bedford when I finished feeling horrible, depleted, and sick.  I wanted so badly to erase that race with a strong finish.  Today’s finish may not have been a PR, but it was a huge accomplishment in several ways:

  • I finished the race feeling great.  I felt like I just finished a run, not a half marathon.  After crossing the finish line I grabbed water and two hot dogs, and sat in the park.
  • I stuck to my plan by starting off slow and gradually increasing my speed over the second half of the course.  This is the first time I’ve actually successfully done this, and it was a phenomenal feeling passing people constantly in the last three miles of the race.  I need to do this for all races going forward.
  • I completed this race even without logging a long run since Mid-April
  • Um, hello… I just ran a half marathon with a torn hip! (“lightly”)

If you want to check out the course, click here.  What this link won’t show you is the JFK memorial, the Hy-line ferry, the salt marshes, the yacht club, the rocky piers, or the sweet smell of salty ocean air.  It also won’t show you the GIANT tom turkey that stood still on someone’s front lawn honking at us as we all went by.  He appeared to be a seasoned spectator!  That you have to experience for yourself.

If anyone is ever looking for a fun way to spend Memorial Day on the Cape, I highly recommend this race.  The Johnny Kelley Half Marathon is one of three races that all take place at the same location, as part of the “Great Hyannis Road Races”.  The other options are the 5K and a 7.2 miler.  But if you only do the 7.2 miler, you are going to miss out on 6 beautiful miles of Cape Cod scenery.  And if you only do the 5K, you are going to miss out on 10 miles of beautiful Cape Cod scenery.   I’m just sayin’…

Feeling surprisingly refreshed after the race

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