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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Aramco Half Marathon - Houston

My hip problems (Bursitis!) and illness (Bronchitis!) leading up to the race left me feeling less than positive.  Seems like the last 2 years it's been something, every, single, race.  (Just another reason my decision to cut-back and get healthy makes more sense!) I decided I was going to agree with OC's theory that those mysterious aches and pains you feel race week really do go away just as mysteriously as they appeared.

My only goal for this was to try not to focus on all the negative.  Enjoy the experience (as much as I can enjoy running!) and do my best to stick to my plan.  I suppose in the back of my mind I had lesser expectations because of the state of my health, so maybe it made it easier for me to relax.  Well, relative to how much one can really "relax" before running a half or full marathon?!?  There is too much excitement.  Too much to going on.  It is almost overwhelming. I mean come on!  The 2012 Olympic Trials were right here in Houston.  Everyone was pumped!

For Saturday, MC's athletes were instructed to avoid downtown, and if you just had to go watch, bring chairs.  Off your feet and rest!  I ran a few errands, sat on my arse when I could (I am a Mom, it's not much!) and watched the highlights of the trials on NBC.  I found it surprising how exciting it was for me to watch!  Suffice it to say I teared up watching the 4th place finishers miss their goal of qualifying for the Olympic team representing the USA.  With that, I knew was ready to go.  Not ready go as in qualify for an Olympic team, but I was motivated enough to get through my challenge of 13.1 the next day.:)

One of my friends had texted me a quote earlier in the week that I just couldn't let go of.  It just resonated with me loud and clear.  I decided it would be my "mantra" for the day.  So I made a reminder to serve me during the race. Sharpie + Skin + Portable Motivation.

"You are better than you think you are.
You can do more than you think you can."


I know.  Sounds so easy.  So simple.  Yet I forget this very thing, every race.  It is quite astonishing how quickly old, negative, thoughts from the past flood my mind if I don't stay present.  In my head I hear, "You can't do that, you're too fat."  "Oh, but your weight... you'l never..."  It's quite maddening to me that you can do all this "self-help" to get right in the head, but can crater in an instant.  I can go back there, to that negative place, so easily, and I feel terrible about myself all over again.  Just when you think you've finally taught yourself to be kinder, nicer to yourself, you find out otherwise when faced with a challenge.  "How's that workin' for ya?"  It's freakin' hard work!  I figured by now it would be easier!!

I got a couple night's of good sleep leading up to the race so it was rise and shine as normal.  We met up with our group for bit, then headed out to the Start.  After the gun went off it was about 10 minutes until our Corral was let loose. 

I ran the first mile with a friend, which was the first sign I was starting out way too fast, since I don't run as fast as she does.  LOL  I just figured, "I'll calm down in a bit."  "I'll find MY pace.  Well, the 5K mark came and went (with a PR).  I hit 5 miles in 1:03 (Usually 1:08 - WTH?!?) and the 10K mark came and went (another PR).  I knew I would be toast later.

Sometime after mile 8/9, my Legs started to feel a little heavy and I had been waiting for my Hip to start bugging me (like a RunGirl) so that thought was in my head.  Go away!!!

On Miles 12 and 13, I was tanking with 14+ minute miles; I took a few longer walk breaks when I started having more trouble breathing with my HR around 170-175, which is not normally a problem.  (I don't think I was totally recovered from Bronchitis -- post race I was coughing up a ton of junk.)

The last 500 ft. to the finish I gave it everything I had left and it hurt, I couldn't breath, thought my legs were going to collapse under me. It was awesome! Then I see this guy.  An announcer right in the middle of the chute.  I was like, "Wait a second... I know him?"  "But who the heck is he and why is he right in the middle of the chute?!"  It was Mike Reilly (The voice of Ironman) and he said my name -- MY NAME!  I was thinking, "Wait!  I know that voice?!" I couldn't comprehend until I finished when I turned around and saw him.  I mean I heard him running in, but it just didn't add up until I crossed the finish and looked behind me! It was kind of funny!

Time was 2:52:56 -- just :13 longer than RunGirl 13.1, my last PR.  Not bad a bad day considering all the factors... but man, I know it can be better!

Uh, Mike... you're not off the hook. You and I have a date in the future at a 140.6 event, where you will say my name again. :)


I can honestly say this was the first running race where I actually had a good time at. I mean I enjoyed everything -- every one of the 4 Elvis', the purple fairies, the clowns, the smells, the big foamy-haired cheering squad, the bands, the signs, the smiles and the cheers.  I realized on this run how little I noticed on my first half at Houston, so I'm glad this time was different. It left me wanting to do it again


There's no athlete I know who doesn't labor over their results, slicing and dicing the "What if's?" until they fall asleep at night.  I know if I had done a better job controlling my pace in the beginning, I would have had a better outcome -- If I could have just maintained an easy 13+ min/mile pace, I could have finished right around 2:50 and improved my PR.  Logically, I'm not upset... okay not THAT upset.  :P  I had an awesome time and this run is more proof that I am improving, and that's all I ever ask for of my self, is to improve.  

Here's to getting in the lottery next year and breaking 2:45 :)

4 comments:

saroy said...

Congrats on a nice race, Donna! Only 13 seconds off your PR? Not bad at all! :)

Wish I could've been out there too. Crossing my fingers for better luck in the lottery next year!

Kris Pall said...

Donna...THANK YOU for this incredibly inspiring account of your race!!! It spoke to me on SO many levels I had to stop counting. I especially related to what you said about the negative voices. I have those same voices and same past telling me I'm too fat, or I'm too slow or I'll never be good at anything. In fact I had them just the other day while I was hauling my @ss through a run. And while I was fighting them in my head...the outer voice telling the inner voice "oh come you can do it"...it occurred to me "why is it that I choose to OWN that inner voice? why can't I own the OUTER voice, the voice of reason...you know the one I don't trust?" So now I'm trying hard to do what I call "Switching Voices"...I'm trying to internalize and own (and trust) the positive voice and then make the negative voice the "outer" one. I even try to visualize that someone else is saying the negative stuff. Anyway, like you I'm trying...I don't know that I'm trying my best but I am trying and I have no plans to give up! I've got a 1/2 coming up in April...and I will keep you and your inspiration with me when I run it!

PS - I teared up watching the 4th place finishers too!

Mike said...

Great race and race report!

Donna said...

Thanks everyone! Kris, good luck!!

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