Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Dallas Half Marathon

So it all started in January this year (11 months ago). I decided to run the New York Marathon with my friend Melissa Simmons. She is quite the runner and has run several marathons. She and I were neighbors (1/2 mile apart) in New Canaan. I figured if ever I was to run a marathon it ought to be the New York Marathon. I registered for the marathon on January 7, 2012. For the New York Marathon they have a lottery for spots (unless you have qualified). I posted this photo on one of my blogs.

JHH_1494-Edit, JHH_1494-Edit

The drawing was held on April 26 and . . .


But that didn't mean we couldn't run. It just meant that now we had to gain entry through a charitable organization. (in short, you have to raise a substantial amount of money for charity and they then will give you an entry). I was looking over all the charity choices and it seemed that every day they added more of them. I was waiting for a charity that supported Ovarian Cancer research and their lists showed that several were getting registered so I just waited.

Now it is May and Melissa calls me to let me know that they just might be moving to North Carolina and also that her son's senior year last football game looks like it will be the same weekend as the New York marathon. Suddenly I realize that I might be doing this on my own.

Now it is June and we find out that we are also moving. And my hopes of doing a marathon are pretty much over. With the moving and settling there is hardly enough time to get ready for a marathon the first weekend in November. And I don't really want to raise a ton of money and I won't have time anyway with all that is going on to raise the money or do the training.

Now, here is the thing. I was disappointed that I would not reach a goal I had set. But overall I was not too disappointed about not doing the marathon. I am not much of a runner and training for one takes so much time so in some ways it was a breath of fresh air to not have this hanging over my head.

Then towards the end of September, after we had moved, after we were pretty settled, and after we had gone to Beijing I found myself needing some motivation to do something. I googled Dallas half marathon and found out that their's was held on Dec 9th. I looked at the calendar -- that was exactly 10 weeks away. I googled half marathon training plans and found a 10 week training plan and right then I registered myself AND Trent to do it.

I printed out the training scheduled, taped it to my bathroom mirror and went and told Trent about my plan. I can't say that he was super thrilled, but he also wasn't really against it either. And so on Oct 1, our training officially started. Neither of us had gone on a run since the first weekend of Jun (when I did a sprint triathlon) and so we were beginners! When you register you have to give them an estimated time so I put 12:30 for my pace and 11:00 for Trent's pace.

And then the work started. I ran during nap time. I ran at night. I ran on Saturdays. Trent ran in the morning. Trent ran at night. A few times we ran together. Mostly we ran alone. On the longer runs we would track each other on find my iphone and deliver water and energy to the other. And we gave thanks for the nice temperate weather the Dallas area has. Not once was I rained out. Not once was it too cold. It was perfect. Before we knew it we had crossed out every day.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

The race day arrived. It was a beautiful 60 degrees at 7am this morning. The race started at 8:05 in Downtown Dallas. Here we are before the race started.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

You line up in corrals. Trent was in corral B and I was in corral C (based on the times I submitted when I registered us) and it was so crowded that we were quite toward the back of corral C. It took us 14 minutes of walking to even cross the starting line. It was quite crowded too. There were 25,000 runners. I tried to take a photo to show the crowds but it was tricky. Here is my best shot.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Finally we were off and running. Trent and I didn't stay together. I really wanted us to both just run our best race without having to worry about the other. Additionally it would have been so difficult as it was so crowded. I ran in a tight pack the entire 13 miles. There were a few times where the road widened and we could spread out some, but most of the time it was pretty cozy. And that led to a few interesting things. First, my headphones seemed to have a short in them. I actually couldn't find my headphones the night before and so I grabbed one of the kids' headphones. When we started they worked for about 3 minutes and then stopped. I unplugged them and plugged them back in and they would work for about 15 seconds. I tried this about 10 times and was getting frustrated. It was crowded and very difficult to pay attention to everyone's feet and my headphones so at that point I made the decision to not wear them and give up (at least for a while on having music). In some ways this was a great thing. I started to rely on all the groups out cheering and all the bands and Dj's for inspiration rather than my own playlist. Also I just ran at a comfortable speed and I did not know what it was. I figured I would rather just enjoy the event than worry about my pace. And I really did enjoy it. There were tons of spectators. With the weather so beautiful it seemed that everyone came out in support. My favorite place was running across this beautiful bridge.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

This was right at the 3 mile mark and it was the first time that the running area widened up so that we weren't right on top of each other. An interesting thing about starting so far in the back of the corrals is that if you are at a faster pace, you are passing everyone (or if it is crowded) everyone is blocking you in. Both Trent and I felt like we zigzagged the entire 13 miles and it showed on our GPS mileage. I don't really recommend running that way. We probably would have done "officially" better if we hadn't had to zigzag so much. In the end my GPS showed that I ran 13.59 miles. The extra half mile was from all the side to side I had to do.

Once we started I only saw Trent once on the race. There was a turn around and small section where you were doubling back over where you had come from and I was surprised to glance to the other side right as he was there. I shouted at him and waved!

By about mile six I was really missing my music and so I gave the headphones another chance. I plugged them in and they worked. The worked just great from mile 6 to 11. When I plugged them in I also heard and saw my pace for the first time. I was running at 10:54. I was happy with that (I really wanted to be right at 11:00 min per mile and under 2 hours and 30 minutes overall) and in typical fashion for me once I hit the halfway mark I usually pick up my pace. I tend to hold back at the beginning. From mile 6-13 I brought my average time down about a second per quarter mile finishing at an average pace of 10:38. Trent finished at an average pace of 9:53. These were both great times for us. Officially, we were a little slower (as that doesn't account for all the side to side running!)

Here we are with our medals! Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Here are our official results.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Just to see how crazy we had to run, here is a section of my gps map. I have used this app for all my runs and I always run in straight lines and it always shows exactly where I ran so it was pretty funny to look at this and confirm just how crowded and zig zaggy it was.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Here is the whole course.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

And here is the snapshot of my results. I'm most proud of the stat in the bottom right corner. Over the last 3.8 miles, I passed 453 runners and was only passed by 24. Next time I race I'm gonna get myself in a better starting position so I don't have to work around so many people!!!!!
I am so proud of Trent and I. We had a great time. There are so many people I need to thank for helping us get there. My sister Carrie, for driving up from Houston to be with our 5 kids and take them to church all by herself. My friend Melissa who put the first idea in my head. For all the girls who ran the Ragnar Relay with me -- my first running experience EVER. My kids, for patiently waiting while mommy was running day after day. And for Trent for agreeing to do this with me.

Also as we watched the news it was pretty awesome to suddenly see Trent running across the bridge!!!! He was in the right place for the local news coverage!

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