Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon--July 24, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon

July 24, 2011

Camas, Washington

Time:  1:58:50  (9:04/mile)

Validation!  Yes, I validated my ambitious desire to finish a half-marathon in less than 2 hours.  Remember this was a goal of mine to accomplish this year, which I did back in May at the Eugene Half Marathon finishing in 1:54.  Then I had a disastrous performance at the Vancouver Marathon when I tried to finish a full 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours a month later.  I had not specifically trained for this  half marathon, I did it just for fun and have been trying to focus more on triathlons with the short season I will have this summer.  But I had heard this was a fun event and I should do it at least once. 

Wendy and her sister Maija joined me on race morning.  It was really low-key and we arrived right at the time when the runners were lining up for the start.  I had about 2 minutes to warm up and then get on the running track at Camas High School for the start of the event.  “Just 13.1 miles,” I thought to myself.  Sounds so ridiculous.  That is still a freaking long ways! 

My strategy was to run on feel for the first few miles and then see where I was.  In the back of my mind I would love to finish in less than 2 hours, but this wasn’t my big, high-reaching goal for the day.  It was really warm, the sun was out and we would have to tackle two very steep hills, one at mile 6.5 and the other less than a mile from the finish.  Whatever strategy I employed, I would have to consider these obstacles.

Things started out well enough, I got into a nice smooth pace and tried to just take it easy.  There were lots of people at this local event and I like to people watch, it helps keep my mind off of the pain.  So many people….. so many stories.  Makes you wonder what they went through to make it to the starting line.  Do they do this just for fun?  Was this the result of a dare from a friend?  Are they running for a cause?  Do they do this to remind themselves that they are still alive?

About mile 3 I started developing a sharp pain in my right foot.  Not something I had felt before, it was rather weird.  This persisted off and on for the rest of the run.  I still don’t know what it was, but my body was really fatigued coming into this event.  My body was trashed from the 70.3 triathlon 2 weeks prior, then I did the sprint triathlon last Sunday in which I went all out for 75 minutes.

Up to mile 4 my pace was about 9:25, I was still just running on feeling, not too hard but not too easy, either.  Mile 5 was a blistering 8:05.  I don’t recall why I went so fast for this mile.  I think this was a slight downhill and I wanted to see how I felt.  I didn’t feel too bad, but I still had a big hill to climb at mile 6.5. 

As we ran along the northside of Lacamas lake, we made our way to the Camas Meadows Golf Course.  Pretty setting, but here came an out and back route with a very steep hill.  I sucked down a gel just before the hill and guzzled some of my Gatorade G2.  I tried running up most of the hill, but it was very steep and my legs were burning and my heart rate was over 150.  I had to walk.  Goodness, would this tank my pace?  I got to the top and there was an aid station there, I doused my cotton rag with water and drenched my head with cool water.  I guzzled some water and started heading down the hill.  My legs were feeling much better on the descent and so I really stretched them out and just flew.  Nice.

Gut Check Time

I came upon Mile 8 and did a quick calculation.  The time read 1:15.  With 5 miles to go, I need to average better than 9:00/min mile for the next 45 minutes to make the 2 hour mark.  Oh brother.  I have already ran 8 miles, my heart rate has been around 142 for a long time, I knew I was getting tired.  But I decided to go for it.  I wanted to see what I was made of.  Am I an Ironman or what? 

My strategy was to run hard for the next 3 miles to bank enough time to permit me to walk the hill at mile 12.5.  We had just entered the Lacamas Lake Heritage trail.  This is a beautiful gravel trail that runs along the southern side of the lake.  I have run this trail numerous times and it is one of my favorites.  The trail is about 3.5 miles long.  I dug deep and took off.  Mile 9 was an 8:36, okay super, I just banked some serious time, but what can I sustain?  Mile 10 was an 8:33!  Holy cow!  But now I was starting to hurt.  The thighs especially were on fire.  Mile 11 was a bit slower at 9:12.  Amazing, I had just ran a 5K in the middle of a half marathon and it was a very respectable time. 

But I couldn’t let up.  I wasn’t done yet.  The looming hill still concerned me because the hill is about a half mile long and if I end up walking the hill, it could take 7 minutes.  So I keep digging.  Mile 12 was an 8:47.  I was really, really hurting.  I was starting to employ some self-talk.  “come on, Mike, come on!”  “you can do this.” “What are you made of?”

The Hill

Okay, here it comes.  “Yes!  Here we go!”  I put my head down and concentrated on good form and fluid, effortless strides.  “oh goodness.”  The hill was gradual at first.  Then we made a turn into a neighborhood and it was steep.  It was really steep.  Some of the neighbors had their sprinklers going and their kids had water pistols spraying down the runners.  I signaled over to a dad and a little girl to hit me.  “Ahhhhhh, woooooo!”

I was forced to walk, it was just too much.  I looked at my watch, goodness, this will be close, I can’t give up now.  I really amped up the self talk, started swearing at myself, saying stuff you really shouldn’t say to yourself, but sometimes you need to find motivation somehow.  I decided to walk 20 steps and then run 20 steps and repeat.  I did this about 5 times as I got to the top of the hill.  I liked this, it helped. 

The Finish

I got to the top of the hill, I could see the high school, I checked my time, I knew I was going to make it!  We entered the running track and I had just 300 meters to go.  I stretched it out and finished strong.  Yes!  I was so thrilled to come in under 2 hours.  Yes!  I saw Wendy and Maija and I was so glad for it to be over.  Yes!

So, wow!  I proved a lot with this performance.  I didn’t give up, I didn’t wuss out, I dug deep, I showed some good mental toughness and mind-over-matter techniques to get the job done.  Sweet!  I will have to file this away in my catalog and pull it out again if needed.

Thank you all for your support!


P.S.  One thing to remember next time, take note of the location of the safety pins that hold the race number to the shirt so that the pin protruding inside the shirt does NOT match up with the same location as one’s nipple.  Uh, yeah.  That really hurt.

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