Sunday, August 7, 2011

7 Day Transcontinental Consecutive Half Marathons

Providence RI.
8,000 runners.
15 mph wind.
... and the rain.  Well.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words... so, try this on for size:
See the Red Dot?  Yeah, that's Providence, RI.
In San Francisco, they take their hills seriously.  In Providence RI, apparently, they take their weather seriously.  H and I rather enjoyed THIS little detail here....

After snapping a pre-race photo, we shlepped out into the weather and headed to the race... a short 45 minute drive.

The swish of the wipers was the music for most of our ride... until we got into stop and go traffic headed into the parking deck.  Then I lit it up with some Old School Rap.  poor husband.

We parked and navigated out to the start with plenty of time to spare.  I was immediately soaked.  People sporting trashbags, clear ponchos, throw away rain jackets, Lululemon jackets, and designer brand running gear that made lulu look cheap lined the streets.  The port-a-potty I found was clean (shut the front door!  No really, true story).

Then I negotiated my way through the opening that would let me into corral #3.  This wasn't my first time at the Rodeo, and I stepped into the corral cool and dry... ok.  cool and wet and shivering with goosebumps up and down my entire person.  The rain was relentless.

I met with my H's cousin Kev, an officer in the military who is stationed abroad but home on leave and his friend Tim, a runner who loves running so much that his face lights up when he talks about it (isn't that wonderful?).  And as we waited for the start siren, we teased and joked and talked about the fact that ALL the other cousins who'd been invited had bailed in the last week or so.  It was just the 3 of us.

As we stood in silence for the fallen soldiers serving our country, the skies opened, and what had been rain became a stinging downpour that bit into the skin of my arms and shoulders.  I contemplated pulling my shirt off and running clear.  It was already heavy and we'd yet to start.

The first miles of the race were great.  I hung with Kev & Tim, and then, we hit a short climb, I took the lead, Tim behind, and Kevin bringing in the rear... and I reached the summit, slowed down and waited for Kev & Tim to fall in beside me... and.... no Kev or Tim.  On my own from that point, I fell in with purple Lululemon shirt girl... it was a good easy pace.  I wasn't looking at my watch by now, just running on feel.  I suppose I will pull the splits off my watch... eventually...

The thing about wind driven rain that slams into your left side, is that when you turn Left...  you're now running INTO it.  What 'ev.  Do we need to see where we're going?  Not really.  Are we having fun?  Ok then, keep running.  The course was winding, there WERE points when the wind was at my back, but they never lasted long enough.

By mile 7 my clothing was soaked and dripping.  I could feel the drops hitting the backs of my legs as water funneled down my skirt like a pleated fabric gutter.

I had decided if I felt good at mile 7 I would pick it up.  But at mile 7 my legs still felt kinda heavy.  So I determined that if I felt good at mile 8 I would pick it up.  But at mile 8 my legs still felt kinda punk.  So...  The thing was, around mile 10 was a long hill gentle slope (after last week I'm a bit more respectful of what's really a hill and what's really NOT a hill)...  my left hamstring checked in with me.

Ok.  What it actually did was shout:

"YO!  PSYCHOTIC B*TCH!  Yeah, I'm talking to you... you planning on using me to run Richmond in November?  Well, your sorry a** had better Chill the F*CK OUT."

So where I had started to TAKE the climb, I dropped to the side of the course, turned around and Warfel'd up.  It was fun.  Everyone not trying for a PR should do this once in their life.  I encouraged the other runners passing me as I did a quick scan for Cousin Kev & Tim.  At the top of the hill, I turned around and picked up the run.  I figured if Hammy felt OK later, I could still bring it and make up the time.  I never felt great after that, and the novelty of the rain was wearing off.  Large drops were slapping the top of my head.  I crossed a mat and figured 2:04 (my mentally projected finish at that point) was Just. Freaking. Fine.

At one point in the last 2 miles I was running 3 strong with a group of girls in Super Hero formation.  We were skirted, they felt like my posse, it was a comfortably hard pace, but every now and then they would chime with a comment or bit of encouragement...  and suddenly a gust of wind blasted between two buildings and in step, we all "blew" a step left in a WHOOSH of wind driven rain.  

We all giggled.
And muscled on.

At mile 12 I tried to kick it into gear.  And Hammy & I were doing great with that until the last 10th of a mile climb...  I told hammy to cool his jets while I finished up, and I would get him some ice.  I pulled across at right around 2:03:30 on my watch.  It's respectable.  Not a PR, but WTFC?  

I was on the other side of the country 7 days ago running San Francisco.  I was on a transcontinental Red Eye on Tuesday.  I spent like, 1,000 hours in the car with my cranky family on Wednesday....  I didn't suck.  Instead, we will call this a,

"7 day transcontinental consecutive Half Marathon PR".  

Post race festivities included...  a bag of ice for Hammy from the medic and a seat on the curb of Gaspee Street in Providence.  Then we headed back through the mall to the car.  I peeled out of my soggy shirt and wrapped myself in a towel, and H says, WAIT!  I couldn't' take ANY PHOTOS because of the rain.  Let's get one now.  Sure.  Why the heck not?

My Take away from Providence?

holding my skirt out of the water
The route takes you all around the city.  It was gorgeous.  There were a few climbs that on a non-rainy day wouldn't have been treacherous.  There was ONE steep down hill that qualified as a hill, and I had to back WAY off down it - BUT only because it was a river of white water and cups streaming down it.  If it had been dry... alas.  It wasn't.  The course is FANTASTIC. 

It's flat enough to be fast, a few pesky climbs in miles 1-3, again 5 and 7, but for the most part, it's pretty flat.  

No Regrets.

The drive back was uneventful.  I extracted myself from the beige minivan...  My legs felt stiff, my head felt wretched, I was mentally zapped ...  so I walked through the house, out the back door, and hopped into my prepared "icebath"... and yeah, it was still pouring rain.


(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Oh G! Wind and rain!?! In August?
I am so proud of you. Wondering if running in my awesome plastic bag would have helped at all. Haha.
Welcome to the HF club. You earned it.

Jen said...

EPIC! Who can say them ran 2 halfs in one week, on opposite coasts? Not many!

My hero! You ROCKED!

RunHapi13 said...

So proud of my friend the "fanatic"!

Julie D. said...

wow, that is one crazy series of races. way to go!!

fancy nancy said...

I was thinking of you when I saw the rain coming down! We take our rain seriously since the flood from a few years ago! You are amazing!!! 2 halfs in 7 days across the country!!! Way to rock it!

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

wowzers, awesome job!! i hope your hammy feels better soon. congrats on being a half fanatic - i would say you earned it!!!

Anne said...

You are amazing! That weather was crazy and look at you smiling that bright smile of yours in every picture :) Fantastic job!! Congrats!

bobbi said...

Holy shit dude. You are freaking hard CORE. Awesome job!

Katye said...

yep. totally epic!

Allison said...

Congrats on getting your half fanatic status! Sounds like a tough race. Running in the rain can be fun, but not for 13.1 miles! And not when you are trying for a PR. ;)