Sunday, January 26, 2014

Birthday Blizzard Half Marathon Recap

So this Saturday, we pulled off a bit of a surprise for our friend Jess AND logged 13.1 miles in training!  I will get to the details of the run in a little bit, but first I want to explain a little bit about what I've been planning with some friends.

Saturday was my friend, running buddy, constant motivator, sometimes mom, and "Coach" Jess's birthday! On our training plan we had scheduled to run a half marathon this weekend.  Since we initially mapped out our marathon training plan, we've been joking about her "Birthday Half Marathon."  There were no local races so we just decided to run our own half marathon route, the two of us.  As a surprise, some other friends of ours and I invited a lot of people to join, brought Jess's husband and kids in on the surprise, created signs for the route, a lunch afterwards, cupcakes, and race shirts!!  Some of the details are below on the signs & shirts (oh, and as a side note, #TeamBABU that you might have seen on my Instagram is what our group calls ourselves, but it's not exclusive and anyone is welcome to join!  BABU is an acronym that stands for "Building A Better Us")  Although silly, #TeamBABU has become a bit of a slogan and doesn't just have to do with running, or weight loss, but anything to help build a better version of yourself!

Jess didn't know any of it was happening and the surprises started when we showed up for the run in our shirts, and then when more and more people started to show up to join!  It was great to celebrate a friend's birthday in such a fun way and pull off a great surprise.  However, let me fill in the details on the run itself.

So the snow started an hour or so before we planned to start running (10:30 a.m.) and the conditions and roads worsened as I drove North to Saratoga where we were doing the run.  I was really, really nervous about the run and the conditions.  I get really scared about slipping and the last thing I want to do is hurt myself.  I'd started to have shin pains from running on the ice and running funny because of snow a couple weeks ago, and I didn't want that to happen again and I did not want to slip and fall.  Plus, running on the snow is HARD.  I wrote about how I did one mile of beach running in San Diego, but running on snow is almost just as hard.

We decided to run in our Yak Trax because the roads were all totally slippery and covered in snow, even when driving.  The sidewalks and roads were in various states of being plowed, but it was very rare to be running right on pavement.  The first 4.5 miles went okay, I definitely was hanging in the back a little bit (that's me in the tutu.)

Once we got into Saratoga State Park we ran on ice.  Black ice covered in snow.  It was terrible and you needed to brace every step and do your best to find even footing.  The run through the park was the worst part of it which was probably from 4.5-10ish miles.  There was absolutely no clear ground.  We were either running on pure ice, inches of snow, the side of the road with random tire tracks and plowed snow, etc.  A lot of the road and areas we were running on had previously been plowed and or covered in snow layer over layer so none of the footing was secure.  Every step my ankles felt wobbly and I didn't know if I would have even footing underneath me.  Plus, when I went to take a drink of water, I realized that the water in my water bottles had  turned to ice!  I didn't even think that would be possible being so close to my body with the heat I was generating but I guess it was that cold!  It definitely was tough to not have any water.  I was so thirsty and so uneasy about the conditions and footing.  I am used to flat pavement runs.

A couple of the runners we started with had dropped off earlier.. one at 3.5 miles and one at about 4.  There were 4 of us going into the park and at about 5 miles we ran by Jess's husband and kids who were out cheering with signs (part of the surprise!)  Things started to get a bit stop and go at this point.  We stopped to give out hugs and then we stopped at around 6 miles because we got lost.  I used these opportunities to snap a few pictures.

Do you recognize where that last picture is?  Yep, that would be Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where I hadn't been since the warm summer months when we went to the ballet, orchestra, John Mayer concert, etc.  It was weird seeing it so deserted and SNOWY!  If it weren't so miserable out, I totally would have loved to run around and play on the stage or something but at this point in the run, I was already starting to think, "Oh my god, am I going to make it to the end of this run?"

When we were running through the park I felt like we were doing a snow covered trail run.  Aubrey dropped off from the run at around 6.5 miles and it was shortly after that I began walking a little bit.  I took a short walking break and then kept going again.  I walked up a couple of hills as well.  I am serious when I say that I really, really did not want to finish running and was very seriously contemplating stopping.

I kept thinking through my mind that I could just call Aubrey and have her pick me up.  I could just stop running.  I could just not finish this run.  Not continue training for the marathon.  Just stop running on that stupid snowy trail and never run again.

It sounded incredibly appealing and it was so hard to keep going.  I knew I would be embarrassed to have to do that in front of my friends.  I already felt embarrassed because I was taking walk breaks and the others were waiting for me.  I honestly wanted to cry and almost did but I think sucked it in because I didn't want my tears to freeze to my face.

At about 9 miles we broke out of the untouched roads in the path and were back to running mostly on the slushy snow packed sides of the road.  However, there was a small blessing of the fact that I called Aubrey at around 8.5 and asked if she could meet us with water.  We had a huge cheering fan/stop around 9 miles where Jess and I chugged a water bottle each and I had a couple of my Gu Chews, which I hadn't eaten because of the lack of water (you are supposed to eat them with water.)  We also got a new runner at mile 9 to finish with us.

For the next 4 miles, it was kind of fun because we had a few carloads of people who were tracking us along the run and continued to stop and cheer for us and see if we needed anything.  Also, when it got to 4 miles left, I knew I was going to force myself finish, but I also made the decision to walk at times.  I decided at every mile I would allow myself a walk break for about 1/10 of a mile.  I did that for the last 3 miles of the run at the 10, 11, and 12 mile marks.  Hence, I would often get really far behind everyone and then they would walk and wait for me, which I honestly felt really embarrassed and terrible about.

When we finally got to 13 miles we had a nice group of people waiting for us and a ribbon for Jess to run through as the winner of the birthday blizzard half marathon!

I was sooo happy to be done and get out of the snow.

We got lunch at Druther's in Saratoga where I had a burger on gluten free bread, some greens, some fruit, the frosting off of a cupcake, a cider, chocolate milk, tea, and water (yes, a lot of beverages!)  It was actually kind of funny because there were some kids in our group who had all gotten chocolate milks and when I later ordered one, they brought it out in a little kids sippy cup :) I said it was fine but the waiter insisted on sending it back and getting me a "grown up" chocolate milk.  It was all delicious!  (I was also able to watch Syracuse hit a 19-0 record in basketball, woohoo!!)

The burger was really good and totally hit the spot.  I had a bit of a stomach ache going into the restaurant and it took me a little bit to get an appetite.  I think I was so drained and so cold, and it was hard to warm up because I still had my sweaty clothing on.  So my hunger didn't hit for a bit because I wasn't feel well, but once I felt better the hunger came and once it was there, it was THERE.  It didn't leave for the rest of the day!!!  I ate all of my food and stayed hungry for the rest of the day.

After having an amazingly glorious shower at my Aubrey's house, my friends and I continued North to Jess's family's camp for the evening.  As a side note, I also showered at Aubrey's after the hot and sweaty 4th of July run we did in Saratoga.  I joked with her that I've had some of the best showers in my life at her house, which is totally true.  After that hot sweaty run in July, it was so nice to clean off, and after this freezing run, it felt great to get warm and then change into cozy clothes!

We went about an hour north to the cutest, coziest little home where there is no cell phone service, no WiFi, and no TV.  For the rest of the night we got cozy on the couch drinking champagne, wine, playing Rummy, laughing, talking, and enjoying a delicious dinner that Jess made of pork, kale, and quinoa and celebrating the birthday girl.  I went back for like 2nd and 3rd servings of food and could have kept going but I forced myself to stop.  Oh, and I also ate the frosting off another cupcake :)

I have to say that even though I walked throughout this training run and our time for the half marathon was about 2:35:08 (it took us longer to complete it overall, because I stopped my Garmin watch a few times), I felt really proud of myself.  Because my mental state has been a bit off this week and because of my serious doubts about whether or not I could finish in today's conditions, I felt really proud that I had stuck it out.  However, I started to doubt all of that because my legs weren't as sore as maybe they should have been last night or today.  My friends were talking about how sore their legs were and mine felt tired, for sure, but not as sore as maybe they should have been.  So, should I have pushed harder? Maybe I should not have given myself permission to walk?  I'm not sure.  Last night I started to feel a lot of self doubt and angry at myself for walking, which is such a different feeling from the PRIDE that I had felt towards finishing earlier in the day. I hate when this happens and I don't know if I should be proud or disappointed and end up just feeling angry at myself.  I'm not exactly sure why I went from proud to disappointed in myself and questioning what I did.  But maybe I should have pushed harder?  Maybe I can do more than I think?  This week I want to really fight to get my mindset back on track.  I don't like the mental slips I've been making and it scares me because there is no way I can finish a marathon if I keep thinking this way.  Right now, maybe I am being too lenient.  Ugh, I don't know!!

Anyways, despite my craziness, last night was a lot of fun and a perfect way to end the day. I know I've said it before, but I am so thankful to have great friends here that challenge me, push me, laugh and be silly with me, and include me in their families and lives.  I feel very blessed with the connections I've made!  People that accept me even when I act like a total dork!

Morning in Minerva
This morning I head back to Albany early and spent the day being productive... errands, laundry, cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc.  All of the usual Sunday suspects that I feel help me get ready for the week ahead.  I've got some fun recipes to share with you that I tried today but I want to close off here because this is a long post as it is and I've got some stuff to do!  I hope that you had a really nice weekend and a lovely start to your week.

1 comment:

  1. Saw a link to this blog on AOA and just have to tell you that that sounds like the coolest birthday surprise ever. Awesome job. And good for you for sticking out the run. I am a novice runner and did my first 5K last Thanksgiving. It took much longer than I would have liked, but I didn't walk at all and I finished, so that's what I choose to focus on. Thanks for sharing this post with all of us!