Monday, April 4, 2011

Martian Invasion Half-Marathon Race Recap

I've given myself a day to bask in the after glow of my biggest race to date.  My quads hate me, but my spirits are high and I'm so excited to devote some time into preparing this recap.

Race Day ~ Rise and Shine!!!
The day started when I awoke at 4 am desperately needing to hit the bathroom...damn nerves!!  When I was heading back to bed I peeked outside and saw DRY PAVEMENT!!  Anyone stalking the weather up until heading to bed knows that it was calling for rain/sleet at a 50% chance or more ALL night and into Saturday afternoon.   Could we really be blessed with decent weather after all?  I headed straight to the computer and sure enough, dry...low winds...and perfect temps until well after our race would finish!!

I laid back down...until 5 or so and then started getting dressed and getting my stuff around.  This was proving to be way more nerve racking than I had anticipated.  My stomach was in knots, I was shaking, and I could barely choke down my breakfast.  Before I knew it, we were pulling out of the driveway and on 96 Eastbound.  It was a pretty quiet ride...talked a bit about race strategy and how to use our new camera.  All the while, motivational texts and facebook comments kept coming on my phone...wishing me well and pumping me up.  Just as we were heading down Michigan Ave into Dearborn, the sun was rising.....

~Such a Gorgeous Morning~

......and Jeff fumbled with the radio to put on my favorite race song...the one posted the other day...James Holden "The Difference It Makes."  I of course balled my eyes out, but I kinda needed to get it out of the way.

With that...we found our parking lot, got my bib and shirt, and then headed to the blogger meet-up, hosted by our beloved Redhead.

Wasn't hard to spot where to meet!

Check out Red and all her Martian Bling
So nervous I can barely put lip gloss on

My Hero!

I can't say I stuck around much...time was ticking fast and before I knew it, it was time to hit the porto-johns...warm up...and Toe The Line!!! 


Miles 1-3

It took us a bit to get to the start line, but once we crossed those mats and started our Garmins, it was go time!!  I choked up thinking about the experience I was about to have...said a few prayers...and looked forward to seeing Jeffrey at about mile 1.   I was FINALLY running, and all of those jitters and nerves just seemed to melt away.   I practically had to wave and scream to get Jeff's attention, a second later he snapped a quick shot...

Goofy grin...feeling good!

With Jeff's words "Settle in Babe," it was time to focus.  I was officially on my own. I kept things nice and easy for the first 5k.  I was able to feel my toes and fingertips again just as I moved on to the next phase of my race.

Splits:  9:10, 9:27, 9:14. 

Miles 4-11

My goal for this portion of the run was to maintain or slightly sub a 9 minute mile pace.  I was really feeling great out on the open road with lots of room to move around and minimal congestion at water stations.  I ditched my gloves, hydrated, and gu'd at mile five.  It was fun to see all the runners coming back in our direction and I was able to cheer on my buddy Spike as he passed. The turn around came and I was so stoked to be half way there.  It put a little pep in my step as I headed back.   At mile 10 I took a honey stinger and a full cup of water.  I happened to catch Mike out taking pics on the course somewhere during mile 10...can't wait to see if he got any good mid-race photos.  This is about the time that I started to really assess how I was feeling and how to approach my final few miles.  I still felt really relaxed and maintaining my pace well, so with two miles to go, it was time to push just a bit more.

Splits:  9:00, 8:53, 9:02, 8:53, 8:59, 8:56, 8:57, 9:01

Miles 12+

My plan was to hit the last two miles at a 8:30ish pace and give whatever I had left to the last .1.   When Garmin chirped 11, I picked up the pace that felt "comfortably hard" in effort.  We transitioned from the open road to paved trail much like the river trail here in town.  I quickly noticed that things were a lot more congested and this portion of the race would take mental focus to keep pace regardless of what everyone else was running.  Passing people was a so many folks seemed to be dropping like flies.  All of a sudden we start running across this wooden bridge and I literally have to break stride in order to keep my balance.  This thing was so bouncy that I got off of it and had to run off into the grass and stop.  I seriously thought I was going to pass out and the dizziness was crazy!  After a few seconds I force myself to start running again since I seem to be still standing.  My legs come back after a minute or two and at mile 12, I stopped at the last aid station to drink two full cups of Gatorade.   I look over and see a man being helped by medics and I thought to myself...."Oh Hell No, I'm not going out like that!"   I start running again and encounter ANOTHER shitty wooden bridge that this time I have to walk across while holding the rail.  This one didn't affect me as bad so I start running again...passing people on the uphill climb back onto Michigan.  I remember thinking that at almost 13 miles, I should be hearing announcers by now.  Just as I get to the corner,  Garmin chirps 13 miles and the finish line is NOWHERE in sight.

"Where the fuck is the finish line!!"

My mind starts going all crazy and by breathing gets all wonky while fighting back tears and I literally have to tell myself to "Calm the Fuck're almost can do this!!"   

Thank god that last half mile was downhill!!  At the bottom of the hill I see my amazing husband....Hear Spike and Morgan yell their encouragements...

No more fighting back the tears...

Form is still strong

Almost there!!

And just like that, I rounded the corner to the finish and my first half-marathon is done!

Splits  9:22, 9:15, (.5) 8:42

I grabbed my medal and a water....the chip nazis cut off my tag...and I headed back towards the corner and received the best hug and kiss from Jeff.  Not long after we found Morgan and Spike, more hugs, and we're ready to head towards our brunch destination.

****Huge fail...and something I will never do not grab something to eat right after I finish****

I was surprisingly ready to bail really fast after the race.....I wanted to stretch, sit, and eat. 

In the car I finally had a moment to look at Garmin....and my thoughts were....

1.    2:02+ I must have really tanked those last two miles....
2.    Hmmm....those splits weren't so bad...
3.    Yup...the course was long....phew!

When we got to Leo's Coney Island for breakfast I could tell that I was all sorts of shaky and kinda loopy...whooped and ready to stuff my face.   Waiting patiently for my food we all had a chance to chat about our races.  I shared my inspirations I wrote on my arms...

Run Strong...Breathe...Ella & Paige
 I don't even remember what my pancakes tasted like, but half-way through my eggs my body was officially revolting all I had put it through that day.   I literally glazed over and could no longer pay attention to anything...the time to go was now!  We said a quick good bye...thank you's to all who had come to spectate...and headed home.   I went straight to bed and took a nice nap.

I have to say that it was so cool to finally put a face to some names of bloggers that I follow.  So nice to meet you Marlene, Bill, and Joanna!  Hopefully next time I won't be so out of it, and able to be more social.  Your encouragements along the way have been so nice...Thank you!!

On the injured list and smiling....LOVE YOU!!

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Morgan and Jeffrey for being two of the most amazing supporters and spectators I could have EVER asked for.  Thank you for all of the encouragement before the race...throughout my entire training cycle....through all the ups and downs along the way.   Thank you for being at the race....injured and unable to run....for all of us who did.   I love you both dearly!!!  

I'm still waiting on official results and to see my finish photo.   Right now my time is 2:02:28 for an official 13.4 mile race.  I've looked around at different calculators and predict it will be 1:59 something.  I am super stoked to have a sub 2 hour half marathon as a baseline to work at....Woot!!

Peace and Blessings,

Jen B.

P.S.  Looking forward to Fifth Third 25k in May...the adventure continues!!


  1. Jen, it was soo nice to meet you! Congrats on a HUGELY SUCCESSFUL first half marathon. You nailed your goal and your splits were nice and consistent!

    I LOVE starting a race and feeling those nerves finally melt away. It's the best feeling. And Jeff had JUST the right words: "Settle in". I'm going to say that to myself next time.

    Hopefully they will get your corrected finish times up soon. BRUTAL to have a long course but at least they admitted it and are rectifying it.

  2. YAY!! You did it! I'm super glad you had a good run and met some friends and goals. On to the next one!

  3. I am still so impressed with how poised and calm you seemed before the race, I would have never known you were so nervous. I love, love, love that you wrote your motivation on your hands, the girls are going to love that when you show it to them when they're older. Way to stick to the race plan and get that sub-2 finish that I knew you were capable of. Still can't believe the course measured so long! Rest and recover well my dear! Next stop, G.R. for the 25k!

  4. What an awesome job!! Congrats on the fantastic race. I wish I had been able to make it to breakfast/lunch after.

    By the way, I look really cold in that picture!!

  5. Congrats on your 1/2! Sub-2 is freaking awesome!!

    I'll be running the 5/3 too, but finishing way after you :)

  6. Thanks so much everyone!!! Can't wait to cheer all of you on in all your upcoming endeavors!!!