Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Return of the Hippie Chick

This past Saturday, I ran the Hippie Chick Half Marathon for the second time.  The Hippie Chick is, and always will be, a very special race for me.  When I ran it last year, it was my very first half marathon.  It marked my return to running after a 20 year hiatus.  I had such a great time, I couldn't wait to do it again. 

Note the button on my cap!

When registration opened for this year'r race, I immediately signed up.  I then spent this winter and spring training for the Hippie Chick.  I tried not to have running interfere with my skiing, but the last couple weeks of April it kind of did.  When you're running those long runs on Saturday, the last thing you feel like doing is skiing the next day.  So my ski season got cut kinda short.

But I felt stronger and faster than last year, and was hoping I could better last year's time (I ran the half in 2 hours 4 minutes).  My goal was to run 13.1 miles in under two hours.

My "Rocky"pose!

Saturday May 8th dawned, sunny and beautiful.  Roger accompanied me to Champoeg Park, and again helped me out by holding my sweats and clicking photos as I ran by.

Feelin' good just before race time.

I really missed having my sister and Denise there this year.  Last year Susan came out and ran most of the race with me.  We had such a great time.  Denise took lots of great photos and was fun to have at an event such as this.  But Susan is nursing a broken arm and Denise was busy with school.  I was grateful to have Roger there.  It is so much better running a race when you know you have someone cheering you on!

And they're off!

I lined up with the other ladies at the starting line and went through the silly warm up.  I was never so ready to get going.  The horn blared, and I was off!  The racers were not lined up according to pace times, so I spent the first quarter mile dodging all the people who were slower than me (LOTS of walkers!! ugh!  They should line up at the back).  But then the field started to spread out.  I reached the first mile marker, looked at my watch, and was surprised to see that I'd run my first mile in 8:23.  Whoa!  I told myself I needed to slow down, there was lots more distance to cover, and I didn't want to burn out too quickly.  I slowed down to nine minute miles - my target pace.

Thumbs up after mile 2!

I really like this race course.  It consists of two loops that are each run twice.  Participants start and finish in the middle of the two loops.  So you get to pass by the main spectator area three times.  The spectators were awesome!  Everyone seemed to be cheering the runners.  It was really great to run by and hear all the applause and encouraging words. There were a couple of people ringing cowbells, and some little kids lined up with their hands out for the runners to give high fives as they passed by.  This race is definitely a family event.  I saw lots of fathers playing with little kids while their mothers were running the race.  As one lady ran by, two little girls shouted "mommy" and ran up to her.  This lady stopped and gave her girls a big hug.  So touching!

The cheers of the spectators really made me smile.

I ran the first six miles on pace and was still feeling good.  Shortly after mile 7, my left achilles and ankle started hurting.  But I told myself to ignore it and that "I could ice it after I was done."  I continued on, logging very consistent nine minute miles.  About mile 10, I started to get a sideache and slowed down slightly.

Just past the halfway mark - looking more serious now.

I ran the next mile with a nice lady and we talked away about our lives and kids.  At mile 11, I checked my watch and discoved I'd slowed down to a 10 minute mile.  If I was going to keep on track to meet my under two hour goal, I needed to kick it in gear.  Surprisingly, I still had energy, so I picked up the pace.  I was so close to my goal, I didn't want to blow it now.

Checking my watch at the finish line.

The last mile seemed to take forever.  I ran as fast as I could but I was getting fatigued.  I tried not to look at my watch, but instead concentrated on keeping my pace.  Finally, the finish line came into view.  I gave it my all, and finally I was crossing over the timing mats.  I immediately looked at my watch.  It said 1:58:13.  Under two hours!  I did it!!!!   Wooo-hooo!!!

Modeling my finisher necklace.

Instead of medals, each finisher of the Hippie Chick Half gets a cute little necklace.  So much more practical than a clunky medal that sits in a drawer.  I was very proud of my Hippie Chick necklace.

I'm feeling like a champion!

Later that afternoon, I checked the official race results on line.  My official time was 1:57:47.  I placed 10th in my age group, out of 80 women.  Overall, I was 86th out of 655 runners.  My average pace was 8:59 per mile.  Not too shabby!

I improved my half marathon time by over 6 minutes.  I not only bettered my half marathon PR - I totally shattered it!  With the exception of a few minor aches, I felt good the entire race and had enough energy for my kick at mile 11 to the end.  It is a really wonderful feeling to train so hard for many weeks and then see your goal become reality.  So empowering!

Some of you know that my name was selected in the random drawing to run the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco this October.  Before the Hippie Chick, I was thinking "oh my gosh - the marathon - what have I done?  What was I thinking? I don't know if I can do this!"  But running such a strong race gave my confidence a huge boost.  I now know that if I put in the proper training, I can run this marathon.  Not only will I go the distance, but I will finish strong.

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