Monday, November 28, 2016

Hello Southern Winter

It feels like I have to relearn how to survive winter every year. In Arkansas (and Texas before that) we get cold weather for a relatively short period every year - Late November/December through March, maybe, and then it is spring and even if it is sometimes cold, the sun is out most of the time - that by this time of it year it has been almost nine months since I was truly cold. That means I have had almost enough time to have had a baby since I last had to layer on a daily basis.

Cold enough for the hat, mostly

Now I have to rediscover scarves - they aren't just for occasional decoration, they actually keep my neck warm! - and remember to wear slippers and socks around the house. (And let me tell you, after almost nine months of wearing Chaccos and no socks, my feet are not thrilled to be back in shoes for anything other than running and tennis.) I have to remember where we keep the thermostat so that everyone is mostly happy, and the heater isn't running all the time. Malcolm demands footie pajamas and a space heater in his room at night. I will probably start drinking a lot more tea. When running, I have to remember to check the weather conditions before I go out, to make sure I won't catch hypothermia, instead of to decide how much water to take for a three mile run. There is always a sort of calculation going on when it is cold - is it actually cold enough for the hat? Will it warm up so much that I will be sweating as soon as I am moving, or is it really windy, so that no matter how much I work, I will always be cold? The summer is just hot. After about 70, you just know you are going to be sweating, and while you might check the humidity, there isn't anything you can do to make it better, except stay inside on a treadmill. *shudder*

I can hear all my northern friends laughing and rolling their eyes at me, and I suppose it is their turn. After all, I do the same every summer when they start moaning about how hot it is. And don't get me wrong - I don't dislike this weather, I just have to become reacquainted with it. Now, I think I need a cup of tea!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Soaring Wings Half Marathon Race Report

After the last week, it seems a bit odd to be writing up a report for a race that feels like it happened in another world; I honestly don't have much to say about anything right now, but I will try.

I prepared my clothes the night before, since I had to get up around 5 a.m. to have time to eat something and drive to Conway and have time to use the restroom. For you non-runners out there, this is a very important part of race day - almost any book or column about racing will have something to say about it. Anyway, I didn't want to forget anything important, so I laid out my clothes, pinned my bib on my shirt, packed my bag with extra clothes, a towel to sit on after the race, energy gels, water, and phone, and tried to go to bed early. I was less than successful at that - I was already having trouble falling asleep, and then Benjamin, on a business trip, called in a bit of a panic and needing help contacting his hotel, since his plane had landed very late. Of course I couldn't sleep until I knew he arrived safely, so I got to bed about an hour and half after I intended. 

Compared to the Little Rock Half in March, this race was quite a bit smaller and far less intimidating, at least as far as the number of people went. The course was quite a bit hillier than Little Rock though, and given my times while training, I was just hoping to stay close to my previous time. I also planned to run with my heart monitor on, to keep me from going out too fast or not pushing hard enough later, but when I tried to pair it with my watch, I got a message saying its battery was dead! Great timing! If only it had died on my last training run the day before! I had to stuff it in my waist pouch, along with my phone; in retrospect, I probably had time to run back to my car and drop it off, but I wasn't going to risk missing the start, or wasting my energy. I started out with a pace group that was right about where I thought I would be, and was able to stay with them for a while, but the leader was going a bit faster than his stated pace, and I quickly fell behind. After a couple of miles, I just tried to keep myself going at a steady pace even with the hills. I had to stop and use a toilet at mile 4 - something I managed to avoid in my previous half - and that dropped me even farther behind that pace group. After the pit stop though, I was more comfortable and was able to make up some of the time I lost. 

Around mile seven, my left leg started to ache in the knee and hip, something that was new - usually it is my right hip complaining. It wasn't so bad I couldn't run, but it was definitely an unwelcome distraction. Eventually, I decided it must be from the slant of the road - we were running on the right side of the road for much of the race, which had a slight but definite angle to it, and I think it was enough to throw off my alignment. I tried running a bit more towards the middle, but there were a lot of stretches where we were supposed to stay in a lane about the width of a sidewalk. 

When we reached the split for the marathoners to head off in another direction, I was once again grateful that I was not going with them. My hip and knee hurt, my stomach roiled at the thought of any more gels or sugary chews, and while I was having a certain amount of fun (if deliberately torturing oneself can be called fun), I was ready to be done. I had some kick left in me, and picked up my speed a bit in the last mile or two - I accidentally started my charge a little too soon when I got excited on a downhill that was a little farther away from the end than I thought and had to keep pushing when it leveled out. 

In the end, I finished only about two minutes behind my previous time, and given that my watch said I had run 13.4 miles, instead of 13.1, maybe I actually ran about the same. (Yes, I know, watches are not as accurate as whatever devices used to measure courses, but race directors have been known to make mistakes about length.) Anyway, not as slow as I feared I could be, and given the hills, quite good.

I have already signed up for the 2017 Little Rock Half Marathon, and am looking forward to running it again, but I am reconsidering my plans to run a full marathon next year. I'd like to say I have done it, and I know I can do it, but I am not sure I really want to right now. Two hours of running seems like enough, and given my (lack of) speed a marathon would take me around 4 1/2 hours. Maybe for my 40th birthday in a few years, or my 45th.