Cary 1/2 Marathon: Race Report

12 hours after arriving at the race site (which was a full 90 mins before race time! none of this ‘walk up to the start and run stuff’ in Cary!) I”m finally on my couch rolling the knots in my calves out on the sharp edges of my coffee table. And I’m finally warming from the COLD 38 degree temps and POURING rain of today’s race!

Everyone asked me, “what do you want to finish in?” Honestly, I really only have 1 other 1/2 to compare it to – the one last year in Iceland – since the only other 1/2 I’ve ever done was in 2003 (a lifetime ago!), so my answer was, “it would be great to do as well as that race in Iceland, especially since this course is VERY hilly.” And of course, it decided to pour buckets down on us for over an hour of the race. Oh, and lightening rolled in my last 2 miles. And there was a river of water gushing down the gutters of the streets. So yeah, matching that time from a fairly flat, warm, dry course would be lovely.


Asleep by 9:30 on race eve, alarm went off at 5:15 and it was go-time! I’d been visualizing positive things all week to keep my head on straight, and the only negative thought all week was a dream where the bartender kept trying to force me to drink Apple Pucker shots before I ran because it would “help” me. (I’d taken a client out to the bar at Whole Foods that night for a drink before she left the country so that probably caused that.) But mentally, I was ready! Physically, I was ready!

We drove out early so we could get good parking (which would prove instrumental post-race) at the race site. Hung out for 90mins -stretching and whatnot – then, race time! I’d been banned from my Garmin for the last month so the plan was to run with it on to get some data on my performance but only look a the total run time compared to how I felt as a gauge of what to do. Gun goes off – it starts pouring – super! I’d done a 1:50 run in buckets of rain so this was nothing new. First two miles clip by – FAST. Oookkkayyy, well I feel fine, so I’m going to keep going, I don’t feel like I’m going too fast, so onward!

What would Forrest think?

Mile 3, 4…fast. Faster than I’ve done training runs, but not out of the realm of reality. Feeling fine, so onward! I’d walked the hills of this course when I’d run it before so I was going to hit each hill based on how my legs felt. Hill 1, as Forrest Gump would say, “I -was-RUNing!” If I keep this pace, I’m going to be quite a bit ahead of goal pace – watch the overconfidence Kate, run your race…

Mile 6, 7….still fast. Some super wind hit about mile 7 but the rain stopped – so that was a tradeoff! I can’t help when running a race to watch those in front of me and just be slack-jawed at the incredibly dysfunctional kinetic chains of these people! Feet flailing to the right instead of forward, shoulders rounded forward, hips dropping out to the sides with every step…YIKES! THIS is why I do what I do! I help people build stronger muscular kinetic chains & so many people I saw today I wanted to ask “does your R knee hurt on the lateral part of the kneecap?” as I passed them. But I refrained. Someday…I will.

The stupid sock…onward!

Hill at mile 7…screw you hill, you suck, climb climb climb, nowalkingnowalkingnowalking. First time I heard my breath ‘huffing’ in the race, so I gave myself the downhill to mile 8 to recover. Total plus for me – I’m recovering while running at a good clip REALLY well these days. That feels really good. Mile 8, 9…fastfastfast!! Feeling great, onward!

Oh!! I just realized – “feeling great” meant, everything felt AWESOME except for the fantastic blister I was getting from a bunched sock, that with every step was giving me a sharp blister pain under my R big toe. super. So much of that mileage contained thoughts of, “I’ve racked up enough time to pull over and fix my sock but if I do I’ll end up finishing at the same time I got before, where if I DON’T stop, I could do really really well today.” Then thoughts of, “really, what is pain anyways. screw pain, I’m fine. Jesus walked barefoot with a cross on his back on stones, I’m totally fine. People have no shoes in Zimbabwe and they deal with it – I’m fine.” So, since Africans and Jesus dealt with pain, I can too. super. I love racing logic.

Hello lactate.

Mile 10 kicks off with the biggest hill on the course. Straight up all the way. Huge decision to run the whole thing. Could have walked, but walking would hurt just as bad as running was hurting on the hill. Sore legs were starting to kick in. Whatever, soreness is fine, lactate, that’s another story. Top of the hill  – hello lactate! Approaching the end- not really, its’ a total psych-out on this course you think you’re close but you have a bunch of rollers to get through first- buckets of rain and now lightning – super! And noooowwww we have lactate. Oh. my.

At one point, I remember running along, seeing gushing water running down the gutter in the street, and realizing the street ran along the base of a big hill, and again, lovely race logic kicked in…I start thinking, “Ok, if all of a sudden we get a flash flood, where do I go, which tree can I climb??” Right. Maybe I should get another gel in so I can get my head back on straight. Oh, and by the way, MY LEGS ARE FREAKIN OUT!! Not in an I-didn’t-train-properly way, but in a I’m-working-my-a**-off way! And I was! I was working harder than I’ve ever worked in a sporting event. ever.

The last 3 miles I was really challenged to keep pushing. I felt like I had no pop left in my legs, I was searching for the happy reason to run faster…and with pouring rain giving me slushing water in my shoes, I really struggled to find that reason. Any other day, maybe different? Who knows? I know I was giving everything I had and then some. At this point I was just hanging on while my legs turned over again and again.

No doubt about it. I was now hurting and digging deep to find whatever was left to finish. But that’s what I was there for! So onward! Up the last hill, finish line within 1 mile – oh god let a gust of wind push me along!! Legs burning, huffing and puffing, feet on fire – oh man whatever is left – GO WOMAN!

2:04 – oh yeah!

I managed a new PR for myself  despite slowing by about 30secs on mile 11 and 12. But I was a WRECK when I came in to the finish. Shoe came untied as I was sprinting through the puddles to the finish. Hip flexor muscles were cramping at their insertion point in my pelvis. I was frigid and feeling the wetness now. Brain dead from pushing so hard. Quads locked. Calves tight. Guess that means I ran hard, huh?

That glorious parking spot we got paid off dividends when I was able to walk out of the finish chute, straight to my car, where I could grab my clothes bag & head straight to the gym to change and find my friends. I walked into the gym an utter mess – saw Jen & Karen, walked over to them and promptly laid down on my back on the floor. It took a good 30 mins for me to feel useful again, then it was off to a great brunch with some incredibly awesome women, then straight home to shower and head right back out to a family party – yep – 3 hours in the car post-race today – that feels awesome on the legs. not. But it was all good, good people make it worth it to get in the car and do all that driving.

All in all, I feel great about my performance, and now I’m building a history of running I can use for future improvements to be made in my training. All I have to say is sub-2:00 is ridiculously near in my sights in 2011 since the ideal course for that would be FLAT, DRY, & WARM-ISH. Welcome to race season everyone!! Let the fun begin!!!!!

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