Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon - January 15, 2012

Drumroll please.....My First Marathon!!!

I really don't know why I waited 20 years to do my first marathon. I think I had so many overuse injuries in my days before triathlon that I just didn't think my body could handle marathon training. Well...I was wrong! I did use my chiropractor (Thanks Dean!!!) and my travel roller to keep me in one piece, but I actually loved the training for this race (Thanks coach Angie!!!)

I traveled to this race with the 3 athletes that I coach, Jen, Lara, and Marnie. And lucky for me, I also get to call these 3 ladies my friends! Little did I know when I arrived in Phoenix how much I would rely on these ladies on race day.

The morning of the race went well, I was able to eat my usual pre race bf without my race nerves giving me problems and was off on the hotel shuttle to catch the light rail to the start. Once there I quickly figured out the basics, porta potties, my start corral, and the gear drop. I had a great warm up and got throught the porta pottie line up 10 minutes before race start. There was a back log in the transportation from the finish to the start of the point to point race, and the race itself was delayed 30 minutes! I ran to the porta potties for one more time, for good measure! On a funny note, I was so excited for the race to start that I forgot to lock the door...and well, you can imagine what happened next. Oh well, I was doing my first marathon, I was too excited to care!!!

My plan for this race was to pace for a 3:20 and try and hold on. The guy beside me at the start also wanted a 3:20, but he was going to go out faster and plan for the "fade". So, off we went. My job in the first 10k was to run like a tourist, and I did! I enjoyed the crowds, the bands, the other runners and hit my splits bang on!

From 10k to the half my job was to run loose, and I did that, but I was still running like a tourist! I was absolutely loving every part of this run!!! I hit the half just under 1:40-perfect!!From the half to 20 miles my job was to stay sharp and focused. It was at this point that I was feeling so good that I picked it up slightly. I picked up a running buddy around this time and we chatted and I remained super postitive and totally confident that I would come in under the 3;20 mark.

Everyone says the race starts at 32k and I was getting so excited to hit the 20 mile mark so I could just run and not worry about holding back....Ha! Was I in for a surprise! I had planned on thinking of specific people to movitivate me each mile from 20 into the finish. At 20 miles I was still feeling really good, and was busy thinking about my in-laws and how much they have supported me. At mile 21 I was thinking about my mom and dad and how proud I knew they were of me and then around 21.5 miles it got hard. I knew it was going to happen, but this part of me just really didn't belive it. You mean I wasn't going to cruise into the finish all happy and smiley?? What???

Mile 22 was my daughter, and I thought about how she would cheer me in and what she would say. I thought about how she knows what this feels like, she has raced her heart out in track and cross country, but boy, this was getting really hard, and it was tough to think about her.

Mile 23 was my son. At this point I had tears and my legs were on fire. At some point there was a small hill, but I am not really sure which mile that was. I do remember bring Liam to mind, the look on his face at the finish of one of his xc races, where it looked like he raced to his limit. I remember thinking, be tough like Liam.

Mile 24 was my husband, but to be honest, at this point I was in so much pain that I could barely bring him to mind. I do remember thinking he would be proud of me but I just couldn't think of what he would say.

At Mile 25 I was really starting to slow down and I thought, "what would Angie say". The answer that came to mind was a simple "GO SHARON!!" Loud and Clear! At this point I was doing my very best to hang on through what was the worst I have ever felt at the end of a race, EVER! I knew I just had to hang on a little longer because my girls told me they would be there to run me in. When I saw them I wanted to cry, but I tried to compose myself for a picture! They ran me in and promised me the finish line was just around the corner, although it was hard to believe!

I crossed the finish line in 3:20:34! I was thrilled!!! When they say the race starts at 32k, they mean it!!! When they say it's a different kind of pain from other distances, they are right!!! But, wow!! I did it, I finally ran my first marathon!!

I was caught by not 1, but 2 volunteers at the finish. They held onto me awhile and once they were sure I could walk without falling over I made my way through the food, out of the secure area to find the girls. And when I saw them I just started crying. I don't know if it was emotion from finishing my first marathon, or just simply relief that they were there for me, I am not sure. But we all had a little cry and I got to hear how their own races went in the half (VERY GOOD, BY THE WAY!). From then until we got to the hotel, these girls took care of me! I could barely walk (I felt like I was the only one walking funny, but they were quick to point out other people to make me feel better). I think they were scared to let me into the porta potty!!

In the end, this was an amazing experience for me! One I will never forget!! Big thanks to my husband and kids for supporting me and even though you weren't there, YOU WERE THERE! Thanks to my coach for preparing me perfectly, to my chiro, Dr. Dean for keeping me in one piece, to my "girls" for being the best fans ever, and to the people of Phoenix (especially all the cheer teams-they were the best) and the organizers of the race for an awesome, super charged event! It was fantastic!!!

Wow....I've been neglecting this site!!!

Well since the last post that was well over due I have done quite a few races!!
I am going to highlight all of them in one post...and yes that is almost my entire 2011 race season. Let's see if I can do better in 2012 :)

I was all set to head to Wasa and race the fast girls when 2 days before the event I pulled my hamstring...yes, my hamstring!!! How does a distance runner do that?? Long story short I was able to race Chinook Oly the following weekend. I biked really hard, not knowing if I could run and the result was a slow run with some quad cramping, but the hard work on the bike was enough to hold onto the win!

Next up was the Woody's sprint my athletes Jen and Marnie (and sadly missing Mel who fractured her elbow just a few days before). I have since learned that racing with these girls is good medicine for me as they keep my nerves at bay every time I'm out with them! The bike was a tough,windy, hilly course, but I pushed hard and had a great day and a great run and a huge sprint distance pb and overall win.

In July it was the Edmonton ITU age group olympic race. I was worried about this one being a hilly and technical bike race in the rain. I must admit I didn't push as hard on the bike as I probably should have, but was able to pull off a really fast run for what would be at the time a new OD PR for me. I was 5th overall and 1st in my AG.

In August it was back to Kelowna. Other than really hot temps everything went really well here for me in the swim and start of the bike. Past problems of quad cramping began to creep up at the end of the bike and the beginning of the run but I was able to stave them off with electrolyte pills and pull off another OD PR, a time of 2:17:54. I was really happy with this time given the heat and hilly bike course. I am still chasing that elusive 2:15, but each year I creep a little closer to it so hopefully I can get there one day!!

After the Apple it was a series of runs that kept me busy until the end of the year. Dino Dash in Sept was a good fast 10km, just short of a "30's pb" in a time of 40:53. Next up was a course best at Melissa's (and who are we kidding, I was there for the food and fellowship of great friends, the race was a great excuse!). In October was 15k (or so) at the Gorrilla Run in prep for the Last Chance Half in Nov. This was a personal best day for me in which I happy pulled off a negative split to finish in 1:32:15. But the best part of this day was getting to watch my athlete Lara pull off the same thing, a negative split and a HUGE pb herself. It was a zen run day for both of us!!

So...that catches you up, short and sweet??