Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beating the Blerch

I'll do my Week in Instagram post tomorrow, sans Saturday pictures. I figured today's pictures--all revolving around the Beat the Blerch (my third--THIRD--half marathon to date...who am I?!)--deserved their own post.

As expected, the whole event was full of hilarity and sore calves. Oh, holy, my calves. And my toes. I could almost swear I've broken a couple of them, but I know I haven't because I've had a broken toe and it was way more painful. But still, they hurt.

Anyway, the race.

I got there a little after 7:00, wanting to beat the worst of the traffic coming in, and to get a good parking spot. I stayed in my car for several minutes to stay warm, but also to ensure that no one around me whacked their car doors into Sylvie. It wouldn't do to get arrested before the race because I had to beat someone up.

All tatted and ready.

I had Dad take a picture of me. Poor lighting, cute pic.

When I finally got out of my car, the marathoners were lining up for their 8:00 start time. I waited around to watch them leave, and caught a stalker-ish picture of The Oatmeal (real name: Matt Inman) himself. I never did get a pic with him. So many people were asking.

I did, however, make eye contact with him as he was walking out of the men's room (and I was walking towards the women's). I think we made a connection.

Tower bridge behind the starting line.

Green stripey socks (wore them in my last half, the Shamrock'n)
and green shoes.

That's Oats himself, wearing shorts. Brrrr. 

After the marathon start, I wandered into the "fun" area, where there were sofas for lounging and people in costumes. There was one Yeti, and I saw two different dudes in bacon costumes. And there were Blerches.

Lots and lots of Blerches.

They even have little wings.

They offered us chocolate-bacon marshmallows. I only pretended
to take some...that would have probably come up in a hurry
once I started running.
 Finally, it was getting close to my 9:00 start time, so I walked back to the starting corral. I took my requisite pre-race selfie and watched another Blerch "stretch" with some fellow runners.

And then it was time.

In the first mile, I had to warm up a little, and I started getting a cramp in my shoulder. I sternly reminded myself to breathe, and to pace myself. It's too easy to get really excited at the start of a race and push too hard too soon. So I took it down a notch, and settled in to enjoy the ride.

By Mile 3, I was ready for a selfie.

As we made our way down N Street, along Capitol Park, I was feeling really good. I had missed the Mile 3 and Mile 4 marker signs, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself at Mile 5...getting closer to halfway! I cruised along with a smile on my face for another mile or so.

Around halfway is where things started getting a little tougher. Even with an effort to pace myself, I was still pushing it a little bit, showing off for the people around me. I started to fatigue a little and remind myself that I'm not out to beat anyone...except the Blerches, of course.

One thing I'm proud of is that I didn't walk a whole mile in this race. I did in both the Urban Cow and the Shamrock'n, but today, I managed to stick pretty close to my run-walk timer, only occasionally walking during run intervals (most notably in the 12th mile, when a small stretch took us across an uneven old wooden boardwalk in Old Town Sacramento).

My calves were hurting, and my hips were getting tight, but I soldiered on.

At Mile 10, I took another selfie--all of these went to Facebook, to show my friends and family how I was doing. I'm definitely more tired here, but happy to know that I only had a 5K left.

After Mile 10, the distance started to feel shorter. Before I knew it, I was at Mile 11, then Mile 12. Once you reach Mile 10 in a half, it's pretty obvious you can make it home, but there is nothing quite so lovely as seeing that 12 marker, and knowing you're a mile and change away from a chance to sit down.

Well, I could have sat down at the couches along the course...but I didn't. : )

Finally, I was slogging across Tower Bridge towards Raley Field. I saw the same Blerch who stretched near me before the race giving out high-fives. As I passed her, my hand met hers and I laughed and called out, "Hahaha, I BEAT YOU, YOU BLERCH!!" She laughed and said, "I'm gonna chase you!!" Right after that bit of fun, I passed the Mile 13 marker, rounded a corner, and found myself coming into the stadium.

Once in Raley Field, it's an easy run down the third baseline. People were cheering and hollering, and volunteers were handing out medals based on whatever race you'd run (today there was a marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, and a 5K). As I crossed the finish line, I adopted my traditional V-for-Victory arms and yelled out, "Yaaaaay!!!"

Then, of course, it was time for another selfie.

I couldn't get my official finish time on the computers at the race, so I'm hoping there wasn't a problem with my chip. I'll wait to see what is posted tomorrow online. What I do know is that I was faster than both the Urban Cow (2:57:??) and the Shamrock'n (2:58:35). The race started at 9:00, but I was in the third wave of runners to leave the starting chute. When I finished, the clock for the half said 2:40:?? so I know I finished around there. To be safe, I'm telling everyone I finished under 2:45:00, which is very much a PR in races, if not in training runs. I'm happy.

I wandered around a bit, and sat a bit, before heading back out to Sylvie to get going towards home and food. I managed to miss the cupcakes at the finish line, but that's okay. Still, I was really, really hungry. I'd just burned about 1,400 calories and only replaced about 600 of them with Gu. I hadn't eaten any real food since last night (I just can't eat solid foods before running--the risk I'll push my speed to hard and throw up are too great).

The parking lot was a nightmare. I joked on Instagram that now that I had beat the Blerch, I wanted to eat the Blerch.

It took about twenty minutes just to leave the parking lot, and traffic on Business 80 was really, really awful, so by the time I got to Chipotle, I was a cranky mess. But I managed to get some food and get it home from there, and believe me, it was glorious.

What's funny is that as hungry as I am after a race, I am usually not super-hungry after that. My body needs to get its equilibrium back. I ate about half of my bowl (actually, I inhaled it, I barely remember chewing) and saved the rest for tomorrow. Since then I've had some of the chips, but otherwise, my body wants fluids. Water and tea, tea and water. Tomorrow I'll wake up hungry.

Tonight, I'm simply tired. My legs and lower back have been a little sore, but nothing horrible. I did some laundry, but mostly just sat around this afternoon. It's 7:00 and I'm already starting to eye my bed and my book. I think the number one reason I have no desire to even think about a marathon--ever--is seeing how much half that distance can take out of me. I feel good, but it's going to take a few days to really recover.

That's entirely worth it.

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