Saturday, March 26, 2011

Start spreading the news: National Half Marathon

What a GREAT race!
Last night, I went out to zpizza (they have gluten free pizza!) and coldstone with my friend Amanda, who is taking her master's exams this weekend. Perfect Friday night: we both needed to just relax. Definitely got the job done - just fun for both of us! And I had had a good shakeout run yesterday morning, and felt ready to go. I talked to my parents and friends as I was getting ready for bed and just felt so relaxed and ready to sleep. And I was asleep by 9:15. I have really gotten good about relaxing the day before a race to the point where I can go to bed very early and not spend the whole night tossing and turning.
Alarm went off at 4:30 playing Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" - what a good sign! Jenny and I danced around to that right before MCM, so I was very pumped to wake up to it. A fellow Pacers Ambassador, Cindy, picked me up and we drove to RFK stadium together - it was nice to have some company. I dropped off my stuff, shedded my gear, and headed outside to do my warm up. Definitely needed it - it was about 29 at the start, so ran for 15 minutes, then headed to my corral. Was so fortunate to bump into my MCM buddy Brian and get a hug from him right before the start. That gave me the last dose of relaxation I needed. And then, BANG, the gun went off!
I went through the first mile at 7:22 - perfect, this will keep me right on for sub 1:37. And then...there weren't mile markers. What? At first, I thought I just missed the one at mile 2, but no, they weren't there. I was a bit surprised, but decided to just trust my pace and go by feel - surely one will appear. Weather was beautiful - cold, but brisk and sunny. First few miles were quiet, but that's what you need at the beginning of a race - just time to unwind. The pace did not feel too fast, and it was my hope that at some point I would get confirmation about how far I actually had went. Saw a couple of Pacers people during the race, including my friend Reza, whom I've done some training runs with. There was a mat at the 10k, which I crossed in 45:08 - a little ahead of goal pace. This was my favorite part of the race. This segment had some hills, which I am fairly strong at, and I can pass people well on them. Plus. the crowds were absolutely wonderful -- cheering and ringing cowbells. I knew I could draw in from that excitement. At mile 8ish, somone was playing Katy Pary's "Firework," which I love and we hit a beautiful section of town. Okay, less than 5 miles to go. There was no mile marker at 9 either, but I was trusting that I was still on pace. The crowds at this point were just so exciting and invigorating, which was what I needed, and I knew they could keep me going. I did smile a bit at this point, and figured enjoying myself was the best way to go. Went through mile 10 in 1:12:40, again, still ahead of pace. I was pretty sure I wouldn't see another marker, so when I got to 1:21, I threw out the index cards listing my splits - all about running by feel! At this point, I was uncomfortable, but had to remind myself that I would only be uncomfortable for 15 more minutes at most.
Again, no marker at mile 12, but I knew I was ahead of goal pace, and so I just tried to keep pushing and passing people. Then, it was time for the half and full to split off, so I just tried to take off. There was a slight hill, but you cannot have mercy so close to the end. I could hear the announcer saying, "You know, the people coming in right now are fast, take a lot, these are people in the top 20% of the country..." Just tried to keep going, and I looked down at my watch, and was so excited to see low numbers with the final steps. I crossed the line:
(7:14 pace)
I punched my ticket to NYC with over 2 minutes to spare! You need 1:37:00, and now I have automatically qualified for the NYC Marathon! My PR from last year was 1:39:30, so I knocked off almost 5 minutes in a year!
I could not stop smiling - I was so excited, shocked, overjoyed, surprised, relieved. It just felt incredible: my pace felt relatively comfortable for most of the race. I stuck with my plan, I didn't go out to fast or do anything stupid, and it all worked! The plan, the diet, the training, it is all working. And also, my mental plan is working - I am learning how to relax and enjoy myself, and it is paying off. I was just beaming on the metro.
I am very blessed that I have people in my life who can share in my joy and who understand how important it is to me. I was so excited to talk to my parents and let them know how I did: they were stunned and excited. They just mean so much to me and I can't wait to have them on the streets of Boston! I had a chat with Sarah (my trainer), who said she knew I was in 1:35 shape but thought it might have freaked me out to hear that. She says this proves that sub 3:30 at Boston is completely attainable. I believe her! I also talked with Jenny (and her husband Sam, who is also teriffic), who was a competitive swimmer, so not only did we run MCM together, but she understands the competition, the training, everything. So much fun to rehash the race with her too. She sent me the following message after, that got me all filled up, "You are amazing, AWESOME, PHENOMENAL, OUTSTANDING and INSPIRATIONAL!!!"
I am very moved by all of the support - I know that I do better when I talk beforehand with those who are important to me, and I was able to do that. Excited is the only word I have right now: of what just happened, what it means, and what it signals for the big one in Boston in just over 3 weeks. Hope and joy, and the love of family and friends...feeling very blessed today indeed.


  1. Awesome day V!! And you qualified for NYC too, even more awesomeness. Your dedicated training shows. Congrats! Watch out Boston!

  2. Great work Van! Really excited about meeting you in Beantown!

  3. YAY! We're like running twins now, only I ran a 1:35:53 . Are you going to nYC this year? I just registered today!!