Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Girlfriends Half Marathon 2011

Race:  Girlfriend's Half Marathon
When:  October 16, 2011; 9 a.m
What:  A race for just women to support breast cancer research and support
Weather:  Perfect,  50's, cool, comfortable, cloudy.
Size:  1,920 finishers; over 3,000 registered
Official Time/Place: 10/1920  1:34:13
Garmin Stats: 1:34:17 and my garmin didn't register a full course.  It said 12.96. Not sure what this was about but I don't care too much.  
Perks:  Awesome shirts, names on bibs, race bags that we can reuse again and again, great volunteers, fudge samples and massages/adjustments at the end, music, samples, a necklace for our medal (love it), GREAT energy! 

I came home after my Girlfriend's Half Marathon with a negative cloud over my head.  All I could focus on were all the things I wasn't happy about.  As usual, I was being WAY TOO HARD on myself.  Instead of focusing on all the things that went right (a lot!), I thought of the things I could have done better.  I wasn't seriously upset but I joked about feeling like a pansy and there was definitely truth to my joking.  The following is my e-mail to a friend in response to asking me about my race:  

"I'm such a pussy at the end of races!  Seriously, I need to get some "Eat it Suckah!" mentality instead of cheering on my competitors at miles 11, 12, and 13 of a half marathon.  I'm such a pansy!  Not sure where that dig deepness is with me.  I ran okay.  1:34:17...happy with my time...just wish I would have pushed myself more at the end and went to that place of doesn't last long...not sure why I can't push myself.  Seriously, thinking about cuddles with my kids and a latte at mile 12.  What??!"

Although I was half-joking and meant this to be more funny than anything, I was feeling a little bummed.  But as usual, many of my friends helped to give me new perspective so that all I can see from this race now is that it was success!  Just what I had planned for.  Thank you friends.  

My goals for this race were met!  I didn't go into this race expecting a PR or an "A Game" race.  I've got to keep reminding myself to celebrate and look for what went right in a race.  And 
Let myself off the hook!
Stop being so hard on Amanda for not being in "A Game" mode when I didn't do "A Game" training.  

So here is what did go right:

I met all of my goals:

  1. Have fun--Check, check!  This was one of the most fun races yet!  I met so many great girls, some bloggers and some not.  Thank you to Julie D. for organizing an after-race girlfriend brunch.  And great to meet Kim as we passed off the porto potty door.  Also got to see Meredith, Ashley, Tasha (she was 8th woman overall...go read her race report!), Jill, and Sarah Bowen Shea. 
  2. Enjoy feeling strong--Check, check!  I felt strong for the entire race.  I was consistent with my paces and felt strong and capable.  Although I had a side stitch and felt a little out of sorts, my legs were strong.  
  3. Try to push myself a little past comfortable--check!  Although I didn't bring out the "big guns" like I know I have in me most of the time, I did do some mental talk and I managed to convince myself to at least pick up the pace and give my last half mile a good sub 6:30 pace kick.  This is one step in the right direction.  Eventually I will want my last  5k in a half marathon to be the "dig deep" and give it all I've got mentality.  Today it started with a half-mile and that is reason to celebrate.  I even got over my "make friends with my competitor" problem and passed a woman at the end.  She passed me back but still, I passed her without hugging ,saying sorry or some crap like that.  Ha!  Okay, I'm not that bad.  I just become a little soft when I'm racing.  Instead of getting all hard core, I end up cheering them on.  I'm convinced I can do both next time...kick their ass and tell them their ass looks good in those tempo shorts.  All with a smile.  
Other Celebrations:
  • I said I'd be thrilled with a 1:35 or under.  I did this!  And on minimal training. This makes me feel confident.
  • Started off slow like I planned.  Usually I go out much faster but I ran a 7:25 for my first mile.  It felt so slow but I wanted to try this.  Next time I think I will start faster or at the pace that I'd like to run the entire race.  I see the pros and cons of starting slow but I think as long as I don't start too fast then I'll be okay with starting at pace.  I'm not so sure the slow start helped me out so much.  In fact, I think that I still would have felt strong if I started at a 7:15 or 7:10 and I also would have had more time to spare at the end.  
  • I felt strong.  At least my legs and cardio felt great!  I got a side stitch and felt a little out of mental focus though.  
  • I kicked the last half mile.  
Things I'm less than thrilled about but NOT going to be too hard on myself about.  Just things to learn from and reflect on for next time:  
  •  I slowed way down/stopped even @ water stations.  Since I wasn't so set on a specific time, this was fine for me but I'm wondering if this ever works beneficially for people.  I know that Jeff Galloway talks about walk breaks and I had him in mind.  Although I did slow down and take a very very short rest/drink, I felt strong when I picked back up again. 
  • When I had opportunities to get aggressive, get the girl in front of me and surge the last miles, I became too soft and friendly.  This is a race.  Remember that Amanda.  
  • Fuel.  Not sure I have this figured out.  I tried a PowerBar Gel (really liked it!) at mile 6.  This gel was more watery than the GU gel and I liked how easily it went down.  I only took one gel and I think this is enough for me but I'd like to experiment.  
  • No plan with music.  I wasn't totally in the zone with this race.  Just kind of messing around mentally.  I tried music for the first time in a half marathon but I couldn't make up my mind so I took my ear buds in and out and felt distracted even.  Not so sure I'll try music again but then again, maybe so.  I think I might have been more in the mental zone if I would have just started with no music and went inside my head like I usually do. 
7:21 (side stitch. struggle.  Figures this was on my way back when a sea of women on the other side waving and cheering when all I wanted to do was stop for a sec and hold my side.  I guess, the good thing about them was that I kept going and trying to look strong even though it hurt like heck.)
7:32 (uphill)
7:34 (uphill)
7:11 (Still slightly uphill. Again, my Garmin only registered 12.96 miles so this is what I was on track for.)

I know this isn't the best race report.  I'm tired.  My kids need me and I need to just finish this up and get on with my day.  There was more to the day...chatting with runners, eating brunch with some great girls and lots of laughter. Maybe I'll save those stories for another day.  Go read Tasha's report from Healthy Diva for a better report!  And besides, you really should find her blog anyway.  She's an amazing runner who hasn't even begun to tap into her potential in my opinion.  She's gearing up for the CIM where she hopes to run a sub 3:15 and I have no doubts that she is capable of this.  Go Tasha!  

Time to LEARN!
Later after I got home, Jill sent me a great e-mail in response to my vent about feeling unable to push myself and get tough even when it means being in pain for a bit. She suggested reading chapter 8 of Brain Training For Runners by Matt Fitzgerald.  It is called Mastering The Experience and all about finding ways to increase our tolerance for pain and fatigue and accepting pain as part of the reward.  Thanks Jill!  Just the direction I needed. I'm excited to learn.  Not sure why I skipped this chapter before.  Another friend wrote this week about an awesome metaphor in helping us accept and deal with see ourselves as a container and being big enough to hold all the pain as it comes.  This visual she used really clicked with me!  

I'm in learning mode!  I've got my running journal, highlighters and pens ready and whenever I find free time in this crazy life of mine, I do plan on putting my student hat on and reading a ton to gear up for Boston training.  Bring it!  

 Here are some pics.  I'm posting them because they are proof to myself that I did dig deep at the end.  It may have only been for the last half mile but I still met my goal.  Baby Steps.  And you'll notice that the first picture is just a look of "I'm in control and will be slow for my first mile."

Start. Slow and steady.

Mid race? 

End of race.



  1. OK, first you ran a great race! I seriously think you've got a ton of talent Amanda and I can't wait to see what you can do after you put in a strong training cycle. It is going to be awesome motivation that a few of us are training for the same race.

    I used to be tough on myself until I realized that there really is not point to that bc I end up suffering even more. Lol.

    As far as tolerating pain, I think one needs to practice that in training; then, it becomes easier to do in a race.

    As far as "stealing" official pics, I do that all the time. I would pay for them if they were like $10-15, but they are just too much. Just click on the pics to make them bigger, and then drag them on the desktop. From there, you can upload them on the blog like you upload a regular picture.

  2. Amanda - you ran an awesome race! No getting down on yourself... it's all about the journey mama. You'll get your PRs when you're ready.

    And can I just say - you look incredible in your race photos! You look sexy and determined... which are totally different than the two adjectives I'd use to describe my race photos... painful and uncoordinated. :)

  3. In between my 2 youngest screaming at each other, I got most of this read :) Again, you did a great job, friend!

  4. wow, you are an amazing athlete. I don't think you have to be "bad ass" to be great, I love that you are all hearts and flowers while still killing it out there. I am no where near being an expert at running or winning races but I do know that being true to you is what's going to get you where you want to be.

  5. Great reflections and renewed perspective on a beautiful race!! Oh and I loooove your race photos!!

  6. Sounds like a great race to me!!! WTG Amanda!

  7. amanda, first of all, running through a side stitch is pure torture and proof that you are mentally strong. Congrats on a great race! We are always going to have those 'mentally off' races when everything doesn't exactly fall where we want it but I think you rocked it. Your race photos are proof, like you said. I agree with ana-maria, you have so much talent---can't wait to see where it takes you. Congrats, top 10 finisher!!! top 10!!!---out of 2000 people!!!!....claim that amanda...there is nothing pansy about that. Remember you can always hug 'em after, my friend. ;) You rock.

  8. I thought this was an awesome race report. I think you articulated your feelings surrounding the race really well!! Your reflections are awesome....You've got so much RIGHT here and I love reading it!! I need to read this chapter in Brain training again!

    As far as the race. Well, 10 out of 1920 pretty much speaks for itself!! Really a fantastic race. You know how much potential I think/know you have and this proves it considering the training you put into this race. Personally, I think you paced perfectly for THIS race. Sure, maybe you would change it next time but you haven't raced hardly any half marathons and feeling strong with both cardio and legs puts you in a prefect place to adapt your race plan next time. Really girl, when you get down and dirty and put in the training, get down your mental game, you will be SUCH a huge force to be reckoned with.....Can't wait to see that:)

    Love the pink armwarmers:)

  9. Oh I would love just one time in my life to say "I ran a 7:25 mile and it seemed slow!" I am in awe of your speed and 10th overall, with minimal training. Wow-wee is all I have to say!

  10. You look so hard core in those photos.

    If someone ever passed me and told me my ass looked good in a race, I would seriously have to stop, drop, and roll. Laughing.

  11. Way to run sub 1:35! Your race pics are great too. Very hardcore! Anyway, thanks for sharing some of your thoughts. I am debating about listening to music in my upcoming half next weekend... Also, trying to figure out a pacing strategy.. It's always nice to learn from other runners. :-)

  12. Your pics and time sure look like you're bringing it! I'm just like you though...I am shy of passing people and I don't like to make them feel bad! I never compete in races!

  13. You DID achieve everything you wanted. It sounds like a really great race to me.

  14. This is a great and very thorough race report! Congrats on a Top 10 finish :) You are so amazing! My phone is spazzy so I'm cutting it shorter than I would like :( but I am way impressed :)

  15. You are not a pansy!!! You are a strong, beautiful and amazingly talented runner. Running through a side stitch is the worst and only means that you are one tough cookie. Woohoo!

  16. My first thought when reading this is "I can't believe she can find something wrong with splits that fast!" But I get it...and it doesn't matter what the times say, we all have our own goals, feelings towards times, and feeling towards race performance. I'm not nearly as fast as you, but my goal for my upcoming half is going to be to push myself and be uncomfortable. I liked this post. And I will be thinking about it while I'm running the half in a few weeks. In fact, maybe I should wear a bracelet that says "WWRD?" You know, for What Would Runninghood Do? Ok, I can't afford a custom bracelet right now, but I will be thinking about you, and trying to enjoy my race but also to push myself and be a bit uncomfortable. Thanks!

  17. Dear Amanada-you inspire me! Oh! Please don't be so hard on ROCK lady!!!
    I am so glad you connected me with your mom...besides the fact that she is super talented + amazing..we have so much in's just kinda' weird:) In a good way:)

  18. That's a HONKIN huge half marathon pack of ladies (for around here). Must have been a party! And I missed it... Love the necklaces they gave out, and the bag. :)

    I have to agree with Ana-Maria on how exciting it will be to see how you do with a strong training cycle. I know you can do BIG things. Pain tolerance is a developed art and an "In-the-moment" decision. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't.

    I can't think of any races where i have been that close to another woman at the end, other than Eugene in 2010- and we helped each other. At the PRE 10K, I caught the 1st OA Female on the last uphill, but she got ahead of me on the downhill. I STILL wonder if I had put on the heat if I could have caught her. No way to know now. Anyway, at the finish line I felt I had given all that I could, and that's what matters the most.

    I love your goals and analysis. Always learning!!

    Just a bit jealous i missed the bloggy meet-up. :) Those are fine ladies to dine with.

  19. Amanda you ran a great race and met your (I'd be thrilled goal). If you're this hard on yourself when you do that, what do you do when you don't meet your goals?
    I don't mean to be harsh here but pick your battles and celebrate your triumphs.
    Of course one can always 'do better' in running and there's always something to learn from every race. My inner critic is rather dominant just like yours. That's precisely why we need to teach our brains to focus on and celebrate the positives, instead of hyper-analyze the negatives. Positive thinking yields positive results. I know you're tired and I hope I didn't offend you. I just want you to not tear yourself down because you are extraordinary. Believe it.

  20. Thanks Marcia. Actually, this is just what I've done here in this race report...celebrate the positives. I mention the negative feelings only the start of this blog report...only to say just what you did really. Don't worry, I figured all this out before I wrote the race report. That's why I shared my feelings and how I pushed them aside and then went on to list that it was a wonderful race. Thanks for your comment. :)

  21. Also, I even mentioned that I met my I'd be thrilled goal...and this was something to celebrate. Not be down about. The time was never an issue. the only thing I was hard on myself about was not feeling like I was able to push myself fully at the end. But as you can see in this report, I moved past that and found many many things to celebrate and be positive about. I listed some things I was less than thrilled about but only to have as things to learn from and remember for next time...not to wallow in the negative. :)

  22. Why is it that we (especially women) are so hard on ourselves? You ran a great race and did a super job! Love the pics too. :)

    It made me laugh too that a 7:25 mile felt "so slow" to you too. That speaks volumes about your awesomeness right there.

    To answer your question on my blog, I am using the Bart Yasso "hardcore" marathon training plan. I am writing about it today on my blob. :)

  23. Amanda you did great! You cannot be upset with consistant splits. That really shows how smart you are as a runner and how well you know your body. Such impressive splits and overall time. I admire you and look up to you a lot.

    The pictures are awesome! You totally look like an "elite" runner. I am jealous. I always look awful in race pictures.

  24. LOVE the off the ground pics. You seriously rock lady. You continue to impress me both with your running and your parenting skills.

  25. You ROCK those pictures, Chica!! You look fantastic and you raced this race must better than you hoped and I couldn't be more proud, and happy, for you!!! When the time comes to pick up the training again, you will and you will go even speedier....but for now, it's time with your children and your writing and your hubby and these little races on the side are just going to be what sparks the Running hood ignition when the time comes to race hard. It's going to be an incredible journey that I can't wait to watch!!

  26. YAY YAY YAY!! Congrats on an awesome and super speedy race! You rock!!

  27. first off you look super hot in those pics! hey i hear ya on the not being so hard on yourself even when your goals for the race are met. it is so easy to trap ourselves in the wonderment of what could have happened if i did this or why didn't i do that or i would feel better about myself if this happened. this is how i used to feel after every race until i changed my perspective.

    you are an amazing runner that is insanely fit, but you are also human. you're not a robot that can block out everything in life and go out to every race and have all things go perfect. life is hard and running is harder (if that is even a word). but at least you get your ass out there and run a 1:34 on an off day, that is pretty frickin cool. there will always be other races and another chance to take what you've learned and give it another go.

    so keep your beautiful head up lady because you have all the goods already inside you!

  28. Some sneaky part of me wishes I could run on a "short" course. All the halfs I have run show up around the ballpark of 13.3 miles (and I hug the curves! hard!). I trust my lil Garmin, so it's tough to pace yourself not accounting for the extra 0.2.

    Anyway, great race and recap. I would buy a picture if it was GREAT. otherwise, stealing with the ugly watermark is fair game.

  29. Freaking awesome! You are such a beautiful runner.

    Your potential is limitless, but be sure to embrace each small victory! Celebrate it all!!