chords and cadence

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My Big, Fat 10th Half Marathon!

Man. Oh. Man. A new race recap.

I know, you’ve been waiting since last spring.

But here it is. A chronicle of my 10th half marathon (!!!!!) the Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon in Lebanon, Tennessee, y’all! I love milestones like this.

I look at racing as part test, part celebration. After weeks or months of training, over a hundred miles put in for 13.1 it all comes down to just that: 13.1. It’s a celebration to complete training, it’s a jubilant feeling when other runners are around you, excited about the same end goal of simply running their own race. I love pushing myself and surprising myself and proving to myself that my legs and lungs and limbs can complete difficult tasks. And I love coming home and adding my race bib to all the other race bibs I’ve ran with since 2012. Thirty-one and counting.

As a prelude to all this, race week has a special place in my heart.

RACE WEEK

Race week is deliberately preparatory, which the Type A in me LOVES. You bet your butt I have my meals planned, my workouts planned, my sleep schedule planned, my race day outfit planned. I am READY. It probably scares my husband a little bit, but I tell myself it’s endearing. All the planning is exciting to me and builds the anticipation. It’s like the Rocky theme playing in a loop throughout my week, even as I sit in meetings and stare out the window at work. The pump is omnipresent. 

This race week, I was feeling mentally ready, but my body was being less than agreeable. I followed my training plan and ran a tempo workout on Monday night, but couldn’t complete it; my shins started burning with 15 minutes to go, so reluctantly backed off. Thursday morning I went for a run with my friend Elizabeth, and we both agreed to take it waaay easy (she was racing Saturday, too). But even our waaay easy run wasn’t that easy to me. I knew that I probably hadn’t given my body enough rest lately, that I’d been pretty gung-ho throughout the training period. Moral of the story is listen to your body and take rest days seriously!

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Ready to race!

RACE DAY

This glorious race started at 11a.m. and was $8 without a t-shirt. That’s like finding a unicorn! Just glorious. But wouldn’t you know I woke up before my alarm Saturday morning, 7:30 a.m.  I was quite annoyed at my internal clock for not indulging in the late start time and sleeping later!

Abuzz with plenty of coffee, water, and an oatmeal with peanut butter and banana breakfast, husband and I picked up Elizabeth and headed east to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park for the Frostbite Half Marathon.

Although the sun was shining, it wasn’t a warm morning. Around start time, it was creeping up to 40 but wasn’t there yet. We debated on what layers to wear and what to leave in the car. I decided to keep my Oiselle jacket on with a t-shirt and arm sleeves underneath. I never got too warm or too cold the whole time and I’m convinced it was because of quality gear! Oiselle, you do good work. I also wore capris if you were worried I forgot pants. I didn’t.

After getting our numbers pinned on and last-minute snacking was out of the way (try Honey Stinger waffles and thank me later), we got our spots in the mass of racers. We held our hands over our hearts to a George Jones rendering of the National Anthem, which just tickled me. I love living in Tennessee sometimes!

The gun went off and with it hundreds of GPS beeps chimed as people crossed over the line, mine included. This was my first race with my new Garmin Forerunner 220. I was excited to try it out! Spoiler alert: It did awesome and my splits are listed below. Thank you, Jacob! 

Even though they say to never try anything new on race day, I ran without music. I’ve never ran a half without music before. I mostly wanted to avoid holding my darn phone and dealing with the headphone wires and more importantly, wanted to challenge myself mentally. I remained easily motivated and kept a consistent pace sans tunes and ended up getting lost in my own mind anyway.

Side note: Do you ever just run and lose yourself for a minute? Do you feel like you have an out of body experience and you’re not thinking about anything but your body is still moving and reacting? So cool.

My goal was a 8:30 min/mile average pace to get a sub-1:50 time, and as the miles ticked away, the more I felt comfortable around my ~8 minute pace. As I was racing, I constantly kept checking in o

Yay, Liz!

Yay, Liz!

n my body to see if anything was hurting or needing attention and it was all systems go! It felt as though I had set my brain on auto-pilot and my body was just doing its thing. It was incredible and mysterious and still challenging all at the same time. How does my body do that? How does my brain do that? That feeling of non-feeling, if you will, made me just love running even more, again. It was all encompassing. It was another countless time when I felt such a deep love and respect for this art of running. Even still, I can’t articulate how it makes me feel.

After passing by a couple of basset hounds racing me in their front yard, I started to kick it in around mile 11. Throughout the final mile I started feeling my energy drain pretty noticeably. I’d hastily gobbled a Clif gel with some water around an hour in, but didn’t finish the packet because I was worried about slowing down too much. Plus, I never practice eating on the run, so it felt awkward.

 After seeing Jacob and speedy Elizabeth cheering me on near the finish, I kept up the sprint and left it all out on the course. To my excitement I came in at 1:45:20! Dizzy, thrilled, pumped up and proud of myself. But also very dizzy.

Elizabeth had, predictably, killed it, placing 2nd in her age group with a 1:41:?? time. Yeah, give that girl a high five! I was so excited for her because I know how hard she trained for this race and she did awesome.

img_9537WHAT’S NEXT

More running, that’s what! Yes, it is possible I’m still on my runner’s high from Saturday…

Tale as old as time, once you finish one race you’ll be scrambling to find your next one! I have a couple in my sights and can’t wait to zero in and start up training again. I was happy to see what I could do with this past race since it’d been too long since my last half. Gauging where I am can now set me up for more specific training and goals for the next one.

I’d love to work on speed + endurance for this next one, knocking a couple minutes off my time. I’ll know full well to back the heck off when my body is just not into it. Maybe take a couple more waaay easy runs, sans music, and just get lost in the footfalls.

SPLITS + DATA

8:09 // 8:04 // 8:22 // 8:05 // 8:02 // 8:17 // 8:02 // 7:57 // 7:54 // 8:02 // 7:39 // 8:04 // 7:55 // 6:47 (.10) = 1:45:20

37 degrees // 501 elevation gain

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Race recap: Tom King Half Marathon

When you’re a runner, there are good days and there are great days (runners know that bad days are eradicated by simply lacing up), and Saturday was a great day.

After many races big and small in the past two years, I know how to prepare myself for a race: physically, mentally, and emotionally. It takes practice to get it right for y-o-u. Me, I need: coffee, some carb action, and feel good tunes. Sunshine helps. In preparation Friday night, I thoughtfully laid out my race wear: Oiselle on top, Nike (skirt!) on bottom, Pearl Izumi & Swiftwicks on the feet, and yes, that was an overall endorsement (sponsor me?!). I set my alarm with an Allman Brothers song to wake me up. No end-of-the-week beer, and a 9:30pm bedtime kept me in line. Delayed gratification.

SATURDAY – The Tom King Half Marathon, Nashville

I woke up refreshed and maybe a little too excited to toe the line at 6:30am. I mean, I know I’m not the only one who gets psyched to race 13.1 miles, but I know it’s not a widespread, uh, sentiment. For fuel, I ate a peanut butter, honey, cinnamon tortilla and a HoneyStinger vanilla waffle (Psst: Endorsement. Sponsor me?!), drank some coffee and water and thanked the good Lord for such a beautiful race day.

Parking was a breeze and without the wonder of technology or pre-planning, I happened to find my running buddies so we could wish exchange high fives and talk some smack before the gun went off.

Although there were over 1,200 runners for the race, there weren’t waves, so being in the middle of the pack took around 50 seconds to actually cross the starting line. Once past it, though, I zigged and zagged and found my sweet spot. I’ve resolved not to listen to music during races because it blocks out the community that the race itself inspires. I was hesitant to go in without music but I did. I realized  one of my favorite parts to a race is at the beginning when other runners are nervously chatting to each other about pace, early morning mishaps, or just an audible expression of gratitude.

After the first mile, I ran 7:52. Visions of stardom and sponsorships ran though my mind, but then remembered my goal race pace should have been around 8:15-8:20. Woops. I chalked up my fast feet to being anxious and resolved to keep my pace in check, because bonking sucks and is a rookie move. I am no rookie, and I will not bonk. Well, it turns out I never ended up slowing down and kept a sub-8 minute mile pace throughout the race because I just felt that good. Throughout the race I was encouraged by others, namely a guy in a wheelchair with a partner running by his side. Also, a girl had some tunes blasting from her iPhone locked in an armband, and I appreciated that, too. I tried not to worry too much that I neglected to swipe on some Bodyglide…

As we came down to the last mile coming into LP Field, I went all out. After running down into the tunnel and out onto the field, I had enough left in my tank to sprint to the finish. I heard cheers and “Go Taylor!”, and I saw the time on the screen (below) and my watch: 1:41:22. (Official chip time: 1:41:57). Boom.

Photo credit: Boyfriend.

Photo credit: Boyfriend.

I was elated, and somewhat alarmed myself with how good I felt. I kept thinking: Shouldn’t something ache? Am I gonna fall down soon? Should I go run some more? Where was Ryan Gosling to give me my medal? My Runner’s High should’ve gotten its own dang medal. Mine was pretty cool, though.

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Thanks, Jacob, Devyn, and Erika for coming out! Y’all are the best. Support means everything, people!

Here’s the takeaway: Being prideful in a race can hurt you. Ignoring what your body needs is stupid and shouldn’t come at the cost of shaving seconds off your finish time for PR. I’ve learned this. BUT NOT THIS TIME. With appropriate pride, I tuned into myself and truly didn’t need to slow down, catch a water break or down any energy gel. I surprisingly did awesome for not having music to dictate my quicker cadence. Because of all that, this race felt perfect. It proved my training has been paying off more than I was ready to give myself credit for. I underestimated myself, and that’s a pretty gratifying feeling to have once its realized.

And, as it turns out, I won 3rd place for my age group! I was second behind a girl who finished in 1:27:something, so no qualms here!

After this amazing race, I have to negotiate my goals for the Country Music Marathon in a little over six weeks. After this week of training, I’ll make some adjustments.

Thanks to The Nashville Striders, Nashville Running Company, and all who volunteered, making this race such FUN and a great PR.

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