Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paradise Coast Half Marathon

I didn't actually set any goals for this half. It was so soon after Ragnar that I wasn't sure what my legs would allow me to do, despite my awesome runs this week. So my goal was simply: run it. Really run it. Ragnar has taken some of the easy-going attitude out of my runs lately and has reminded me that pushing myself can feel really freaking good.

So I went into the race knowing I'd push myself and embrace the discomfort. I also kept in mind a question recently posed by Kristina over at Blog About Running. Some studies suggest that starting slow is best, while others say that starting fast will win you a faster over-all time, even if you slow down in the end.
Pre-race: the crazed look just comes naturally. I wore the BondiBand to keep my ears warm. It worked!
This morning it was 48 degrees before race time. This was a definite reprieve from last week's brutal heat, but it was a totally different kind of pain. Matt and I arrived at the venue around 6:25, which gave me just enough time to use the bathroom and mentally prepare myself to freeze for the first mile of the race. (I warmed up nicely at that point, and by the end - even though it was only 60 when I finished - I was uncomfortably warm.)
The full moon was still high and bright when we began, but of course you can't really see it in the pic.
A little after 7am, off we went! The course took us through a beautiful community in Naples; having just run a half through my parents' golf community, I was excited to have gorgeously manicured lakes and topiaries to distract me.
Meg and I ran into Rachel, another teacher at our school who was running her FIRST HALF EVER today. So exciting!
Excited to get going!
Meg left me in the dust not long after this picture was taken. Speedy!
I decided to gun it in the beginning and see where it got me.
Around mile 4, when I ate my first Clif Bloks, I was beginning to feel the pain of the fast start. My legs were tired!

In the past, feeling tired this early would have completely shut me down. I would have walked, felt stupid for taking an unplanned walk break so early, and thrown the rest of the race. But my mind is a better friend these days, and I refused to listen to any kind of negative self-talk.
Pretty much every photo I took was wobbly or sideways, so here are some pictures from the race's website.
Another from the website.
The ONLY passable picture I took during the race.
At this point, I changed over from music to the Savage Love podcast. I needed a distraction if I wanted to keep pushing the pace. It worked! I was able to keep my pace a little more comfortable without slowing down too much. I knew by mile 6 that I was heading for a PR, and I refused to let up on myself.
A change in tunes helped me get back on a steady pace. From this point on, the positive splits show where I ate/drank.
Matt met me at mile 7 for a quick photo, and then I was in for the homestretch! The route was a nice loop, so once we were back on familiar ground I felt my energy rev back up.
Mile 7, still happy!

My splits are all over the place, but I couldn't be happier!
I noticed a girl tagging behind me, and she apologized. "This is my first half, and I just really like your pace!" We struck up a conversation and ran most of the last two miles together.
Almost there...!
8/20 AG, 184/351 OA, chip time 2:11:38!
The last half mile was on gravel, which I didn't love, but when I saw the clock I knew I'd made it and all the struggle was worth it. I kicked in the last of my energy to beat 2:12, and I did.
Finally at the finish!
I PR'd by 4 minutes. I never thought I'd be able to break my previous PR. It took over a year to do it, but I did! I just needed to change up my training and my mentality to do it!

I cried a little after I crossed the finish line. I was just so happy to finally have broken that PR.
Matt and I found Meg at the massage tent. She had met her long-term goal of beating 2:00, coming in at 1:56. We both enjoyed the free massages, and then it was time to go home.
The Tiger Tail: my new favorite torture device EVER.
All smiles with our shiny new PR's!
I really do credit Ragnar for the success of this race. Learning to embrace discomfort, knowing I can do more than my mind thinks I can, realizing that (relative) speed is still something I can achieve, remembering the feeling of a great race...All this fed into my determination to just kick butt today.

And yes, this was my first race of my new age, the race I ran in honor of my birthday, and I couldn't have asked for better. Best. birthday present. EVER.



  1. so awesome! you should be super proud of your progress and your PR! nice birthday treat :)

  2. What an awesome birthday present!!! So proud of you :) I've cried finishing a few races as well. Sometimes the pain coupled with the finish is just so overwhelming.

    Great work Ali!

    1. Thank you!!!! I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets emotional/worked up at the end of a big race!

  3. CONGRATS on your PR!!! So exciting! You kicked serious butt!

    I love the "excited to get going" picture. You look great and I love the pink accessories! :)

    1. Ha, Matt loves that picture. He's so proud of himself for taking it, but in the uncropped version there's some guy in front of me who totally ruins it!

  4. Great job rocked it and seemed to have found a new comfort zone for yourself!!!!

    1. It's definitely true that I've done some real growing in the past few months!

  5. Awesome job, congrats on your PR!

  6. ALI - YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!! It looks like you had a fabulous birthday weekend!!!! :) :) :)
    Congrats on PR! What an incredible race!!!!

  7. You are so awesome! What a great PR!! Congratulations, and happy happy happy birthday!!!

  8. This is awesome, Ali!! Congrats on the PR!!! "Embracing discomfort"... yes. The more you embrace discomfort, that discomfort won't be uncomfortable anymore, and your discomfort bar will be set higher, if that makes sense. Don't you think?? Oh I love that you were listening to Dan Savage! You know, I thought I have heard all the shocking things he has said and I didn't think he could shock me anymore, but then I was doing a plank at the gym the other day and he just started to describe the most DISGUSTING things, as he was making fun of Mike Huckabee and I almost lost my plank!!

    1. It's so amazing how we can raise our own "discomfort threshold" just by deciding to deal with it. And once we decide to deal with it, we realize our body is actually capable of a lot more than we thought!

      Sometimes I can't get over the stupid questions people have for DS, But yeah, I do love that he can talk about ANYTHING and just when you think you've heard it all, there's something more that makes you laugh from shock. It's a seriously great way to get your mind off your run...or your plank haha.

  9. That is so awesome! You are inspiring!

    1. Thank you, Anna. That means a lot coming from you!

  10. I don't know why I haven't done this race yet, I love naples and my friends enjoyed it. I'll have to put it on the calendar for next year if we are still in Orlando! Congrats on a PR after a ragnar!!

    1. Thank you!

      And yes, it's a beautiful and smooth course. I highly recommend it!