Pounding the pavement at The Showdown Half Marathon

Posted on October 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

After a long hiatus, it was time.  Time to lace up my running shoes and pound that pavement once again.  The race I chose?  The Showdown Half Marathon in Fairview, Texas (October 11, 2014).  It is put on by the same race director from the New Year’s Double I did last year, so I knew it was going to be awesome!  Libby had so many perks for this race including free child care for runners and a free race photo!  The idea behind the Showdown Half is the annual football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, also known as the Red River Showdown.  Racers are given a bib, race t shirt, and a medal in the colors of the team they choose to support.  This is fantastic!  I only had one problem – Texas A&M wasn’t a choice.  So what do you do when the team you support isn’t playing in the Red River Showdown?  You can go with the “neutral” option and get your race goodies in a color that is not associated with either school.  This year, the neutral color was plum purple.  I decided to go neutral and I would sport some Aggie gear so that they, too would have a presence at the race.  I even personalized my bib with “Gig ’em Aggies!”

My training leading up to this race was splotchy and sporadic to say the least.  The hardware still needs to be removed from my ankle which means I do the complete opposite of “pushing myself”.  I do not train as often (or as hard) as I should.  Basically my goal is to get through the race without my ankle hollering at me.

When I volunteered to help set up tables and unbox boxes for packet pick up, I met Libby, the race director.  I’ve heard so many people say that she is as awesome as the races she puts on.  They are right.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and seeing a little of the “behind the scenes” of a race.

As race day approached, the temperature and humidity were high.  I was more than slightly nervous.  There is a reason that I did not venture down the running road until we had moved to Calgary.  I learned at the Stampede race in Calgary that the humidity has more of an effect on me than temperature, but when they are both high, it takes a miracle (and a lot of water over the head) to finish.  The racing gods took pity on me (or Libby has super powers and can control the weather).  Either way, a storm came through the region Friday night.  That left Saturday morning cool and breezy.  The humidity was higher than I would have liked, but we aren’t in Calgary anymore…

My five year old was signed up for the Kids’ Dash and thankfully it was before the half.  I LOVE this small detail.  As a runner that likes to get her registration money’s worth (read between the lines:  I’m slow), I often do not get to watch my little one run.  We showed up with chilly temps and enough mist to almost be called light rain.  Start time for the kids’ race was 7am.  “The sun’s not up yet.  I get to run IN THE DARK?!”  He was a little more than excited at the prospect of running a predawn race.  The race official said “GO!” and off they went!  I watched my guy as he crossed the finish line and received his dog tags with a huge smile on his face.  He broke out in his “happy dance” because he won.  I don’t know where he got this idea that he ALWAYS wins first place.  It might be the fact that he gets a finisher medal or trophy when he crosses the line.  It might be that I look at every finish as a win – let’s face it, I will not be stepping on the podium anytime soon.  It might be a combination of the two or something else completely different.  Whatever it is, I love it.  I love how he looks at every finish as a win and not a “I didn’t come in first. *pouty face*”  My hope is that he holds onto that feeling.  That it is a win to cross the line regardless how many people cross before you.  That the only competitor you have to worry about beating is yourself.

With the kids’ race finished, it was time for me to switch from a spectator to a runner.  I met up with a few of the Half Fanatics and chatted with them before it was time to line up.  I had a “civilized” conversation with one about the color choice she made.

No worries – no Texas fan was harmed in the making of this picture.

Photo Credit: Showdown Half Marathon

The mist had lightened up as we lined up to start.  I had time to look around twice and then it was go time.  Libby wasn’t kidding when she told me the races start on time.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw Thor and Captain America racing.  I knew a certain little super hero that was going to be jealous when he found out that mommy got to run with them!  When I realized that I was AHEAD of them (at least for a little while), I was on Cloud 9.   I soon settled in a nice 30:30 and did my thing.  I was surprised that I kept pace with the 3 hour pace group for so long (they were doing 4:1).  I took it easy, walked through aid stations, walked when I had my gels, and took an extra break when needed.  The course took us through the rolling hills of Fairview.  The hills here are not like what you would see in the Texas Hill Country or in the foothills of the Rockies, but there were inclines and I’m not too proud to say that a few of them hurt.

I did really well for the most part until mile 9.  The 30:30 ratio was working well and I felt good.  The only consistent problem I had was with the humidity.  The temperature felt great and as long as the breeze was blowing, I was fine.  There were a few instances when the air was still, that I got lightheaded.  It happens in high humidity, but I’ve learned not to panic.  I just slow down and focus on breathing.  When I feel better, I pick it back Showdown Halfup.  The mile 6 aid station was packing up as I arrived and for a brief moment I thought that the course had closed.  Good news was that the course was open – bad news was they were out of water.  At mile 9, my ankle started talking to me.  I knew my pace was slowing down, but I kept going.  I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of a PR, but began doing the math in my head.  Maybe – just maybe – I could pull it off and get one.  Maybe… if my ankle holds and there are no more hil – oh look, a hill.  A long hill that is just steep enough to be steep to me.  I put the notion of a PR out of my mind.  I kept moving and around mile 12, my right calf threatened to seize up when I ran.  I ran when I could and walked when I needed to.

When I could see the finish, I ran it in.  My ankle was expressing unhappiness, but I was determined to cross the line running.  I prayed that my calf would hold out and not seize up.  If it did, the photographer would get some great pictures of me crawling across the line.  I was able to finish upright (always a good thing) and looking at the race clock I realized that I just PR’d.  I couldn’t believe it… after all the time spent chasing a PR, I finally got one!  My excitement took a momentary back seat when I realized that my leg muscles decided at that point in time to go on strike.  I begin to think that I was going to be the last person there, glued to that spot unable to move.  At the finish volunteers passed out medals, mini bundt cakes, water, and the Active Joe series medals (if you ran more than one of Libby’s races this year).  I slowly and painfully made my way through all the goodies to the line for complimentary stretching.  A very much appreciated perk without which I don’t know I could have made it to the truck.  I will definitely be doing this one again – someone’s gotta sport the maroon, right?

The aftermath of any race is physically painful.  I’m still dealing with some lingering tendonitis issues from the race so once again training has been put on hold.  Even though my relationship with ice and Aleve has gotten deeper since raceday, I’m still basking in the glow of a PR.  I managed to cut over 2.5 minutes off my time.  For a lot of people 2.5 minutes isn’t much in the grand scheme of life – just a blink of an eye.  To me, it’s something more.  It is an accomplishment that I had pretty much written off.  I choose to look at those 2.5 minutes and see more than just the number of seconds.  I choose to see the strength it took to overcome pain and other health issues, the determination to finish, the courage to tell the nagging inner voice to hush, and the proof that I am getting better.  I usually feel like I’m pushing a boulder up a muddy hill given all the “pains” I’ve had.  Now I know that I am improving and can continue to improve… just as soon as I can get out there and pound the pavement.

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