Thursday, May 29, 2014

Buffalo Half Marathon 2014

Don't ask me why but this was just as hard as any marathon recap to write, and only half the distance. Lordy. The short of it: I went I ran and I ran some more.

In case you want more details than the fact that I put one foot in front of the other....

This was my third time doing this race (2010 and 2011 I ran the half) but the course was new this year. I volunteered/cheered last year, but was happy to be back this year running AND cheering(Best of both worlds)!

Night before the race: There was a snaffoo with my bib (long story) so I left work early Saturday to head to Buffalo with Heather. Things got straightened out and then we spent the evening with Britt. She was the hostess with the mostess, took us to a fabulous carb-a-licious place for dinner. We then we spent the evening chatting about life, running and everything while drinking a corona, eating wine ice cream (yes, its a thing...yes its as good as it sounds) and futzing around with sticks and foam rollers.  Finally crawled in and shared a futon with Heather and a Buffalo Sabres stuffed animal pillow (yes, I find this to be important).
Pre-race shenanagins, Wild ladies I tell you.
Race Morning:  I was up before my alarm. Cold coffee, oatmeal, shower, get ready...the usual goal race routine. This is also when I realized I made a pretty stupid mistake. I hadn't worn my flats since Boston and had taken my superfeet inserts out (and never put them OR ANY insert back in). Thank god I had another pair of shoes with me, and pulled the inserts out and put them in but they are not as supportive as my other ones. Heather and I ran to the start (about 1.5 miles) with Britt as our bike escort. We met up with my sister who was running the full marathon, got some pre-race  photos and headed to the start.

Heather & I----My Sister Megan & I
Pre-race: This was my first time starting in front of the rope. I felt like a 2 year old on a playground with big kids. I wanted to do some strides to shake out but I was feeling the nerves and just kind of bounced around in one spot. Finally we moved up to the start (I was literally 6 inches off the line) and....GO. I had concerns about pushing too fast off the bat from starting up front. But I was told earlier in the week.."to hell with comfort zone". So off I went.

Let's play I spy! 
Mile 0-0.5: "What do I do, what do I do?" Yes.  I was actually freaking out and knew instantly this was going to be a push. I figured I'd just keep going then settle into a pace. Right around 1/2 mile, the 3:00 marathon pace group was right next to me so I made my goal to stick with them until I got into a groove.

Mile 0.5-6.2:The first 3 miles my shins were screaming, they are so used to having my Superfeet inserts that without them in my flats- it was more impact. I spent these  miles still tucked in with the 3:00/1:30 pace group. I was slightly nervous because the roads are really beat up and I was afraid of tripping because I couldn't see with the group around me. I questioned my ability to hold this pace, and definitely was doubting myself. While I didn't feel great I refused to back off, I was not going to put myself into a 'comfort zone'.   Finally my legs started to loosen up, and I started to extend my stride.

Rounding the curve near 10k, starting to pick it up
6.2-7: I felt good so I pushed forward, I knew the pace group was only a few feet behind me but I felt better knowing I was in front of them.

7-8.5: The pace group pulled in front of me after a water stop(I slowed a bit to grab water, but first cup I was handed was Gatorade- I was NOT going to do that with a gel...been there done that) and I told myself to hold steady with them for a few more miles. Then at mile 8.5 the pacer needed to go the bathroom and pulled off. Me and the guys all looked at each other and some said they were going to slow down a little and hold back, this is when myself and a few others decided to push.

  I am actually in this shot, me and the 3:00 guys. (Source)
8.5-11: I pulled ahead and started to grind out a few more gears. I was feeling stronger and loved picking up the pace. I thought a LOT about how hard I have worked in the last month since Boston and how much I knew I had earned this day.  I enjoyed going down by the water and out on the peninsula as you could see the leaders coming back at us. As this point I estimated I was 10th-13th place (I couldn't see some of the girls bibs and if they were half or full).
Me and the 3:00 boys.... Pardon Blurry photo.

11-13: This is where I struggled, definitely rode the pain train first class. It wasn't even my legs, it was my breathing. I assumed it was the bra part of my tank top being too tight and I kept pulling it away from me trying to take a deep breath(in reality it was the humidity). I even started kind of hitting my chest (like Tarzan) trying to knock something loose so I could actually catch my breath. I remember making weird breathing noises and that's when a man heard me and started helping me. It was an older guy running the marathon(I later found out his name was Mike). At first I didn't realize he was talking to me then he got right in front of me and told me to tuck behind and that he would block the wind. He and the guys around me realized they were all running the full meanwhile I was pushing the half.  I had a mini wall full of guys blocking the wind for me, being the only girl around and being 5'3 can have advantages. They knew I was struggling and kept encouraging me and pushing me along. When the split was nearing (the marathoners take a right and half runners go straight to the finish) the guys just started yelling at me to 'go girl' and I gave it what I had.
This is the....holy shit face. Do I smile, laugh, cry or PUKE.
Not my strongest looking finish photo.

The Finish: When I could finally read the clock I saw it turn to 1:29 and I knew that I was going to A)PR and B) be sub 1:30 and C) probably puke. I crossed in 1:29:17, earning me a 65 second PR. I crossed and immediately put my hand over my mouth afraid I was going to lose it. Luckily I didn't. *whew*. (I actually felt this way a few times after races lately, either I REALLY push myself or I need to look into new fuel). I got my medal and picture taken then found Britt and then Heather shortly after.
This is the cheesy I JUST PR'd FACE!
10k split 42:29 (6:51 pace)
10k-20k 42:15 (6:48 pace)
20k-Finish 4:33 (6:30 pace)
12th/2000+ Females, 64th/3400+ Overall, 2nd place in Age group

After the race we meandered around for a while, sat on the ground, ate food, got coffee and then made our way back to Britt's. It worked out well that I could go change quick as it was on the way back to the marathon course. I then ran and started looking for my sister. I wasn't quite sure where she would be, and I guessed the wrong way. It worked out and I was able to run with Carrie for a while and cheer her on to her huge PR and BQ. After I left her I went back around the course and found my sister. I was so incredibly happy for her and proud of her, she ran her second fastest marathon and it was her first post-baby marathon. I was glad I was able to be able to run the last bit with her. I then went back out on the course again to find my cousin, and managed to find her and run the last half mile with her. Again, another very inspiring runner who never stops, it was also her second fastest marathon. Supporting my friends and family was very important to me, and I was lucky to be able to be there for them the way they are for me.

After LOTS of post race hugs with friends and family members after they finished, I started back towards Britt's again to get my car. I ended the day with almost 20 miles and was SO happy I was able to PR and then go back out and support people who do nothing but support and inspire me in return. 

I went into this race with thoughts of 1:28-1:31. I REALLY wanted sub 90, but I also knew that it might not be the day. Boston was only a month prior, but I also believed that the solid and consistent training I'd done since then could help me.

I wouldn't say this was 'my day', I would say that I made it my day. When I PR'd in the half at Lake Effect this winter, I felt good and everything just clicked that day. Buffalo wasn't like that. It wasn't perfect, everything didn't fall into place and I never felt fabulous. But I pushed, I stayed out of my comfort zone and did the best that I could. This is the PR I think everyone expected to happen last month at Boston after everything else going on prior to that. But It wasn't about that, not at all. This was the first time in a long time I really truly let loose, honestly I think the last time was California. I ran this race for me, and pushed and proved that I have a heck of a lot more in me. I can say with 100% certainty that I am proud of this time, this race, and how hard I worked to get to this point. Do I see faster times coming, absolutely. More work, more training and more drive- I don't see this PR lasting through the end of the year if not sooner.

While debriefing after the race later that day, I remember saying that I wasn't sure what excited me more...the big new half marathon PR, or the fact that I would be starting training for Rochester a week later. I've been motivated before, driven to no end, and felt a fire to push....but not like I have the last few months and I know it's only going to get stronger from here on out. It helps having people in my life who support me but also will push me when I need it.

Ever have other runners really support you mid-race? 
I really don't know if I would have held pace if not for those guys supporting me at the end.
Buffalo Marathon Facebook page had posted photos after the race, and the guy Mike who supported me actually found and commented on the photo congratulating me and saying I really worked hard those last few miles. Runners really are an amazing group of people (I promptly sent him a message thanking him x a million!)

Anyone else find that sometimes PR's come right when you need it the most?

And because my nephew is the cutest thing ever.....I think he liked my Saucony Hat.


  1. this is just so freaking inspiring. I think we all have those half marathon barriers that we just need and want to break - always saying today may not be the day. But you just totally ate that race, so amazing. I want your speedy legs!

  2. Nice job Laura! You seem to be PR-ing all over the place! Wonderful to read you are so happy! I love that you had so much support too! Enjoy every second of your celebration! You earned it!

  3. Congrats!! You are such an inspiration. I'd love to run together one day.

  4. Great job and congrats on the pr!!!! That was super awesome of the runners to make a human wall to help you out!
    I had a 5k last year and my best friend was going to do the race with me then stopped not even half a mile in.. Anyway I was bummed and really just wanted to say screw it I quit. However about that time I saw another lady out there alone (granted its a night race and dark) so we ended up finishing together. Her group ended up being faster than her and left her.

  5. Congratulations Laura! What an amazing time and race, especially coming off Boston :). That's great that the pace group and also those guys helped you through all the difficult parts of it and I love your finish picture even if it's not your strongest looking one. I've occasionally ran with or very close to people in races and it really helps, especially the longer ones like a half or full. Plus when you're short, having guys to break the wind is even better!

  6. I looked forward to reading this post since Sunday! I couldn't wait to see some of your racing shots and the smile and determination on your face. You earned and now own this shiny new PR! Thanks you for sharing this amazing journey you've been on. I have read and re-read your posts whenever I feel like I need motivation or "spirit"! Thank you for being you and in the midst of your record breaking races...for taking the time to help me. Thank you for being a part of my racing experience before, during and after each race! I wish I could have tapped what you repeated to me those last few miles getting me to the finish. Keep on keeping on Laura.

  7. So proud of you on this PR Laura. Like you said you put in the work and deserved it. Can't wait to see what you can put up for time on a day when everything clicks.
    Thinking about you daily and hope things keep getting better for you =)


  8. Awesome post and awesome racing! You earned that PR and those days are sometimes the best b/c you know you worked your a$$ off for it. So cool that those dudes helped you. I love runners. And yes, your nephew is adorable.

  9. Well, I all most passed on reading more when I saw your opening statement & following that up w/one foot in front of the other. Then, I read "into" all the excuses on why you were going to be a quitter. Like, beer the night before, shoe inserts, Boston was not long ago, lungs, etc. However, you amazed yourself, you challenged yourself, & you are inspiring others to simply keep pushing on. Excellent recap, outstanding experience, & a huge congrats on a sub 1:30!!! As I was reading, I began pulling for you. I am so stoked for you & proud of you for NOT giving into the pain train & continuing to move forward. Also, I found myself smiling during the I Spy Game when I saw your socks just to the left in that photo. And I thank you for that!! I wish you all the best during your up coming training & Stay Strong Kid. Cheers

  10. Wow! Congratulations. You run a great race and you tell a great story. Totally want to give Mike a hug for you! Runners/racers are really awesome. I know you'd love Philly Broad Street Run! Everyone PR's cuz it's mostly downhill and my speedy friends try to sub-60.

  11. Congrats on the PR - Amazing.
    And wine ice cream, shut the front door.

  12. Ahhhhh! Congrats. Awesome, awesome race. 2 things I love: 1) that you said it wasn't your day but you made it your day. That is such a hard thing to do and learn to do ... being comfortable with being uncomfortable and it shows how tough you are. 2) That those guys supported you and helped you to your victory. I love that the running community can be so supportive. I am so, so happy for you! I remember how I felt in January when I broke 1:40 (1:39) and I could see the clock and knew I could get in under that threshold. It feels so good. Congrats on an amazing race. Can't wait to see what else you have in store for this year.

  13. Great job!! You stayed tough throughout, not matter what challenges you had. That's so awesome that the guys were there to help you out. It's another beauty of this sport - generally, people want to see other people succeed and are willing to support each other :)

  14. Woohoo, Laura!! What an amazing pace and well-earned new pr, I'm so thrilled for you!! I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around running anything near those paces again, but can't wait to push myself in a few more months!

  15. Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome job! Your PR is my goal!!!! I need to train with you or have you pace me in a race and remind me not to "settle in" or mentally give up!!!!!! I am not sure about my ability to make that my goal on a hilly course (which seems to be all I sign up for) but maybe someday :)! GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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