So yesterday I ran the Empire State Half Marathon in Syracuse, NY. This was my third time running this race, as I ran in 2011 and 2013. Last year I ran this race with my sister as her first post-baby race, still one of my best memories- this year will tie that though.
The morning actually went super smooth- which looking back, was a good sign of things to come. I got up without a hitch, had my coffee (in the shower), and got ready and was on the road around 5:45. I got incredibly lucky- the weather/road conditions were good, the thruway was clear and I didn't stress one bit on the drive. This was a HUGE relief, because last time I went to 'Cuse for a half- I white knuckled through a blizzard the whole time and my whole body cramped from stress. Lord knows I didn't wanna deal with that again.
I quickly found Heather at the race, we hit the bathrooms and then pretty much hung out in the warm car until I needed to get a warm-up run in outside. I did an easy bit, and then some strides as planned. Much like the 5k I did the week prior- my legs felt good during warm-up strides which was confidence boosting.
I lined up right behind starting line and shortly after- it was time to go. I let loose a bit at the start, wanting to get through the crowd and around the first few turns before settling into a pace. The headwind started pretty much as soon as we hit the Onondaga Lake Parkway (as expected). This was a little daunting mentally because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I stuck behind some guys but realized it was too slow. So I ended up essentially running into the wind myself. I could see the lead female up in the distance as she had a cyclist with her, but I didn't think much about it.
When we got near the Salt museum I saw Heather's friend Megan cheering. I knew she would be there, and I had asked her that morning if she could have a shot of whiskey waiting if it was cold out. I asked where it was, bystanders laughed. She then looked at her watch and told me the lead woman was about 40 seconds ahead of me. Again, I didn't give it much thought at this point. I just focused on running a comfortably hard pace into the wind. My quads were numb and I just kept telling myself "get to the turnaround".
|Cold red quads in the wind|
As we were coming back and passing everyone coming towards us, the other runners were so incredibly encouraging. Yelling my place, cheering along and smiling away. Heather gave a big cheer as we passed each other and I was so happy to see her- she looked great and could tell it was going to be good day for both of us.
At this point I wasn't questioning "IF" about the lead, but "WHEN" I could/should. I finally brought the gap to a close, and took the lead a little after mile 8. Then it hit me....this was happening. I stopped looking at my watch and just focused on pushing and not letting her come back. I was breathing heavily, and my heart rate sky rocketed a few times- I literally said BREATHE and told myself to calm the flip down. I saw Megan again on the way back, I smiled when I saw her face when she realized it was me with the cyclist and not the other girl. I threw my hands up, asking again where the whiskey was- she laughed and then told me to get going! Apparently I needed to focus on the finish and THEN the whiskey- who knew!
The last few miles it was essentially me and my cyclist. She was riding a little further in front of me than I would have liked, I could have used some company. I wanted to be done, I was getting tired but kept going. "The last 5k should be tough" was floating through my head, coach checking in again. The cyclist looped around and I could tell she was getting my bib number and then saw her radio in to the finish. HOLY SHIT- this is happening. As we went through the last few turns she was yelling "first female" to people, and they cheered and waved- I have to admit, it was a cool feeling.
Before the last turn to the straightaway, a woman was screaming and cheering for me- I gave her a look and just said "is she close?". She looked around behind me and smiled and screamed "no where near you, GO!". The home stretch was full of a lot of omg-omg-omg moments. I get to call my parents and tell them I won. I get to tell my coach that I won. I get to tell my friends and everyone else who supports me- I won. OMG all those long tempos that made me want to die, they're paying off today. WHAT?
|Almost positive this is when I gave that lady the look- wondering if I was safe. As my mother always says, I can't do anything without my tongue hanging out #classy|
I threw my hands up, smiled and tried to hold back the tears and also kept thinking "Don't look like an idiot!". (read: no blubbery crying face! no goofy face! For the love of god do NOT stop your garmin right now).
|Smiling like a fool, trying not to cry like a baby. Also, raising the roof.|
I then quickly (relatively) went to my car and bundled up with warm clothes and grabbed my phone. Let's just say my mom thought something was wrong because I mumbled half crying and smiling like an idiot- then she finally understood me and was screaming happy things. I then made my way back to the finish quick, and cheered in Heather! I was so psyched to see her run a solid time and finish feeling good- I also got to meet her dad who showed up! We sat in her car blasting the heat while we thawed out waiting for awards. I received a very cool glass 'trophy' for winning, and Heather got a sweet plaque for taking 2nd in her Age group!
1st Female, 11th Overall (out of ~1100)
Gun time: 1:28:46 (6:46 pace)
Net time: 1:28:44 (6:46 pace) [30+ sec PR] [7 min course PR]
Garmin: 1:28:47 for 13.24 (6:42 pace)
Pacing: 1st half all splits were between 6:43-6:57
2nd half splits were between 6:32-6:37 (with one at 6:45)
Post- Race Thoughts
I never went into this race with even thought of winning. I'm well aware that this was a 'pedestrian time' for this race, this time wouldn't have put me in top 10 last year. Yeah, there's that. BUT I will not sit here and discount my accomplishment. Yesterday, I was the first female finisher and ran a personal best time. I worked hard for my time, and in the last 5 miles of that race I built a 2 minute lead over second place. I played to my strengths yesterday. I was conservative, tactical and knew to take advantage of the wind for my negative splits. I am incredibly proud of this race, I did what I set out to do- and then some. I squeaked in under coaches goal time- and more importantly, I focused on the things I wish I had done in the full at Rochester a few weeks ago (which was the best thing coach could have told me to do). I stayed relaxed, calmed myself down when needed, ran strategically, and I didn't doubt myself. Physically I think I've been where I need to be the last few months- but the mental grit hasn't been there. I think it's safe to say this 'test race'/'tune-up' went as good as it could have, and I have no doubt that I can carry this grit to Memphis in December for the full.
I want to thank everyone for the AMAZING support, I was truly overwhelmed. Texts, calls, emails, social media explosions, it means so much. I'm a glowing proud runner today, but know that I wouldn't be without the friends/family I have to help me along the way. In fact many of my friends, family, and coach were all in my head during the race-all the things you guys say to me, I remember it and use it as fuel. Cheesy but true.
Congratulations!!! What a great day for you! Never discount or asterisk your accomplishments you WON this race. YOU were the fastest lady in the field!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Renee!Delete
Congratulations Laura! I loved reading this and got excited reading it, feeling like I was there (and I loved the part about "all these tempos are paying off now" because I'm about to head out to do one in about 15 minutes and am hoping it will pay off for me some race day). It does not matter who showed up or who did not show up or what happened last year... of everyone there, YOU were the fastest female and fought through that wind and those red quads to win the race *and* PR. The picture of you breaking the tape is pretty amazing too- I can see the runner's high on your face and why you wanted to write the recap so quickly :).ReplyDelete
Congratulations once again, and enjoy a sweet victory :).
Thanks for the kind words Amy. I can truly say more tempos in my training has made a HUGE difference!Delete
AHHHHH! I'm so proud of you lady! You 100% deserve this win and the PR. I was just thinking the other day that you were putting in some serious work and that it would pay off soon. I've had the same thoughts regarding who else is there that day but you know what, you WON fair and square. Can't wait to see what amazing things you do at Memphis!ReplyDelete
Thank you sooooo much Shannon! We need to catch up soon, it's been a while!Delete
WooHoo!!! So awesome!!! I was smiling reading this entire recap!! My favorite part was when you said - at this point it wasn't "if" I take the lead but "when"!!!ReplyDelete
Great job!! I hope you are still floating around today and enjoying your incredible race!!!
Thank you Kim! I think I surprised myself even when I was thinking WHEN and not if!Delete
Huge Congrats!!! Excellent Write Up & Fantastic Photo A Well!! Soak It UpReplyDelete
I nearly cried reading this. I'm so happy for you Laura and you truly deserve that win. That is incredible.ReplyDelete
Thanksssssss! P.S. When the hell do I get to see you?Delete
Dude you are so awesome...what a great race. Who cares if your time was "pedestrian" (it wasn't, btw), everyone out there was running with those tough winds and you did better than them all!ReplyDelete
And you drink coffee in the shower...amazing.
Thanks Mike!! Coffee in the shower is my definition of multi tasking it its finest!Delete
Awesome recap!! I have a feeling this is just the beginning of you winning big races :) Amazing job - congrats!!ReplyDelete
Thank you Laura!!! :):)Delete
I absolutely loved reading this report! You won! Congrats. What a perfectly executed race. And you look plain old badass in your pics.ReplyDelete
Thanks Amanda!! It was a great day, certainly happy with how it all went!Delete
This is the best recap! I was so excited for you while reading this. Congratulations!!ReplyDelete
I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! I seriously had to sneak to grab kleenex while I'm at work. I know the marathon was great, but not quite what you were looking for, and I feel like this race gave you that feeling that you had wanted. I'm so so stoked, nobody can ever take this away from you!ReplyDelete
Thank you!!! I know you understand what I mean when I say Rochester wasn't quite what I wanted, this definitely gave me the boost. Onward to Memphis now, although I'm sad I won't be running into you this year in a marathon!!Delete
Oh my gosh my heart was pumping just reading your story. So amazing. Congrats on the PR and the huge win!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Abby!Delete
This is so amazing and perfect! You are my inspiration--and negative splits like a BOSS! Love you! #teamlooReplyDelete
Coudln't do it without fabulous teamie and coach! #teamloo for the win!!Delete
Congrats again, on the PR and the win. Fabulous!ReplyDelete
Thank you Kristy!Delete
WHAT???? CONGRATS!!!! And yes I'm screaming!ReplyDelete
Hahahha! Thanks Angela!!Delete
Just amazing, Laura!! I saw your FB post and was SO excited for you- totally deserved, you've worked so hard for this! And so incredibly inspiring- way to go!!ReplyDelete
Thank you Laura!! Very excited you'll be in Boston this year, we HAVE to meet up!!Delete
DUDE. I just smiled ear to ear reading this. SO. Happy. You earned and deserved this win! CONGRATS ROCKSTAR!!! #SASSYPANTSOFTHEYEARAWARDReplyDelete
Thank you, sassy pants were definitely on that day!Delete
Yay! Congrats! What an awesome experience and spectacular time. I'm so happy for you! I hope you are still on cloud 9. And please don't for one second diminish this accomplishment by thinking about who didn't show up or what you could have done differently. Celebrate this!!! This is amazing and is only the first winning race in a line of many more to come. Woot woot!!! xoxoReplyDelete
Thank you so much Jes! I tell you what, it was a great day and I did the work I needed to but it helped thinking about all the kick ass people I know who have been killing it lately too (*cough* someone's PR in CHi town!!!)Delete
Wow! I live in CNY and last weekend I was thinking, "I'm glad I didn't enter the Empire State" - it was cold, and I'm a wimp. Your accomplishment and your blog about it is awesome though -- there is so much to learn about developing that GRIT and you've got it in SPADES! I lost a lot of grit all over the curveballs in the middle of the Wineglass this month, so I'm reading blogs like yours as part of my mental recovery!! So thanks for that. Shine on!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for commenting! Believe me when I say grit doesn't come easily, and even if yours wavered during your race- doesn't mean for one second that it's gone! Enjoy recovery and think of those 'curveballs' during next training cycle- I promise that is great fuel!Delete
I wish it hadn't taken me until now to read this but even still, I'm tearing up like a big baby. SO. HAPPY. FOR. YOU. You are a total badass and I'm so proud to be your lucky charm ;)ReplyDelete
if someone shows up at your work and starts taking your measurements don't worry. I'm just making sure I have my keychain to take you everywhere with me fitted properly!Delete
Congrats on your amazing finish!!ReplyDelete
Congrats!!!! Seriousy what an amazing race!ReplyDelete
Thank you Nicole!Delete
I love those race pictures! Love it! The smile down the chute is priceless! Congrats! WINNER!!ReplyDelete
Congrats, Laura! This post gave me the chills. Been following you "secretly" for a while, and seeing you win a race made me smile. You're an inspiration, and you've been that since way back to when I read your "Throwback Thursday" post for the first time. Keep smiling through the chute, it suits you!ReplyDelete