Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 New Albany Walking Classic 1/2 marathon

I completed 1/2 marathon #8 on September 16.  The New Albany Walking Classic was, as usual, a wonderful race!  I've done the 1/2 marathon before as well as the 10k but my work schedule hasn't allowed me to race the past couple of years.  As soon as I realized there wasn't a conflict this year, I was online with my credit card in hand to register.  It is a walking only event which is genius.  It's great for first timers because as a walker, it can be very intimidating to line up to a race with a bunch of runners.  Some of whom don't think walkers have a place in racing.  Some of whom don't care if a race is walker friendly but get bent out of shape if they find themselves behind a walker.

Not at this race!  There are "spotters" on the course to ensure that everyone is walking.  I love too that pace is all over the board.  There are Olympians (though not this year as the Olympians you know, went to the Olympics) race walking a 7:30 mile.  No joke.  And there are people who are just starting out and embracing a healthy lifestyle and are walking a 20 minute mile.  And everywhere in between.

 I had recruited the help of my dear friend Marcia to help me pace.  She typically walks slightly faster than me and I knew that if I just followed her, I would be able to maintain my pace and beat my previous PR of 3:14.   I really felt confident that the only two things that might put that PR at risk where the weather and bonking.

I've battled with the heat and humidity all summer.  I don't tolerate heat at all.  I'm a winter girl at heart and I had trouble keeping my pace up throughout the summer training.  But luck was on my side last weekend.  The temperature that morning was in the 50s and there was hardly any humidity.  It was going to be warming up into the high 70s but I knew I'd be done with the race once it started to really warm up.
 It was a beautiful morning with a beautiful sunrise!

With the weather worry out of the way, I just needed to avoid bonking.  Or peeing.  You all know I don't hold back on the details of a race so we might as well talk about the port-a-potties.  As usual, once I arrived at the race about an hour early, I went to the bathroom.  Score!  It was a brand new port-a-potty that actually still smelled like the plastic it was made out of.  There also was NO line, I just walked right in.  I made one last pit stop right before the race though and boy what a difference 45 minutes makes.  I had to wait in line this time around but things were still pretty clean.  :)  I was really hoping I could avoid having to go to the bathroom during the race.  I've never stopped during a 1/2 marathon before but I had been dehydrated in the days leading up to the race and was trying to make up for it on Saturday afternoon.  I also had an unfortunate training walk when I had to pee at mile 2 and there wasn't a bathroom for another 2.5 miles.  Fail.  There is a fine balance of hydrating properly and not drinking too much that you have to waste time making a pit stop.  Moving on....

We had several current TNT participants as well as some of our amazing alumni racing, volunteering and "super spectating."  Here is just some of the team.

Meg, Kim and Lisa who are experts in the fine art of super spectating...
as well as experts at chasing people with cow bells.

We made the mistake of not lining up for the start early enough.  We got stuck further back than I would have liked.  I knew I had no place being up with the Olympians but we were getting mixed in the the 18-20 minute people (and trust me when I say that I have nothing against that pace, I started out there.  But when you are lining up for a race that you want to RACE, starting line placement is important).  My only critique to this race is to add corrals/pace signs so people can line up more accurately.  Anyways, we spent much of the first mile and a half trying to work our way up in the crowd and find some space (all while not starting out too fast and getting shin splints).  

The first couple miles ticked away really quickly.  There were several bands, cheerleading groups scattered around.  One memorable act was a young girl singing to an acoustic guitar.  From afar, I'd guess her age to be maybe 10 - 12.  And she was singing....Johnny Cash's Man in Black.  I love that this kid found Johnny Cash's music!!  Anyways...

Two of our current Team in Training participants found us so we added to our little party.  For one, it was her first race ever!  It was so much fun to be a part of that experience with her.  Her husband, along with The Pilot were out on the course super spectating and we saw them with cameras in hand just past mile 4.
Despite walking up a hill, The Pilot captured all four of us smiling!

We enjoyed chit chatting and before we knew it, it was time for our first timer to split off to complete the 10k.  We cheered her on as we headed in separate directions.  The Pilot was also at the split and I tossed him my sleeves as it was starting to warm up and I didn't want to carry them for another 6+ miles.
  He says that this picture looks like I'm going so fast around the turn that I had to lean into it.  In reality I'm throwing my sleeves at his feet.  Super Spectator aka my own personal Sherpa.  
I love that man. 

Off we went to finish the second half of the race.  I was wearing my TNT shirt from the past 2 triathlons I did.  Only downside is that my hair is so long that it's blocking Parker's name now!  Hopefully by the end of the year the hair will be lopped off and donated.

And now for my flair for the dramatics...I swear the next 3 miles were all uphill.  Nothing steep, just long and gradual.  And annoying.  :)  I've talked about embracing the hills before but no.  I don't like them.  I apologize to Marcia and Kim because I know I whined my way up them.  Marcia did amazing though.  When she sensed I was slowing down, she would move just in front of me, knowing I would follow.  She was "throwing me a rope" as we say.  I just had to imagine that her rope was pulling me.  And it did.  

We kept plugging along.  I was keeping a close eye on my watch.  I was hovering right at the minimum to reach my goal of staying under 3:14.  Around mile 9, I had to make a pit stop.  I probably could have made it until the end without going to the bathroom but I knew I'd be walking funny.  And I couldn't have that.  Kim and I sped up a little and both hit up a row of port-a-potties.  Thanks to Marcia, she kept us informed when we stepped out of the bathroom.  "You were in there for one minute!"  :)  She timed us so we would know how much time we would need to make up.

As we made our way out on a looooong out and back stretch, we passed a lot of people and got to see some of the really fast people making their way back.  And right at the turnaround was a beautiful sight.  Two of our amazing volunteers were literally standing in the middle of a deserted road ringing their cow bells.  They were also right at the top of one of those long, slow hills.  It was amazing to hear those cow bells and then see their smiling faces.  Thank you ladies!

Seeing them gave me a little extra kick.  I slowly kept picking up the pace.  I knew I was going to beat my PR but now I was on a mission to see how much I could beat it by.  Those last couple miles were tough but they ticked away quickly, especially as the majority of it was now down the hill that I had previously been whining my way up.

In that last stretch, I saw Lisa running and jumping along the sidelines.  I couldn't help but laugh.  She was taking pictures and yelling at us.  It was great to "steal" some of her energy and it helped me to continue to push the pace.

I could finally see the finish line and I could hear all of my teammates screaming for Marcia and I.  Again, it just fuel that last tenth of a mile. 
The Pilot captured these photos as we came into the finish chute.  All I can see is how wonky my arms are.  That is NOT good race walk form.  It's no wonder my lower back hurt after this race (too much twisting in the middle).

And what happened next was probably right up there with the Best Race Photo Ever.  And because my husband hates me, he decided to zoom in on my race face.  I wasn't laughing or sucking wind this time.  I was pushing so hard to get to that finish line, I was exhaling through the pain.  Nice.

But that's ok because that is the face of a Gym Class Dropout who just finished her 8th 1/2 marathon and at a personal best time of 3:10!  I got that PR I was after!  I was also really pleased after the race when I reviewed my split times.  I raced exactly how I wanted to.  Start a little slow to warm up, speed up a little and get comfortable.  And then kick it into gear.  I was blown away with I saw those last three miles (you can see that port-a-potty stop at mile 9!).  I was stunned at that 13:39 and then 12:11.  Normally my Garmin only sees those numbers when I'm running.  I also had my highest age group finish ever.  Normally I don't pay attention to this at all because I usually do large races that also include runners.  I can't really compare myself to runners in my age group when I'm not actually running.  This was a race to compare myself to others who were all walking though.  I came in 23rd out of 53 in my age group....not too shabby.

It was a great race and such a fun day.  It is always fun to hang out with my teammates and watch them reach their goals.  It was also nice to be able to share my own race goals with the participants that I am coaching.  They were all so supportive!  And of course seeing The Pilot rocking out his TNT gear while running along the sidelines taking photos is always heartwarming.  I couldn't have asked for a more supportive partner in crime.


  1. Congratulations on a great race! I'd love to do a walking only race someday :)

  2. Well done!!!!! Walking races sound amazing! Might have to find one when I come to the US next year!

  3. Woman, I've tried to walk on the dreadmill and can't even get to 15/mile! Great finish photo........HA