Weekend of Bling!

This past weekend was a crazy race weekend for me. For one I'd be running my 2nd half marathon. The first one I ran was a little over 6 months ago. On top of it I'd be running two 5k's the day before. I might be a little ambitious, or a little crazy. Maybe I'm both. 

A while back I signed up for something called the Living Dead Challenge. You run a 5k at night on Saturday and a half Sunday morning. You complete both - you complete the challenge. You get a 3rd medal for completing the challenge. Sounded fun. And the races were not too far from home - up in New Port Richey, at Starkey Park.

Then I heard of this other race called the Great West Chase. A few people I knew were supposed to be doing it. My aunt lives in Westchase, she wanted to do it as her first 5k. I thought to myself, I could run 3 miles in the morning and then 3 more at night. Why not? I won't run them hard. I need to be rested for the half sunday. So I signed up for that one too. Total for the weekend would be 19.3 miles. 

Friday night I stayed at my aunt's house which was right by the race. I worked until 9:30pm. I drove over. I tried to get to sleep as soon as I could, but it's always hard to fall right asleep after work. I probably went to sleep around 11pm. At around 4am I woke up because my uncle was in pain and needed to be taken to the hospital. I went with them. I was just going to forget about the race but I wound up making it there. I figured I'd do my best on 5 hours of sleep, no food, and no hydration. 

My friend Sara had picked up my race packet for me. I wouldn't have made it in time for that. I was a little scared of my bib number. 666. I thought about turning it upside down for a minute, but I figured I'd run with it (pun intended). Plus it was close to Halloween. =) 
Bib from The Great West Chase

Anyway, the race started. I felt tired. My legs hurt. I didn't really know how I was racing on such a lack of everything. I was hoping for a time of around 35 minutes. Slow, yes, but considering all factors involved and the fact that I had another race to do later on, it wasn't going to be a bad time. 

I didn't stop at the water stop. I didn't want to slow down. I just wanted to be done with the race. I wanted to eat something and then go take a nap. I got through the race sluggishly. And then I crossed the finish. I was surprised with my time. 31:39. Not bad at all! I was pretty satisfied. Now to do it all again later. 
Finish Time
We hung out for a little bit after the race. Checked our times, looked around at booths that were set up for vendors and stores. And then I went to check on my uncle, and went home to rest up for later. 
Me, Debbie, Sara, Ivy

The Bride of Frankenfooter 5k started at 6:30pm. I grabbed a quick bite before the race for some energy and then off to starkey park. They had the area decorated for Halloween and a lot of runners were dressed up in costumes. It was fun. We took a few pictures and then lined up at the start.
Ari and I before the 5k

And off we went
Me, Ari, and John at the start
The course was on a bike path and the weather was pretty nice. My legs were still a little sore but I felt ok. I kept a comfortable pace. I wasn't looking to PR, I was looking to finish with an OK time, and feel ok for the half in the morning. My finish time was 31:18. I'll take it!
5k Bling!

Then it was time for food - carb up time for the half - and bed!

Sunday morning arrived and I was excited! I felt good. I wasn't tired, I felt energetic, and I was ready to go. Back over to starkey park. 
Ari as a kitty, John, and I
Jim and I before the 1/2
It was a beautiful morning! The weather was perfect! I was a little chilly, but I was happy to have this amazing weather to be running in! We got to the start area, hung out for a few minutes, and took some much needed pictures. 13.1 miles to run today. After 6.2 yesterday. I hoped that my legs wouldn't be too sore. I hoped that my HR issue wouldn't act up. I was just going to run comfortably. I was hoping to stay somewhere around my previous time of 2:46, but of course beating that time is always the goal! My real half goal is 2:30, but I figured with everything weighing against me, and my legs being a bit sore that wouldn't happen. I would be happy with 2:45. 
And then, off we went. It was a small race so most of the runners were faster than me. I felt like there were a few stragglers at the back of the pack. I was one. But it was ok. I wasn't doing it to be competitive, or break any world records. I was just doing it to do it. I wanted to finish another half. 
Start of the 1/2

I felt really good starting off. I just ran at a pace that was comfortable. A few times a looked down at my watch and realized I was running a bit fast, so I had to slow myself down. Of course I don't mind running fast, but I know that I would tire out eventually, so I wanted to keep it steady and comfortable. I could always speed up later if my body let me. 
It started to drizzle a little bit, but it was sort of a fine mist. It felt kind of nice to run through. My pace was slightly under 11:30. I still thought this was kind of fast for me for a half, but I knew that was the pace I would need for a 2:30. I figured since I felt comfortable I'd see how long I could keep it up for. 
Somewhere along the beginning of the course

I was able to keep myself at or under an 11:30 pace. I looked down at my watch and realized I'd been running for almost an hour. It didn't feel like that. I felt surprisingly good. There weren't a lot of runners around and it was one of the few times I've ran through a park. It was the only time I've run that far on my own. Yes, there were runners around me, but I was alone. No running partner to keep me motivated - just myself. I wondered to myself if I would get discouraged. 

The run felt good. The park was nice. I got to the turn around at mile 7 and felt good. I was still maintaining at or under an 11:30 pace. How was this possible? I got to mile 9 and started feeling tired. This is where the mental aspect started to kick in. Only 4 more miles to go. And I was keeping a great pace. Was it possible that I could actually finish close to 2:30? And then I was at mile 10. Under 2 hours. 

A girl running next to me pointed to something on the side of the trail. Deer! There were about 4 or 5 deer just standing in the grass. The park was beautiful to run through. I started to get thirsty. When was another water stop? I saw a water stop on the trail. Not a race one, but just one provided by the park. I stopped off on the side for a second. I felt better. I started to slow down a little. Just a little more to go. 

I finally got to mile 12. Just ONE MORE MILE. I was getting tired. But I looked at my watch. I was going to be close to 2:30. Wow! I was slowed down a bit, but my pace was still not that bad. I turned the corner. I was now running on a dirt trail. I knew I wasn't that far from the finish. And then I heard some yelling. "20 seconds!" What? I looked ahead. I saw Jim. He looked excited. And then I realized how close I was to the finish and what he meant. I had 20 seconds to be sub 2:30. I ran as hard as I could to that finish line. And from what I saw I was in under 2:30. I was elated. I was in a bit of a daze. I didn't even see the medals there were trying to hand me. 

I grabbed a water and walked over to Jim and John. We knew I was under 2:30, but I wanted to see the official results. And then we waited for Arianna to finish. 
Done with the half. And PRed! 

When Ari finished we went to take some pictures with our hard earned medals! 
John, Ari, Me - And Bling!

Jim helping me display all of those medals =)
I kept checking for the official results. And then I found them. 2:29:54!!! I officially broke 2:30! And I surpassed my goal! I ran two 5k's the day before and still managed to somehow pull this off! This was beyond exciting for me! 

And so I had an amazing weekend of races, and I have many more races coming up that I can hopefully do just as well at.