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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My best race yet

Have you been listening to me complain about three bad races?
No more. Streak's over!
Saturday was the Jazz half marathon, a fun Halloween weekend race that I always run in costume (I've been a cowgirl and a pirate). This year I was a bumble bee. I made my costume by painting black stripes on a yellow tank top. Guess what I learned? Paint dries stiff and creates a boxy odd shirt that chafes at every stripe. Who knew.
I pinned wings on the back (made from a wire armature and black netting) and used chenille stems to attach antennas to hair clips. My stinger was black cardboard stapled to the back of my shirt. FYI try to avoid staples in your costumes unless you enjoy having tiny pieces of your flesh carved out with every step.
This race was a training/fun run for me, and I was woefully unprepared. We ran late because I forgot my number, and I woke up too late to eat. But since I've been having trouble staying fueled for races, I brought two gu's to make up for my lack of breakie. I also brought a garbage bag for the starting line, since the temperature suddenly dropped on Friday. Silly me. You can't fit a garbage bag over wings (wings also make car rides difficult: I rode to the race doubled over in my seat).
By the time I got to the start, I was way, way in the back of the crowd. In fact, we were some of the last people! I wasn't too worried about that, since it was a chip-timed race, but that meant I was in a slow group that walked to the start after the gun and then basically stayed walking after that (or mildly jogging). I was so thankful that a girl in pink seemed to be running my pace and was willing to cut a path - something I am bad at. I followed her closely for the first mile of the race.
Since this was a costume race for me, I determined to only glance at my Garmin at mile splits, and simply enjoy the race. It was a new course, so for the first few miles I concentrated on the course and maneuvering around the many slower runners who were in front of me.
Fun fact about this race: Since I started so far in the back, I passed many people, but no one passed me.
By mile three, I was running under 7 minute miles and felt...well, great. The weather was nice (cold and very windy, but it beats humidity!), even at 7 am some kids were out and they loved my costume, and I felt very strong. Nothing hurt, my costume wasn't really bothering me, and my stomach seemed happy. By mile four I decided, "This is going to be a good race. Run by how you feel. Don't let a number on the Garmin tell you to slow down or speed up. Just enjoy this." My confidence has been so low lately that I think I needed to give myself permission just to have fun. I stuck to my original plan of only checking mile splits, and I was very consistent.
At mile 6, I took a Gu to make up for breakfast. The course heads down St Charles,  loops around Audubon park, and with the new course you are already at mile 8 before you exit the park back onto St. Charles. I was out of the park and back on St Charles before I saw anyone I knew: my friends Steve and Erin (who are getting married Friday!), David, and my pharmacy partner Ross, all heading down St. Charles to enter the park. I didn't see our neighbor Joseph, who rode with us to the race; the sun was in my eyes by then so if you didn't call to me, I didn't see you!
We had thinned out a lot out of Audubon Park, but I passed two girls with white race numbers. My race number was white, too, but everyone elses' was blue. I asked them about it and they explained that we were seeded and could have started at the front in the "fast" corral (there were only two). I was so far in the back I didn't even know there were corrals!
In Audubon Park, passing a runner wearing the same shoes as I was!
 I continued feeling fantastic and having fun with my costume.In the park I ate half of my second Gu, and right after mile 10 I reasoned I should finish it rather then let it go to waste. This was the only bad part of the race (besides dirt blowing in my eye earlier, boo) - somehow I sloshed the Gu right up the back of my nose. You can guess what happens when concentrated electrolytes hit your mucous membranes: besides stinging agony, coughing, and sneezing, my nose started running like crazy! The irritation didn't go away for about 12 hours!
Other than that, the way in was just fantastic. I never felt tired, and since I refused to check my Garmin I never sped up at the end, either. I cruised across the finish in 1:32:38, a PR - in costume! When I looked back at my Garmin stats, every mile was sub-7:00 besides the first one: which is understandable since I had to fight past hundreds of people.
At the finish, messing with my watch.
 I felt no soreness, stomach upset, or fatigue. In fact I wished the race would keep going! Instead I settled in to wait for my friends and David to finish. Then we sat on the grass and got a little loaded with the champagne Joseph's partner brought in a bucket of ice!  The after party for this race is always good, and it was nice again - jazz bands, beer, hot dogs, red beans, and incredibly good jambalaya. And free delicious Jazzman rice!

Lessons learned from this race?
I need to chill out and have fun again. I have been placing too much pressure on myself to finish in a certain time and run certain splits, yet I haven't given myself the time and practice to do so. I need to train harder and race easier! I also need to realize that I'm just not going to be incredibly fast. If I was, I'd already be winning. I just need to do the best for me, and enjoy doing it.

Editor's Note: I have six hilarious pictures of David from this race. He looks like he is being fed raw eggs while being electrocuted on a hang glider. However, he is being a party pooper and won't let me publish any of them. Too bad. They are priceless.


  1. seems like you need to be a bit easier on yourself, gracie. how about next race not checking the weather and not wearing a watch. try it.. :)

  2. Wow! You ran a great race!

    I have a lot of the same probs. I check my garmin way too often and will work myself up to the point where I have a terrible race! I'm glad you had a good run. And your costume is cute, even if it chafed you! :)

  3. The blogosphere DEMANDS you post pictures of David. It is the right thing to do.

  4. great race to you! I saw this bee pass me by on St. Charles and figured it had to be you! I need to stop looking at my garmin too. Because honestly, I think I freak out when I see a pace that is too fast when really, I can run that pace! You will be up there racing with the NOLA elites!

  5. great race to you! I saw this bee pass me by on St. Charles and figured it had to be you! I need to stop looking at my garmin too. Because honestly, I think I freak out when I see a pace that is too fast when really, I can run that pace! You will be up there racing with the NOLA elites!

  6. I want to see these pictures of David!! Tell him we are begging for them!

    Way to go, Grace! You are so speedy, you amaze me. I think it's great that you had fun - and then had a huge PR like that!!

  7. what a great, and FUN race report. Wait a minute....didn't I recently read that your training/mileage has been on the low side? and now a PR - maybe I'm wrong about that, but either way....a PR - woo hoo!

    cute pics!

  8. Found your blog through SUAR. Great job with the race, and in costume no less!! Awesome :)

    Also, I was cracking up like no other with the text message apology your husband sent for your fight dream. :)

  9. Nice costume! I think having fun is the key. it is always good to remind oneself that this is not what we do to get paid, it is what we do for fun!

  10. Wow, phenomenal race! Doing a race in a costume, cruising through it, and still setting a PR is amazing! Sounds like you are in awesome shape right now.

    And that is nuts that no one ever passed you during the race, that is crazy to think about!

    And yea, we need to see the pics of David!

  11. What an awesome race! We need to see the photos of David. You can't tease us like that and then not let us see them.

  12. Jsut found your it! You ran an awesome are speedy! Noticed you are from New Orleans....I am running my first half in NO in March the Rock n Roll!! Are you running this race or have you ran it in the past? Great job on your race!

  13. Thanks! I'm running the RNR full this year. Go back and read my review from last year for the lowdown, lol. It's a good race. T