Thursday, January 2, 2014

Race Report: New Year's Double

For starters, Happy New Year folks!  A new year is upon us which brings new hope and new opportunities.  So how did you spend your first day of the new year?  This is the first time we've rung in the new year with a race, but it is definitely one of my favorite New Year's celebrations to date!  The hustle and bustle of the holidays provided a great distraction for the weeks leading up to the big race, but before we knew it New Year's Eve was upon us!

One of my favorite features about The Active Joe races is that we can customize our bibs!  It's starting to catch on with more races,  and it makes for a fun little keepsake afterwards.  For this race, my bibs had "Lovepepper Est. NYE 2008" because New Years Eve 2008 is what Brandon and I declare our first date.  If you had told us in 2008 that we would celebrate our 5 year dating anniversary by running a half marathon together, I would have told you to lay off the sauce yo.  But alas, happy 5 years B!

New Year's Double - Part 1 - December 31, 2013

Luckily this event is close to our house so we got to "sleep in" until 6:15, wahoo!  We did our usual race day routine:  roll out of bed and get dressed, consume bagel with peanut butter, pack our race bag, mix up Arginine and stock our fuel belts.  This race took a little longer to dress for because it was a frigid 26 degrees outside!  Things I'm not fond of?  Cold weather.  After spending about ten minutes debating over just how many layers to wear, we were all set and out the door.  Arriving to the race site was quick and easy.  We got there an hour before start time and the parking lot wasn't even halfway full but started to fill up not long after parked.  About ten minutes before go-time we made our way over to the starting corrals where we found Nancy (fellow NTX runner) who was the un-official race photographer for the event!  Our faces were frozen but we managed a smile:

The race started right on time and we were off!  With a banged up knee my goal was to take Day 1 slow and steady and salvage some energy for Day 2.  The course is entirely through a park trail so you don't have to contend with any street crossings.  The out and back loop format meant that we would need to make two loops to complete the race.  Once I found my stride I was a pretty happy camper:
Exhibit A
The format of the course meant that through pretty much the entire 13.1 miles we would be passing other runners who were coming back the other direction.  Admittedly, it resulted in some crowding on the path because some folks can't follow the rules and stay to the right.  However, I had a lot of fun seeing everyone out on the course!  Each day Brandon and I passed each other on the course about 3 times which always leads to a pick-me-up when you need it.  Despite the frigid conditions there were TONS of supporters out on the course!   One of my favorite things on race day is to read the signs people make which did not disappoint this year!  Coming up on Mile 12 I was starting to tire out but I saw Nancy again in her hot pink wig and you can't help but smile for the camera when you see it:

Exhibit B

Also by Mile 12 I was wishing I had opted for arm warmers instead of a full blown cold weather top, which also had another layer underneath it.  I was too lazy focused to stop and take it off though.  I mean what's another 1 mile-ish of being too hot?  Meh.  Rounding the corner into mile 13 I laughed to myself thinking "I have to wake up and do this again tomorrow?"  Yup!    

With an official finish time of 2:21:02 I was pretty happy.  This time is a far cry from a PR but it was what I was planning on, and I stuck to my plan!  My legs were of course a little tired but I knew I had enough left in me to tackle Day 2.  After finishing I got to pick up my medal for the race as well as my medal for completing three of The Active Joe races for the year!   

Day 1 Medal:

The Active Joe Race Series Medal:

 Day 1 Splits:

After completing Day 1 we headed home and prepared for the dreaded ice bath!  I'm not fond of cold weather which means an ice bath is pretty much the equivalent of a torture chamber.  I came prepared for this one though with a super thick hoodie and a piping hot glass of green tea!  Brandon dumped the ice in and I just jumped in.  The more you think about it, the more you just mentally torture yourself for the inevitable.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
New Year's Eve (that night) we spent some time over at my sister's house for a bit and then took our tired butts home.  We rung in the New Year on East Coast time and it was lights out at 11pm. 

New Year's Double - Part 2 - January 1, 2014

Goooooooooood morning 2014!  I was actually nowhere near that chipper when I woke up (I never am) but I proceeded through the exact same race day routine as the day before.  (I'm officially boycotting bagels for six months)   While the actual temperature outside on this day was warmer the wind was making a name for itself.  The wind chill actually made it feel cooler at the start than it had the day before.  Despite the wind chill I went with my gut and opted for arm warmers and am SO glad I did!   *FYI The Brooks Utopia Arm Warmers are legit!  So comfy, so warm, they have thumb holes (two cheers for thumb holes!) and the tops of them fold over so you can have mittens if you need them!*  Genius.  It felt a little like the movie Groundhog Day when we pulled up to the race site, especially since we parked in the exact same spot.  It was funny to sit and observe the runners getting out of their cars.  You could tell who had run the day before by the grimace on their face as they climbed out of the car.  While my legs were feeling ok, I was honestly overcome with serious doubt.  I had never done something like this before so it was that feeling of the unknown.  Would I be able to even run two miles?  Would I have to walk the whole thing?  One of the things I still struggle with is learning to trust my training.  Over the last few months I've logged a ton of miles, several half marathons, and a bunch of back-to-back high mileage runs in-between.  What was there to doubt? 

Brandon and I were both in the same starting corral so we ran the first mile of 2014 together!  I know, total Hallmark movie moment.  After the first mile I told him to go ahead and do his thing because I knew it was killing him to run at my pace.  (He's part Kenyan)  He took off and I settled in for the long haul.  As I look back, I actually think day 2 went by faster than day 1!  The crowd support was so awesome and they knew that everyone out there was hurting.  My goal at the start was to take it slow again, and run as much of the race as my body would allow.  Nancy snapped one photo from day 2, the jazz hands were eluding me but I was still smiling!

The mile markers came and went and before you know it, I had reached mile 12 again!  Holy crap, I'm almost done!  It was right at the mile 12 marker that my left quad started screaming so I decided to take a quick walk break.  Bad decision.  Two steps into that walk break and the quad started seizing up on me and I immediately thought, oh this was a bad idea.....back to the running.  I picked the pace back up and let the adrenaline of "I'm about to conquer this challenge" carry me to the finish line.   With an official finish time of 2:25:34 I can say that I did it!   Starting off 2014 by conquering a challenge I've never attempted before, two half marathons in 24 hours, felt so amazing!  I was also pleased as punch that my times were consistent across both days which means my plan of attack worked!

Brandon produced finish times of 1:43:51 (which got him 4th in his age group) and 1:56:45.  There is nobody else I would have rather done this with!

On New Year's Day you get a medal that is like the New Year's Eve medal just dated differently (lets state the obvious shall we) but both of those medals come together via the magic of magnets to create a gorgeous challenge plate!  All of the races put on by this group are incredible and my favorites to run throughout the year.  The medal is huge and heavy, but is such a great memory and reflection of all the hard work that it takes to earn one!  Always earned, NEVER given.

Day 2 Splits:

After the race was done we were so excited to go celebrate our accomplishments and to also officially ring in the New Year!  The Culpepper's love running, but they also love a top-shelf margarita. 

The soreness that began to ensue the rest of the day was brutal.  I actually think I can label it officially worse than any soreness I've ever had, even full marathons.  I imagine that if my legs were ever attacked by a leprechaun with a baseball bat, it would be the equivalent.  A nap, lots of stretching, icing, massaging with The Stick, and Advil helped a bit but yowza.  The soreness however resulted in a lot of comical exchanges between Brandon and I so it was all worth it.

Thank you to the New Year's Double for allowing an incredible way to end a year, and start the new one off the right way!     

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