Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Surprisingly Successful

When I received a text message a few weeks back that read

"Will you run for Haiti on Jan 22, have to run 10 miles - 35 dollars!?!"

I responded

"Yes! Does time matter?"

and the response received

"Well we could win we have some awesome runners"

END of conversation for a few weeks....

I knew that the day after, January 23rd, I had committed to two other running friends for a 23 Miler for my training schedule. I had planned to do 10 Miles with Todd and then the next 13 to do with Jaime during her Clearwater half. I figured if time didn't matter for this Haiti run then I could do 10 easy in the morning and then have the entire day to recover..... well.... things were not the way I had imagined nor did they go or end up in any way that I would have ever imagined!!! Life can be fun and spontaneous, which is the best part of living sometimes!!

As the Haiti run started to unfold, I realized it was actually a relay - a 100 mile relay. So I am thinking that 10 runners 10 miles... right? Well, a week before the race my friend says "Penny, I have to tell you something... you are actually running 15 miles and you are the 9th leg" translation - Penny you are running at 15 miles at 9:30 at night... the night before your 23 miler. I pretty much had a panic attack. I didn't know what to do. I felt I needed to back out of the relay because I knew I had commitments to other people, but I also had commited to do this relay! I am only one person, and all of a sudden I felt I needed a clone. I could not get this off of my mind. I spent days trying to figure out what to do! Jaime got an ear full of this... thanks for listening ;)

I tried to switch to be the first leg, but that wasn't happening, it was already given to someone. My next thought was ok, well I will run my leg and then do 8 more to complete my 23. Then I started panicking about running so late and where I would do it. Finally I really analyzed the legs of the relay. There were 2 12 milers back to back. I decided I would ask for the first 12 miler and then run with the next runner for 11 of their miles and then I would be done! After talking my friend into this, she finally agreed. Well, next thing that happens is a runner felt she should not run, leaving the next 12 miler open! So, what happens? Penny gets 2 legs of the relay!! I honestly was very nervous. I didn't know how this was going to work. 24 miles out in the middle of nowhere with no one else but myself! I have never run 23 miles, let alone 24 miles, for a marathon training run... and now here I was REGISTERED in a RACE for 24 miles all by myself in the MIDDLE of the day. I was planned to start at 11:30!!

Now, at this point I was freaking out about what I was going to EAT before I ran. I am so used to eating a Luna Bar and then heading out at 4:30 am.. this was beyond different. My plan was to wake up, have a good breakfast early and then eat a power bar an hour before the race.. and the night before eat my staple pasta dish for carbs... well, once again... this did not go as planned!!

The night before I went out to eat with friends. We went to Ceviche and I ordered Ceviche... it was just Tuna... no carbs!!!! AND I was drinking wine... aaagh what was I thinking?!?!

So, fast forward to the next morning - I wake up... getting ready to eat that breakfast and sipping on some coffee when I get a phone call from my friend...

"Penny, you need to get down here ASAP! Matt just BLEW his first leg out of the water and we are way early... leave your house now!!!"

Haha, well I had coffee in my  system and that was it. I ran out the door, stopped and got some gatorade and I was off... no food in the belly!! Luckily I had a cliff bar stashed in my bag. I get to the start with about 40 minutes to go. I had done nothing to get ready, so I was standing around stretching and talking to the girls. It was really windy and cold.

Next thing I know, the girl that I am running after is right in front of me, which means I had to take off! So in an instant I was off on my 24 mile journey!!!! It started out nice... for the first 2 miles.. The map showed that I was going out 6 miles and then going back and then repeating. Well, I got to mile 2.5 and this lady tells me I had to turn around. I tried to say no, that I was supposed to go out 6 and she insisted, that that was not correct. So I did as I was told. All of a sudden a boy (yes boy, he was a x country hs runner) came up next to me and said.. are you leg 4? I said yes, he said why did we just turn around...? so now we are both confused... at mile 3.4 this guy is yelling at us to run back!! So we turned around. He realized that the lady was wrong and we were not supposed to turn around at 2.4! So we finally get back to him, get in his truck and he dumps us at a point that he felt was appropriate to get us back on track - confusing I know!!

At this point I am frustrated  because of the team time.. this was going to affect it. My garmin was stopped for the drive, but the relay clock was still going.

This course to be quite honest was HORRIBLE. 4 of the 6 miles out were on country roads with cars FLYING by. There was no shoulders to run on. So when I saw a car coming I would dart off into the ditch and then back on the road. The wind was ridiculous. I felt I was running in place! There was quite a few times that my legs when they were taking steps through the air, would be pushed by the wind. My music, was loud, and I could still here the wind. At another point the wind was so bad, that I was crying with tears in my eyes, wondering if I was actually going to finish this run or if I should just give up! The water situation? Well that was only at the turn arounds, so every 6 miles. GUs? Well, I took 2 with me and gave my friend my other 2 to give me when I finished my first 12 miles... well, she forgot she had them! So, I had 2 GU's at the beginning and then had nothing for the 2nd half when I would probably actually need them!!! AAAH I couldn't believe what I had gotten myself into!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Through all of this pain I had great splits... which made me the happiest girl alive...

6:15 Only .89 (7.18 pace)

So avg of 7.36 pace for 23.89 miles!!!

The team finished 2nd place (The HS XCountry team won) with a total of 13:36:10 for 100 miles!!!! We were awesome. The race was great (even though it was tough) and we were doing it for a great cause!!!

My total time with that fiasco of having to stop was 3:06:02 so it added an additional 5 minutes to our teams time. SO aggravating :( but still put me at 7:46 avg pace for my 2 legs which totaled almost a 1/4 of the 100 mile relay!!!

Now, there are a few reasons this gives me mega confidence for my marathon

1. I was not tappered AT ALL! I had ran a paced 21 miler the week before and ran all my normal 8 milers + speed and tempo during the week leading up to it. Not to mention my double run + weights on Thursday!

2. The pace I maintained was the same pace as my marathon in October - that I was tappered and carbed up for!

3. I was not prepared for this at all. I had full intentions of running EASY

4. I do not feel the run on my body right now at all.

With all of this, I think I am ready for my marathon!! I have been doubting myself for a while, and have wondered if I should just not do it... well I think I should be excited now - right?!?


  1. Yes, you should be totally excited! I'll be your biggest cheerleader on race day!! I can't wait! :)

    Can I make signs for you?! :)

  2. After all of these rediculous races that you have rocked, you definitely are more than ready for a cake-walk marathon! Don't you remember how perfect this race was last year? No wind, water every mile, gu every 3 miles, you SO have this!

    See you in 2 weeks!