Sunday, May 6, 2012

Heels & Hills Half (and Humidity) May 6 2012

The cutest technical race shirt EVER!
I ran the Heels & Heels Half Marathon this morning in Irving, TX.  If you know me, you already know that my hubby plays drums in a rock band called The Dangits.  Last night, the night before the race, they had a show in Fort Worth.  Being the always-supportive wife that I am, I didn't want to miss his show, but I knew I had to be up early (5:20am gasp) for the race.   So we compromised.  I would stay and watch him play, but the minute the band left the stage, we would load up the car with his drums and I would race home to bed and he would catch a ride to come home later after the other bands performed.  Seemed reasonable enough.  The only thing I didn't factor in is that it is hard to go from a loud concert to a quiet bed and expect to fall asleep as fast as usual.

Amber and me at the show.  Wide awake about 11PM.

I was home by 11:45 and hit the hay, but my adrenaline was high and I couldn't fall asleep right away.  I am sure it was some combination of the concert, my nerves for the race in the morning, and the fact that hubby wasn't laying next to me.  Normally, I would have skipped the show all together the night before a big race, but this is my 7th half marathon now and my 6th just since October of 2011.  I hit my goal at the Dallas Rock 'n Roll Half of a sub 2 hour half marathon, so the pressure was a bit less than usual.  I decided to take it kind of easy and not be so concerned with my finish time. If I don't do as well as last time because I am a little tired from being up too late, oh well.  Let's just run this one and have fun.

I tossed and turned until about 1:00am when hubby came home and didn't fall into a continuous sleep until about 1:30am.  The alarm was set for 5:20.  Yikes!  I am an 8 hour a night sleep kind of girl.  I don't function well without sleep.  I had anxiety dreams about over sleeping and missing the race. When the alarm went off, I jumped out of bed surprisingly fast and felt better than I thought I would.  The excitement of the race was fueling my morning.  I downed a couple cups of coffee and a banana and I was out the door.

They recommended arriving one hour before start time to allow for parking, so I left the house at 6am and headed to Irving/Los Colinas.  I arrived right at 6:30am, easily parked my car (for free) in the plentiful parking spaces in the parking garages near the start line and was ready to go by 6:35am.  I used the porta-potty's that had no lines, were not gross (yet), and was kind of shocked at how easy and painless the whole process was so far.  Usually the driving/parking/bathroom situations are the most dreaded part of a race for me.

Now, I have an hour to kill before the start time.  They start off with the one mile fun run for the little kids and it was cute to see the smiles on their tiny faces as they crossed the finish line, especially the little boy who came in first place. 

Since I had some time to kill and the Mustangs of Los Colinas were right there, I took a few pre-race pictures.

Me and the Mustangs, pre-race
A few minutes before start time I started to look for a pace group to follow.  This race had the Men-In-Skirts Half Marathon Pacers, which was good for a chuckle or two.  I found a 1:55 pacer and a 2:00 pacer.  I wanted to fall somewhere in between, so I choose the 1:55 finisher and I figured if I fell behind I would still do pretty well.   A 1:55 finish time is a 8:58 avg pace, which I easily beat last month in my last 10K with an 8:30 avg pace, but I wasn't confidant that I could maintain that for 13.1 miles.  I was gonna try.

Just before the start time, I look over and notice the girl next to me has her name printed on her bib and it is Lea.  Just like me, without an H.  That is pretty rare.  Now, if you read my race blogs, you know that when the race results are searchable by first name, I like to declare myself first place winner out of women named Lea or Leah and so far, I have been undefeated by another Lea(h)!  The fastest Lea in Dallas/Fort Worth!  Since I know I will never come in first place in my sex or age group, this gives me a small amount of silly meaningless joy.  Now here I was at the start line, standing next to the same pacer as my only competitor, "the other Lea!"  Little did she know I had my sights set on beating her.  Little did I know, she was about to kick my butt.

7:30am arrived and we were off!  I was feeling pretty good.  I easily stayed with the pacer and the other Lea for miles and miles.  It was cloudy, overcast and HUMID!  Within the first mile, my pacers shirt was nearly soaking wet (OK, mine was too).  The course was beautiful, following the Campion Trails in Los Colinas.  While the race name is Heels & Hills it neither required wearing heels or had many hills.  This is what the Heels & Hills official website had to say about that:

"Course: A couple years ago, the City of Irving asked Heels and Hills to showcase their beautiful Campion Trails, and we're happy to work with them as the city paved trail weaves through woods, along the city canal system, by ponds, and beautiful neighborhoods! The course features these trails and the streets in the Las Colinas Blvd / Williams Square area. The word "hills" in the race is part of the "cute" name and not literal. The first two years of the race used a different course which had some hills, but the course for the last three years, since starting to utilize Campion Trails, is fairly flat".

I started to catch myself counting down the miles as early as mile 3.  This is not a good sign of a good mental race.  My mind always gives out before my body does, so I have to try not to focus on miles (i.e. how many more to go) and repeat positive thoughts in my head like, this is easy.  You know, lie to myself.   For some reason, my brain was a little too distracted to focus mentally on the positive like I needed to.  Too much coffee?  Too little sleep?  Probably.

I love the people holding encouraging signs along the course.  They are a nice distraction and give me a little chuckle as I run by.  I recreated my favorite from the race.  

After mile 9, I officially lost sight of my pace group.  I was OK with it.  The excitement and initial adrenaline was wearing off,  I was feeling tired, it was hot and humid, and my lack of sleep was catching up with me.  Just keep pushing, I told myself.  Go as slow as you need to, just don't walk!  My breathing was fine, my legs were fine (my back was hurting a little), I didn't NEED to walk, it was ALL mental and I knew it.  However, I gave in to walking at a water station around mile 11.   I stopped to drink some water and took the opportunity to walk a bit.  It was then, that the 2:00 pacer passed me.  OH NO!  Now, I was OK with not setting a new PR (you can't expect to PR every single race), and I accepted reality of not finishing at 1:55 (that Lea killed me), but I wanted to finish around the two hour mark.  I wasn't going to split hairs about a minute or two.  Not this time.  I tried to pick up the pace to get back on track but I was simply running out of steam.  I know once again, that my mistake was starting the first half of the race too fast.  I finished the Dallas Rock 'n Roll Half in under two when I made a conscious effort not to go too fast the first half of the race.  I was too caught up in staying with the pacer and beating Lea, that this little piece of common sense went out the window.  This whole Lea thing is silly, I know.

At mile 12, Jack sang to me "Stop Breaking Down", but my body wasn't listening to Jack.  I was definitely breaking down.  I fought through the painful last mile, focusing on the cheat/refuel/celebration lunch that I would consume after finishing this race.  I fist pumped through the finish line, because that makes me laugh when I see the race photos (that I never buy).  They hand me my race medal and take my chip timer before I sat in the grass to recuperate with a banana and chatted with a fellow finisher for a few minutes before heading back to my car.

Race Medal

Final Results: 2:01:53

Overall: 58 out of 703.  Not too shabby for less than 5 hours of sleep!
Females 35-39: 13 out of 116
Women named Lea: Dead Last.  Or 2nd place.  You know what they say, 2nd place is first loser.  My winning streak against all running Lea's has ended! 

Overall it was a really fun race, with a super cute technical shirt and medal.  I will definitely run this one again next year and will try to get more sleep next time!

Time for a nap!


  1. Yay lea!!! You are so dedicated!

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