Last year, I woke up the morning of this race at 3am and made the 2+ hour drive to Buffalo. While it wasn’t the worst (or craziest) thing I’ve ever done, as this year’s race day drew closer I was feeling less and less like that was a thing I wanted to do again. Luckily, Laura was also wanting to avoid a super early wake up and our fabulous friend Britt volunteered to host us for the night prior. Umm, girls slumber party? Does not require much arm twisting.
I drove to Rochester to meet up with Laura, saw her work and her new adorable apartment, and then we headed to Buffalo. We arrived without too much incident and headed to the expo. Typical girl shenanigans followed: carbs, more carbs, meaningless chatter, lots of foam rolling, beer, and wine ice cream. We stayed up way too late and tried way too hard to get a futon unfolded. It was everything you could possibly ask for in a pre-race evening.
Buffalo was originally my goal race for the spring, but after running well at New Jersey and wanting to turn my focus towards building my base mileage back up since then, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do … or what I would even be capable of. I tapered for NJ and did not do so for Buffalo, so I really had no idea what to expect out of my legs. I had decided that I wouldn’t start so slow that I might sabotage a PR attempt, but I also wouldn’t push too hard for it if the legs weren’t having it that day. I wanted to put in an honest effort but not totally destroy myself, if that makes sense.
Britt’s apartment was very close to the start, which was perfect. Laura and I ran the approximately 1.5 miles with Britt escorting us via bike; I remember my chest feeling very heavy and my breathing felt labored even though we were running ~9 min/mile pace. Not very comforting.
I tried to shake it off; we met up with Laura’s sister who was running the full, said some good lucks and have funs, and then hustled our butts into the corrals.
Miles 1-3: 7:38, 7:22, 7:17
I find it amusing that my first split in every decent half I’ve ever run has been 7:38. Apparently this is my magic “sorta hard but don’t go out too fast” pace?
I felt like I was working fairly hard, but I felt like shit during the first two miles of NJ as well so I told myself not to let up too much. During mile 3, you could see the leaders on the turnaround and I spent my time looking for Laura. This apparently was a very good distraction, as this ended up being my fastest mile of the race. Note to self: run more out-and-back courses.
Miles 4-6: 7:30, 7:38, 7:27
WHY AM I SEEING ALL THESE 7:3xs. WHY ARE THESE MILES TAKING FOREVER.
It’s never good when you’re ready to be done at mile 5. It’s also never good when your stomach is starting to feel a little off and you’re questioning why you didn’t make one last bathroom stop before the start.
Miles 7-8: 7:26, 7:33
The first .35ish miles of this segment was great – it was the last section of Delaware Ave and was relatively close to the finish, so the sidewalks were thick with spectators and hubbub and music and all that fun stuff that makes you forget how much you are NOT feeling this race.
However. You then make a turn onto Niagara which is probably the worst section of the entire race. This street was part of the old race course, but it used to be mile 1.5ish-2.5ish – early enough where you didn’t care that the street was shitty, the area looked rundown as hell, and there were no people around. At mile 7 of a bad race, though … I remember purposefully looking for a street sign so I could curse it in an appropriate manner. I grunted “Niagara Street, you are stealing my fucking soul right now” and some guy passing me gave me a dirty look. I love making friends during races.
The other fun thing about this section is that my mild stomach discomfort turned to a very distinct sloshing sensation. I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN RIGHT NOW!!
Mile 9: 8:26
Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. The sloshing in my stomach persisted and all my focus went to determining if I could make it to the end or not. At mile 8.52, a single porta-potty appeared directly to my left and I was immediately so happy to see it, I could swear it was glowing around the edges. I darted in and tried to make it as quick as possible, but I ended up losing about a minute. To be honest, I’m pretty frustrated by this only because it continues to be a theme in my races. I should like, do something to figure out why this happens or something. Hmm.
Miles 10-13.1: 7:33, 7:29, 7:28, 7:35, 1:06 (7:28 pace)
When I exited the porta-potty, the 1:40 pace group was directly in front of me. This was probably the saving grace of the rest of my race. I hopped out in front of them and kept telling myself “do NOT let them pass you.” I wasn’t sure how my legs would react after the pop-n-squat and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t cramp up or start refusing to cooperate.
At this point though, the chest-lung-breathing thing that I experienced during the warm-up caught up to me. Every time I tried to take a deep breath, it hurt my lungs and I felt like I was going to choke. I just tried to hang tough with whatever I had left, and stick to my mantra of “do not let them pass you.” It certainly was not the fast finish that I had in me for NJ, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the overall time.
Overall: 1:39:30, 45/2110 females, 9/428 age group
I saw Laura and Britt immediately after I finished and I stopped in the chute to complain about my complete inability to breathe properly. I was happy in a weird way to hear that Laura had experienced the same thing – we both realized it was pretty damn humid outside and neither of us have really had a chance to acclimate to the weather. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being a big baby, so when the girls with elite numbers have similar issues, it makes me feel less like I’m just composed entirely of wuss genes.
I realize this recap sounds like more complaining than anything else, and honestly, I’m rubbing myself the wrong way even as I type this (heh heh … TWSS). This was my 3rd fastest half marathon ever, I should be nothing but happy – and again, it’s not really the time itself I’m upset with, more the actual race experience. It wasn’t pleasant. That being said, I am definitely grateful that even on a bad day, I can still come in under 1:40. I finally really feel like “I’m back” after a slow, gradual build up of mileage and fitness over the winter. I am excited to get back to my weekly routine, get back to speed work, and to not pin a bib on for a while.