Thursday, October 22, 2015

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Recap

When I made the crazy decision to run a redemption half marathon three weeks after a tough half marathon, I knew anything could happen. I said early on if a new PR didn't happen, I would be at ease. I just really needed to give it another shot. I owed it to not only myself, but to all the amazing people in my life who have supported my crazy adventure.


Normally the night before a race I sit on the couch, relaxing and go to bed super early. This time I worked a high school football game and didn't get to be until 11:30pm. Yeah, it was a super long day. I woke up and headed about 45 minutes north to Sarver. I got there early so I could eat some breakfast and relax a little bit. Carrie joined me not too long after and we hung out for a little while before we got on the bus up to the start.


We met up with Kim, her daughter Maddie (who was running her first half), Chelsea and one of my Oiselle teammates, Becca. It was about 40 degrees and I was very happy with my decision to wear long sleeves. Luckily, I had a throw away long sleeve shirt too so I could stay warm. Bag check was also right by the start line. It was really easy and I was thrilled to know I would have warm clothes at the finish.



The race started at 9am. Carrie, Kim, Maddie and I lined up close to the front. I saw Shaun at the start and wished him good luck. I told Carrie I would see her at the finish line, and then we were off!



I knew there was a crazy downhill in the first mile and I was just going to let my body go. The first three miles were on the road as we made our way to the trail. The race director had to change the course earlier in the week so there were no mile markers in the first three miles. Within the first mile I saw Carrie pass me. I got really concerned that something happened to her, turned out I was going REALLY fast, like a 6:58.


NO! Crap! Slow down! There is still a LONG way to go!


Miles two and three I settled down. I found a lady in pink compression sleeves and I thought she was keeping a great pace. I decided to stay with her. As we turned onto the trail there were some spectators and it was such an awesome feeling. I could see the leaders in front of me, and still sort of see Carrie's bright orange shorts in front of me.


Once we were on the trail I saw the three mile marker, but my watch was dead on 3.5. I kinda ignored it because I knew the course had to be changed. By mile four I had lost pink, she turned on the jets and left me in the dust. I then encountered two men. One in a blue shirt with a 14 on the back, and one in a red Team RWB shirt. They are chatting and having a nice stroll through the woods. Yep, I'm staying with these guys.

You can see my leg between the two of them! And pink sleeve blowing past me.

The guys stop for water, do a bunch of other things, but they always seem to get right in front of me. I really appreciated it. I tried not to look at my watch a lot, because I didn't want to psych myself out. The trail was beautiful, and there was ever a groundhog running along side of us.

See. beautiful!

A little after mile six I lost both of the guys. I figured I was going to have to run the second half of the race alone. It was fine, I felt good and I was ready. I am already so far ahead of how I felt in Akron, there is no way I am letting this slip away. When the seven mile split went off I noticed it said 54:xx. I kept hearing Lauren in my head, "Don't think too much about this. You are doing great, really great. More than halfway done. Keep it up. You got this!"



This course is absolutely beautiful. Water on your left and trees on the right. Leafs covered the trail and the weather was really good. The only problem was, I was starting to crash when I hit mile 10. I notices my split was 1:16 and I wanted to stop. I knew, barring disaster, I was going to PR. This happens to me in longer races. It happened around mile 23 in Columbus last year and here at this race too. My attention span cannot focus on completing out the miles. It might have been the wall I was hitting, but I was struggling. THANK GOODNESS my two pacers reappeared. Number 14 said to me, "You can pass us if you need to." I said "I am going to have a monster PR today. If I don't stay with you guys I am going to crash and maybe never finish this race." They were so awesome and talked to me for about a half mile. They confirmed with me the mile markers being a half mile off, we talked about my crazy race schedule and I thanked them repeatedly.


I stayed with them for about another mile. I told them I would be fine and thanked them again. They said they would see me at the finish line. When I got to the end of mile 11 I knew I had to get out of my head. The problem was usually this is where having crowd support comes in to play. Even if it's reading funny race signs, seeing a cute dog or even a cowbell - it is a distraction from the final miles. I saw a photographer. That was it.


Smile for the camera, even if you're dying!

When I got to mile 12.5, remember the off mile markers, I told myself that I had about five minutes left until I owned a new PR. I thought about my training, all the long hard miles I put in over the summer. I thought about how excited I was to finally be able to put 1:5x behind me. The last thought that went through my mind was that I cannot wait to call my husband and tell him I did it. But I needed to finish, and I am all alone. Actually, I have been by myself since the two guys left me. I'm glad I couldn't have gone the wrong way because there is legit no one in front or behind me.


The final .1 mile was lined with people. Finishers who stuck around, families waiting for their loved ones and they are all cheering me in. I felt like I won the race! It was pretty awesome! Things that happen when you finish by yourself! I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and saw the time 1:42:32. I didn't just PR, I CRUSHED IT! I just stopped. I couldn't move. I screamed, put my head in my hands and just folded. A nice lady brought me my medal and I heard Carrie scream, "YOU DID IT!" I ran over to her, gave her a huge hug and just lost it. It was a moment I will never forget.









FINALLY!


I ended up 128 out of 758 finishers and fifth in my age group. None of that mattered to me. I PRed my half marathon by almost nine minutes! I called Joe and I shocked him for sure. I texted Cecilia and Tara and made sure they knew before I posted it on social media. It was even better to shock Mark with my finish time. I have to say, I shocked myself. Never in a million years would I have thought this could have happened. I never trained at this pace, never had it on my radar. It happened and I am so happy!



This race was fantastic. It was very similar to Deckers Creek and the Lehigh Valley half. I do very well on crushed limestone courses and this proved it for sure. It is a very low key, great first time half marathon. If you have the opportunity to do it, I highly recommend it.

Another one for my Gone For A Run medal holder!

18 comments:

  1. So glad you enjoyed the race! This was my 3rd year running the BCHM. I PR'd as well this year, by shaving 6:02 off of last year's time. Though not as fast as you, it felt great!! I always suggest this half to anyone thinking about doing their first half because it isn't too overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats! It had been on my Pittsburgh race bucket list, and it just worked out this year.

      Delete
  2. This is so awesome, Steff!! I love the pictures and I'm so excited for you!! Personally, I can't even imagine running a half marathon at this pace so I'm just going to live vicariously through you - ha! I had no idea that the course looked like this; just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your experience; I'm so excited and proud of you for this amazing accomplishment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tara! The course was just beautiful. Fall can be really beautiful here! I'm glad I got to do it.

      Delete
  3. Great, great job! I love those pictures of you at that finish. There's no better feeling than knowing you crushed a race!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Wendy. i was waiting to post the recap because I knew the pictures would make it!

      Delete
  4. loved your recap and the emotional pictures at the end. Congratulations - you worked hard and deserved every minute of that PR :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kim! It was so nice to hang out with you guys! Congrats to both of you!

      Delete
  5. Great recap Steffany! Those pictures are amazing and show how much this race meant to you. I had a similar experience at my last race with having "pacers" and without them I wouldn't have done as well at my race. Thank goodness for the running community!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK GOODNESS! I like to believe there are random people on race courses just looking for people crashing and jump in to save the day!

      Delete
  6. Loved reading these details! And what awesome finish pictures! The photographer really caught all your emotions. Congratulations!!!! You deserve such a great race & PR!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats to you too! It was so nice to catch up and chat!

      Delete
  7. What an awesome recap with just the best ending!! Well done, enjoy the result of all your hard work! This makes me want to go out and run hard in my race this weekend :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm sooo proud of you!! I knew all your hard work would pay off in a BIG way!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Emily! It was about time something clicked!

      Delete
  9. Way to go!!! You are a beast. Great recap of the race... I am already looking forward to running it next year

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm going back to Columbus next year so I'll have to wait to take it on again...

      Delete