Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snake River 2012

For those of you who have raced the Snake River half marathon or spoken with anyone who has, you know the biggest concern about this race isn’t, “What direction will the wind be blowing this year?” It’s, “How many times will it change directions, and at what point will I have to die trying to keep with the group or tough it out on my own?”

Making our way down the grade, it was all we could do to try and catch our first glimpse of the water.

The last time I raced Snake River I had the help of a tail wind to carry my sorry butt to the finish after slogging through a headwind to the turn-around point. This year…well, in the words of Tony Dibartolo (as we’re driving down the Wawawai grade) “Look at that water! Completely calm,” only lasted for about 7 miles, and then the winds decided to get even.

These days, it’s hard for me to go into a race with the notion I’m just going to take it easy. I wasn’t even out of the car before people said they expected at 1:26 finish. Honestly, I wanted this race to feel more like a long run, an effort greater than an easy Sunday run, but not so great that I couldn’t walk after crossing the finish line.

Jayne Anderson getting ready to hit the course!

I couldn’t walk after crossing the finish line. The muscles in the soles of my feet ached so badly I stripped my shoes and socks off so the cold pavement would quench my burning feet. I felt like a gimp. Then I spotted Haley Cooper-Scott 30 yards ahead of me and noticed I wasn't the only one walking funny. (For my PT friends, my gait analysis: short step length on the left, decreased left hip extension, and severe left lower extremity internal rotation.) She peeled off her sock—bloodied—to reveal a blister that could have fit in the palm of my hand. It spanned the entire planter surface of her foot. I no longer complained.

Looking back, this was by far one of my dumbest races I’ve run. In retrospect, it’s better to get it out of the way early to serve as a lesson for my future races, but seriously; I’m smarter than this. With no headwind starting out, I began at a pace I raced last summer in my 5ks. It took just two miles to call myself an idiot and slow to the pace I had originally hoped to maintain: 7:10s to 7:15s. Yet those two miles dictated the entire course of the race—wind excluded. By the turnaround, 6.5 miles felt like 10. By mile 8, I dreamt I had covered 11. Mile 11? Where is that DAMN finish line?!?

Somehow (I’m guessing my GU gels saved me) I managed to maintain a pace somewhere between 6:50 and 7:15…until mile 11. Remember that clear Snake River water I eluded to earlier—the glassy, beautiful river? I’ll just say that if it weren’t for the kind gentleman in front of me who bore the brunt of that relentless wind, I surely would have walked the last two miles. Glassy water my ass.
Finally…the finish line. My feet burned. I could have sworn someone had shoved knives into my quads. My back ached. My heart ripped at a whopping 182 beats per minute (um…this can’t be healthy?) Yet I crossed the finish line just before the seconds turned that 1:32 finish time into 1:33. A kind volunteer cut the timing chip off my shoe (bless him…there was no way I could possibly bend over and then come back to standing), and another one handed me a brand new pair of socks. Socks! What a treat J

Photo by Hector Garza. Pretty sure he snapped this right at the finish, when all I could think about was how everything hurt. Thanks Hector!
In the end, I came away with a valuable lesson for this year. Don’t just race, but race smart. I did come away with a personal PR for that particular course—nowhere near my half marathon PR—and an age group award; however, I don’t think anything compares to the camaraderie shared by so many people I correspond with on Facebook and only get to see at these races. Family reunions have never been so fun! The more people I meet, the more people I can cheer on as we pass each other on the course. 

Eric Worden, Jeremy Anglin, and Matt Cantrell at the finish but ready to get home. All had great races, and Eric set a new PR. Congratulations to everyone!

I'm just disappointed I couldn't fill my pint glass with what it was intended to hold. Damn my feet!

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