Saturday, September 25, 2010

Salem's Wicked half marathon race report

Today, as part of my training programme, I did the Wicked half marathon in Salem.  It was a bit hot, and around 80°F at the start.  Given last week's less than sterling long run, I tweaked this week's training and was looking forward to seeing how it would all turn out.  We set off at around 5:30am since the race was starting at 7 and I still had to pick up my race packet etc.  I had an espresso, and then a chocolate underground yoghurt in the car as I find it difficult to eat so early in the morning.
Let me just come out and say it:  the race rocked!  I finished it in 2:31.  Considering that the time for the last half (Boston's Race to Remember in May) was 2:40 AND I was wrecked afterwards, I was rather pleased with this one.  I ran strongly, and felt good throughout.  Even more amazing is the fact that I have no physical pain!  Usually after a long run I have real pain in my muscles - nothing that a few Advils cannot fix, but still.  Today, I finished and felt as fresh as a rose!  I had a quick bathroom break at around mile 5, and walked a few times during the last mile to catch my breath, and also because it was starting to feel that I was going to start running slowly, and I did not want to do that.  Those short walks helped me recover and finish strong.

What I did differently this week:
1) I did my 3 workouts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I put my heart into them.  I rested on Thursday and Friday.
2) Drank lots of water especially on Friday, when I also ate my meals quite early.  I had dinner at around 5:30pm, since we usually eat quite late - that was wise as I sometimes wake up feeling 'undigested'.
3)  Although I only managed 1 weight session this week, I actually 'felt' strong in my core.  Whether it was my muscles or my mind, I do not know, but I do know that the feeling of strength comes from feeling that you have your workouts under control - or at any rate that you are trying your best.

The race:
I love the Salem/Marblehead area.  It is on the sea, so you feel and smell the sea when you bike or run.  Salem is also quite hilly, so the first five miles were a combination of hills and flats...quite gentle ones though.  As you can see from the map, we then ran across this bridge, to Marblehead neck.  This a terrific part of the town.  These are good hills, and for my Marblehead triathlon last year, I had to cycle 3 times around the neck.  If you remember I only learned to ride a bike last year, and had not quite mastered the art of getting out of the saddle.  So I had to do all these hills sitting down, and peddle ferociously, because they are quite steep, and if you stop, I am not sure you can start on that kind of hill again!  
Anyway, I know the course well, and I loved accelerating up those hills today.  I sprinted up them, and what a great feeling that was - especially since I remembered to keep the pace going on the downhill as well, rather than relaxing.  Two rather surprising songs for uphill and then downhill sprints are Part -time Lover and Take Me Home Country Roads.  In fact I would go as far as saying I could have run the entire race with those 2 songs....for some reason today, that was the right beat! But most importantly, I felt happy.  Yes, today I felt like I did Run like Hermes - messenger of the gods, with wings on my feet.  This is the first time that I can say I actually felt like that!

You all gave me some great advice, which I took, and what you have said is true indeed.  I made sure to have enough rest, and kept up the quality in my training sessions this week, which resulted in a good run today.  I realize that I might be over-simplifying things somewhat, but I needed to have a good run today, and see at what point my training is.  My running confidence has been renewed, and I am ready for week 12.  In the meantime, all that running around Marblehead today made me want to cycle!  So tomorrow morning, a bike ride is on the cards.

                    Mile 13:  I may look a bit hallucinatory, but I am actually smiling in this pic!

                                                  A pic just before driving back to Boston.


  1. Woohoo: what a fantastic race Natalia! Well done on improving your time. By reading your race report I can tell how much you enjoyed it.

    Very proud of you!

  2. You did a great job, it just shows that hard work preparing can really pay off. I could take some tips from you :)

  3. la tua 'freschezza' in gara significa solo una cosa: ti stai allenando bene!

  4. Excellent job! It is so wonderful to have a run/race that boosts your confidence and it sounds like you rocked it!

  5. Aw, congratulations! When I read that it was 80 at the start, I didn't expect to read such a positive report!

  6. Very happy that things went well. It's the good runs that keep us coming back for more.

  7. Congratulations on a great run - sounds as though you had a great time

  8. Dear Everyone, thanks so much for the good wishes! I was surprised and delighted that it was such a good run....I think reading all your blogs has a very good effect on me too, and I have learnt a lot from your tips and experiences. Cheers!

  9. 9 minuti meno è un gran risultato, significa 26"/km più veloce! Comunque una mezza maratona con le salite è un pochino atipica; considerata la distanza dovrebbero studiare un percorso il più possibile pianeggiante. Belle foto, nella prima si capisce che è un sorriso e non sei allucinata anzi, non sembri neanche essere affaticata.