Sunday, December 09, 2007

Born to Be Worried

Fredericksburg Blue and Gray Half-Marathon, Dec. 9, 2007, official results:
8/9  Jeanne L McCann   02:34:59   02:34:26   11:47

Yes, I was.

Fredericksburg Blue-Gray Half-Mary Recap:

I wish I could show you the topographical map. Just picture the Swiss Alps, and that's kind of what this was like.

Two things happened Saturday night that helped: Susie and David invited some friends for dinner; the woman, V. is a very serious runner. Both she and her husband talked running and strategy and speed work, and even took time to give me some tips. "Not a good idea," said V. of my plan to walk the hills. "Once you give in to walking, your brain gets the idea that it's ok. Just pick out markers and try to get from one to the next."

The second thing: David called to wish us well. I don't know what you said to me exactly, David, but you made me feel that I could do this.

Oh, and a third thing: training in Tahoe with Bex. Even though she had only taken me on a three-mile hilly run, her no-nonsense approach resounded in my brain.

So, those were my secret weapons, and after a fitful night's sleep, I awoke at 5:30 to down oatmeal, coffee, water, and worry about what the best outfit was. It was overcast, misty, gray, and about 42F. Tights, a turtleneck and vest.

The race started at 7:30 a.m. As is my wont, at 7:20 I was in dire—DIRE—(if you get catch my drift), need of a portapotty. Line too long. So out I trotted to the back of the strip mall. TROTTED being the operative word.

Here's how it went:

I decided not to run conservatively (for me). I decided not to walk. I mentally broke the race into two six miles runs, with some more miles after that.

Sidebar: I was using the Ironman Timex iControl for iPod—the last time I use it. I couldn't get it to recognize my splits. You have to hit the split button just so or it thinks you're trying to control your iPod. The watch gets confused. Does this command mean rewind? Or play? Or SPLIT??? I thought it would just know. It didn't. And it wasn't even hooked up to my iPod.

My thoughts at the start: I was out for a training run, I wanted to enjoy the race and the scenery, and I was going to try not to walk. (Along with the ever-wistful hope of PR-ing.)

Mile 1: 10:47 I started at the waaay back. I was hanging with two women, one I dubbed Orange Girl, who were chatting up a storm. I knew I would have to either get in front of them or someone would get hurt. I sped up.

Mile 2: And then took a break. Like some mythical building rising from the ashes, there was my portapotty, right when I needed it. Time: 12:38

Mile 3: 10:52: I was now pretty much in last place. I could just see the tail end of the race far in the distance, including the two women. I wanted to start picking off people, but I knew it would take miles to catch up.

Mil2 4 & 5: 22:14: I caught up with the last girl as she started walking. We chatted. She said she'd never been last before and I said me neither. She was, like me, from D.C., where we are used to pretty big races with loads of people who are "last." I quickly passed her. Getting the watch to record splits was costing me a few seconds each time I tried it. Very annoying.

Mile 6 & 7: 24:00 As I passed the intersections with the fantastic volunteers who were holding back traffic (no roads closed) I'd say, "Hey, I must be first since no one is in front of me!" Ha, ha. I crack myself up. I'd caught up with the two women I'd started with. One was doing a lot of walking, the other, Orange Girl, would run for quite a while, then walk. I passed her. Yay! We were on a short but steep incline to a muddy track we had to run around. I was still feeling fine.

Mile 8: 11:17 O.G. passed me.

Mile 9: 11:31 We're running through the streets of historic Fredericksburg. I think I saw one spectator. But God bless 'em, the volunteers stuck by their water tables for all of us stragglers. Unlike say, the ARMY.

Mile 10 & 11: 23:02 I hit mile 10 in 1:50 1:55, my fastest 10 miles ever. I started thinking maybe I had a chance. Mile 10 turned onto a paved trail that went by a canal (river?). Melancholy in the weather, but beautiful. I passed Orange Girl.

It was just the two of us now, vying for what felt like last place. Just past mile 11, we turned off the trail and walked up some stairs to get to the bottom of the mile-long hill. I walked the 20 yards or so from the 11 mile marker to the stairs.

Orange Girl passed me.

Mile 11 is the start of a mile-long very steep hill. I was prepared for it. I walked for another 20 seconds, and then started a slow, slow jog, remembering what V had said the night before.

Mile 12: 00:00:98 Whatever.

Mile 12: 14:23 Um, there's more hill here. Some guy who had been in front now fell back. The line-up for last place is now Orange Girl who is walking the hills, Track Suit guy and me. TSG tries to talk to me. "Can't talk," I have to grunt not once, but twice! Hello! You wanna pick me up? NOW IS NOT THE BEST TIME.

Mile 13: 12:33 I'm now close to Orange Girl again, and following her. The orange cones seem to go to the left but she goes straight so I follow her. About 50 yards on, she stops and says, "Where's the finish?" %$$@!!!

The race starts and ends in a strip mall so I know where we are, but we've gone too far, and have to backtrack a bit. I'm calling it 50 yards. This is where I decide I'm going to GET HER if it's the last thing I do.

Mile .1: 1:20 I smoke Orange Girl AND Track Suit guy both in a photo finish. Pfft.

Susie and David were expecting me at 3 hours, so were surprised (hey, I was surprised too!) They cheered me into the chute and I think Susie even ran with me, but I couldn't talk.

You'll have to read Susie's report to see how they did. :)

After the race, I bumped into V from the night before who asked how I did. I was only too happy to babble for 10 minutes (see above) before it occurred to me to ask her how she did.

"Oh," she said. "I won."



LBTEPA said...


David said...

Well that just makes my day. I was running this morning from 7:00 until 9:55 covering a few more miles than you but I was thinking of you guys off and on throughout. I kept looking at my watch an imagining what mile you were on; and wondered whether we'd finish about the same time.

Laurie said...

Congrats on the new PR!

Way to go leaving Orange Girl (who I thought you called an orange cone!) and TSG in your dust!

21stCenturyMom said...

I'm thinking that with a time just over 2.5 hours you were not last - not even close.

Well done with the competitive spirit. That's the stuff dreams and PRs are made of.

Neese said...

not only did I read every word ;) I was quite entertained by your report, you make me laugh :p We so should run a race together some time, I'm usually in the back too but hey someone's gotta be!? way to smoke em in the end! :) And, too funny about "V" winning. I am just cracking up at the image of you goin on and on about you... as she stood there, the winner. hahhaha love it.

Susan said...

WOW! That is excellent! You stuck to your guns and smoked those folks!!!

Go Jeanne go -- you rock! Excellent report, also.

I now may have a Tahoe running buddy, too. :)

a.maria said...

"oh.. i won"


peter said...

Congrats on your PR! Breaking 2:30 is only around the corner on the next flat course. And 1:50 for 10M (on hills) IS a qualifier for the National Half. Think Al Lewis 10M club race in a few weeks. Glad you made it home in your noisy transport. Coming home w/o a muffler must have been even more annoying than listening to OG and her chatty friend.

Rich said...

Congrats! What a report. PRs are meant to be broken. What's next - you can't rest on your laurels forever, you know!

Rainmaker said...

Nice job taking out Orange Girl!

IHateToast said...

yea! i have completely forgotten about your opermaration. you did a pb in the same year as your peepeebooboo.

you are amazing. i think you'd have kicked V's bootie had you not had the set back this year.

and as if OG and TSG could beat you. pah. doppelpah!

Anonymous said...

WOW! CONGRATULATIONS!! It seems like only yesterday you were a Mom on a college tour on pain killers and a CANE!!! You've come a long way, baby! ENJOY IT !!

m said...


I'm so proud of you!

Nice report also

Rhea said...

Hello from Honolulu. EXCELLENT race report. I knew you could do it. Peter's right - you can do 2:30 in your next race, no problem. And you even said yourself that you probably could have done 2:30 in that race.

Runner Susan said...

Congrats Jeanne! Every girl needs a little GET HER in her spirit! Well done.

Dori said...

Way to go, Jeanne! A PR on a hilly course. What other tips did V give you? The winner; sheesh!

Thomas said...

Congratulations, and it looks like you really know some speedy runners. And well done for smoking that orange girl. She never had a chance, did she?

Vickie said...

CONGRATS! You are getting smokin' fast! You weren't last either! Dang, if I'd been there now I know I would have been last! And isn't that how it always goes, you end up meeting the winner of the race as you are about the last one to finish. Its happened to me many times! Then I feel bad because they know who you are and why they had to wait so long!

Triseverance said...

I so wanted you to kick Orange Girls ass. Woot woot. Great race Jeanne.

monicac2 said...

I lov this story - especially the last paragraph - too funny! Great job on your PR!

Mmem said...

Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations, wow!

Great time. And lol at the names we give the folks in these races that we keep trading places with. WTG getting past Orange Girl and Track Suit Guy once and for all.

You rock!

renae said...

Congratulations! But you have me very worried...I'm attempting my first 1/2 marathon in May - in Fredericksburg....hills?? Seriously big hills??