Wow this race recap took a while for me! Sometimes, life gets in the way… I am still at home recovering, so I have some time to catch up. The Holiday Half Marathon and 5k is a festive little event in North Portland near the Adidas campus that took place on December 16, 2012. This was my second year running it, so I felt pretty confident I could beat my time from last year. Last year, I ran it in 1:47:23. My goal time going into the race was 1:45, and I felt that was a perfectly attainable goal.
My mistake with this race was not getting my things ready the night before…Hehe, I think it’s safe to say I was a bit over-confident. “It’s going to be fine!” I thought to myself, no problem. We sat around, had a nice dinner, and went to bed. We woke up with plenty of time to eat some breakfast, but realized that we didn’t have any coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but it’s my tradition to have a small cup of coffee before a race to give me an extra kick in the pants. Caffeine has certainly been shown to do that with running, so I was insistent that we get coffee somewhere. So we decided we would hit the 7-11 before the race, which was the only thing open that early in the morning on a Sunday. The absence of coffee in my pre-race routine must’ve been the thing that kicked off the chaos that ensued.
While I was pouting around the house about the missing coffee, I began putting my race clothes on. I had this really silly ugly Christmas turtleneck from my Mrs. Claus costume from the Jingle Bell Run, so I decided to wear that to be “cute” and festive during the race. I also donned my striped elf socks over my tights for a little extra flair. My running jacket happens to be green, which was perfect for the theme so I put that on too with the intention of converting it to a vest during the race. Knowing that we needed to stop and get coffee, we hurried out the door with probably not enough time…
We got coffee and headed downtown. About 2 minutes onto the interstate, I realized I’d forgotten my watch. Now ordinarily, I really wouldn’t care that much because I’ve never been much for wearing the watch anyway, but today, I was going for a PR! OH NO!!! I would need to monitor my pace in order to get the time I wanted right? PANIC!! I was driving, so I obviously started beating the crap out of the steering wheel with my clueless husband sitting next to me with his mouth hanging open. “I FORGOT MY WATCH!!” We really didn’t have time to go home and get it, because parking down there is a complete nightmare. As in there’s none right around Adidas, so you have to take a shuttle if you don’t get there early enough, which of course, we didn’t get a ticket for. So we kept on heading downtown, and I was frantically coming up with ideas. “Can’t you download a thing on my thing? You know what I’m saying??” I was practically shrieking.
My husband is wonderful, and knows how to translate. “A GPS running app for your iPhone?” he said, trying not to laugh at me. Of course he could laugh, he had his stupid GPS watch. He got to work on my iPhone as I continued to curse myself for forgetting my watch and for wearing such a silly turtleneck. I realized this was going to be a problem because it was pouring rain. Now, a cute Christmas turtleneck from Goodwill is one thing if it’s nice, sunny, weather, but it’s a terrible idea if it’s down pouring. Heavy cotton is the last thing you should be wearing in the pouring rain and wind.
When we pulled up to Adidas, we realized we were too late, because they’d already shut the roads down so we couldn’t get through to try to find a parking space. We were directed down to the parking lot a couple miles away, so we would need to take the shuttle. Which we didn’t have a ticket for. We were screwed! The guy mercifully let us onto the shuttle, so I plan to contact Foot Traffic to see if we can donate some money to them or a charity of their liking for letting the bandits on the bus, wearing an ugly Christmas turtleneck nonetheless.
On the bus, I tried to familiarize myself with my new running app on my iPhone thanks to my wonderful husband. I also realized at this point I’d forgotten a hat, which would have been pretty crucial in the weather. We pulled up to Adidas for the start with a few minutes to spare to check our bag and prepare to start. The line for bag check was wrapped twice around the garage. Wow!! I think they underestimated the amount of people at this race! Here we were, 20 minutes until the start with hundreds of people trying to check bags, and the line was immobile. The porta potty situation was pretty poor too, forget about going to the bathroom before the race. There must have been more people than last year! Either that or our planning was terrible, I’m not sure which. Probably a bit of both.
In line, I adjusted my Injinji socks and my VFF See Yas, which were just starting to get a little hole in the pinky toe. Wow, I’ve been putting some mileage on these! I suppose I’ve had them since April now, that’s pretty good for such a thin sole. 3 or 3.5 mm if I remember correctly? I feel almost sentimental towards those shoes! I also counted out 40 Energy Bits and swallowed them with some water. Here goes nothing! First race with Energy Bits! I’d been training with them, so I knew I could expect a wonderful surge of energy that would carry me through the race, despite a pretty low start to the morning. No one to blame but myself for that though…
Because it took us so long to get our bags checked, we were stuck in the middle to the back of the crowd. It was raining pretty hard at this point, and I realized that I had also forgotten to convert my jacket into a vest and check the sleeves. I had no choice but to take the sleeves off and pack them into the back of my jacket, which makes me appear to have a giant booty bouncing around from far away. I’m told it’s pretty entertaining! You’re welcome, to the people running behind me 🙂 I had my iPhone in my front pocket of my jacket, which also felt big and bulky to say the least. I started the iPhone as I crossed the timing mat, which was pretty awkward because I was juggling my phone and some red “throw away” gloves.
There were lots of turns during the first part of the race, so I was effectively blocked in by runners as we funneled through the narrow streets. I was pretty antsy, so I scurried over to the sidewalk with a couple other runners who were doing the same in order to pass some of the others. This seemed to work pretty well and I was trying to make up the time that I’d lost being blocked in earlier. I finally fished out my phone to see how fast I was going, and I was holding a 6:30 min/mile pace at that point! Ok, ok, that’s too fast!! To get a time of 1:45, I would need to hold 8:00 min/miles, or slightly less.
I slowed down to about 7:30 min/miles, but I am incredibly stubborn and could not convince myself to go any slower than that. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes. I just feel SO GOOD during the first half of the race!! I can hold this, it’ll be great! I fell into running with a group of ladies that looked very strong, a local running group. I was feeling great, so I tried to talk to them a little, saying some encouraging things. By this point, we were starting to see some of the leaders coming back, which is always inspiring to pick up the pace a bit. The race is mostly out and back, but it’s a bit further out than it is back. I said something like, “Wow, it’s great to see the really fast people coming back! It gives me a little more energy!” The ladies I was running with were not amused. They apparently all knew each other and did not particularly want to associate with me. Oh, I forgot to mention I was also wearing Christmas underwear over my pants. Superhero style. With the Muppets character, Animal on them. So I guess wearing a soaked Christmas turtleneck and underwear is not quite as cool as their slick tech running club shirts! Oh well, that’s ok.
During the race, it began to monsoon. That was some of the most killer rain and wind I’ve ever run in, much less raced in. The rain and wind made things irritating. My gloves became sopping wet, and I couldn’t work my phone with them on, so I decided to throw them out. I then tried to shelter my freezing hands with my shirt, but it was also dripping cotton. My jacket, which I was wearing as a vest, is supposed to be water resistant, but nothing could resist the pelting rain and wind. My vest offered no protection to my phone, which became totally soaked. My fingers were so cold, that at about mile 9, I was totally incapable of working it. I’m pretty sure my phone also just completely pooped out at that point and decided to quit. The only real problem I have with this race course aside from the terrible weather that struck is the cant in the road. The cant is quite severe on many parts of the course, and I felt like I should have been in a velodrome. The road was so slanted, sometimes I found myself running from side to side because I couldn’t stay on a straight path! Cant is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but it could be because I’m a PT and notice things like that. I even began to imagine at one point that I was developing hip pain from the awkward surface, but decided it was all in my head. (It was.) On the bright side, there are some nice neighborhoods that we ran through, as well as a pretty view of the river.
Along the road with the pretty view, the wind was threatening to blow us over. My race number, poor thing, couldn’t hang. Probably about the same time I lost the ability to use my fingers and my phone, my race number took flight. I’d noticed that one of the four holes had ripped, so my race number was hanging by three safety pins and flapping provocatively in the wind. I was trying to bow my head into the wind, which was coming from the right on the way back, when all of the sudden I saw a race number flying around. “Oooh, that sucks, bummer for that person,” I thought, looking around for the idiot without a race number. It took me about 5 seconds to realize that I was the idiot! Oh no, my race number with my chip is flying around!! I started chasing it around on the ground, but of course, as soon as I came up to it, the bastard would fly away again. Finally, the rain worked in my favor and held it to the ground long enough for me to get it. Mind you, my fingers were still not functional so I sort of balled up the number and held it in my left hand. I had to keep looking down to make sure I was still holding it!
My pace stayed at 7:30 until about mile 6 when I decided I really needed to slow down. I slowed down to 7:45 or so until right after the turn around, when we started going uphill and into a headwind. At that point, I looked down at my phone and I was going 8:30 min/miles! Luckily, it was at that time that my lifeboat arrived. I felt strong and the Energy Bits were working. I kicked it up a notch, bowed my head into the wind and took off. I checked my phone again and kept it steady at 7:45 min/mile throughout the rest of the race. I think, anyway, but I’m not sure since I couldn’t look at my phone after mile 9. But I must have, based on my finishing time. I felt strong, and hammered through those last miles despite the conditions absence of the ability to use my fingers. I couldn’t even stop at the last water stop because I was incapable of grabbing a cup! Again, totally my fault. I was figuring that I had maybe a mile left, when all of the sudden, I looked up and saw the mile 13 marker. What?? I only have 0.1 mile left? That set a fire under my Animal underwear, and I took off! I tore for the finish, and was so happy! My finishing time was 1:42:16, 5 minutes faster than last year, and a new PR for my half marathon. Mike blew my mind with a finishing time of 1:27:33!! That’s a pace of 6:41. He never ceases to amaze me.
What I want to really focus on, is how Energy Bits got me through this race. One couldn’t ask for worse conditions and worse planning on my part. A poor start to the morning was followed by pure energy, focus, and the ability to stay above the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers that I faced during the half marathon. I truly felt I could rise above the weather, the cold, and the idiotic wardrobe choices. So have you heard of Energy Bits?
Let’s talk about them. I discovered Energy Bits when I became interested in using real food for fuel vs. the sugary gels that I’ve used in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I still use Clif gels for a kick in the pants, but prefer to use cleaner energy if possible. Energy Bits have one ingredient. One. Spirulina, which is a form of algae, has been recognized as the most powerful, nutritionally dense food in the world. And that happens to be the one ingredient in Energy Bits. The minimum recommended “dose” is 30 bits, but more is obviously more beneficial to your performance. I took 40 before the race and it really seemed to do the trick for me. During training runs, I ate Energy Bits and had some of the fastest training runs I’ve ever had. And I typically don’t train fast, which is a flaw of mine, but these things just facilitate a stronger, faster run. Not to mention, a happy run! It sounds silly, but I always feel really happy, or almost elevated, or dare I say high? Keep in mind, Spirulina is NOT a drug, it’s just an amazing superfood! While it may sound hard to believe, healthy, pure, nutritional food is the key to our health and therefore our performance in athletics. We are unfortunately, a society that is run by pharmaceutical companies and gimmicks to put a band aid over our problems and provide temporary fixes, as well as temporarily boost our performance. Overall health is about enriching our lives with the best foods on this earth, and increasing our longevity. That’s what Energy Bits are about. Health, performance, and longevity via the simplest route you can think of: Find the most nutritious food on this planet and grow it organically for the most pure supplement and performance enhancer. Did I go off on a tangent too much? 🙂 Don’t get me started on pharmaceutical companies…
Anyway, on the Energy Bits website, they discuss the performance aspect of the bits for athletics:
“For any sport or workout, you need glucose and protein and for a really top performance, your muscles need rapid access to them. This is why nitric oxide is so important. It opens up blood vessels so key nutrients can quickly get where they need to go. Our algae tabs are the trifecta of nutrition because they provide your body with glucose, protein and even nitric oxide. All naturally too. Our algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (over 60%), all in amino acid form so it quickly converts to glucose. This gives you an energy boost and mental wake up without chemicals, sugar or caffeine All for just one calorie per tab. We recommend our ENERGYbits® algae tabs (which are 100% spirulina) for any athletic or high endurance activity. Spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic athletes and trainers for decades. You’ll find out why the first time you try them.”
I am so impressed by this company, that I recently became a proud ambassador for them. If you have any specific questions for me, please ask me as I’m happy to answer. I should mention that the bits are going to be a powerful tool for me while I’m recovering from my medical emergency, as I’m slightly anemic due to blood loss. I couldn’t tolerate an Iron supplement, so I’ve started taking the bits daily to see if this is beneficial for getting my hematocrit levels to rise. Here is a little snapshot of some of the nutritional highlights of Energy Bits and spirulina, taken from the website:
Nutritional highlights of Spirulina:
- Provides 12 times the amount of bio-available protein as steak
- Is composed of 60%-64% protein compared to meat (27%) or soy (34%)
- More beta carotene than any other whole food
- 58 times more iron than raw spinach
- 12 times more iron than beef liver
- Richest source of antioxidants – necessary for health, and anti-aging
- Richest source of vitamin A (which helps your eyesight)
- Richest plant source of GLA to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure
To summarize the half marathon, a poopy start to the race followed by even poopier weather and slanted roads ended up ending on a high note as I finished 5 minutes faster than my fastest half marathon, and 3 minutes faster than my goal time thanks to Energy Bits as fuel and my Animal Christmas underwear.
Interested in ENERGY BITS? ASK ME QUESTIONS!! INTERESTED IN A DISCOUNT? USE the code BAREFOOT at checkout at EnergyBits.Com for 30% off!