Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hil-Lee Lang-Lee, By Yours Tru-Lee.

When I ran Mercer Island Half in 2009 I thought that I had run the toughest road half marathon in Washington. Though I knew Whidbey Island was tougher, the odds of me running the one way course were pretty low. Ferry to Whidbey, then one-hour drive to Deception Pass, or drive inland all the way to Deception Pass seemed logistically complicated. As the packet pick up is the day before, the race requires overnight in the Island adding more dough to the race equation.

Then I learned that Whidbey had another half marathon in Langley, just 6 miles from Clinton, which is 12 min away in ferry from Mukilteo (i.e. home).  So, I registered for that one.

The goal for running hilly Langley was to take it easy; have fun, enjoy the gorgeous sound views, and take my time. The week had been hard, workout / speed wise: Monday 4th of July, a 5K, a 10K and a 3.5 miles run, being the races, my second best in both distance (8:46 and 9:10 min/mile). The 3.5 mile run was to complete a triple in 24 hours, to mimic Ragnar relay race day. On Wednesday I had my 2-mile trial which is a race for the coach to know where I am at (8:44 min/mile) On Thursday I did five 800 hundreds, averaging 4:10 (8:22 min/mile). And on Sat I ran a 5K in Mill Creek getting an 8:59 min/mile. My legs were obviously tired so a hilly course in Langley had to be an enjoyable run without pushing the pace.

I got very early to Langley and after picking my stuff I went and jogged a couple of miles to keep my legs warm (50F/10C… yes, is summer). I talked to some runners and a guy asked me: what’s your goal today? And the word goal rang like a bell. 2:15, I answered without even thinking.

A goal? Wasn’t the goal just to go out and run? Why to time THE goal? And why 2:15?

Well, it seems that Lizzie cannot just go and run a race to take her time and enjoy the views. She needs a goal WHILE enjoying the views.

As an island, Whidbey hills are very respectable. The motto of the race: Gently Rolling Hills: Next 13.1 miles. Therefore, Langley is not a PR course, unless is your first half, or you have only run Half Marathons in this place. My Mercer time this year was 2:15, so a challenging goal would be to beat Mercer. That was a tough goal. As I said, my legs were very tired, and the course is way hillier than Mercer.

So here we go, running about 0.1 mile behind the official car of the race until they set the clock. The gently rolling hills showed up from the start. My first race question was: who defined gently? Gently? Soft? Delicate? Not really. They were all the antonyms: coarse, hard, harsh, rough. And for that, I love them, because I gotta admit… I love hills. They are marvelous. Mile 1, and 2, and 3, up and down… and 4, and 5 and 6, up and down. Then it came a wall. A climb so tough that I felt like hiking in my Avila mountain in Caracas, Sabas Nieves, la Subida del Diablo (Devil’s Hill). Whether I believe it or not, I had clocked up to that point, in every mile, my current PR pace until this demoniac hill got me. In this section I lost a couple of minutes. But that was OK, because I was focus on not exceeding 2:15. At mid point, a volunteer told me: the worst is over. Is it? How come if I have been climbing and descending from the start? What I had climbed I have to descend, and what I had descended I have to climb.

Then, I picked my incentive to keep my pace. There were 3 women, coincidentally in pink, running ahead of me most of the race. One of them, Sue, and I, were in a passing game from mile 3 to mile 9. The other two were simply ahead. At mile 9, I got wings. Oh boy if I felt I could fly. I passed Sue, and internally told her: Chao!!!. I knew that she would not be able to catch up with me. I felt fantastic, knowing that the second wind had arrived. Then I passed Pink No. 2. She turned around and had an expression like: Are you kidding me? I also knew that she would not be able to pass me. They were tired, and I was picking up the pace. At mile 11 I started to feel tired but just thinking of the two pink ladies approaching didn’t let me slow down. The competitive me was not going to make me lose the effort I had put from mile 9 to 11. I kept a steady pace. Then became a game against Pink No. 1. The distance between the two was shortening… and shortening…and shortening. And at mile 12.5 I passed her at a speed that gave me a total satisfaction. I pushed for the last stretch and sprinted my last 0.2 at 6:50, passing a guy that was sprinting as fast as I was.

The finish was more than sensational when I saw the clock in 2:13:29. I beat Mercer a softer and “gentler” course by 2 minutes. With tired legs.

I got second place in the division and got a beautiful framed photography. And guess what, Pink No. 2 was in my age group. When she was called as the third finisher, she looked at me, and said: You!!!!

This was Hil-Lee Lang-Lee, By Yours Tru-Lee.

Definition of Gently, por favor?
Top Three 50-54

Marie and I - 5K on 7/9/11 - Both got 7th place in our divisions (40-49  and 50-59)
With Nancy. Her second race... but receiving Lizzie's racing poisoning


kristen said...

OMG Lizzie! I'm so glad to come across your blog!! So fun. Now we can follow each other here.

Congratulations on your race! Amazing job!! So happy for you.

Petraruns said...

Your progress is SO amazing LizzieLee! I can't believe it. Prize after prize after prize. You are always a winner to me.