Saturday, May 11, 2013

big lake half marathon

This morning I ran the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton, NH around Lake Winnipesaukee. Before the race, all I knew about Lake Winnipesaukee I learned from What About Bob. But there's more to it. Lake Winnipesaukee has three islands all named Loon Island, it ranges from 20 to 169 feet deep, is 504 feet above sea level and has lots of wild animals in the region (otter, beaver, muskrat, mink, fisher, mooser, deer, black bear, coyotes, and bobcats to name a few). 

The word Winnipesaukee is a Native American word with two popular interpretations - "Beautiful Water in High Place" and "The Smile of the Great Spirit."

And, for my personal experience, I'm going with the former because the smile of the Great Spirit was definitely not upon me this morning. More on that in a minute. 

As Michelle and I woke at 4:30 and drove to Alton as the sun rose - wait, we didn't see the sun rise because it was POURING rain - we were a little nervous. Michelle ran this race last year in the blazing sun and neither of us was looking forward to running the hills of NH through puddles. But, because of the rain, we thew all expectations by the wayside and just decided to have fun. 

We arrived at the school earlier than we thought and sat in the car eating a few pre-race gummy worms while the rain splattered on the windshield. 

Eventually, we donned our rain jackets and made our way inside to use the restroom and wait for our friends who had our bibs. 

While we waited, I walked to the gymnasium to put some bandaids on my still-blistered-from-Boston toes (did I mention I lost my first-ever toenail?!). As I was about to sit down, I looked to my left and saw a dad feeding his daughter a bottle. Only, this daughter was maybe 5 years old. I looked at her and knew immediately that she had Rett syndrome. I sat down and looked at the girl. 

When her dad looked up, I said, "I'm sorry. Your daughter just reminds me of my daughter." 
Confused, he said, "Really!?" 
I reponded in the affirmative and said, "Could I ask what your daughter..." 
He cut me off and, with a smile, said, "What she has?" 
"Yes," I replied.
"Well," he said, "she has this rare neurological disorder called Rett syndrome."
Smiling, because I already knew, I responded, "My daughter has Rett syndrome."

The light in his eyes was unspeakable. He grinned from ear to ear as we chatted a little while longer and exchanged names. Turns out he remembered us from the Blue Sky Girls event in Boston last October. Today, he was running with his daughter (who cannot walk) and his wife was also running. It put a smile on my face and a silver lining on a seriously rainy morning. 

Our friends arrived 10 minutes before the start, right as it stopped raining. So Michelle and I ran to put on our bibs and throw our bags with all of our rain gear at the bag drop before we lined up. 

The first 7-8 miles of the race were picture perfect. The temperature was a bit humid but cool. I ran at a 9 minute pace and was well on my way to not only realizing a Personal Record, but running in under 2 hours! Then I just lost it. I just couldn't keep going. My mental game went out the window and I kind of just gave up. The final 5 miles I not only didn't keep my pace, but slowed so much that I missed even my PR by 4 minutes - which means I slowed by an average of 2 minutes/mile on those last 5 miles which is just ridiculous. 

Though I'm frustrated with myself for not doing something I know I could do, I do have to admit I was a bit exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I even had an mini-breakdown as I approached the finish line for some obvious reasons - but still, the outward expression of those emotions was unexpected. 

It was a beautiful race (truly Beautiful Water in High Place) with some amazing friends (who all reached their goals!!) and I don't regret running it at all. Just hoping that the Smile of the Great spirit will be upon me next time I try my hand at 13.1 miles. 

(Tiffany, Ashley - her first half marathon!!, Michelle, Catherine, Maren)


Cheryl and William said...

The Big Lake Half Marathon is the longest race and last race I have run. It rained, no was a DOWNPOUR for the entire 13.1 miles. My time was no where near as fast as yours. I am so impressed that you ran it so soon after Boston. You are a running rock star Maren!!:-)

Michelle said...

fantastic memories. what a great day.

Dave Abbett said...

I am the director for the Big Lake Half Marathon. Thanks for doing our race last year.
I was wondering if you would let me use your photo of you looking down at your medal. I think that is the best selfie I have seen. I can give your blog all the credit for the photo and point people to your blog(s). Let me know, thanks
Dave Abbett
Big Lake Half