Saturday, June 21, 2014

Divas Half Branson Recap

People say that running is as much a mind game as it is about endurance.  This race, totally proved that to be true.  I went into this race fully aware that there would be hills.  I briefly glanced at the elevation map and decided I just really wanted to run this race.  I loved the whole concept of this race series, the medal, the roses, the boa, just the general diva-ness behind the race.  Oh, and did I mention, there is champagne at the finish line too?  Well, except in Branson, it was sparkling juice, but same idea.  I didn't think anything more about the hills, just signed up and turned a blind eye to what was facing me.

What started out as family trip, ended up being just my husband and I as an early celebration of our tenth anniversary.  It was on the way to Branson that I decided to look at the elevation map again.  Then I got worried.

Finally we got to Branson and got checked in and went over to the Expo and picked up my packet.  I even made Lew wait in line with me to get the boa/tiara picture before we left.

The packet pick-up portion was awesome, there was no confusion and not really much of a wait to get it. As far as the Boutique portion of the Expo, I was kind of surprised that it seemed small to me.  In fairness, I probably have gotten spoiled by the runDisney expo's that had anything and everything.  But honestly, it's such a trivial thing I almost feel silly bringing it up.    I actually walked out of the expo without buying anything which was huge for me.  Or it could have just been that my husband was with me instead of friends who like to shop as much as I do.

We went back to the room and then went out to Branson Landing for dinner.  Then back to the room.  I still was indecisive so I laid out both outfits just so I'd be ready in the morning either way.

 I am hyper-vigilant about start time. Some would say neurotic. But  I am always afraid I'm going to be late, so I always make sure I'm early.  Staying at the race hotel, was awesome because literally I woke up, went downstairs and made a right and I was at the starting line.  Absolutely loved the convenience and not having to wake up three hours before the race was pretty fab too.

Diva was the first race I've started by myself in a very long time.  I saw lots of groups of friends and I missed my Broads and my local race friends.  But as soon as I started I was ok.  I was focused.  I had in my head that the hills were only in the first half, and that after the 10k I should be good.  So that was on repeat in my head.

The hills for sure were daunting, I avoid hills during normal runs like the plague.  So I was woefully under prepared in that aspect.  I dealt with them as they came up but admittedly I walked most of them.  I figured I could make time where I could.

Then I started noticing my pace and started getting a bit discouraged.  I was seeing times that I have not seen since I first started running.  For me, it was discouraging.  I was still hoping I'd hit my 2:15-2:30 goal.  I really was hoping to PR which would have placed me under 2:15 but I knew I'd be pushing it to get to that. But I also thought once I hit the 10k and we started downhill, I'd be able to make up time.

It seemed like literally it was up hill, run flat for a bit, uphill, flat.  Rinse, rather, repeat.  I saw a sign somewhere on the course that said "it's just a hill, get over it."  My initial thought was "really, then why aren't you running?" Then I thought, "hey, that's right. Perspective, Suz, perspective".  Yes, I talk to myself, most of the time, I don't aswer.

So I finally hit 10k.  I was so excited thinking relief was ahead.  Then I got to mile 7 and another hill.  I almost cried.  But after that hill was a glorious downhill mile.  My fastest mile of the entire race.  Thinking I was done with hills I got after it.  I was wrong.  More hills kept coming.  I kept plugging again, but was getting further away from my goal with every hill.  Also, I could feel a blister had popped up so that slowed me down a little as well.

I hit 10 miles and I had to change my play list.  Hello, time suck.  But I was so in my head that I knew I needed a different play list to help me get out of it.  It only partially helped.  I was defeated by the hills.  I let them get the better of me.

There was one final hill and I swear it was the worst hill of the entire course.  In my head it was just straight vertical incline.  It was here I thought I just wanted to sit down.  I just wanted to be done.  I thought maybe I'd be ok if I just stopped for a minute.  I felt like I was just standing still and people were flying by me.  I kept going, I was slow, but I was moving.  It was here that I realized there was absolutely no way I would PR, let alone reach either of my other goals.

 Finally I got on the other side of  that last hill and I recognized that we were getting close to Branson Landing.  Then we came up on the boa and tiara station.  I absolutely love this part of the race, such a fun idea.  But, I was so ready to be done, I feel like I didn't enjoy it the way that I should have.  I was trying to finish as close to 2:30 as I could and just grabbed them and kept moving.

Then I saw the most beautiful sight in the world.  The finish line.  I was so relieved, I ran as fast as I could.  I even managed to muster a smile as I was crossing the finish line.  My tiara was no where to be seen, and I was carrying my boa, but I was smiling and I felt victorious.  Or at least I looked that way and that is all that matters in the end?  Right?  Fake it until you make it.

But I digress, after passing the finish line, everything else was a blur.  I remember getting the rose, and the sparkling juice.  The cute "firemen" handing out the medals were even part of that haze.  I got the medal and said  thank you and started looking for the hubs.  I finally tracked him down on the other side of the finish area and started handing off all of my stuff to him, as I made my way through the finishers area to get to him.

Final finish time was 2:34:28. Going back today and looking at the final results and I finished in the top third in my age group  Not terrible, by any stretch of the imagination. But I was mad. I was throwing such a big temper tantrum in my head that even Miss E would have been proud to call her own.  I let my head get the better of me and was just irritated and disappointed in myself.  Now that I've had time to digest on it a little bit, it was probably my worst race mentally, but it was the best race as far as showing my perseverance.  No matter how much I wanted to quit, I didn't. I kept going even when it would have been easier not to keep going.

I will also admit that I was totally under prepared.  Even IF the course had suddenly stopped being hilly, I was not ready for the hills. Note even remotely.   I can't blame the hills, the course map, the elevation/gains and losses, it was my fault for not taking the hills seriously and being better prepared.

The Elevation map from my Garmin.  

Overall, I loved the race experience.  The race itself was fabulous, great course support, no issues with water, there were DJ's and inspirational inflatables at random spots throughout the race.  Which probably not so coincidentally ended up being right where I needed a diversion.  It was not overcrowded and I could actually get around if I needed o do so.

I am totally a fan of the Diva's race series.  I cannot wait to do another one, even if it means I might have to travel a bit further to get there.

As far as running, the Divas Branson, It was hot, it was hilly. Did I mention it was hilly?  However,  I am bound and determined to do it again next year if they bring it back.  So Diva's Half, I'm heading your way again and this time I will crush my goal.

Have you run a Divas race?  Have you ever had a course that just totally got the better of you?  How do you handle frustrations when you are not happy with how you did?