Sorry this is a little late on this! I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with my guests and now I am in training in Peoria, IL all this week, so I am just getting around to finishing my race report.
As you all know, I debated whether or not to run this race. Not surprising that all of you overwhelmingly said to “RACE!”. I definitely was leaning that way the whole time, but your comments and encouragement absolutely pushed me over the edge. In the end I am so glad I did! Our guests (and Brad) were super supportive! They even brought the dogs and cheered me across the finish line! (It didn’t hurt that I made promises of pancakes at our favorite breakfast place that is literally next door to the run/tri store where the race finished.)
The race was put on by On On Tri and was definitely the most no frill race I have ever participated in. On-line registration was closed so I registered Friday afternoon at the store by filling out a paper registration form and paper clipped my $70 entry fee to the form. They would not let me pick up my packet at 12:45 when I was there running my errands at lunch, so I had to go back after the scheduled packet pick-up began at 2. That was slightly annoying, but I understand processes, so I obliged.
When I showed up for “packet” pick-up, I was directed to a side station where the late entries were being handwritten on the bibs. I was handed my bib and told that I should check with the store after the race to see if they had t-shirts left. If they had enough, I would get one, otherwise they would order one for me. The “packet” was literally just a bib but at least there was a timing chip, so that was a bonus (or so I thought).
Although I was racing, I committed to myself that I would not let that significantly change how I treated the first night Lisa & Alex were in town. We had a fantastic meal at Pomegranate, which is a Persian restaurant in downtown Greenville and I drank a couple of glasses of delicious red wine with our guests before and during dinner. After dinner, we went to listen to live music at Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe for a little while, but it was super loud so we ended up home playing cards and chatting until midnight! Ouch!
I woke up at 6:15 a.m. (beauty of local small races!) and actually felt pretty rested. I had laid out clothes (shorts, dry-fit t-shirt, arm warmers) the night before based on what I thought the temps would be in the morning. Right before bed, I switched the shorts for capris, but then switched the capris BACK for a different pair of shorts the next morning when I got up. When I left I still wasn’t positive I made the right decision.
I ran around grabbing Gu, filling a Nuun bottle, looking for safety pins and packing a bag for after the race. Then I finally prepared a piece of toast with almond butter and grape jelly, grabbed a banana and headed out. This is by far the most unprepared I have ever been before a race.
It was a point-to-point race with the start was in Traveller’s Rest, which is about 15 minutes from my house. I still left at about 6:50 (8:00 start) because I was nervous about parking or traffic in such a small town with 700 people driving in for the race.
I definitely got there plenty early. I parked right away and went to the bathroom (no line the first time!) then sat in my car for 30 minutes to stay warm.
Finally at about 7:40 I headed over to where everyone was hanging out by the restrooms. I saw how long the line was and decided against going again (thanks to the Nuun, I was clearly plenty hydrated!). About that time someone announced via megaphone that the race start was across the field and up the hill. He also announced that there were more porta-potties over by the start so I headed over to hit those on my way. There were only 4 so that made a total of 8 potties for 700 people. DEFINITELY not enough. People were running into the woods to go before the start. Luckily enough people chickened out on the lines and headed for the woods so I was able to get in and had 5 minutes to spare before heading to the start.
I weaved my way through people trying to get closer to the start. There were no pace signs, no mention of starting at the back if you were walking or anything of the sort, so I knew I should get as close to the front as possible.
Shortly after I found a spot, with no warning, a horn went off, signaling the start. Thank goodness I made my way a little closer to the front because as I crossed the start line (and started my watch), I noticed that there was no timing pad. That meant the gun time was the chip time, regardless of where you started! What’s the point of the chips?!
There were still so many people walking/slowly jogging for the first quarter of a mile or so. I was weaving around and dodging people. The other thing I remember from that first mile is how cold my feet were! They were numb and my shoes felt like they were tied too loose. I knew they weren’t, but it was so weird and I don’t ever remember my feet feeling that way, even when it was colder out than that (41*).
Once my feet warmed up, I felt really good and settled in to a good pace. I was hoping to be between 7:55 – 8:00 for the first half of the race, but since the profile after the first mile was pretty much all downhill, it was hard to keep the pace in check. I decided it was fine to keep it in the low 7:50’s and see how things went. I took a little water every two miles when they had it and took a Peanut Butter Gu (BEST FLAVOR EVER) at the water stop at mile 6. I REALLY wished during this time I had brought my handheld because I didn’t feel like I had enough water to wash the Gu down.
I ran and chatted for several miles with a girl who was running only her 2nd 1/2. She said her goal was to be under 9:00 min/mile, but she kept a sub-8:00 for the first 6, then she said she needed to drop back. I have a feeling she may have hit a wall a little too early!
Aaaand I found mile wall soon too! Actually about mile 7.5, I started to feel fatigued. Woah, that’s early! But it’s no coincidence that most of my “long” training runs since Houston have been around that 7-9 mile range and that is where I started hurting. I told myself that it was too early to be hurting already and stole Dorothy’s mantra and reminded myself that I RUN THIS BODY and I didn’t give it permission to give in yet. I don’t know if this helped or if I got a little burst of energy from the Gu, but I got a bit of a second wind around mile 8.5 and it lasted through about mile 10. I can’t say that I felt good during those miles, but I certainly felt like I had enough in me to continue to push and keep the pace close to where I wanted. At that point, I knew there was no hope for a negative split race like Savannah so I told myself I would be happy as long as I kept the splits under 8:00. I kept asking myself where that invincible feeling in the late miles was that I had in Savannah?!
I also knew that once I hit the end of the trail just after mile 11, there was a long stretch of uphill in an out-and-back, then another short, steep hill around mile 12.5. I was absolutely dreading it! I was already hurting and knew I had nothing left to push to keep the pace up the hills.
Obviously in mile 11, I missed my new goal of keeping it under 8:00 and by the time I hit that hill in the 12th mile, it was all I could do to keep moving. Honestly, I was pretty shocked that I even kept it at 8:24 (my marathon pace) because I felt like I was absolutely crawling up the hill. I was hurting so bad. A girl about my age passed me going up these hills and she looked so strong…I cursed her in my head and then realized that was ME in Savannah when I felt super strong at the end. I finally got up the hill and headed back down it at the turnaround. I picked up the pace on the downhill, but then barely moved up the final steep hill. I was trying not to calculate my pace during these last few miles, because I knew my ability to do math was pointless and at that point, I didn’t want to know if I wasn’t going to PR. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, until I finally got to the final turn and could see the finish line.
That last .25 miles was all downhill and I hit an all-out sprint (or what I had left of one!). I still didn’t manage to get the 13th mile back under 8:00, but I must have been cruising since the .13 was at a 6:48 pace! Love a downhill finish!!
As I came into the chute, I saw Brad, Alex and Lisa holding up the dogs and cheering! I thought I waved to them, but apparently “I gave them no love.” I guess I was so tired, I didn’t even smile!
Final watch time: 1:44:21. Final “chip time”: 1:44:36. (8th in my age group) The chip time is only a 3 second PR, but unless anyone tells me its not proper, I am counting my watch time, since there was no real chip time. Any thoughts on that?!
After the race, they came over and hugged me and congratulated me on my time, then I grabbed a couple of waters and headed to the car to change. I didn’t even bother checking on the race shirt, since I found out it was a cotton shirt anyway. I changed and headed to breakfast, still red-faced, but not wanting everyone to wait for me since they were all starving! I washed my face and stretched a bit in the bathroom and then celebrated my new PR with yummy lemon ricotta pancakes and good friends.
Half marathon #9 in the books!