I had a 15 mile long run on my training schedule for this past weekend. My Running Buddy, being that she's also training for the Air Force Marathon, had one, too. She emailed me to tell me about a local half marathon that she had found, and the idea of running a long run with a hundred other people rather than suffering along in solitary silence appealed to me, so I signed right up.
We met in the parking lot at 6:00. Packet pick-up was at 6:30 and the race was supposed to start at 7:30. I say "supposed to" because they had to push back the start time thanks to a porta-potty mishap - 3 porta-potties just weren't sufficient for the crowd that showed up to run. Mr. Running Buddy came along and ran the 10K, and it was very nice to meet him in person.
I had two goals for this race:
1. Get the sub-2 hour half marathon that I knew I could pull off
2. Don't kill my legs in the process.
I was pretty confident that under most circumstances I could maintain an average 9:09/mile pace, but I was wary of the humidity. It wasn't super hot, but it was warm with threats of rain and we were right next to a river. I decided that I'd give it a shot and just see how things went.
So we got to the park, got our bibs and tech shirts, and then got in the bathroom line. In hindsight, the bathrooms should have been our first stop - by the time we got in line it was a mile long. I guess there was some issue with the park bathrooms not being opened on time, but it was frustrating to be stuck in line waiting while the minutes were counting down to starting time. We just barely made it to the starting line before they sent us off. Maybe next year that aspect will be planned a little better.
I started off well, if a little conservatively. It was a small trail, maybe 6 feet wide (or my measurement estimating ability is really bad), and there were 200-something people running the half plus a second group running the 10K. It was a little crowded while we all worked on settling into a happy pace.
We hit the first water stop around mile 2.5, and I had my first taste of the HEED electrolyte drink they were offering - a "natural*" version of gatorade, sweetened with Stevia. It was clear, and there was some cognitive dissonance going on when I knocked it back and tasted fruit punch. It was a nice flavoring effort, but it was NOT good. Weird aftertaste, too. Now I know. I brought my own gels, so I was spared from trying the HEED version, but Running Buddy took care of that experiment. I'll let you read her thoughts for yourself!
I did end up chatting with some guy for the next few miles, but he slowed way down at the next waterstop and I kicked it up a little, so I lost him. I even ran into an old friend of mine right around the turnaround point.
Thankfully, I never reached the point where I was tired and wanted to stop running. I did, however, reach the point where I was BORED and wanted to get it over with. I've decided that I definitely prefer urban races - this was just tree after tree after tree and green and brown and nothing interesting to look at. The trees thinned out around mile 9 and it was HOT and humid with the sun beating down. I had to play games with myself and struggle to resist constantly checking my garmin.
I even managed to change my running form around that time, trying to go with shorter strides but quicker steps, an exercise I've been trying to incorporate since the Smooth Running clinic I went to at the Running Spot. I need to find the discipline to run like that all the time, as I'm somewhat faster and don't get fatigued. Old habits die hard!
I saw the time clock at the finish right around the 12.8 mile mark, and it was like my legs just started churning of their own accord. I sprinted the heck out of that last .3 miles ;)
Check out my sweet splits!
I'm most proud of that 8:17 final mile, although at the end I got that ominous "OMG I'm going to puke when I stop" feeling that I had at the Reds Race. I guess I'm not meant to sprint. Hell, I'm just happy that I still had that kind of gas left in the tank. We even got finisher medals, which you know I love :)
I met my time goal of sub-2-hours, just barely - I squeaked in at 1:58:00 exactly - 85/277 overall, 18/88 women.
Here's me and my Running Buddy. The picture is small because it's from an iphone. Actually, that's probably not the reason, but I'm going to pretend it is. Droids 4-eva!
The day after, my mom called me and said "You ran a half marathon yesterday?!" She had seen my post on Facebook and was incredulous that I hadn't called to tell her. I guess that because I'm now so used to running distances even greater than that on a weekly basis, it just doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Funny how what was once a major accomplishment for you is now just another weekend run. Marathon adrenaline will do that to you :)
* however "natural" any of those things can possibly be, when you're talking about powdered chemicals designed to quickly replenish drained electrolyte or carbohydrate stores