As a "spur" of the moment decision (I say spur because I decided a month ago) I decided to do another 1/2 marathon during the spring. My original plan was just to focus on mile build up and do one 1/2 marathon in May, but I was restless and really heard great things about this semi-local race so I decided to go for it. Even though the conditions weren't the best for the race, the race itself was super nice, the course was great, local support was wonderful, and there was a heavenly cinnamon roll (which I had been drooling over since mile 7) at the finish.
A few days before the race, my friends father passed away of cancer, so I only thought it fitting to run this race in memory of him since it was a race to benefit a cancer center. I can definitely say it was inspirational to draw on that throughout the race when I really started feeling beat up.
Pre-Race: I signed up to ride a bus down to the race through the local running group. We were scheduled to be picked up at 5:15 from a local running store. We were the second stop after the main stop 30 minutes north. At 5:15 we get a call they are running late, at 5:45 we get a call that they still hadn't left the city. At 6:00 they call and say they are finally on their way. The twelve of us at the second pick up start figuring if we will make it to the race on time and start worrying. Bus finally gets to us for pick up and we are on our way. We make it to the start line with 20 minutes to spare so we all throw on our race stuff, hit the porta potties and line up.
Start: It was a fairly small race - only 500 doing the half so the start line wasn't too crowded. They didn't have pace markers lined up so I errored on the side of caution and lined up about 3/4 of the way back. For the first quarter mile I had to pick through people but it wasn't too bad. The first mile was a major downhill. I held back some but allowed myself to run about 10 sec faster then pass since I knew the rest of the race would be a challenge with the predicted wind. First split was 9:26.
Miles 2-5: I got into a groove at this point. There was a slight down hill but it felt more like a flat course at this point. Somewhere around mile 3 we turn straight south and into the wind. At this point it was only around 16mph so it was strong but achievable. I kept track of my pace and made sure I stayed about 9:30, and when possible closer to 9:40. This worked well and I didn't have any problems. I passed a horse farm around 3.5 that was gorgeous and had horses running wild that came and greeted us. Made me smile for a while. Splits were 9:25, 9:37, 9:38, 9:30.
Miles 6-8: Water stops were hitting every mile around the half mile mark (they had amazing support for water, never went thirsty!) so I took my first gel around 5.5 miles and downed some water. At this point the race course starts and rolling hill section - ummmm wait no one said anything about rolling hills - it was all downhill till 9!!!! uggg, suck it up and started rolling. Winds weren't too bad still so I held my pace steady and ran. I could start to feel my legs some at this point, but my breathing was still steady and my compression socks were keeping my calves strong. Splits were 9:33, 9:31, 9:37
Mile 9: This was the uphill. And it was steep. Not that long, but it was steep - and of course the wind decided at that point to start gusting up to 30mph. So I was trying to hold it together as best I could without faltering. I slowed my pace just a bit to adjust and tried to draft when possible, but everyone was slowing down too much for me so I just kept passing people. I felt more tired after this mile, but I still felt like I could go on. Split 9:40
Mile 10-13: Now we had rolling hills, with an upward incline, plus massive wind. This was decision time - I either kept pushing using extra energy to battle the wind, or I called it a day with 9 miles at goal pace and take the rest home at an easier pace. Since this wasn't my goal race, and the weather just wasn't there that I would officially pull back and just ride out the storm. Took another gel at 10.5 and kept running. I mixed walking during the water stops, and some walking at the top of hills in the worst of the wind just to keep legs fresh. Splits were 10:02, 10:28, 10:27, 10:02 (it really pained me to see those times flash on the garmin, but I knew it was for the best).
Finish: Finally some relief. We turn and run with our sides and backs to the wind. I was able to pick up the pace some and started feeling better. My legs still had a lot of energy in them so I knew I had some extra miles in there I hadn't spent. The final 1/4 mile of the race was a lap around the high school track. I can do this. I took off running and finished with a 8:20 pace. Some of my friends from college were cheering me at the finish line so that was really cool. I finished in 2:08:06 which is actually a 30 second PR, so not too bad for throwing in the towel at mile 10. Crossed the line and felt great. Got my cinnamon roll and all was good again.
Post race: My hip is a little sore but the rest of me is just a typical sore. I think 2 days of rest (with a massage) will be plenty and I can get back on my training for my goal race. I really hope the weather cooperates for the May race so I can push it and get my goal (or better). I'm glad I did the race and will definitely be doing it again!