Wednesday, April 4

A2A - A lesson in crazy

This story starts the Saturday before the race as we were driving to Dallas for the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon. We took to back roads to Texas which happen to be the same road that the A2A race is run on.  As we drove along the first 2 miles of the race route, the red buds were bright purple and the green was just starting to bud on the trees, it was beautiful.  I remembered how much I loved the race and the sceneray from the year before, and suddenly I knew I had to do this race again.  I posted quickly on facebook to see if anyone else was crazy enough to want to do this race at the last minute.  Luckily one other person (also running the 1/2 marathon the next day) was interested in possibly doing it.  

It took us the entire week to decide if we were up to running a 1/2 marathon on back to back weeks, and if the weather would cooperate enough to not be a miserable race.  The online registration closed at midnight on Friday, I signed up at 10pm.  The first time I have ever done something crazy like that - this was so not me.

That's what I said at 5am as the two of us set out to Ardmore for packet pick-up and shuttle to the race start...random half marathon that we haven't trained months for? What is this? What happened to carefully planned out long runs and a week of waiting for the race and preparing?  This was crazy.  So we made it to Ardmore, picked up packets, assembled our race day gear (ie pulled it all out of plastic bags instead of having it nicely placed the night before for pictures) and jumped on the shuttle to the start.  The start line was a white line on the road with 10 or so porta johns beside it.  They did eventually put a start flag next to the line - and the American Flag for the anthem was a small one they sell at Walmart for Memorial Day.  It was all small town, small scale, but completely organized and thought out to every last detail.

As we were standing around talking the race gun sounds (girl next to me jumped 5 feet in the air, it took us all by surprise...), no fireworks, no loud crazy music, just the sound of shoes hitting the pavement - and we're off!  The first 2 miles were on a fairly steep downhill, rolling rolling rolling - yep those were some fast easy miles (9:30, 9:17).  My race strategy this week was to run by feeling - but stopping to walk at every water stop.  If I had fast miles in me I would run them, if I didn't it would be a LSR.  First water stop was around mile 3 which became my first walk break.  I was feeling great - there was still a nice fog covering the sun, temperature in the high 60s, and a brisk breeze.  I continued my run walk pattern at a pretty fast pace through mile 7 with no problem  (9:29, 9:49, 9:40, 9:47, 9:31) - even with a 10-15 second walk break I was keeping under a 9:30 pace of running and I felt great.  Around mile 8 the sun started coming out in full force and the temperature and the road started warming up fast.  Along with this the wind started to pick up and we were coming up on some fairly steep inclines.  As my pace and legs started to fail I decided it was time to just change it to an easy long run, walking when I needed to and being smart.  I ended up walking 2 times a mile for most of the race of the race, my pace would slow dramatically, but there wasn't much more that I could do.  I don't think it was a product of the fast miles at the beginning, I think it was a product of the heat and wind and just not having the weekly mileage to keep up that type of pace for 13 miles yet.  But it was better then last week - I felt so much better.  Final mile splits were (9:47, 9:51, 11:09, 11:00, 11:26, 11:00, 9:25).  
I finished in 2:12:49 - it was 3 minutes faster then the week before and it wasn't on fresh legs.  It was just a smarter race on my part. The conditions weren't better - I just ran what I knew not some new scheme I was trying out.  I'm so happy that I signed up for this race. Just like the year before it was a wonderful race, well run, and gorgeous.  I really like these smaller races without the craziness - they are just about running, not about everything else.

Oh and I was so excited that my partner in crime for the whole thing ran an awesome PR breaking the 2 hour mark.  I definitely would call this a successful last minute crazy effort!!!

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