The final of my series of half marathons this spring ended in Rockwall, TX for the inaugural Patriot Half Marathon. The race was on Memorial Day - it seemed like a good day to race, trip to Texas for the long weekend, a new smaller race, the heat of the end of May (dang forgot to think of that). Anyways. I just have to say I always wonder why more people don't try and do small 1/2 marathons in Oklahoma, we don't seem to have many and they are all crowded into one time of year - we need more and more spread out. Guess I just don't realize how many road bumps and difficulties you have getting one off the ground. The Rockwall Running Center did a great job pulling this off, but a few things I can think of - 15 water stops and 1 porta potty on the route (doesn't equal out in my mind, how about yours), no water or Gatorade at the finish line excepts for a small glass they hand you as your cross the finish line, the guy who forgot safety pins for same day packet pickup...
Race morning was beautiful. We saw a beautiful sunrise as we drove from our hotel on the other side of the lake and by the time I got to packet pickup it was a nice 72* or so and great breeze. Packet pickup was fairly uneventful excepts for worrying about not having safety pins before the race started (the one time I didn't have a group of them in the car!). There was a very moving presentation of the National Anthem where veterans released balloons - all very well done and moving. And then we were off!
The first 4 miles of the race was through some of the parks in Rockwall. We got to see some nice little areas, housing editions, a nice lake. There were some gentle rolling hills but nothing to terrible. My legs felt great, my ankle was a little tight, but besides that everything felt great. I tucked in-between the 2:00 and 2:10 pace group to keep myself on track. I didn't have my Garmin on, but I had my phone logged onto RunKeeper in my pouch to keep my splits. First 4 miles were 9:23, 9:18, 9:14, 9:33.
The next 3 miles we turned out to a small connection highway between towns. We were headed North to the turn around point so the wind was at my back. There were definitely some bigger hills out here, but I was still running good. Took gel around 5.5, saw my friends around 6 and kept chugging along. At this point I started thinking about how the first half of this race and the second half were going to separate people. The second half would be reliving all the grueling hills on tired legs - I wasn't looking forward to it but I hoped I wouldn't fall victim. Miles 5-7 were 9:47, 9:34, 9:40.
Mile 7 was the turn around and suddenly we were running into a pretty strong wind. The first 1/2 mile of the back was flat and the wind wasn't that much of a factor, but then we came to the steepest hill of the course - it was a rough climb, but I still had control and pushed pass several other runners and was still very neutral between my two pace groups. As I kept pushing through the hills the stamina in my legs started to fail. Around 9 I had to start taking significant walk breaks and I started noticing some of the runners I had passed long ago passing me. I turned around to see the horror of the 2:10 pace group a few feet behind me. I started running again, but quickly gave in to the chase and stopped to let them pass. I knew I didn't have the strength to out run them. I tried to run with them, but I also didn't have the strength for that. I kept wishing that we would turn off the highway (we were well pass the point where we initially entered) but we just kept running south. And of all times not to have a Garmin, the mile markers were all sorts of messed up so the distance from marker 10 to 11 was actually 2 miles - that is detrimental at this point! Miles 8-10 were 10:28, 10:25, 10:27.
The final 5K was just will to not stop. I walked, I ran, I cursed running, I swore I would never run another race over 3 miles, I contemplated quitting, the same thing that always happens at mile 10. I walked a good deal of these miles, which was good because I don't think I would have finished the race otherwise. When I crossed the finish line (which I did have enough energy saved to "sprint" the final 100m) I could barely move my legs anymore. Final splits were 10:58, 11:44, 12:01. Overall time was 2:13:49 (exactly 1 minute slower then A2A)
It just sums up that I speedy half marathon cannot be run on 20 mpw in my world. It just doesn't give the legs enough endurance and stamina in the end to sustain distance and speed. Hopefully with longer runs over the fall I will feel back to normal. It's been a tough spring to manage, but I've done some great things - walked a half with my best friend, paced the 2:30 at the OKC memorial, run races on back to back weekends, and added 5 medals to my collection in 4 months. I'll take what I've been giving and see where the wind leads me in the future!