Thursday, March 22, 2012

Get Lucky Half-Marathon Race Report

I hadn't been looking forward to this race.  I hadn't been feeling or running all that well, and I didn't know if I was even in good enough shape to go 13 miles without suffering.  (I ran 13 miles the Sunday before the race just to test that theory out.)
Then the weather changed.  It was supposed to be not only nice, but HOT!  (Well, for Minnesota in March anyway...70-some degrees.)  Running 13 miles six days before boosted my confidence in at least being able to cover the distance.  We were meeting friends and hanging out for the whole weekend.  I was determined that, if nothing else, I was going to have fun!

Liam and I headed up to Minneapolis Friday afternoon.  We had to stop in Mankato on the way to buy a green tank top.  Hey, it's March...all I had in green was long sleeves!  I know the rule about nothing new on race day so I was excited to find a perfect green version of an UnderArmour tank I already own in pink.  And it was on sale!  
We also had to hit up Target for green nail polish and toys.  Being the good Mommy that I am, I packed Liam a bag of toys for the weekend...and promptly forgot to pack it in the car...FAIL!  Liam was very excited about his new Thomas Search & Rescue Set (On sale, thank goodness.  Thomas stuff is EXPENSIVE!)  

I was a little worried about hitting Minneapolis right during rush hour (Country girl here...I hate city traffic. A traffic jam where I live is two cars behind a tractor.) but we spent enough time in Mankato that we didn't get to the hotel until close to 6pm, well after most of the traffic was gone.  We checked in and I let let the valet haul our stuff up to our room.  Let's see, I have at least two trips worth of stuff and a toddler.  Why, yes, I would LOVE for you to bring up our bags!   

Liam was a little crabby because he only napped for half an hour in the car, but once I turned on the TV and gave him some O's, he settled in just fine.

Meanwhile, I got busy making sure I had everything I needed for the race and painted my toenails green.

I didn't end up wearing my new sparkly headband.  It wouldn't stay put so I subbed in an old reliable green Sweaty Band.

Traci, Andy & family didn't get in until 8pm so supper was late.  We decided just to head to the hotel restaurant because it was convenient.  I decided to screw the gluten-free and had a chicken quesadilla.  Liam had the kids pizza (a 10" pizza is a "kid's pizza" at this place- really?).  Traci and I hashed out the details for the morning and we headed to bed.  

I didn't sleep very well at all.  First, Liam was awake until 11:30.  The kid isn't used to city lights and noises, it's quiet and dark at our house!  Next, I knew Dave was coming in about 4am after he got done with work and I needed to let him in.  I was worried that I wouldn't hear my phone ring and he'd stand out in the hallway.  And last, it was the night before a race.  I never sleep well the night before.  The one time I did, I had a crappy race. 

Needless to say, the first order of business in the morning was making coffee!  This hotel coffee was particularly crappy and not particularly helpful in getting things moving pre-race if you know what I mean.  For breakfast, I ate two Larabars.  With green wrappers of was St. Patty's day.  

It was still hard to believe I was going to be warm enough in a tank on St. Patty's Day.

I put on my Mankato Multisport Club jacket for pre-race and was ready to go!  (Notice it's also conveniently green!)
 I met up with Traci, after first forgetting my room key, then my fuel...I swear my brain still hasn't recovered from pregnancy two years ago.  It was a good thing we left (relatively) early, because by the time we got there, the traffic was almost at a standstill.  Only our lane of course, with everyone else going to the race.
I wasn't going to do a warmup, though, so I was fine having a minimal amount of time to stand around beforehand.
Traci & I pre-race.  She has a mouthful of banana...she is going to love that I posted this picture!
And...there were no official race photographers so that is the only picture I have of the race.  Sorry for the long, boring, no-picture race recap...

I had made a conscious decision the day before to race with no watch.  That's Garmin, no watch, nothing.  I didn't want to know how fast I was running, I just wanted to run.  I posted this on a FB group that I'm on, and the "coach" of the group (poor woman provides a ton of motivation and accountability and gets paid nothing for it) commented that it would be one of my best races ever.
Darn pacers.
We lined up just behind the 2:15 pace group figuring that was about how we would start out naturally.  Neither of us had any intention of going with this pace group, it just looked like a good place to start.
It took about 2-and-a-half minutes to get to the start line after the gun went off.  We were able to start running immediately without having to dodge a bunch of people.  I felt a niggle in my hip flexor that I had felt during Thursday's speedwork, only this time it was worse.  I immediately started to worry if I was even going to get through this race.
After about a mile, the pain in my leg subsided.  Running still wasn't feeling that great, pretty much par with how I'd been feeling all winter.
By mile 3, we had caught the 2:15 group and I was feeling pretty good.  I glanced at Traci, who had put her headphones in, and I just went with it.  Looking back a little later, I had lost Traci.  It only took me about a mile to have the 2:10 pace group in sight.
Darn pacers.
Do you know how hard it is to NOT chase down a pacer?  I  still didn't know exactly how fast I was going, and I knew that from past experience, pacers tend to go out faster and slow down, rather than pace evenly.  So, for a while I was still in ignorant bliss.  But I still wanted to pass that guy with the sign.  
Darn pacers.
I finally passed the 2:10 pace group at mile 8.  I was relieved to not have a sign to chase, but at the same time, felt like I needed to stay ahead of the sign.
Darn pacers.
I was still feeling REALLY good, and knowing I was ahead of the 2:10 group, thought I might be able to PR.
Then, shortly before mile 10, my GI system reminded me that my coffee had NOT done its job that morning.
And, I had to slow down, lest I would be in need of "Oops, I Crapped My Pants".  So. Not. Kidding.  I wish I was.
Within minutes, I watched the 2:10 pace group go by, knowing there was nothing I could do.  Now, had I been winning the Olympics, I may have taken the chance.  However, there was no such reward at the end of my race.  Having my dignity was its own reward in that situation.
Luckily, my GI system settled down within about a mile.  But the damage was done.  I just felt tired after struggling through that mile.  I decided that, if I felt good enough, I would try to pick it up shortly after mile 12.
And I did.  At least effort-wise.  I still had no idea what my pace was, but I was okay with that.  I was running because I loved it, and racing because I couldn't help it.

I have no idea how my splits played out in this race.  And I don't care.  Except for the one mile, I LOVED every minute of this race.  And Wendy was right.  It was one of my best races ever.  It wouldn't have mattered if I had finished 10, 20, or 30 minutes later, I had fun.  I wish the pacers wouldn't have been there, darn pacers, but even chasing the sign, I had a great race.

I finished in 2:10:35.  One minute and 38 seconds from my current PR. I couldn't be more happy with this time, knowing how I've felt the past few months.
I may race without a watch more often...


Of course, any good St. Patty's Day race has free beer afterward, right?  We had to trek back to downtown Minneapolis for ours.
We parked back at the hotel and walked to Kieran's for our free beer.  My phone's GPS said it was a half mile.  I call bullshi*t on that one.  Either that or it was the longest half a mile I'd done all day.

Hey, kids...If you do really well, once a year you get to perform your Irish step dancing for a bunch of drunks!  Doesn't that sound fun?!?
The band at Kieran's.  I have no idea what their name was.  And I only had one beer...
The best running friend a person could ask for...still running together 20-some years later.  Oh, and that dork is her hubby.  
Just kidding Andy, I love ya'!  (Andy is running his first half-marathon this summer, Woot, woot!)
I tested out the non-gluten-free thing again at lunch following the race.  And not in a small way.  I ate an entire plate of spaghetti at Old Spaghetti Factory.  No symptoms.  Stay tuned for a new experiment involving our well water...

All in all, we had a great race and a great weekend with awesome friends!  We're already making plans for next year's race!

1 comment: