Sorry for the melodramatic intro, but the NewBo Run Half Marathon really gave my true grit a thorough test of its authenticity.
Let me set the scene....prior to race day (Sunday, September 2nd), the weather was looking most dreadful. We're talking not just rain, but thunderstorms...and lightning...and flooding. I try to not stalk the weather because, ultimately, the race day weather is gonna happen without any influence (or worry) from me. Friday showed extremely wet race day conditions. Saturday afternoon showed some improvement. Saturday evening looked even better. Sunday morning showed no more thunderstorms and only a 15% chance of rain the entire morning...and (get this) sunshine at the race start!
|Saturday afternoon (left), Saturday evening (center), Sunday morning (right)|
|Ready to go!|
Anyways, after the National Anthem, we were off and running. Barb and I started just ahead of the 2:00 pacers with the hope that we'd be able to stay with them for the race.
Right out of the gate, my hamstrings and glutes were feeling tight. Granted, I had not done a very thorough warm-up (and I had had a pretty intense speedwork session a few days prior), but I also was not planning on "racing" this race in true "race" fashion. I did hope to run it strong, but was not hoping to spank a new 13.1 PR, so I wasn't too concerned with those early aches and pains because I figured they'd loosen up within the first few miles.
Yeah. Hold that thought.
The course starts out on a paved road, headed out of town, towards the Prairie Park Fishery. Even though my glutes and hamstrings were feeling ornery, my pace felt comfortable. Near the 3-mile mark, we hit our first hill....a rather short hill but a pretty steep one. Ouch. The next couple miles had a few rolling hills as well.
It was around the 4-mile mark when the two 2:00 pacers passed me. Not a problem, since I was hoping to finish around the 2-hour time frame, so I decided to try to hang with them to the finish line. My glutes and hammies were still giving me grief, so not having to think about my pace would (hopefully) work in my favor.
Only, I could feel the pacers inching away from me within the next couple miles.
Just before the halfway mark, the route veered off the road and into the woodland along the Sac & Fox Trail. This treated us to a lot of shade (did I mention the temps were feeling warm and rather balmy?) and intermittent spots of crushed limestone and soft dirt. Given all the recent rainfall, the trails weren't too mushy, but there were a few occasional puddles to dodge.
|It was a warm morning...with 85% humidity at the time we finished|
Just after the 10-mile mark, the course lead us out of the woodland and back onto the paved trail, back through Prairie Park. Since the trail had been twisting and winding through the brush, I had totally lost track of the 2:00 pacers. They were nowhere in sight, and I had pretty much given up hope on finishing near the 2:00 mark. I knew I couldn't keep up with them, at that point anyways, and I had to run my own race...achy glutes an all.
It wasn't until I passed the 11-mile sign that I realized my glutes weren't feeling as angry as before. What? After 11 miles of gritting my teeth, it was such a relief to (finally) have a little more freedom of movement. That said, it was still disheartening that I'd had to work so hard to stay in the game.
When I reached the 12-mile mark, I finally relented and decided to allow myself to walk briefly in the final mile. I had walked through the water stations, but had been running otherwise. Upon accepting that my (hopeful) goal of a 2-hour finish was not happening, I no longer cared. I knew I'd still have a decent finish time, but it wouldn't be the finish time I'd hoped for. I was flat-out exhausted from the battle of getting there, so I walked for a couple minutes.
That final mile did have a slight hill to climb (which I didn't recall running down in the first mile LOL). I did get a little bit of a kick of energy in the final stretch to the finish line, so there's that. I'd given up on looking at my watch, so I was surprised to see 2:07 on the timer as I crossed the finish line....I was expecting my finish to be a few minutes longer. It certainly felt like it had taken me a lot longer, especially with the walk break I'd taken.
My watch showed 2:07:12, but my official time showed 2:07:09. And I was ever so glad to be done. It took me a few minutes to cool down and revive myself because I was so exhausted. I was a sweaty mess, dripping everywhere. And, having seen my shadow on the pavement, I knew just how bad my ponytails looked (total #ponytailfail in the humidity LOL)
|Desperately trying to smile in the midst of total exhaustion|
Mile 1 - 8:39 Mile 8 - 10:43
2 - 8:57 9 - 10:18
3 - 9:09 10 - 10:25
4 - 9:04 11 - 10:28
5 - 9:19 12 - 9:37
6 - 9:37 13 - 10:52
7 - 9:54 -->2:07:09
|Ryan, myself, Kristin and Nick|
|kolaches for the win (I may or may not have eaten two of them)|
Although this was a frustrating race, I am grateful for the experience. It's never fun to have to fight to the finish, but it is rewarding to cross that finish line. My stats showed I placed 10th (out of 30) in my age group, 185th (out of 345) of the females, and 275th (out of 627) for the half marathon finishers. Not bad. Every finish line is a victory, after all. Without some struggles, there wouldn't be very many lessons to be learned...right?
|Yes, I did find my smile back (after refueling)|
So, that's a wrap on (another) tough race, but a great experience none the less.
Have you run a tough race recently, despite being well-trained for it? Have you ever tried to stay with a pacer? What's the warmest/toughest race day conditions you have endured?
**I'm linking up with Marcia and Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.