Tuesday, September 4, 2018

NewBo Run Half Marathon Recap


That which doesn't kill us....

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)
Barb and I arrived in Cedar Rapids (approximately 80 miles away) just before 7:00, giving us plenty of time to get our packets, use the porta-pots, and find the start line. We also ran into one of my co-workers, Kristin, as we made our way to the line-up.


Ready to go!
Even though we didn't have to worry about rain, we did have plenty of thick (85%) humidity to enjoy. Having never run this race before (nor had I even looked at the course map), I really had no idea what was in store for me. I have had a decent summer of training, so I was optimistic I'd be able to (at long last) finish near (or under) that 2:00 bench mark.

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
By this time, I was really feeling frustrated with my circumstances...namely the achy glutes and hamstrings. My energy level felt great, thankfully, but it was taking every last ounce of mojo to keep my legs moving forward. Although I tried to take in the beautiful scenery around me, the constant tightness in my glute region was extremely distracting.

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
My splits tell the story:
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

Shortly after the race, I found Barb and Kristin...and we also found Ryan and Nick, a couple of other co-workers who'd run the half marathon as well. Kristin, Ryan, Nick, and myself (and a few others) were part of a running team back in May for the Market to Market Relay...so we had to do a makeshift team photo.
Ryan, myself, Kristin and Nick
Even though I had a tough time on the race course, the route was really nice and scenic, especially the 4-mile jaunt along the Sac & Fox Trail through the woodland. The NewBo Run (which also featured a 10K option along with the half marathon) was a very well-organized event. There was ample coverage on social media as well as timely emails from the race director. The medals (and awards) were ceramic creations, which was a nice touch. And the post-race spread was incredible....burritos, pretzel rolls, bananas, and kolaches (a local Czechoslovakian pastry).
kolaches for the win (I may or may not have eaten two of them)
This definitely was a hard-fought battle of me vs. my stubborn glutes. My finish time is disappointing, not because of the actual time on the clock, but because I had to fight so hard to make it happen. It's extremely frustrating to be in decent shape but have an unforeseen challenge show up on race day that shouldn't have been there. That said, I am grateful that I have the ability to run 13.1 miles with compromised body parts...but it would have been nice to see what I could have done if everything would have been in proper working order.

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)
**sidenote** I later learned that the 2:00 pacers actually finished faster than they should have...Barb finished the half marathon in just under 2-hours, and she said the pacers were way up ahead of her in the final mile (probably finishing a couple minutes ahead of their projected pace time). No wonder they passed me, and were not in my sight in the final miles.

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.

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Marc and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner
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37 comments:

  1. Sorry this was a tough race for you, but you still did great! You just never know what you're gonna get on race day. I hope the glutes have been feeling better!

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    1. Yes, the race day can be a fickle dragon to slay LOL

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  2. Way to hang in there in a very tough race. The heat and humidity have more of an effect than I would like to admit. I always feel like I should finish at my projected time, no matter what the conditions are. You should feel good about gritting it out. Hope the glutes are feeling better by now!

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    1. Oh, I do feel good (now) about my gritting-it-out abilities...but it was another story while running on Sunday LOL

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  3. You bested your RnR finish time, and that sounds like a win to me!

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    1. This actually was my fasted 13.1 finish since May of last year, so it was respectable...just a frustrating day with angry body parts. Onward!

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  4. Nice job! I hate it when my body decides to throw some extra obstacles into a race - like it's not hard enough to run a half marathon. Way to push through it.

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    1. Thanks, Erika ;-) We never quite know what the race day will bring us, do we? And sometimes, our body parts show up with attitude LOL

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  5. Great Job on a tough run for ya! I think it was a tough one for many people even though there was a course record set. My back and hips were killing me the entire race. I didn’t set a PR but was satisfied with my time since I had very little training and thought the race was going to be the following Sunday. �� I also stopped and walked with a lady that looked like she was not doing well...she couldn’t even articulate words. I stayed by her until help (ambulance)was on its way. I’m glad I don’t mind running in the heat and humidity for the most part although fall running is my favorite right now.

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    1. Thanks, Brenda!! It was a tough morning with those hot temps and HEAVY humidity, but the glutes were what threw me off kilter (quite literally). That was very honorable of you to stay with a fellow runner on the course ;-) #high5

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  6. So weird when the muscles settle in, 11 miles later.
    Is that a buff or wide headband? I love it. Trying to find options now that my hair is shorter
    Way to push through the weather & aches - and don't you love it when official is better than watch?

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    1. Typically, by the third or fourth mile, I'm all loosened up...but not this time. It's just a basic headband I'm wearing...I think it stayed in place because of my sweaty braids (instead of sliding off my sweaty head) LOL

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  7. Bay to Breakers was quite tough. I tried to train for it, and the big hill before mile 3 trashed my calves. In my experience, once my calves are exhausted, my ITBS comes out. I still pushed through, and was very happy when I finished.

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    1. it's frustrating to have odd body parts aching...I sometimes have stiff hamstrings and/or glutes, but they ((usually)) are fine after a few miles. Not this time...ha!

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  8. Looks like you went out fast in tough conditions and paid for it later. I'm more than ready for this humidity let up. Congrats on soldiering through!

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    1. Thanks, Marcia!! Ironically, it didn't feel fast at the start, and I was trying to hold back some (because of the stiff glutes)...but they just refused to loosen up until much later. Oh well....I'm not getting paid for finishing faster than usual, so it's all good ;-)

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  9. It sounds like a really tough race but way to go pushing through the problem with the hamstrings! I'm glad they loosened up at the end and I hope they continued to feel ok afterward :)

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    1. They are feeling better, but are still a bit strained. I'm probably gonna take a pass on speedwork this week to give them a little TLC.

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  10. I rarely stay with pacers because I can never keep up with them. :-) The toughest race condition was in RnR Nashville. It rained throughout the whole race. I was miserable. I chafed and didn't realize it till I took a shower.

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    1. I have hung with pacers on occasion, but I have never been able to stick with them for an entire race. Maybe I just have not had a good "fit" with the ones I've experienced.

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  11. Ugh that humidity sounds awful! Great job getting through a very tough race.

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    1. The humidity was killer LOL Thankfully, I can handle that...even with grumpy glutes ;-)

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  12. Sorry to hear about your hammies. Hope it is nothing serious.

    Heat and humidity is so tough. You gritted it out and I would be super happy with that time. You have a good attitude about racing.

    I hope the weather cooperates with my next half. I want to race one without any rain!!

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    1. Overall, I'm alright with my finish time (it actually was my fastest 13.1 since May of last year), it's just frustrating to know I had it in me to do better had my glutes not been so achy. Oh well...onward!

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  13. That does sound like a tough fought race! It is so incredibly frustrating when your body just does not cooperate with your plan. Way to finish strong though! Nice job

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    1. You said it perfectly...the body just did not want to cooperate with my plan LOL

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  14. Congratulations! I wonder why the glutes were so unhappy? For me, it's frustrating keeping up with pacers because I've found that they are often running way too fast! You still did a great job, and the trail section sounds really nice. And what a unique medal!

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    1. The more I reflect about it, I think my speedwork (three days prior) may have been a factor...kind of a delayed DOMS thing (?). Oh well, it was frustrating but not debilitating, right?

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  15. So sorry about your angry glutes, but way to go for pushing through a tough race. I have no doubt that sub-2 is going to happen!

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    1. Well, I have had some sub-2's, but it's been awhile LOL....I'd really like to snag another one this fall ;-)

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  16. Despite the frustrations you persevered! Way to go! I really hope that glute gets better quick! I have been dealing with my own glute issue lately and it really is a pain. Your the Little Engine that could! Bravo!

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    1. ha ha ha...my Little Engine certainly got a run for its money ;-)

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  17. So sorry about your achy glutes and hamstrings. that is no fun! And wow, that pastry looked great! Congrats on your finish!

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  18. Ugh. It's awful when our bodies just don't cooperate! I wish I could say that feeling gets easier, but I don't know that it does.

    Congratulations on a great finish in spite of the odds and the forces against you!

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  19. Congrats on finishing what wound up being a tough race for you. Summer racing is never easy, let alone summer running itself. Kudos to you for pushing through and not giving up.

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  20. Congrats on finishing even though it was a tough race and your body was not cooperating with you! My last half was like this, I was fully trained and ready to PR and then I had a massive leg cramp at mile 3 that never resolved. Hobbling the last 10 miles was brutal, and it got super HOT since my time was SOOOO long!

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  21. This is a very late comment, but I appreciate reading blogs, reviews, and feedback about the race. I appreciate the kind words, as well as you taking the time to write out a review of the race, and recap your day of overcoming physical struggles. Great job on a tough day, and I hope you will consider returning to the NewBo Run in the future. Thanks!

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