Last weekend I ran my 13th Half Marathon, or intended to run the Half, which is 13.1 miles.
Race Report: Sly Fox, St. Charles, IL
The race: a small field, but put on by a group that does a larger Half Marathon in August nearby, which is a well run event I’ve done 3x and signed up for this year’s race too.
Weather: upper 30s, but mostly sunny, not too windy.
Packet pickup and post race party were at a bar. Pickup from 4-8 Friday night, and then before the race. Problem – It’s an hour drive for me, in rush hour traffic on a Friday, and I had an event at 6pm. Last year it started earlier in the day, which would have been more convenient for me. I could have picked up my packet starting at 5:30 am, but that would have meant getting there even earlier in the morning.
Plenty of porta potties (Yeah!). So the race started at 7:00 am and seemingly all was well, I’m a middle of the packer, so I stuck with the lemmings and went with the crowd. It was basically a lollipop at the 5 mark (go out a way, go around a loop, then back the same way), but with a little loop from 2-4.
I tried a different training plan for this race, one from Another Mother Runner, and I trained mostly for this in Arizona, which has hills, hills, and more hills. (more on the Arizona stuff later)
I was trying to watch my splits and keep my pace steady and not too fast for the first 5K, when low and behold, I passed the 4 mile marker…but my watch was at like 2.9 miles. The whole course was like that, I was about 1.2 behind the markers. So either the course was short, or the course marshals (or lack thereof) took a wrong turn on the first loop. Later I learned that the lead vehicle and course marshal took a wrong turn.
The first 6 miles were an incline (this is Illinois, so speed bumps count as hills) and I was doing OK, and banking on the second half being downhill. At around the 5 mile mark there was a guy w/a sign that said touch for power – it was his Boston medal from last weekend. Cool!
Just after that a man running beside me asked if this was the 10K or HM. He had registered for the 10K route, but accidentally started with the HM at 7:00am instead of the 10K, which started at 7:20. We stuck together and talked a bit. I sort of coached him along through about mile 8, he’d only trained up to 4.5 miles. I told him it was OK to take walk breaks, made sure he took water and Gatorade, rest and foam roll, and watch his form as he got tired. He slowed down around 8 and told me to go ahead.
I was feeling strong and the downhill was starting. Normally the wheels fall off around 8 and I suffer a bit until I get a second wind at 10, or my IT band rears its ugly self…none of that was happening so I kept going strong. I saw the Boston guy again. I finished with the lollipop part and was back on the main drag.
The question lingered in my mind as the mile markers were still 1.2 off, and as I approached the last 2 miles runner were looping back to add the extra distance we missed. BUT, that was on an incline and my little legs were wearing down. The last 2 miles are mentally and physically challenging.
I decided to finish and get my medal. I didn’t loop around again to make my Garmin happy. I ended at 11.96 miles. I was not going to win an age group award, I didn’t cheat the course. I had nothing to gain by finishing short, it was my choice. I was already off my personal record time. In retrospect, I wish I had looped back to make the full 13.1. Or at least finished the .04 to make it to 12, sheesh!
The last 6 weeks of the training plan I worked in where I could, between travel and other commitments, life has been a blur and I eeked out a run where I could. So, even with that happening, this was the first time in 13 HMs that I felt strong and confident in every mile, and I will definitely keep this plan and use it again!
Total disappointment in the day: I noticed a cupcake shop near the parking garage at packet pickup. The whole night, and during the race I thought about which cupcake I would get after the race. I earned it, right? So after the race as I shuffled across the street and into the parking lot I see they don’t open for another 45 mins. WHAT? I even had cash JUST for this purpose! I dragged my sweaty and tired self to the car and drove home. BUT, hubby made a breakfast casserole that was hot and ready when I walked in the house. He’s good like that.
Thanks for reading!