Wednesday, October 17, 2012

But it's just a half marathon!!!

No - I would never actually say that.  Prior to Sunday's Gulf Coast Half Marathon, I had vivid memories of my first half marathon in 2007 (I think) in Nashville.  I had trained with Team in Training, and raised over $4000 for cancer research to earn my spot on the Team.  I had done the work, and I was ready to run.  And run I did.  For 13.1 miles.  It took me 2 hours and 18 minutes to finish, and  by the time I got to the last few miles, I thought I was going to die.

I was very much an infant runner at the time, and I made very bad choices.  Like believing that if 1 or 2 Gu's were good, then surely 4 would be better.  I mean, why would they hand them out on the course if you weren't supposed to use them, right?? So I  spent a large portion of the next couple of days in or near a bathroom, convinced I had poisoned myself.

So, to answer your question before it is asked - No, I did not take this race lightly.  Just because my preferred distances are 50 and 100 milers, I still respect 13.1 and 26.2.  My flaw for this race was not taking into consideration a couple of factors:  First - it was going to be very humid and HOT.  I think it was 70 degrees before we even left the hotel room at 5:45 a.m. on race day. The weather had been cooler in the week leading up to the race, and I didn't bother to really pay attention to the forecast and I didn't pre-hydrate like I usually do for my races.  Second - I was not just running 13.1 miles - I was RACING 13.1 miles.  I had a goal to come in under 2 hours.  My previous PR for a half was 2:08, I think??  It had been YEARS since I tried for time in a half marathon, so I really didn't prepare my body the way I should have.

So, race morning we head down to the race site - Fontainebleu State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana. I had run one race here earlier this year a Q50 Full Moon Trail Race, so I remembered just how beautiful this park is with its lake views and moss filled oak trees.  The only sticky part about this race is the traffic.  This is a fairly small race - about 2,000 people - but the park where the Start/Finish and festivities are has only one two-lane road entering it.  So, even with a fairly small number of runners, the traffic can back up on the park road as people attempt to find a parking space.  This was a pretty small inconvenience though, since everyone was able to park without issue - it just took a little while.

Acadiana runners ready to do their thing!!
The race started without a hitch, and from the beginning it was awesome!  There was never a time when the course was congested.  With this being a small-ish race, and with wide roads and paths, there was never a traffic jam.  The course itself was beautiful.  We ran through some quaint Mandeville neighborhoods (and past the race sponsor, Varsity Sports), and along the lake.  But with it already being warm and humid, when we reached the lake front at about mile 5, it felt like the temperature jumped 20 degrees.  Once we turned back into a neighborhood and were revisited by the breeze, it was better.  Still hotter than I would have liked, but better.

There were plenty of water stops along the course - probably more than necessary, but in this case it is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.  The aid stations were very lively, too...
These lovely folks gave up their free time on a Sunday to
hand water to a bunch of hot, stinky runners.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to PR and I really enjoy running races, so I probably pushed my pace a little more than I should have early on, but it was a nice morning, I was surrounded by friends, and a small part of my brain knew that even if I blew up at 9 miles I could suck it up and make myself run the last 4 miles.  This is where experience and confidence in my capabilities is a bonus.  I wasn't terribly worried about bonking, since many of my weekday runs are now 10 plus miles, so the distance is not intimidating to me like it once was.  I would just prefer to not puke when I cross the finish line (more on that later - but that is one reason I wouldn't choose to volunteer at the finish line of any race).

So I ran.  I ran with different friends at different times during the race, but as most of my running buddies understand, on race day its every runner for herself (or himself). As for nutrition,  I did my usual 1/2 Gu at mile 6 or so, and the second 1/2 at mile 10 - a far cry from the 4 Gu's I did for my first half.  Once I got to mile 11, I started to regret the second half of that Gu.  Remember, it was HOT and I was pushing my pace, so my GI system was a little testy.  My mantra for the last couple of miles was "Don't puke til you cross the finish line".  I said this over and over to myself.  As I was approaching the finish chute, I saw the clock - 1:56!  Yay!!!  I would PR!  At least that was what I would have been thinking if I wasn't still telling myself "Don't puke til you cross the finish line".

And cross the finish line I did.  I received my medal (a beer bottle opener with Gulf Coast Half Marathon on it - genius!) from a very sweet and very brave lady, then I went to the side of the chute and finally got rid of that damn 1/2 of a Gu that had been threatening to make an appearance for the last two miles.  Once that was gone, I felt mostly better.  My body felt like I had spent the morning being interrogated by the mafia, but it was over.  I had PRed at a second distance for the season. I don't know if you guys remember my Big Butts Race Review where I broke the 7 hour mark in a 50k for a personal best at that distance. So far this season is going well.  Lots of HOT summer runs are paying off.  Now if I can hold it together for Cactus Rose in a week and a half (YIKES!!).  

After all of that, what was the best part of this experience?  Sharing it with friends. 
Erin, Danette, Me, Liz, Christina, Emma

Eric, Laurin, Phillip, Randy, Bob, Dustin
The only people outside of college students who appreciate a good vomit story.

and Leslie!!

And Sandi :)
Until next time,


No comments:

Post a Comment