Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mankato 1/2 Marathon Race Re-Cap

 It has been a week since I ran my "come-back" 1/2 marathon. The Mankato 1/2 marathon was not only the first 1/2 marathon I had ever run, but it was also that marathon that inspired me to start running again! 

I ran the Mankato 1/2 for the first time in 2011. This was only my 3rd race ever, and my very first 1/2. I was training for the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon, and figured that I better have a 1/2 under my belt before heading to Florida.

My first time running this race was very emotional, and I made a lot of beginner mistakes. By mile 6 I was wishing the race was over and by mile 9 I was hating everything about my life and running! I lost 3 toenails during this race, and while I was very excited to finish, I was also defeated, as I knew I needed to put more into training!

Just 3 months later I was suffering from a hip injury that caused me to stop running all together. I really never thought I would run again, the pain was so intense and affected every aspect of my daily life.

I watched the 2012 race, feeling sad that I wasn't able to run it. Watching the race was a life-changer for me. I wanted to be out there, I wanted to be training again, I wanted to run. That very day, I drove to Minneapolis to buy a new pair of running shoes, and that afternoon, I ran my first mile. I was bound and determined to run the 1/2 in 2013!!

Fast forward to October 19th, 2013 --

Marathon weekend was upon us!! I was overly excited! Training had been going great and I had trained harder and longer than I ever had before. I had run many races in the past year, and I was feeling confident!!

Heading to packet pick-up and the expo was so exciting! My sister came down from Minneapolis to run the 10k, so we went to the expo together. while the expo itself was a major let down (no real vendors, very sparse!), we were both just so happy to be running, and the excitement was thick in the air!

After picking up our packets, we decided to drive the 10k course, so my sister could visualize it. It is a FAST course!! Mostly downhill!!

The course brought us right into the heart of downtown Mankato, where the finish line was being set up. I got chills, and goosebumps and my eyes got teary. I was accomplishing a goal that I never thought would be!!

We both laid low the rest of the day. In the evening, I got the opportunity to meet up with a couple of my Twitter Followers and #RunChat friends! It was so cool to meet these people, and talk racing! Such a fun evening.

Race morning came quickly and my sister and I had a lot to do. We first dropped a car off at the finish line, since Anne would be finishing much before I would, she would need a way to find me on the course.

After getting our pre-race prep done, we headed to the starting line. What I LOVE about this race is that you can park right at the starting line.... FOR FREE!!!

It was very cold out (38 degrees?) and rainy. Not fun weather for running long distances. We waited in the car until about 10 minutes before the start of the 10k and then I walked Anne over to her starting corral. This would be Anne's 3rd race ever, and she was bursting with excitement, as she wanted to run her 10k in under an hour. Katherine Switzer welcomed the runners, and talked about her experience as the 1st woman to run the Boston Marathon. A local girl sang the National Anthem and the runners were off (on time!!). I took a few starting line pics of Anne and headed back to my car to wait. The 1/2 marathon and marathon runners did not start for another half an hour.

About 5 minutes before gun time, I walked the 20 feet to the starting line up and got into the 10 minute per mile corral. Everyone was huddling together against the wind, which had picked up since the start of the 10k and the rain, which was falling a bit harder.

I tried not to think about the weather. It was getting me down.

It wasn't a long wait until the gun went off and as I passed over the starting mat, I got teary eyed again. This was really happening!!

The first 3 miles, run on a rolling- hill highway flew by! I was really in the "zone" feeling great and running with a big smile on my face!!

Around mile 5, I stopped to use the bathroom, which took about 10 minutes due to the long lines!!!! It was probably stupid to stop, but....

Right at mile 5, the course heads downhill and becomes my normal daily training course! It is so much fun to race where I usually train. I felt so happy and so strong!

From mile 6 to mile 7.5 runners encounter lots of rolling hills and great valley views! It was still rainy and cold, but my heart was so warm from the excitement of knowing the course, and knowing where to push it and where to back off.

My sister caught up with my at around mile 7.5. She had a bottle of water for me, which was lucky because I accidentally grabbed a cup of Gatorade at the last water stop instead of water (and I DO NOT drink Gatorade, as it causes major stomach issues!)

Anne had PRed!! She was glowing!! 56 minutes!!! I was so excited for her!!

She was also very happy for me! She told me I was looking strong, and reminded me of how much I was hating life at this very point in the race in 2011!!

From that point up to mile 9 is all run on my daily training course. I cannot tell you how confident that made me feel. I have run those miles so many times. The course takes runners on a paved trail through the woods for about 1.75 miles and then into a residential area.

The on-course support was awesome! So many spectators came out to cheer on the runners. Mankato also uses various groups to act as cheer squads, and they all have different themes and cheer very loudly! At one point the entire woods surrounding the trail was decorated with halloween stuff. It was very fun!!

At around mile 9.5 runners head into a city park. This is pretty much the dreaded area for most runners who have run this course before. I completely fell apart during this part of the course in 2011, and was dreading it this year as well.

Runners dread it because it is pretty remote, there is not much support in this area. Also, there are 3 hills in the course of 2.5 miles. Then there is the smell!!! Runners run through the petting zoo, and past a nursing home kitchen, there is also a soybean manufacturing plant in this area that stinks!!Ugh!!

I told myself to keep it together, I reminded myself that I was so close to the end, not to give up. But my hip started to get the better of me. It was KILLING me, and I was trying to ignore it. I stopped a few times to stretch. The smells of this area were getting to me, and I was freezing cold. I walked a lot. More than I wanted to.

Rounding the last corner, I turned onto Mankato's main street which would be the final mile of the race. As much as I wanted to run, my hip just wasn't letting me, and I continued to walk. I ran the last 3/4 of the mile and finished the race smiling!

It was a great race, I was very proud of myself and how I ran the race. I did not finish in the time I would have liked, but without the 10 minute bathroom break, I would have finished with a PR. Oh, well! I did what I came to do. I finished!!!

After the race, I was able to stretch my hip out, and it wasn't a problem. THANK GOODNESS!!!

I will definitely run this race again in the future. It is so well supported and it is such a fantastic course!!! I am so proud of my comeback to 1/2 marathons!!!


Jennifer K. said...

Congratulations! I hate running in the cold. I'm glad you didn't let it ruin your day.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm pretty sure I saw you at the mile 5 water stop at the Monster Dash Half this weekend. I actually was down in Mankato saturday night watching the women's rugby game, and this post is making me think I need to do at least the 10k if not the half next year!

Meg Pudzianowski said...


2. Congratulations! I am so proud of you for finishing, especially when the mental side of a race can slow us down more than physical pain.

3. Yeah...I'll say it again. I'm proud of you <3

Kristine Barnes said...

Thank, Meg!!! :)

It was really a great race!! I am proud of myself! :)