Monday, August 4, 2014

Minnesota 1/2 Marathon Race Re-Cap

It's been almost 2 months since my last race, the awful Lola's 1/2 Marathon, where I got lost!!! Then I spent a month in Europe, not running and have been trying to get back into my training routine all of July! It has been rough, but I built myself up to a 10-mile run two weeks ago, and that same day I signed up for the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon. This is the closest to race day that I have ever signed up!

The Minnesota 1/2 Marathon took place in St. Paul Minnesota on August 2nd. It was organized on by the same people who organized Lola's and I have to say that I was a little nervous about the races being run properly! After looking at the course map (just a out and back), my fears of getting lost again went away, and I was ready to get back to racing!

The five days in between signing up and race day went really fast, I did a couple of 3-mile runs, but mainly tried to just relax and stay calm. I was really nervous about my comeback.

I spent Friday night before the race with my sister in Minneapolis, where I hard slept because of my pre-race jitters (this hasn't happened to me for a long time!).

We woke up early (5am), got dressed and headed to the race. The race didn't start until 7:45am (!!!!!), so of course we were really early, but we have come to enjoy relaxing in the parking lot, over the panic of trying to make it to the race on time!

Before I knew it, and before I was mentally ready, we were walking to the start of the course. This race is run on Shepherd's Road, where multiple other races are held. I have already run 3 races on this course, and have another 2 coming up soon!

In my opinion it is a very BORING course! It does however follow the Mississippi River, which can be beautiful. It is super hilly (in my opinion) and there is no shade or tree cover.

This race was a little different that other races, as it was also a rollerblade race. The rollerbladers started about 20 minutes before the runners. There was also a Du (rollerblade and run), a 1/2 marathon relay and a 5k.

I lined up with the 2:30 pacer, knowing that I would probably fall back, but hoping that I could keep up. There were only about 400 runners, so it didn't take very long until I was crossing the starting line. The first mile felt really good, but I knew we were pacing faster than 2:30. When my Garmin beeped, I looked down to see that we had maintained a 9:34 mile, way too fast for me!! I am in the camp that believes in starting slow and running negative splits. I needed to slow down!!! The first two miles were long rolling hills, run right into the blazing sun! and I tried to fall into a good pace for me, but I just couldn't get my right leg to feel good. It was cramping up and making me feel nervous about the next 11 miles!

The day was already hot, over 80 degrees and 70% humidity, no breeze. By the time I made it to the 2 mile turn around, I was really working myself up, I was scared that I wouldn't finish!! Sweat was pouring out of my head, and my skin felt like it was on fire. I was cursing the race director for not starting the race a couple of hours earlier, like most summer race here in MN!

Back up the hills, at mile 4, which was the starting line, I met up with the 5k walkers. It didn't really bother me, the course was wide, and it was easy to move through the walkers. What bothered me was that I wasn't sure who was part of the 5k and who was running the 1/2. It felt weird. After passing the start line, the course took me 7 miles down the road. This time the sun was at my back, which was better, but my skin still felt like it was on fire.

By mile 5, I finally fell into a good rhythm, and felt really good, considering the heat! At every water stop I took 2 cups of water, followed by a cup of Powerade and another 2 cups of water. It wasn't enough, and it was warm!

At mile 8, I saw Anne, who checked in with me, and let me know she wasn't feeling great. At this point, I was still moving forward, and feeling okay. I told Anne to slow down, and be careful as I grabbed more water. Here I also met up with a woman who was running her very first half. She was struggling, only having trained to 10 miles, she went out with the 2 hour pacer, even though she ran her 10-miler in 2:35. The heat and going out too fast had really caught up to her and she was in need of a person to talk to. I chatted with her for about a quarter of a mile, wished her luck and then somehow powered myself up another hill!

Mile 9 was the next turn around point, and I was ready to be done. The sun was blazing at this point, and there just wasn't anything to cool me off. My shirt was soaked through, and my visor was doing it's best to prevent the sweat pouring out of my head from running down into my eyes. I wiped my face with my hands, and noticed that my face was completely dry and crusted over with salt. Yuck!!

From mile 9 to mile 11 I pushed myself hard, I just wanted to be done! I was very proud when I looked at my Garmin at mile 11 to see that it had taken me the same time to run 10 miles just a week before!! That was encouraging!

At mile 11, I really slowed down. I walked way more than I wanted, and the hills seemed much bigger than they actually were. I actually stopped at a water stop to pour water over my head! My fingers were swollen and aching. I know it is dramatic, but I really did think about quitting. I was just that hot!! But I knew I could get the last 2 miles done and I powered through.

It was amazing to me that I actually passed about 40 people during those last two miles! It made me feel great, and even though I could feel the fresh sunburn on my shoulders and chest, I powered to the finish  line!! I wasn't proud of my time, it wasn't my best finish, or even close, but it was a finish, and after taking a month off, it felt good to be back at it!! The announcer even gave a shout out to my Team Sparkle visor!! :)

Anne was, as always, waiting at the finish for me. She had a bag of ice (HEAVEN!!!) for me, and that helped so much!! I felt like I had jumped into a pool, I was that sweaty!! My legs ached, and I was ready for a cold shower!

We didn't stick around for the post-race party, but instead got into the car and drove home. After the most amazing shower, Anne and I headed out for some lunch.

We ended up at a new restaurant in the very trendy 50th and France area. Agra Culture Kitchen and Press  was amazing! So delicious! I had the beet and citrus salad and a egg sandwich! We sat outside and somehow enjoyed some more sun!

Overall the race was really well run. It could have started earlier, and they could have had more volunteers at the water stations, but…

I am very happy that I have another race under my belt (#8 of 2014!!)! Now it is back to training, and gaining some speed!! I'm am definitely looking forward to some cooler temps!! :)


Lauren said...

Way to make your comeback in the heat of summertime! You go girl!

I can't believe that lady who was running her first half went out with the 2 hour pacer especially after her 10-miler pace. I bet she was hurting!

Lauren said...

Awesome powering through! I absolutely hate the heat in general, especially running in it, so I admire you doing a half in it! Although in Savannah, 70% humidity would be heaven!