Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parks Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Parks Half Marathon on September 8, 2013. I last did this race in 2008 which is ridiculous mostly because how on earth am I 28 years old now? Time marches on... Anyway. In 2008 I was much, much slower than I am now. I ran the half in a blazing 2:38, 12:05 pace. In my defense, I was very new to running. I also weighed about ~50 lbs more, which did not help. This year my finish time was 1:50:30 (about 90 seconds off my PR), and I ran it with Nick by my side!

Post-race. Pre-desperate hunger.

The race was just as lovely as I remembered. It's nicely organized. We got our packets on race day because I was working the day before, and it was seamless, as was bag check. We got lined up a little way behind the 1:45 pacer and got started on time. I was super nervous, since I had dreamt about failing badly at the marathon the night before. My dreams are just the worst! I had also had a week of rather crappy running, so I wasn't mentally ready for any mind-blowing paces. My 3rd excuse was my silly work schedule had me leaving work at about 11:15 the night before, asleep by 12:15 or so, and awake to race at 4:30. Ugh.  It was ridiculously humid, although the temperature was pleasantly cool at the start.

Miles 1-3: 7:49, 7:41, 8:16
This was us trying desperately to catch the 1:45 pacer. In hindsight, holding back a little more here would have been wise, since we never even saw the pacer even though we were ahead of his pace. Arg. This part was also slightly downhill, on paved roads.

Miles 4-7: 8:04, 8:18, 8:25, 8:24
Chugging along. Started running on paved, twisty trails. Still felt amazing. We hit the halfway point at 53:15, which, in an absolutely perfect world, would be a 1:46:30 finish. I was pumped, but started to get worried about running that pace for over 50 more minutes.
THERE WAS A PIANO ON THE COURSE AT MILE 5. I want this in every race.

Mile 8-10: 8:20, 7:57 (no clue where that came from), 8:37
Starting to feel the pain. I was pretty sure I'd need to stop at a porta-potty along the way, my stomach was an absolute mess. I was also starting to lose form, but Nick is the best and lets me know when I'm starting to turtle up my arms and shoulders (Exhibit A: every race photo of me in history)

Mile 11-13.1: 8:44, 8:53, 9:12, (last 0.1) 8:41
Nick and I were both hurting. I pushed him the last couple miles, but I was struggling myself. These last couple miles were consistently uphill, which didn't help.

We were getting passed left and right at the finish, but I didn't care. We finished triumphantly in 1:50:30, which is just a little off my PR time and a huge PR for Nick (who ran his first half last May with me in just under 2:00)! I was so proud he battled through the humidity and tired legs. He's my running hero.

I felt fine when we finished, so I downed a water, grabbed my bag from the bag check, and went off to run a little more to get some more miles in (I had 20 on the schedule for the day, although I didn't feel compelled to get all 20 in). It was less than 10 minutes between when we finished and I started running, and apparently that 10 minutes was long enough for a ridiculous amount of lactic acid to get into my muscles. I cramped up like a champ just a block away from the finish line. It was so bad, I actually worried about being able to get back to Nick. I stopped and stretched repeatedly and eventually was able to get a nice slow jog going. I have only ever cramped that intensely during the night, it was a full-blown charley horse, and it stopped me in my tracks. Because of that, and the fact that I had to be at work a few hours later, I stopped after just a mile of cooldown. Finished the day with ~14.1 miles. All in all, I was very pleased with how the day went. Not so pleased to go work for 8 hours, but that's life.

Race nutrition minutiae: The night before I had veggies and chili. Not normal pre-race food, but I was working. Day of: banana, 2 eggs at 4:30. Granola bar at around 5:30. Big coffee at 6am. Gu at 6:45, then mile 5 and 9. I alternated water and Gatorade every 2 miles. After the race I had a lot of water, a piece of pizza (!?), some watermelon, chips, and Nick and I split a Red Bull. All before 11am. It was that kind of morning.

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