This morning I ran the Sioux Falls Half Marathon for the 5th consecutive year. This was the first road race I did to try to get back into shape while in college. Prior to this race, the farthest distance i had competed at is the 1600 m. run for the Varsity team as an 8th grader (I became a sprinter in high school). Since the inaugural year of participation, I saw my times get slower and slower. This year I vowed to break my PR that I set in 2005 of 2:07:39.
I woke up at 5:30am bright eyed and bushy tailed. I set about making some peanut butter toast while watching my favorite movie, Elf. I ate a banana and quickly through on my race day clothes that I had ever so gently laid out 2 nights before. More elf. Many bathroom breaks. Until I was to meet my bus-riding buddy and one time running buddy at 6:30am. When I left the apartment, I knew more bathroom breaks were in order, and was concerned about digestive issues similar to the trial run half marathon from two weeks ago. Running buddy/gym buddy/bus riding buddy and I discussed our race goals on the way to the starting line.
As soon as we got there, we broke for the bathrooms. I did some jogging and some stretching while looking for my madre, but she was nowhere in site. Knowing the stadium (it was where the South Dakota state track meet was held back in my day, along with another big track meet that required qualifying times for entrance, as well as the stadium that my college used for football games) I decided to be sly and use the "unknown" restrooms on the other side of the field. Silly me, they were locked. At this point I was concerned about getting through the super long bathroom line before the race started, but somehow I made it with a few minutes to spare. Of course about a minute before the gun went off I started feeling some not so happy gurgling in my stomach. :( I convinced myself it was nerves and not potential poopiness. :) Bang, and we were off.
It was a beautiful morning. High 50s, humid, no wind. The first part of the race is a lap and a quarter around the track. I saw my mom the second time around, some guy yelled out, "almost there!" and we carried on. I was really concentrating on not getting swept up in the crowd and going out too fast, causing me to hate life later in the race. I did a great job of it, (the congestion around the track for the first .38 miles helped).
We headed to a historical part of Sioux Falls, which has the most beautiful houses. I quickly shedded my long sleeves and tied them around my race. The spectators were AWESOME! I was pretty jealous that all of them had a delicious Starbucks in their hands.
Next it was the downtown area, which is my favorite part of Sioux Falls. I took my first Gu right around 3 miles and the water stop was shortly after that. I felt like a rookie grabbing the water. Wow, I think I caused two volunteers to drop the cups because I felt like they wouldn't let go, so I let go, while they let go at the same time. I had a small swig and continued on.
Mile 1. 9:05
Mile 2. 8:54
Mile 3. 8:57
Towards the end of the downtown area, I got to see my first fan--Taylor!! He was cheering extra loud for me, so I blew him a kiss. Unfortunately that wasn't documented on camera, because how cute of a pic would that have been?? I tossed my shirt aside (apparently under a car that he later had to crawl under, sorry babe) and was on my way.
Next up was Falls Park, which you may remember from the photo shoot post-mock half marathon, where my mom was going to be in her usual spot. I saw her, she screamed cheered and tried to snap a pic, while I continued on. The water stop at mile 5 was put on by my college's track and cross country team, and sadly, this is the first year I didn't know any kids. Crap I'm getting old.
I saw Taylor again shortly after this, but he wasn't at the spot that we had determined on our Saturday "trial run." I was worried that he had thought he'd missed me and left or was too slow getting there (it was only about a mile from the last time I saw him). I yelled out "Taylor!" and pouted for a bit, but kept going. He surprised me by being just a ways up the trail with more words of encouragement. After I saw him I quickly made my way to the 6.2 marker. Of course, some lady manning the time table was yelling out "halfway there!" to everyone running by. I had to check my garmin to see if she was right, because I would've been working for a 1:50-1:51 finish. Too bad she was wrong! :p Oh ya, I took a Gu at about Mile 6 with no water. After practicing taking them every 3 miles, I didn't want to screw things up because their water stops were 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. It actually wasn't that bad with out water, but did take concentration, hence the slightly slower time.
Mile 4. 8:41
Mile 5. 8:51
Mile 6. 8:58
(10k time: 55:24 pace of 8:57)
The next few miles were on very pretty parts of the trail. Lots of bridges overhead and fallen leaves covering the bike trail. You know how it smells when fell has come? That's how it smelled today, pretty much heavenly. I surprised my mom, so we barely saw each other until I had run past. **Yes I did have a phenomenal cheering section today, thanks for noticing!** I felt really good at this point, and knew I had to start formulating a goal time. At this point super secret goal was out of the question, and I couldn't quite remember what Goal A was (um, ya I'm an idiot) so I decided to shoot for 1:55. I figured out what my mile times would have to be after the 8 mile point and thought it was totally doable. I tried to pick up my pace at mile 8. Honestly, I think I got caught up a bit in enjoying the run, and forgot to push myself for the first 2/3 of the race. I took my last Gu at 9 miles.
Mile 7. 8:49
Mile 8. 8:49
Mile 9. 8:38
Now I'm going to complain for just a second about my super sweet awesome Garmin. I've learned to pace myself by "feel" thanks in large part to the Garmin. But I've noticed that when I run with someone, or if there's someone near me but slightly in front of me during a run, I will be very affected by their pace. Oftentimes it's that competitiveness in me just wanting to BEAT THEM. Usually I'm able to check my pace on my watch and scale back to the pace I'm supposed to be running at. For the last month my watch hasn't been working properly. I will be running an 8:30-9 minute pace, and the watch will say 10:30-11:30. It was doing that today and was SO FRUSTRATING. I'm in no way blaming my watch for poor pacing, that's all my fault, but I felt like I was lacking that advantage that it usually gives me. End rant.
At mile 10, I knew I only had a 5k left and that it was BTTW time, my favorite. :) I knew I had a lot stored up and felt like I could run 8:30 pace to the finish. I made a goal not to let anyone pass me to the end. I started to pass a guy that I had been leap frogging with throughout most of the race, and he commented on my consistent pace. I had talked to him and his buddy earlier in the run, and they had told me they were running the 1/2 as a training for the Twin Cities Marathon and had actually done 6 miles prior to the race. I told him that the 5k was my favorite distance, so I was treating the half as a 10 mile race + 5k and was going to try to "win" the second race. I told him to let me know if he saw an official photog because I wanted to make sure to get a pic with him, because he looked JUST like my dad probably 20 years ago. It was creepy actually. My dad couldn't make it to the race, so I was really bummed, but I had to laugh because it really was almost like I ran the majority of the race with him. Hah.
Mile 10. 8:47
With about 1.75 left I saw the loverboy at his final cheering point. I had promised myself that when I saw him I would start my kick. Also, at this point, there was an announcer with music going who yelled out, "one mile once you get to the bridge!" I wanted to yell at him, being super familiar with the course, and knowing we were 1.75 away, also knowing that there were SIX bridges between us and the bridge he was actually referring too. :( SOOOO many people were complaining about this post race.
Mile 11. 8:35
Right before Mile 12 was the horrible hill. Ok, in actuality it wasn't that horrible, but every year that I've run this race except for the second year, I've had to walk up it. There's just not a lot left at this point and the hill looks HUGE. As many were walking up it, I powered up it like the energizer bunny. :) I started looking ahead at people and trying to pick them off one by one.
Mile 12. 8:33
Mile 13 felt like it took foooooorever. I know this part of the trail like the back of my hand, which unfortunately means I know exactly how far I am from the finish without looking at the Garmin. Talk about frustrating! I tried to kick it in as much as my legs would allow at this point. I rounded the corner with .25 to go and the cheering almost bowled me over. I heard one of my old co-workers boys yell out "Go Zewi you're winning!" as I ran by. I really wanted to all out sprint at the end by my stupid ab pain was back. There was a group of 5 that I was trying to catch and had given up on being able to beat them until I saw the clock 1:54:5x and counting. From nowhere I had a burst of speed (and I'm talking a BURST I was flying!!!) to make it in under 1:55. Silly me, I had forgotten how far I was behind the start line, so I didn't need to sprint but it felt soooooooooo good.
Mile 13. 8:05
.12 :50 7:07 pace (6:00 max speed!)
Final distance/time: 1:54:38 for 13.12 for a pace of 8:44.
Official time: 1:54:39 for a 8:45 pace.
13 minute PR (down to the second...creepy!) and 26 minutes off of last year's horrendous time.
This is honestly the first time I can say that I had fun during a half marathon. Every other year I've felt like death after the race. This one, it felt good to be done, but I felt great while I was running (probably a sign I should run faster next time...there's always Dallas...:p).
Cute Superfan #1.
Team Green represent.