(written the night before race day)
Goal A: Sub 1:50. A year ago, I started training for the Sioux Falls Half Marathon for the 5th time in hopes of finally breaking 2 hours. I ran a 1:54. I think it'd be pretty neat-o to see a 1:4X next to my name. To execute I would need to average 8:30 pace for the first 10 miles then 8:15 for the last 5k. Totally doable.
Goal B: PR (current PR is 1:53:09/8:39 pace). Given the weather forecast for Saturday (low 90s, insane humidity, race start of 9AM--idiots), this may actually be the smarter goal for the day. I would like start the race in the 8:40-8:45 range, and try to negative split the puppy.
Goal C: Get through the race without being miserable. Given the race conditions, this might not be possible. But I'm strong and healthy enough to wake up and do something I love.
Subsequently, I also really want to shoot to win my age group and top 5 for females. I've only done really big half marathons, so this has never been even a possibility, but it would be stellar to pull off this weekend. Since I won the 5k they put on last year, it'd be nice to walk away with some hardware this time around as well. ;) I may have checked out some race times, and there are a couple of girls who have done some higher 1:40 halfs, so it will definitely help to push me towards my goal times to stick with them.
Grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up, this might be long winded loves. I woke up at 7am and started putzing around my apartment getting ready. For some reason I had a great night of sleep and none of the normal insane nerves I typically suffer from. When I woke up, I started to feel the nerves a little bit, but not for the race, instead for the race conditions. The last I had checked the weather (before bed) it was supposed to be 71 at the start with 90% humidity. Yes the humidity would suck, but at least it'd be cooler at the start. Also, it said cloudy. When I woke up to the sun streaming into my windows, I thought...uh oh. The weather report had also changed it's tune: mid 80s at the start with 80+% humidity. FML. I was still optimistic at this point, because everyone had to run in the same weather I was running in, so we were all at the same disadvantage. Still wanted to PR.
Finally when it couldn't get any hotter out (or so it seems) the race started. I was all smiles taking off on half marathon #7. I tried to take the pace at a conservative (or so I thought) 8:40 pace, thinking that maybe I could still eek out a 3 second PR. I was sitting in about 7th place for women, and was happy with that, judging that 2-3 of them had started to fast and would die out. My first mile came in at 8:44, and I was pretty happy with that. It was here that I noticed that the course was already off for mileage. I started with my foot maybe 6" behind the start line in the second row, and the 1 mile marker was at 1.1 according to my garmin. I also noticed that the 12 mile marker was on the backside, so I thought maybe the mileage would even itself out somehow around the turn around.
One mile in and I was soaked. Literally spraying sweat as I ran, and I was thirsty. I needed water NOW. Since no one could divulge the great secret as to where and when the water stops would be or how many, I had started to freak out a little bit. The part of the bike trail that we were running on is the absolute worst part of the trail. Runners (and most cyclists) avoid that part of the trail like the plague. It is ugly, there is no shade, there is no trees in the fields to block any wind, and it just plain sucks. It is suuuuper flat. So on a different day (or at a normal start time ie: 6am or 7am) it could've been blazin' fast, instead of just blazing hot.
The next few miles I slowed down a bit and thought about making a sub 2 hour finish my goal. I trotted along passing a few people who were running out of gas, and prayed for water. At one point I saw an orange flag in the distance and thought it HAD to be the water stop. Until it started moving closer to me, and I realized it was a crazy restructured inclined bike with a flag on it. FML. I saw my buddy Jeff zoom by us as the first place guy for the 10K and cheered super loud for him. And at mile 3 there was the glorious water stop. They were handing out dixie cups. One dixie cup. To be exact. I apologized and said, "Sorry, I need both." And I really did feel bad because I knew there were people close behind me, and they didn't have a table full of water cups, they were filling them up (2 of them) individually and handing them out. After two shots of water, I was back out there.
And straight in to the wind. Since the course was just on a field with no tree in sight, the wind was intense. Since the field of runners was so small, I had no one to tuck down in to. In hindsight, I should've started to run walk with some sort of strategy here to save myself. Scratch that, in hindsight I should've said Eff you and quit. :p At mile 5 I started to lose my hearing which is always a sign to me that I'm getting ready to pass out, so I freaked out a bit and slowed down even more. This is the first time in a race I thought about a DNF. The conditions had become scary and without another water station in sight, I didn't know what would happen. However, I also knew that there was no access to the bike trails from the roads, and there was no one from the race course on bikes to check on the runners to see if they were ok. So if I did stop, I would just have to walk the 5 miles back to the start anyway. So I trekked on. At mile 6.1 there was water stop #2 and also the turnaround. Um.... 6.1+6.1 does not = 13.1. I stopped and took a GU, and chugged a lot of water. And dumped some water on me. And grabbed too more cups of water to go. I probably stopped for at least 2-3 minutes but at this point time was no longer relevant and survival was.
I started walking with the guy who was at the water stop with me as we were finishing up the last of our water. After awhile I left him behind and continued on. When I came up to the next mile marker (8) and my watch was at 7.1 I knew the course was going to be waaaaaay short. I praised the Lord for their inability to do math, because I was barely surviving as it was. However, if it had been a day with good weather, I would've been pissed if I had ran a rockin' race, and then have it be one whole mile short. I would still count a race as a PR being .1 short or maaaybe even .2, but a whole mile would be another story. I was doing a major walk run strategy for these next few miles, trying to allow myself only 30 seconds of walking whenever I felt like it (which was a lot because I was effin' zapped).
During one of the many walk breaks, a guy caught up to me and walked for a while and we had Bitch Fest 2010 about the race. He was actually going for a 1:40 finish so I didn't feel nearly as bad anymore. We walked and jogged and walked and jogged together for awhile. I was basically counting down to mile 9 and it's glorious H2O that I would consume. We got there together and sucked down a lot of water. Hung out there for probably 6 dixie cups of water. I told the lady on a walky talky that she needed to get someone on a bike to be out on the course with a walky talky because I knew there were a lot of people at the back of the pack and a lot of non-runners out there who would surely be struggling much worse than me. She never responded to me. I'm not sure if she was ignoring me or what, but honestly, it's this kind of poor planning that equates to runners getting seriously sick or even dying during races.
7. 11:16 (water stop)
My new buddy and I continued on and picked up some more road kill along the way. She was touting a camelbak and also looked like she was on the verge of death, so that was neat. Go team road kill! We walk ran together for awhile until I started to get a cramp so I told them that I would hopefully see them at the finish!
It was close to this time that I saw a florescent orange beacon in the distance. I started waving my arms and got some energy to run. JENN!! She was spectating the race, and was going to watch our friends finish the 5k then the 10k, then she was going to walk/jog along the course to bring me water. I caught up to her and immediately started walking. Apparently I said something along the lines of, "My life is effing (not censored in real life) $h!t right now!" Haha. Sometimes I tell it like it is, you know? I told her Goal A was to cross the finish line, and that I was extremely close to my PW which happened when I was 30 lbs. heavier and decided to run a 1/2 after doing maybe 5 training runs over a 3 month span. Yikes.
Once I found my buddy to talk to, I walked a lot more. I kind of forgot I was running a race, to be honest, so every once in awhile I'd be like, "Oh hey, maybe I should run for a little bit!" She told me how our friends did (first in the 5k and first in the 10k! Way to go boys!) And that everyone looked like trash. She also said that when the 5k-ers got done there was no water for them. WTF? There was an overpass that we were supposed to run up on to get back on the road towards the finish, and of course they all look the same, and I was delirious, and they weren't marked (obviously) so I had to slow way down (meaning stop walking, ha) and ask the dude behind me which one we were to go up on.
Once we did I realized that my good friend Melissa and her two little boys were waiting at the top for me: TEAM GREEN!!! YAY. I had started running moments before since I had realized we were 1/2 mile from the finish, and they all started running with me. It was pretty stinkin' cute. I crossed the finish line just shy of my PW (would've been a PW if it had been the full 1/2 distance) and grabbed an ice cold water and started to chug it (probably not the best idea, but it was just so fabulously cold!!!). I immediately felt like I was going to vomit and tried to decide if I was classy enough to do that in public or not. :p I think I finished in 9th for women, but have yet to see the official results.
10. 13:58 (water stop)
.15 1:23 (9:26 pace)
12.15 miles in 2:12:39 (10:55 pace)
Just a reminder that my marathon pace was 9:37 for well over twice the distance. :p
I think I finished in 9th for women, but have yet to see the official results.
I was super annoyed, but so happy that my family and friends had come out to cheer me on, and hadn't given up on me when I came in 20+ minutes after I thought I would. Of course a photo shoot had to occur.
My grandparents and Great Aunt Dee.
Jenn and I were getting ready to take a picture but I started to feel really sick. Here she's asking me if I'm going to puke, and I'm trying to decide the answer to that question. FUNNIEST PICTURE EVER.
Jenn & I since I'm not going to puke apparently.
Me and TEAM GREEN! How stinking cute, yes?
Negatives of the race:
- 9am start time. This is the time we should've been done. Better yet, 6am start time because unless you're an idiot you know that it's effin' hot and humid in SoDak AT THE END OF JUNE.
- 3 water stops. You've gotta be kidding me. Most races have them every 1 1/2 - 2 and those are the races that start at an intelligent time. Water stops could've been every mile and that wouldn't have been enough.
- No one knew what was going on. I couldn't find anyone to answer my questions about where the race started, what the course was, where the turn around, where and how many water stations where there. I even sent an email to the "contact" person on the website at the start of the week with the same questions with no response back.
- The race cost $40 for early bird and $50 for anyone registering late. That is very expensive for this area. The major one I do in the fall is only $35. For $40 we got a crappy cotton t-shirt and water at the finish. No timing chip, no nice shirt, no food at the finish, no sports drink at the finish. I've yet to see what they spent their money on.
- Since no one knew what the race route was, there was zero support on the course. Not a single spectator to cheer us on.
- The course was a mile short. This was fine since I was on the verge of death anyway, but like I said, if I would've been on pace for a 1:50 finish and had to have a PR* distinction for the race I would've been pisssssssssed.
Positives of the race:
- I got a nice tan.
- I got to catch up with Jenn on a leisurely 3 mile walk.
- I am not sore in the slightest today so my legs should be 100% for my hometown 5k next weekend.
- I lost so much water weight during the race I was able to see my hip bones for the first time since 2001. :p
My text message response to how the race went pretty much sums up the day, "It was a brutal mind fuck shit show." Well put, Jerbear.
Editted to add: Yes, I look sickly in these pics. I am not making myself sick, that's how dehydrated I was. Really scary, and I've been eating cookies for the past 24 hours to beef back up. ;) Seriously check out the pre and post photos. Siiiiick.