Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Race Report: Sioux Falls Half Marathon 2011

Sunday I woke up after a good night of sleep.  I never sleep before races.  A WIN ALREADY!  Yay me.  I dashed outside to see the finish line so I could begin visualizing crossing it, exhausted and ecstatic.  True story:  while we were laying in bed Saturday night I demanded that Kyle open my window blinds to see if the finish line was up yet.  I wanted to dream about it.  It wasn’t.  I was bummed.
I got dressed, ate breakfast, snuggled back up to Kyle to wake him up, and we were off to the race start.  I wanted to get there early a) because I’m neurotic on race days and b) because a bunch of my friends were running the full and I wanted to see them off for their 6:45 start.  The fact that I was perfectly content in shorts and a thin long sleeve at 6am was slightly concerning. In past years, I’ve been bundled up in sweats and a hoodie heading to the race start.
Said hello and good lucks to my studly 26.2 friends (silently being uber thankful I was only tackling half the distance) and started my warm up.  Kyle and I got to a whole new level in our relationship when we discussed the importance of pooping on race day.  My favorite quote of the morning was, “Most people focus on winning the race, Jeri focuses on pooping.”  Accurate.
Megan and I made our way to the starting line and tried to eyeball where we should be.  The start is d-u-m-b.  We run a lap around a track and then head out of the stadium primarily single file.  It’s typically a cluster-eff.  My goal is usually to avoid the cluster-eff as much as possible.
Oh.  Speaking of goals.  My race day strategy was as follows:
Miles 1-4 (hilly) 8:30
Miles 5-9 (slightly less, but still hilly) 8:20
10-finish (flat) BTTW
I calculated out what my paces for 1:48, sub 1:49, and sub 1:50 would need to be during those 4 remaining miles.  None of them seemed that scary.  Not easy.  But not capable of killing me, either.  When I talked to Tom before the race, I told him that I realized that if done properly, the race SHOULD NOT FEEL EASY.  I should be working my booty off.  A lot of times I lose my brain when I think, “CRAP! This should feel easier!  I’m going to die!”
Megan and I commented that we were way too comfortable standing around in shorts and tank tops for the start of the race.  I tried to ignore that comment and pretend the sun wasn’t already making its way high up in the sky.  The race started and we were off.  Shockingly we picked a great starting spot, because dodging people was minimal.  I had settled in to an 8:30 on the nose pace, and it felt…er… easy.  Okie dokie then!  I waved g’bye to Kyle on one side of the stadium and my madre on the other, and got to work.
About one mile in to the race I had sweat droplets starting to fly off of me.  Roughly a mile and a half in, my body was so wet that my heart rate monitor slid right off me.  Perhaps I should’ve brought a handheld along…. Hmmm..  One of the first big hills was in the second mile, and I just concentrated on going up it.  There were some rollers for the next mile, and the pace was evening out around 8:30.
1. 8:31
2. 8:43
3. 8:32
During a major downhill I was flying trying to bank a little time for the upcoming hill I knew we had.  At one point I looked down at my watch to see a 7:40 average mile pace.  Uh… oops.  During the next uphill stretch I took my GU, grabbed some water (yes, the first water stop was a good 3.5 miles in.  UFF!) and thought my legs were starting to feel some of the pounding.  At the top of the hill, we turned around to run through the downtown, which is one of my favorite stretches, and also where I planned to see Kyle for the first time.  During this downhill portion, my legs were not flying.  They felt very heavy.  I expected the heaviness to subside after they got the uphill work shook out of them.
I saw Kyle and he snapped this lovely pic of me throwing him my heart rate monitor.  And it was on to Falls Park.  One of my other favorite portions of the race.  And also the part with the steepest incline.  I saw my madre in all of her Team Green glory, screaming and cheering like a fool (which I love, Kyle could take notes).  I knew that after this stretch, things flattened out more.  I tried to power up the hill but my legs felt…stuck.  No biggie… I’ll make it up on the flat part!
(I'm so good at running I can do it with my eyes closed.... lolz)
We looped back through the downtown area and made our way to the backside of the bike trail, since the primary part is still under construction.  My legs felt like crap.  My IT bands, specifically my right one, felt like I had 10-15 lbs of extra weight attached to them.  My stride was short and choppy.  I kept thinking the heaviness would shake out in due time and I would get back to work.  I did realize that unless they figured it out asap, sub-1:50 probably wasn’t in the cards.  But a course PR was more than doable!
4. 8:34
5. 8:35
6. 9:23
At about the halfway point I figured if I ran the same as I had the first half, I’d be right at a course PR.  And I never positive split a half (attention:  foreshadowing!), so let’s just get back on track!  Look at me being Miss Sunshine.  Holy crap.  Except that they never loosened up.  I was stuck running a 9-9:30 pace and just could NOT stride out at all without feeling like my leg would give out.  This part of the route had a smidge of shade, which was good, because it was getting very very hot out there.
I kept plugging along running as fast as I could, STILL thinking that eventually the heaviness would shake out, and I could race whatever I had left on the course.  Except that there kept being rolling hills and the downhills would lock things back up, even as I was taking them very conservatively.  Well…poo.
7. 9:11
8. 9:36
9. 9:19
I got to Lincoln high school where I had planned to see Kyle, and he was leaning against the school not even cheering.  I may have snapped something to the effect of, “The least you could do is cheer for me!!!”  Haha, poor guy.  In his defense he was staring in the sun, and probably didn’t see me coming.  Also, apparently every other girl at the race got the memo about black shirt green shorts.  Jeepers.
I saw my mom shortly there after and she was a cheering and screaming fool, which of course, made me smile.  I think I may have given her the, “this sucks” memo as I ran by.  That may have been an exact quote from the exact spot in the race as last year.  ;)

(Always gotta have the sad panda photo....hahah...)
This was supposed to be the part where I started my BTTW kick.  This is literally the part of the race I look forward to when running halfs.  Wah wah.  I pretty much stopped looking at my watch and just tried to enjoy the day.  I chatted it up with some runners and offered encouragement to some that were struggling.  I was bopping along at my long run pace, the least I could do is use some of my extra energy to cheer people on.  :P
The last few miles must’ve drug on, but looking back, I don’t remember anything too notable, other than getting passed.  A lot.  Hah.  Since I usually start at a more conservative pace and then really turn it on the last 5k, I’m not used to that.  Since I started at 8:30s and was finishing at 9ish, I was definitely getting passed a lot.  Ho hum. Ha.  I did see a girl getting oxygen about a mile from the finish which freaked me out.  I kept thinking how horrific it must be to be running the full.  It was warm. (Sidenote: After chugging a bottle of water post race, along with the fluids I took in during the race, I was still down 4 ½ pounds. Holy sweat-a-thon!)
I tried to pick up the pace the last mile and at some point realized that breaking two hours might be close.  Eep!  I ran the finishing quarter of a mile as fast as I could with pain shooting up the IT bands.  Beep beep!   Coming through.  I probably looked like the biggest sandbagger. :/  Oh well.
11. 9:36
12. 9:26
13. 9:14
.14 :55 (7:08 pace)
(True story: my mom was pissed this chick ruined her finishing photo of me. Baha.)
Well ok then. :)  The nice thing was that I wasn’t dead tired crossing the finish line, but I was bummed.   I was very proud of myself for never giving up on the course, but looking back I was probably a little delusional.  IT band stiffness doesn’t “go away.” Hah. It took awhile for it to click that that’s what it was, I just thought my quads were feeling tired from the constant ups and downs.  Whenever I run downhills, I always run them very conservatively, because I know my IT bands will be severely affected by them.  I’m not sure why it didn’t click in my head that flying down them wouldn’t do the same thing. ??  I guess I just assumed that I’d be miserable the next day, not during the race.
I’m happy that I finished my 12th half marathon and that I finished my 7th consecutive Sioux Falls Half Marathon with my 3rd best time.  I hope I read this blog post before signing up for next years race, because unless the course is back to normal, I don’t want to race-race this again.  I’ve decided it’d be fun to do the marathon as a relay “for fun” (attempting to convince Kyle of the fun-ness), or to do the half as a relay and then just keep running with KK during his final leg, or pace my BFFF who’s been talking about doing a HM forever.  All fun options. 
Sweatiest finisher award goes to: jerbear!
My friend Molly was back home for the weekend from San Diego.
I'm starting to sweat just looking at her in capris.
He's only faux touching me. He was extremely grossed out when my sweaty arm touched his.
Jerbear and Mamabear


audgepodge said...

Congrats on another half marathon! And I have the same dealio with p00ping! I get nervous if I don't get my PRP (pre race p00p) in! (or out as the case may be *_*)

kimi said...

Nice race! Pre race pooping is key. I'm already terrified I won't for my marathon.

Anonymous said...

Well that stinks this one slipped away! Glad you had fun! That's what running is all about! :) ;)

Do you always wear your knee strap? I was having horrid IT band issues back in January-March. I went to run with a friend, who has been running all her life...and she was APPALLED that I was wearing one. Basically told me that it was only going to "baby" the situation.

The only way to improve / fix it was with tons of stretching & strengthening. So, I ditched the band. Started doing more stretching & using resistance while doing side leg lifts. I haven't had any issues since. Hope it gets better before your next half!

Amy - the gazelle said...

I just found out that an old college friend of mine WON the women's marathon! So proud to know so many SF speedsters!

Nice job on a hot, sweaty day.

Julie D said...

Congrats! It's been a while since I've done a flat half-marathon... I'll get my chance in a few weeks.

Great that you were able to sleep, too!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the finish!! I can't believe they didn't have a water stop until 3.5 miles - gah! That's like asking people to pass out - no bueno.

Jess A @cajunrunnerjess said...

Congrats on your half marathon!! I would love to work up to your pace for a half. You are great, even with IT bands giving you issues!

Lisa said...

Congrats on a good race! 4 1/2 pounds?? That is a lot of fluid loss. I think a handheld would be a good option next time. That's a sweaty race.

btw...I am ALL about the PRP. I have to go 3 times to be sure.

Jamie said...

Congrats on another half! And a sub 2 in the heat/weather!

PRP is a key strategy :)

Susan said...

Nice work on squeezing in the sub-2! Sounds like a crazy hot day (double glad you didn't do the marathon....yikes!), and that's quite the streak you've got going. I hope you're all rehydrated now because I'm going to need you at your best in a couple weeks!

Katie said...

you are doing the glute-destroying hunch of death! see: me. twinnies. sigh. also, i've learned that the glute-destroying hunch = super DUPER pissed IT band.