My first race of 2013! (Actually, it was also my first run outdoors in 2013. My last outdoor run was the Hot Chocolate Run I did the beginning of December.)
Usually, I get really excited about an upcoming race. I start checking the weather about a week ahead of time. I stress about what I’m going to wear and if I’m going to set a new PR.
This wasn’t the case for this race. I have had next-to-no motivation lately. I have pretty much stuck to my training plan (with a couple minor deviations), but only because I am task oriented, and crossing things off my to-do list is very important to me.
There was even a small part of me that wanted to scrap the race altogether and stay home and study for my test this week. But, I decided to go for it. I figured that I needed some race-practice for the rest of the races I have this season. (although I haven’t been all that motivated for them, either)
Anyway, my mom agreed to watch the boys, and make sure that Jaden got to his tae kwon do class. Jaden was excited that grandma was going to get to watch him, but I think he was more excited that she was going to take him to McDonald’s for lunch after class. Grandma spoils those boys.
I made the drive to Stevens Point. It is just over an hour from my house. I swear, I got exactly the same parking spot I had when I did this race in 2010! I walked over to the starting area…about 2 blocks from my car and waited behind two other people before I picked up my bib and t-shirt.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw my race number! Some people might get superstitious if they got this number, but I thought it was awesome! (the tags on the bottom are the tickets for the free post-race beers)
The shirt was brown this year. I think I’ll keep it. I am seriously lacking in long sleeved t-shirts. Of course, I’m hoping that the weather will warm up and I won’t need long sleeved t-shirts for much longer.
After picking up my stuff, I walked back to the car. I had brought along both an ear warmer, and a hat/neck warmer. I couldn’t decide which one to wear. I eventually settled on the hat. I didn’t want to be cold. I thought about wearing my big wooly mittens over my gloves, but decided against it. I always struggle with being cold, but my hands handled this race fine. The gloves were perfect. The hat was perfect. The tank-top, long-sleeved tech tee, running jacket with running tights was perfect. My feet were freezing! More on that later.
Once I got my lucky number bib pinned on, I sat in the car for a while to stay warm. I’m such a nerd that I actually brought one of my textbooks along so that I could best utilize any spare minutes before the race.
Finally, I decided that I should head over to the starting area so that I would have time to use the porta potty before the race started. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough time; the lines were pretty long. But, they moved pretty fast and I was able to get in and out in a relatively short time. Then I went to the tent to stay warm.
A few minutes before the race started, I joined the herd and got into the corrals. I positioned myself between the 8:00/mi and 9:00/mi signs. There were a bunch of pre-race announcements, but the PA system was horrible and the only thing I heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher.
I was bouncing around at the start line trying to keep my feet warm, but they were so cold. It was so bad when the race started that I couldn’t feel my feet at all. It felt like I was running on stumps. I could sort-of feel my heels, but my toes were completely numb and the balls of my feet throbbed every time I landed. I remembered thinking to myself that if I moved somewhere warm, I could race throughout the year and not have to deal with frozen feet.
Once the gun finally went off, I had to do the typical bobbing and weaving for about the first mile. My pace showed it. The first mile was my slowest. This course is an out and back over a bridge. Once we hit the bridge, there was a chilly cross wind. I was happy that I had worn my hat/scarf combo. For a while, I pulled the scarf part up over my mouth and nose. It was chilly.
I wasn’t sure what my pace would look like for this race. I haven’t been running outside and when I run on the treadmill, I just set the pace and force my legs to keep up. Here I had to set my own pace. I guess I did okay. There were a few times when I looked at my watch and saw that I was going too fast, so I had to slow myself down. There were a few times when I was slowing down too much, so I would speed up.
Because the course is an out-and-back, it got a bit crowded at the turnaround. Actually, the leaders probably didn’t notice, but for those of us in the middle of the pack, things got pretty congested. It became difficult to pass people and I was afraid I was going to get tripped up or elbowed or something.
I stayed pretty consistent with my splits. And I’m ecstatic that my last mile was under 8:00! I never thought that would happen!!
For most of this course, there is very little fan support. The fans are heavily focused on the start/finish area. For most of miles 2-4, you are just surrounded by the other runners.
The volunteers are great. There is one water stop, just after the turnaround. I skipped it because I didn’t need any water, but it was well staffed. There were also volunteers at each mile marker shouting out times, which I thought was pretty nice. At some point in the last half of the race, I realized that my stomach was rumbling. I had eaten my usual oatmeal breakfast and I brought a banana for pre-race, but I guess I had eaten the banana too early. Or I had gone through all my fuel already. But I was hungry!
Sometime around the 4.25 or 4.5 mile mark, I realized that my feet were no longer frozen. Maybe that is why I was able to pick up the pace so nicely at the end.
When I came in to the finish line, it immediately turned into a sea of people. There wasn’t enough water on the tables after the finishing chute. There was plenty of Gatorade. I also noticed that those tables were completely unmanned. I don’t know if anyone was filling more cups or not.
I grabbed one of the few cups of water and headed to the tent to find a bite to eat and get my beer(s). [I just noticed that when you put those keystrokes in order ( s ) you get a symbol. Pretty cool.]
I found the food inside. Typical pieces of bagel, bananas, apples (really good and crunchy), cookies and muffins. I grabbed a couple pieces of bagel and a banana and an apple. I was starving.
I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I had my three free beer coupons and I wanted to try what they had to offer. The first one I grabbed was the apple peach. I took one sip. “Hmmm….this is pretty good.” A second sip. “This is kinda sweet.” A third sip. “I’m not finishing this.” The same thing happened with the apple strawberry. Then I tried a Blonde something-or-other. It was pretty good. I drank about a quarter of the huge cup. After all, I did have to drive home!
I wanted to mention one more thing. I have always had issues with my ear buds when I run in the winter. I think it is the combination of the cold weather making the cords less flexible and the fact that I am wearing a hat over my ears. Anyway, they always end up falling out and then I am trying to stuff them back in while wearing my gloves. So, I finally decided to get a pair of Yurbuds. I will never wear regular ear buds again. These things are awesome!!! They twist into your ears. They never fell out. They never felt like they were close to falling out. They are so comfortable. I absolutely love them! (Ok, my commercial is over.)
Here are my official finish stats from the race. I managed a negative spilt and finished in the top 20% of my age group. I feel good about that…especially since I had briefly considered not even running the race.
*Long sleeve shirt
*Super congested at the beginning, the turnaround, and after finishing. Doing a wave start might solve some of this.
*Not enough water at the finish line.
*Lots of walkers-led to part of the congestion
*Horrible PA system
I would do this event again. It is relatively local for me, and not too pricey. I just have to make sure to pay attention to when registration opens. This year they filled the 2000 spots in 25 hours!