On Saturday, I ran the half marathon at the Pine Line Marathon. This event also has a full marathon, 3/4 marathon, marathon relay and 5K.
The event started at 8:00 am, and it is less than 30 minutes from my house. I actually got to sleep in! I got up around 5:45 and had some breakfast before heading out to pick up my registration.
There was some confusion as to where the actual start line was. The registration and packet pick up was at a church. The start line was about 3 blocks away at a park. But there were no signs, no big start line banner, no one telling us where to go. I started walking around and some other people asked me where the starting line was and I told them that I was looking for the same thing. Eventually, I saw a white van with the back doors open and assumed that it was probably the timing company and correctly made my way to the start.
What a difference 6 days makes. Last weekend, when I ran the Oshkosh Half Marathon, I was freezing! This weekend, the sun was shining. There was a slight breeze and I knew that once I got warmed up, I’d have to take my top layer off.
The course is an out-and-back on a trail. But, it isn’t really a trail. It is more like an old dirt road. It is wide enough for a vehicle, but it is mostly used for biking and horseback riding (and maybe quads and snowmobiles?). Anyway, it is very flat. There were still a few spots that had some snow and the extra moisture made those parts pretty muddy…and a little bit slippery. I had to slow down and watch my footing.
This is a pretty small race. Maybe a few hundred people for all distances. The longer races started at 8:00 and the 5K started at 8:30. Smart move. The trail would have been a little crowded at the beginning if we had to contend with all the speed demons!
The first half mile or so was on city streets and then we turned onto the trail. It was actually a very peaceful run. If I lived in Medford, I could totally see myself using that trail for long training runs (once everything dried out). There was a mix of trees and farms and a park or two along the trail. Most of the spectators were four-legged farm animals. Every once and while we would run up to an intersection with a county highway. There were great volunteers making sure that we didn’t get run over. Sometimes, there would be a fan or two cheering us on. As I neared one intersection, there were quite a few people standing there. Then I realized that it was one of the exchange zones for the marathon relay.
It was a bit different for me to have so much peace and quiet during the race. I guess I like the bigger races with the spectators and the crowds encouraging me. I had to keep reminding myself to just relax and enjoy the serenity. For the vast majority of the race, I was completely by myself. Once the crowd spread out (about 3 miles in), I didn’t really run within shouting distance of another runner until we neared the turnaround and the lead runners started coming back. So from about mile 5.5 until about mile 7.5, I would meet people either coming or going.
After the turnaround, I saw a lady ahead of me. Even though I was supposed to be just running this race for fun, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to reel her in. I slowly gained on her. It took me about 4.5 miles to finally catch up to her and I passed her with about 3/4 of a mile to go. Sometimes I wish I could just turn off my inner competitiveness.
My goals for this race were basically to have a good time. And I did! At one point, out on the trail, I was thinking about how my life has changed. I wondered at what point did I think that getting up on a Saturday morning and running 13.1 miles was a normal thing to do! I love it!
I started out and just tried not to run too fast. I didn’t want to overdo it. I wasn’t sure how fatigued my legs would still be from last weekend’s super-hard effort. And I didn’t want to get 10 miles into the race and suddenly run out of gas.
My pace was all over the place. I would look at my Garmin and see an 8:50 pace and then look down half a mile later and see a 10:15 pace. I wish I could be more consistent. Anyway, I never really pushed it. I walked the water stops. That big spike on the graph is the first water stop. There was a really cute dog that I had to stop and pet. 🙂
Like I said, most of the course was just me running. After the first few miles, I didn’t pass anyone and no one passed me. (Except around mile 8 or 9. Then I got passed by the guy who ended up winning the 3/4 marathon. It is a weird distance. He was using it as his last training run before his marathon in a couple weeks.)
I did pick up the pace a little bit toward the end. I told myself that when I got to 12 miles, I could finish with whatever I had left. While I didn’t throw down everything, I did pick it up at the end and finished strong.
So, I finished in 2:05:34. Not exactly the 2:15-2:25 I had set as a goal. In fact, this was my second fasted half marathon! I really didn’t think that was going to happen, especially so soon after Oshkosh. But, it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I could even run faster than I did in Oshkosh. (I can’t turn off that inner competitiveness.) But, I have no immediate goals to try to PR. I can still remember how painful that was!
Most importantly, I was able to finish this race with a smile on my face! I really did have a great time.
Check out the comparison finish photos. First of all, what a drastic change in the weather. I can’t believe that I can go from running tights and 4 layers on top, to capris and a tank top in 6 days! Secondly, I just look so much more pleasant in the first picture than I do after busting my ass to get that sub-2:00. I have such a pained expression on my face at the end of that race. In the first picture, you can see Jaden chasing after me. I had wanted him to run the last part with me so we could cross the finish line together, but he didn’t want to.
One more thing about the photo…on my right arm is a ribbon that my friend gave me. She brought a bunch of them to the race and handed them out to anyone who wanted to wear them to remember Boston. I plan on wearing them to the rest of my races this year. I think it is a nice way to remember.
There were some nice water/Gatorade stops set up along the course. There were three of them before the half marathon turn around. Which means that we had the same three on the way back. One of the great things that they did was to put the water and the Gatorade on separate tables on opposite sides of the trail. The only problem with that was that they weren’t consistent. So at each table I had to ask which side had what. And then, when I turned around to head back, I couldn’t remember which was which, so I had to ask again. They also had some ‘performance enhancing fruit’ at a couple of the water stations. At least that is what the volunteer was calling it. He was handing out orange and banana slices.
My GI system is very sensitive when I run. I have to stick to water. Gatorade is saved for the finish line. The oranges are well received by my stomach, but I skipped the bananas and the Fig Newtons (although I love Fig Newtons and I really wanted one, but I didn’t want to take a chance). I also had a small bag of Craisins in my pocket. I had considered taking my own water on this race, but decided not to at the last minute. I wish I had taken it. I am not acclimated to the warmer weather yet, and I could have used water more often than it was available. Lesson learned. Trust my instincts.
Instead of T-shirts, the half, 3/4 and full marathoners got hooded sweatshirts. While I like the sweatshirt, I would wear a T-shirt more often, especially as we head into summer. Maybe if this was a fall race, a sweatshirt would be a better option.
After the race, all the half marathoners headed back to the church for the awards. I was able to check on their computers to see that I finished 4th in my age group. D’oh! I should have gone faster. Not really. My PR from a week earlier would have netted me 2nd place (I think).
The post race awards ceremony was so disorganized. They announced the men’s winner…except he wasn’t the winner. He got a weird look on his face and said that there was a guy who finished ahead of him. They also had the women’s winner wrong. They got it all sorted out, but I’m not sure how or why they were so screwed up. The top three in each age group got a medal. Everyone was sticking around waiting for our finisher’s medals that we saw sitting on the table. After they did the age group awards, it got really awkward because they weren’t handing out the medals. Finally, one of the runners asked and they race organizer said that those medals were only for the full marathon. Not having a finishing medal for a half marathon is kinda lame, especially for the 30th anniversary of the race.
I had to try to clean myself up as best I could after the race because we were going to Jaden’s tae kwon do yellow belt promotion. I tried to do a quick sink bath to make myself less stinky. I had brought a towel from home and just kinda cleaned the mud off the back of my legs and tried to make it look like I didn’t just run a half marathon!
*Awesome volunteers on the trail and at the water stops.
*Different events. Loved that they had a 5K option. And who offers a 3/4 marathon!?! That would be a great training run for a spring marathon. (But, my guess is that the full marathon was pretty lonely.)
*Inconsistent water stops. Put the water on the same side at all the water stops. I can’t think and run at the same time.
*Horrible post race organization.
*Course was muddy and slippery in spots.
No medal is kind of a bummer. While the course is peaceful, I missed having the crowd support that a bigger race offers. I’m glad I wore old shoes because they ended up being pretty muddy by the end. And the post-race disorganization was horrible. Would I do the race again? Maybe. I was actually thinking that the marathon relay might not be a bad option. I’ve never done one and this race is very local. It might be fun.