Tim’s first half marathon is in the books! He survived. Actually, he did great.
We headed over to Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon when Tim got off work. Grandpa came over to spend the night with the boys (and he bravely took both of them golfing on the morning of the 4th!).
Packet pickup was at the organization’s office. No expo. Just pick up your packet, T-shirt and pint glass. It took us about 5 minutes and then we went to the hotel to get checked in. Dinner was our typical pre-race meal of Noodles and Company. It’s good and inexpensive. Why mess with something that works, right?
We knew that we were going to have to get up early, so we went to bed around 9:00. I didn’t sleep great, but I was ready to get up before my alarm went off at 4:45.
After a quick shower and breakfast of white rice, we drove the 2.3 miles to the start line. I was thrilled that we were able to find unmetered street parking. I didn’t want to have to pay for a parking ramp. We walked about 3 or 4 blocks to the park that served as both the start and finish area. We were waiting at a corner for the light to turn, and a bird pooped on us! Seriously, we were holding hands and it managed to get both of us. That’s supposed to be good luck, right?
The first order of business was to find the porta potties. Just as we got there, I ran into my friend Jeni and her cousin Craig. I can’t believe that out of 2500 people, I would randomly run into them!
After the porta potty, we grabbed a little bit more water before heading to the start line. It was a warm morning, but nothing like the super-hot temps we dealt with last year. We lined up toward the back, between the 10:00-11:00/mile signs. I think Tim was getting a little anxious. He said he wasn’t nervous, but as it got closer to the start time, I think I could pick up on a bit of nerves.
I’m really glad that we brought our hydration belts. I usually don’t carry my own water and just rely on what is available on the course, but I knew that it was going to be a warm day and that I would be out there for longer than usual.
I brought back the tutu from last year’s race. I got a lot of compliments on it. And, it didn’t bother me at all to do a half marathon in it.
Our plan was to run the first 1.5-2 miles and then settle in to a 4 minute run/1 minute walk pattern. As I assumed would happen, Tim felt really good and wanted to keep running. He asked if we could run the first 3 miles. I cautioned him against going out too hard at the beginning and he relented. We started our 4:1 ratio about 2.5 miles in.
It was a warm morning and I figured that our pace would be a bit slower than what Tim usually does. We held our own for the first few miles, but as we got to the big (HUGE) hill between miles 6 and 7, I could tell that he was already slowing down. Our run pace was dropping, and the walk pace was getting really slow. I tried to be encouraging, but it is a difficult balance to find. I wanted to encourage him, but I didn’t want to push him too hard, or sound patronizing. And, Tim doesn’t always take encouragement well when he is tired.
There were only 5 water stations on the course. For a half marathon in July, I think that is seriously dangerous. Most of the water stations were understaffed. One of them was so understaffed that there was one table that just had cups on it. No one was even there handing out the cups. The first station just had water. The next four had water and PowerAde. I tried to make sure that Tim got something to drink at each water station. Even though we had our own water, I didn’t want either of us to end up too dehydrated on such a warm day.
There was really only one hill. It just really sucked.
We ended up taking an unscheduled walk break during that hill. So did everyone around us! It was no joke. We tried to get back into our 4:1 after that, but Tim was getting tired. We made it through miles 8 and 9. Once we got to mile 10, I could tell that he was struggling. He got a little cranky. I just kept trying to cheer him on. I knew that pretty much everything after mile 10 was unfamiliar territory for him.
Somewhere around mile 11, there was a down hill portion of the course. We were scheduled to take a walk break there, but I convinced him to run the downhill and take full advantage of gravity. I thought that we would walk at the bottom of the hill, but he just kept going and we ended up skipping that walking section. Probably not the best move, but he didn’t want to listen to me!
After that, things started to fall apart. The 4:1 ratio was pretty much out the window and I just ran when he ran and walked when he walked. I tried to pick up the walking pace, but I could tell that he was in pain and probably pissed off at me for suggesting that he run a half marathon in the first place. It was best for me to just keep my mouth shut.
As we crossed over a bridge between miles 11 and 12, I suggested that it would be a good time to start running again. His response: “I’ll run when I feel like running!” Alrighty, then. I’ll just be over here. Walking. By myself.
When we got to mile 12, I tried to see if he wanted to run the last mile. He said yes. That lasted a very short time and we walked some more. He said that he was hurting. I told him that was normal. I was so proud of him for running his first half marathon and I didn’t want him to give up so close to the finish line. I wanted him to run it in and finish strong. But, he seemed to be stuck inside his head and I couldn’t get him to appreciate what he was about to accomplish.
Finally, with about a quarter mile to go, I grabbed his hand and started running toward the finish line. I wanted to finish this race together and I didn’t care if he was scowling at me through the finish line.
I heard the announcer call our names as we made it to the finish line. I was so proud of Tim what had just accomplished. Even though there were some rough patches, he made it. And, he beat my first half marathon time! We crossed the finish line in 2:15:45!
Look! Tim is doing magic. I’m floating! (Don’t believe the smiling faces. We saw the photographers and faked the smiles. This is late in the race and there wasn’t a whole of smiling at that point.)
I am probably saying something super-encouraging right here. Doesn’t Tim look encouraged??
T-Rex Tim! (He doesn’t really move his arms when he runs. I kept telling him he looked like a T-Rex.)
I wish there was a better picture of us finishing, but I guess that is tough with so many people. Hand in hand to the finish line.
The splits were a bit inconsistent. You can see that there was a bit more walking toward the end. I think I will include a couple longer training runs in preparation for his next half marathon. I want him to have the psychological strength to help him through the later miles.
Once we got through the finish line, we headed to get our medals. Tim was physically (and probably mentally) exhausted. One of the volunteers asked him how he was doing and responded something like: “what?….I, uh….I don’t know.” They shuttled him off to the medical tent.
His reaction was part exhaustion, part Tim-just-being-Tim. Anyway, they got him down, with his feet up, and started covering him with cold towels. They took his blood pressure and pulse. They let him lay down and rest for a while. When it was determined that he was, in fact, going to make it, they cleared us to leave. In typical Tim-fashion, he posted the above picture on his facebook page with the caption “No, seriously, I’m fine. Oh, wait, these cold towels feel fantastic! Maybe I am a little woozy, keep em coming!… I might do that at all my races now!”
After he was given a clean bill of health, we stopped at the finisher photo booth for our patriotic finishers photo.
Then we made our way through to get some water, a small roll (no bagels), banana, chips (sea salt and cracked black pepper…really good), chocolate milk and POPSICLES! Every race should finish with bomb pops. They were so good. There were also hot dogs (that seems weird at 9:00 in the morning).
We decided to head back to one of the booths we had seen before the race started. They were selling some tech tees earlier for $5. We didn’t get any before the race because we didn’t want to carry it with us. When we got there, we found out that they were now being sold 2 for $5. Seriously!?! I quickly grabbed one for each of us. I have never seen tech shirts for that price.
Then we decided to walk back through the finish line over the bridge that we had just run. It is a really pretty area and there are some cool historic buildings. We wanted to take some pictures of the buildings, but Tim’s sense of distance had been deceiving. The picture-taking spot was much farther than he thought it was. And he had just finished his first half marathon. So, instead of walking all the way to the picture taking spot, we just took a nice picture of the two of us and started walking back to the car.
*Tim ran a half marathon!!! And we got to finish hand in hand.
*Perfect day. Clear skies. Not too hot.
*Nice medal and shirt.
*Nice food at the finish line.
*Games set up in the park really make it a family event.
*Not enough water stations. It’s July. More water!!
*The course goes through an old, historical, industrial part of town. The buildings are cool to look at, but there ends up being very little crowd support.
*No cooling stations. Even just telling the people who live along the course to hook up their sprinklers would be nice. It’s quite warm and it would be nice to allow the runners to cool down. I saw some people veering off to the side to run through some sprinklers as we passed a park.
*That hill sucked.
Overall Grade: B+
I like this event and I can totally see us making this an annual part of our racing calendar. But not having enough water is a serious problem. This was the 4th year of the event and they should have that problem worked through. Also, I think the course could be improved to spend more time running along the water. That was the best part. The event could be made even more family-friendly with the addition of a 5K or Kids’ run.