This turned out to be a great race for me. I wasn’t sure how the day would pan out. I was nursing a butt bruise that I got at Tough Mudder a couple weeks ago. My goal of trying to PR at this race had fallen by the wayside because of the injury. I knew it was going to be cold and I didn’t have any idea of my injury would respond to 13.1 miles.
So, I just relaxed. That, in and of itself, is a pretty big accomplishment for me! And, in the end, I am very pleased with how the day turned out.
My weekend started on Saturday morning, when I volunteered at a local 5K mud run. I should write a post about that another time…it was a TON of fun.
On Saturday afternoon, I drove over to Menasha to the expo. Packet pickup was really easy and I took my time enjoying the expo. I was on a mission to get a new belt to run with. I didn’t want anything with water bottles on it. But, I needed something that would be big enough to hold my phone. Typically, I don’t run with my phone and I use my ipod for music. But, my ipod is slowly succumbing to age and wear-and-tear. It is only a matter of time before it dies. My current belt isn’t big enough to hold my phone. I found a bigger one and ended up using it for this race. I think I like it.
Then I headed over to my cousin’s house to hang out with their three kids for a while. This way, she could go shopping by herself. I understand what a treat that is.
I met a couple girlfriends for dinner. They were both going to be running their first half marathon at this event. I was really excited for them!! After dinner I went back and played with the three munchkins again. I’m totally crazy about those kids. Seriously.
I went to bed early and slept like a rock! It was wonderful. I got up dark and early, enjoyed my typical pre-race breakfast of some white rice with cinnamon and sugar. My cousin, Jason, and I drove to the start and parked there. I had thought about parking at the finish line and catching a shuttle to the start, but I liked the idea of being able to wait in the warm car for a while. And, this way, we could sleep a little longer.
Waiting in the car turned out to be a good idea. It was cold at the start. The temp was in the 30s and the sun wasn’t really up yet. I had gone back and forth on what to wear for the race. I knew that I would be cold before the race, but that once the sun came up and I started running, I would warm up pretty quickly.
The biggest problem I have is my Reynaud’s Disease. In a nutshell, this is a circulatory issue that causes the arteries in my hands and feet to spasm and I end up not getting any blood flow to my fingers and toes. Cold weather significantly exacerbates the problem. So does exercise, since the blood flow is being diverted to the larger muscles in my legs (you know, the ones doing all the work).
So, I knew that I needed to stay warm enough pre-race to keep my fingers and toes from getting too cold and numb. Once they get cold and numb, there really isn’t anything I can do to warm them up. I decided to wear my running tights. In retrospect, I probably could have gotten away with the capris, but the tights didn’t make me too warm. On top, I wore a tank with a long sleeved tech tee and then my running jacket. I figured that I would end up tying the jacket around my waist at some point. Most importantly, I wore two pairs of gloves and ear warmers. (And I was still shivering at the start line.)
I was able to spot a couple of my friends before the race started. I think I knew about 6 or 8 people. Most of them were doing the half marathon, but I ran into my friend, Tiff, who was doing the full marathon.
myTeam Triumph was also there. They had several teams doing the half marathon and one team that did the full marathon. Check them out. This organization is incredible. I am hoping that someday I can run a race with them.
I lined myself up with the 2:00 pace group. I figured that I would stick with them for the first half of the race and see how my butt bruise felt. If I felt good, I could pick it up for the second half.
The race started about the same time the sun came up and we were running due east. I couldn’t really see anything. So, I just cranked my music up and totally zoned out. It was an awesome experience. I rarely run this way. Usually, I take in experience of the race; especially with these bigger events. I like the commotion of the start line and the excitement of everyone there. I like the intensity of those first couple miles. I love the spectators and their cowbells.
On this day, it’s almost like I was in a bubble. I wasn’t really paying attention to much of anything. In fact, I completely missed the first two water stations! The pace I was running felt really comfortable. My bruise wasn’t giving me any problems at all. I just went with it. I tied my jacket around my waist around mile 3 and tucked my gloves in my waistband around mile 4.
Around mile 4.5, I grabbed a cup of water and when I was finished with it, I realized that I had somehow gotten ahead of the 2:00 pacers. I was feeling good, so I just kept going. I hardly ever looked at my Garmin; choosing to just run by feel.
I took in a couple Craisins (my fuel of choice) at mile 4.5, 7, and 9. There was a fruit station at mile 11 and I grabbed an orange slice. Overall, I took in less for this race than I usually do. I think the smaller amounts made it easier on my stomach. I don’t think I could do a half marathon without taking in any fuel, but I may experiment a little more with how much to take to try to balance my energy needs, with what my stomach can handle. I’m so jealous of those runners who have iron stomachs and can handle anything before or during a race.
I ran along, in my own little bubble for several miles. I thanked the volunteers and encouraged the myTeam Triumph runners, because I think that is automatic. But otherwise, I didn’t really acknowledge anyone else. I had my sunglasses on, so I didn’t even feel the need to make eye contact with the spectators. It was, strangely, spectacular.
As I neared the last few miles of the race, I started having flashbacks of running that portion of the course during my first marathon back in 2010. I remembered running through the park at mile 9 (mile 22 of the marathon) and really struggling. It was a breeze this year, but I really enjoyed reminiscing about it. I also remembered the end of the race. You get to the park where the finish line is, but you have to circle all the way through park…about a mile…before you cross the finish line. That was a psychological killer for me during the marathon. This year, I just enjoyed the vibe.
I finished in 1:57:26 and felt pretty good about my time. I didn’t push it too much at the end and I finished knowing that I had put forth a consistent, moderate effort.
The last split below (and the overall time) is off because I accidentally hit the button on my watch as I was walking through the finishing area. They were wrapping me in mylar and handing me my medal and my shirt and a bottle of water and some chocolate milk and a cup of gatorade and some fruit and a (really yummy) muffin. I ran out of hands and ended up bumping my watch. I didn’t notice it for a couple minutes. Oh, well. It is really the splits that I’m interested in and those are accurate. Slowest mile was mile 2 and fastest mile was mile 13. I like running negative splits!
I love looking at my stats after a race. But I think the coolest statistic for this race was that there were twice as many female finishers for the half marathon as there were male finishers. It really is turning into a female-driven sport. Just another reason that race directors need to offer women’s cut t-shirts. Fortunately, this one did.
One of the main sponsors of the event is Kimberly Clark. They make things like Kleenex and Cottonelle toilet paper. They sponsored different miles with different products. Does anyone else find it humorous that the last mile was sponsored by Depends? I mean, that’s funny, right?
This is the 7th medal in a 7 year series that celebrates each of the 7 towns along the full marathon course. This year’s town was Kimberly. I am curious what the race directors will do next year. They’ve had it pretty much covered for the last 7 years and now they need to come up with something else.
After I finished my race, I circled back to the finish line area. I staged myself about 200 yards before the finish line and I was able to watch a lot of people come in. I loved cheering for them…and letting them know there were muffins at the finish line! Several people seemed to like that. I got to see my cousin finish, as well as three other friends who were running the half. It was amazing to see them come in to that finish line.
I was planning on hanging around to watch more of the marathon finishers come through, but once I stopped running, I started getting really cold. I made the decision to head to the shuttle bus and get a ride back to my car.
*Parking options. I loved that they offered shuttles to the start line before and after the race. That way, there were a lot more parking options and none of them were really crowded.
*Water stations. I feel like this race absolutely nailed it at the water stations. It is very rare that the cups are perfectly filled and the volunteers are awesome at getting you water without having you spill it all over. And the cups had just the right amount of water in them so you could actually drink it without accidentally inhaling half of it.
*Spectators. Even though I was zoned out for most of the race, I did notice that there were some great spectators along the course. Including this hula hooping lady. She probably got just as many cheers as the runners did.
*Post race food. There was quite a selection of items: Gatorade, chocolate milk, orange slices (my personal favorite), apples, bagels, mini muffins (yum!) and breakfast sandwiches from a local fast food restaurant.
*Start. This race should start at 8:00. That would help with the timing of the sun rising and heading east for the first couple miles and the cool weather.
*Crowded finish. The park at the end gets so crowded. It was impossible for me to meet up with any of the people I wanted to after they finished. There was just no way to navigate through all the people. I’ve heard they are changing the course next year. I don’t know if that will include a different finish line, but a larger area would be great.
Overall Grade: A-
This race is well organized. They have been doing this for a long time and they do a great job. My race went better than I anticipated. I’m sure that I will do this race again in the future, but I’ll wait to see how they change the course.