Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mistletoe Half Marathon Race Report

So before I begin let me say this race is well run. the YMCA does a great jog, the volunteers were awesome, they had someone at every mile yelling out the splits, there were even people out on the streets cheering us on in the cold rain. The course is not easy, but it is rolling and there is really only one tough climb mixed in with all the rest. You run through some nice neighborhoods, and Wake Forest University, but the best part is the last 5k is mostly downhill and then when you get back there are a ton of people to cheer you home. The Y also allows you to shower after and provides towels. This is the 26th year for this race and the community really supports it. I would definitely recommend it.

I wanted to get that out before my race report as it might appear that I had a bad race, but really I had one of the best races of my life, only it sucked. The reason why it was one of the best is because it sucked so bad and I still hung on to break my 2 hour goal by 1:12, and broke my old half marathon PR by 12 minutes. It gives me confidence to know I can overcome all that sucking and still perform. In better conditions I'm sure my time could have been 1 or 2 minutes faster, but I don't think that would be as satisfying in the end. ( at least that's what I keep telling myself ).

So without further adieu, on to the action.
Woke up early and had my normal Grape nuts and raisin breakfast at the Greensboro Sheraton. I had a 30 minute drive ahead of me so I decided to leave at 6:45 to arrive around 7:15 for the 8:15 race. When I got up it wasn't raining yet, but after watching the radar on the weather channel I knew it was only a matter of time. So waited for the normal bathroom activities and headed out. Arrived right on time and the rain started. Got my race packet, noticed it wasn't in the 20's like they kept saying all week, but in the upper 30's, so I changed out of my running pants and into shorts. Good idea. I left my jacket on with my long sleeve shirt, bad idea, but I was cold. I kept feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom again, but every time I tried, nothing, not a good sign as I would find out on mile 4. At 8 I headed out for a quick warm up then lined up for the start. I will try to look back at the plan I did at the beginning of last week to see how I did. But I can tell you that pre race plan I did saved my ass on this one.

mile 1: 9:07 - plan says hold back at the start and ease into the race ~9 min pace. Worked out perfectly, but I noticed I was too hot and starting to sweat. So off came the jacket and I found a spot on the return route by a tree where I could pick it up on the way back.

mile 2: 9:30 - 18:37 - this looked to be one of the hardest miles on the route and it probably was. The people were still going by me so it was hard to hold back, but I wanted to do btwn 9:15 - 9:30. Felt like I was doing 9:15, but ended up with a 9:30. But still I felt confident as I was on plan and running well now that the jacket was off.

mile 3: 8:52 - 27:30 - I wanted to do an 8:50 and then keep that till the end, so I was really happy with this mile and didn't freak out. Passed some nice houses and realized that the turn around was not at the end of this road as it appears on the map, but at a traffic control circle instead which explains the mileage discrepancies.

mile 4: 8:54 - 36:24 - Wanted to stay sub 9 and I did but my stomach was now starting to grumble and groan like I really needed to find a porta john. But we were in the middle of a subdivision and I didn't spot any, in fact I wouldn't see any until the finish. I was hoping the stomach would settle down if I slowed a bit.

mile 5: 9:07 - 45:31 - Went back to 2 hour pace in hopes of releasing some stress off the GI issues, but no luck. I was happy to see all the people coming out of their houses and cheering on the runners, but not happy about having to use a lot of energy holding in something that really wanted out.

mile 6: 8:54 - 54:26 - We cross over coliseum blvd here and the path flattens out and ends with a long downhill, didn't really pick up the pace, just the downhill allowed a quicker time. I was really just trying to keep it close to 9 min pace and not blow up. We ran on a nice trail here, it was all paved, but a not too wide so when the leaders ran by on the way back I could reach out and trip them. Did some cheerleading here for the leaders and that took my mind off the problem for a bit, but then mile 7...

mile 7: 9:42 - 1:04:09 - Worst mile for me, it started with an uphill coming off the trail and then a water stop. I decided to get some water and walk a bit hoping it would help. but once again, no luck. And when I started running again it just felt horrible. I remembered my prerace plan was to be under 64 minutes here, so I was only off by 9 seconds here, so I knew I still had a chance to break two hours if I would just keep it close and hang on and hope the pain would go away. Mean while the rain had finally stopped, but that meant it was going to get colder from here on in. I was soaked from the first hour and the wind started picking up and now to go along with the stomach, I was freezing and my jacket was all the way back at mile 1. This mile was the low point for me. I really wanted to stop and walk the whole way back. the only thing that kept me going was listening to the other people and watching everyone else struggle to keep pace. I kept repeating now over and over to myself, just keep it close.

mile 8: 9:13 - 1:13:22 - backed off from the sub 9 pace and it seemed to workout. Of course now we are on wake forest campus and on the flatter section of the course. I knew I was supposed to go for an 8:40 here, but really this was the best I could do. I tried to latch on to some other runners here, but I was unable to find a steady runner, it was always pass them going up the hill and they would pass me going down, or I would never see them again. I got some inspiration from an older guy, 70 something I think still out there running and he was talking to a friend and said they last time it rained during this race was in 96, and that was his first year doing it. 9:13 was close so it kept me going into mile 9.

mile 9: 9:11 - 1:22:34 Now when the stomach cramps would leave me I would pick up the pace and try to make up some time, unfortunately, they always came back and I knew the next mile was going to be tough. I was hoping to get a gel, but I knew that would just be suicide, so it was just water at the aid stations. my core muscles were tired now from constant activation but I dared not let them out. I did back off a bit at the end of this mile because I knew mile 10 would be tough and I needed to keep it low 9's if I wanted to get my goal.

mile 10: 9:11 - 1:31:46 - no holding back on this one, started off going down to the trail back, but then a long uphill, I knew it was make or break on this one and I needed to get down under 1:33. If I could leave myself with a 27 minute 5k, I knew with the downhill finish that I would have a chance. The last half of this mile was uphill, with the steepest hill, IMO, on the course. I passed a ton of people on that hill which fueled my confidence. My legs were not feeling bad and my stomach issues seemed to be subsiding. At the top of the hill I felt the best I had the whole race so far. I made it at 1:31:46, so I knew a 28 minute 5k was all I needed. I thought I can do that no problem, I just ran a 24:40 5k a month ago so 28 is a piece of cake.

mile 11: 8:51 - 1:40:37 - my whole attitude changed here, I started talking to people again, cheering them on, saying weird things that people say to each other after running 10 miles. It became fun again. the stomach problem came back only 1 more time on this mile, but after that it was gone forever. 8:51, fastest split so far, and now with 2.1 miles remaining I only had to do 9 minute pace and I was in.

mile 12: 8:33 - 1:49:10 - This mile is just about all downhill. I was now passing people left and right, I knew most of them at this point were all trying to break 2 hours. I would encourage as many as possible and had some tag along with me for a while, but my legs were starting to respond. I actually had to hold back. I had nothing to eat since 6 am and we were going on 10 now so I didn't want to bonk at the end after having my goal in the bag. At the end of this mile came upon my jacket. I told myself to leave it if the goal was too close, but with 1.1 miles and 10:50 seconds I thought no problem. I bent down to get the jacket and my hamstrings were this close to cramping up. That was a close one, next time leave it.

mile 13: 8:40 - 1:57:51 - This was actually a tough mile for me. I wanted to ease up to a 9 minute pace, but I was too nervous and the Adrenalin was kicking in. I could hear the cheers from a half mile away, but I was seriously on the verge of bonking. I was getting light headed, started having the numb feeling in my legs, but I was not going to let this slip away from me so I keep my pace steady, kept picking off runners, but let others go by. I did not need to chase, just finish my race.

mile 13.1: 0:56 - 1:58:47 - Now it was definitely in the bag, I wanted to pick it up here, but realized it was as up as it was going to get and cruised across the line. Walked a bit to cool down, then went to the car to get some dry clothes to change into. I was really frozen and felt like I was going to die. The guy next to me in the locker room must have agreed with me since at one point he looked at me and said "Are you ok?" I said sure, he said "You're not going to get sick are you?", I laughed at him and said, "oh no, I've been much worse than this, but this has to be the coldest and most miserable I can remember being". He says "so you didn't have a good race then?" and I replied, "I think it was on of my best". I think it was then that he knew I was nuts...

Total Time: Watch - 1:58:47 / Official - 1:58:48


butcept said...

Awesome. I was wondering what was holding you back mentally. I think there's a lot of physical in that (GI issues) so kudos that you managed to PR with those kinds of issues!! Great race report. Sorry I wasn't there for you physically but I was in spirit!!!

frank1russo said...

I was wondering how you did. I didn't see anything on fb, so I just remembered to check twitter.

Glad you had a good race. I wish I wrote race reports when I did this. I'd be curious to see what I said about the hills.

Congrats on the pr. Sounds like you did great. I'm going to have to try this race again. Maybe next year...

Morgan said...

Congrats on the PR!!! I could not imagine running that well under those conditions! Kudo's!!!!