Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inaugural Run United 1/2

My 15th half marathon so far, and my 6th this year.

I knew it was going to be cold on Saturday.  I was thinking it would be in the low thirties, but that it would probably be at least high thirties by the end of the race.  However, when I woke up on Saturday morning, it was nineteen degrees!  That solved the problem of whether or not to race in shorts.  If it had been in the 30s, I probably would have worn shorts and just hoped my knees would deal with it.  But 19 degrees?  No way.  19 degrees still isn't cold enough for long pants though, (I'm not sure I could ever race in long pants no matter how cold it is...) so I opted for cut-off tights under my shorts.  Just long enough to keep my knees semi-warm. As for the shirt, I quickly ditched the idea of the thin long sleeve under my short-sleeve "It's a Hill, get over it" shirt, and dug through my box of shirts until I found my fleece-lined moisture-wicking running shirt.  I can't believe I had to pull it out in October, and for a race at that.  Oh well.  I don't have any pictures of my running outfit, but it was pretty bright.  Lime green long sleeve, turquoise short sleeve, bright blue shorts, gray tights, and black and white striped gloves.  The gloves were another thing I debated, but in the end I was glad I wore them.

I walked downtown to the race area and hung out inside the community college for awhile getting ready, then changed into my bright blue racing shoes, stripped off the sweats, and went out for a warm-up jog.  It hurt to breathe.  At least I had that fleece-lined shirt keeping my lungs a little bit warm.  I was able to break a sweat though, so I figured that was a good thing.  Other than the fact that I did not want to be wet with sweat while standing on the start line.

The race started promptly at 9, and we were off.  2 guys jumped into the lead pretty quickly, and I let them go.  My right foot fell asleep in the first half mile.  It woke up again at some point... I kept a pretty steady pace, working hard, but not hard enough to really hurt my lungs.  I was worried about how they would handle the strain in the cold, and I didn't want to overdo it too soon.  The miles rolled by, and no one passed me.  I loved seeing the signs my student's had made posted out on the course, they were great!  The turn-around was somewhere around 7.5 miles.  The hills getting there were pretty tough, but thankfully they are a bit easier coming back.

I don't like out and backs, but the one nice thing about them is that they let you know how far behind the competition is. My friend and former running-buddy Jim wasn't too far behind me at the turn around, probably less than a minute.  I'd never been ahead of him before, but he hasn't been able to run as much as me lately, and he sprained an ankle about a week ago.  The next guy was probably another minute or so behind him.  I was running along, surprised at how spread out everyone was, and surprised that I was barely seeing anyone coming towards me.  I knew the race was small, but I figured there'd be a few more people within 5 minutes of me.  I was at mile 8 before I saw the 2nd place girl, roughly a mile behind me.  Any motivation I had to push for a PR died at that point.  I already suspected that due to the tough course and the cold air, I wouldn't be able to pull it off.  And it was pretty obvious that I didn't need to pull it off in order to win.  With a marathon in 3 weeks, I figured staying healthy was more important than a PR.  So I kept on chugging along, trying not to really slow down, but not trying to push the pace either.  Miles rolled by.  I noticed that there was still heavy frost on the grass along the side of the road.  I passed by mile marker 10.  Shortly after that, it occurred to me that I normally start my kick at mile 10.  I started to pick up the pace a little bit, but it was more of a struggle than usual, and I didn't feel like trying that hard, so I settled back into my previous pace.  I never saw mile marker 11.  I know it was there, because I saw it on the way out, but somehow I missed it on the way back.  As I was thinking that surely I had passed it (right?!) I saw mile marker 12.  That was a relief.  I still didn't really feel like I could comfortably pick up the pace, so I just kept on keeping on.  As I rounded the 2nd to last turn (from that point, it was one block up a hill, then turn right and run about 3/4 of a block to the finish) the 2nd place runner came up behind me saying "they sent me the wrong way!"  I still hadn't really kicked, and I wasn't about to kick just to beat someone who rightfully should have beaten me by a minute or more.  So I just stuck to his heels.  Beating him wasn't important anyway.  I just wanted to beat all the other girls.

I crossed the line in 1:32:49.  4 minutes slower than Beckley, but the course was a lot harder, and the air was a lot colder.  Normally, I would be upset with a time that slow, but this one really doesn't bother me.  I made the decision not to push the pace, and I know it was the right decision.  Besides, there's always next year to get a faster time.  I beat the 2nd place girl by about 18 minutes, so there really wasn't a "race" involved.  I came in 3rd out of 54 total runners.  Not a bad turnout for our first half marathon, and 20 degree weather.  (It was still in the 20s when I finished the race shortly after 10:30!) We had 36 runners pre-registered, so it's nice to see that we got quite a few more on the day of, despite the weather!

Some of my friends and students were cheering for me at the finish line, which was also really nice.  One of my students ended up hanging out with me for the rest of the morning, as I waited for the awards ceremony.  I got some great pictures of her playing in the fallen leaves.

I let her use my camera during the awards ceremony and she took these.

Here's another picture of my gigantic, heavy, trophy. 

A local welder made all our trophies for us, they were really unique, which is awesome.  
Generic medals and trophies are so boring.
I got several compliments on the finisher medal which I had a hand in designing. 

All in all, it was a great race experience.  I think that overall the day was a success, and I'm looking forward to the 2nd annual Run United next fall.  Hopefully I will get to be a part of the planning committee again, it was a great experience.

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