This half marathon felt so different from my first two. I was TOTALLY intimidated by 13.1 miles the first time around (Hickory). The second time (OBX), I knew I could do it, but it I still got nervous. This time, I knew I had the distance in the bag without a problem since I've done 13.1 miles in races twice plus three training runs for my marathon that were longer than 13.1. Actually, 13.1 miles felt like sweet relief after my 19 mile long run last weekend.
The event really began Friday night when I went with Jen and my friend Michelle to the race expo at the Charlotte Convention Center.
We picked up our packets and then looked around. The expo was a little disappointing. There was not much free stuff. This seems to be the case at all of the expos I've been to. I did buy some GU and a hat with a pony tail slot in the back that looks kind of a like a swim cap though!
Saturday morning I got up a little before 5am to get ready. I had the typical race breakfast:
I actually only had one of these slices of PB/banana toast though. It was so early I just wasn't hungry enough to shove down both. This kind of came back to bite me a little bit later. In addition I had green tea instead of coffee since I'm still fighting off that lingering cold.
I picked up Jen, then Michelle and her friend Ellevive and we headed to the race where we met my (other Michelle) friend Michelle.
Inside the Convention Center, I analyzed what to wear.
I was definitely wearing my running tights, sports bra, and long sleeve dry wick shirt, gloves, and my new hat, but couldn't decide between a light weight fleece half-zip, or my fleece vest. It was cold out, but not too terrible. I decided on the vest, this ended up being a good decision, I was warm enough, but not too hot for the entire race.
We arrived at the Convention Center almost an hour before race time, but it FLEW by! By the time we went to the bathroom, got our gear on, checked bags, and found the other Jen, we were out of time, and had to make our way to the start line. While walking to the start line, I realized I was hungry! Uh oh! I kicked myself for not eating my other slice of toast or cramming down some bites of a protein bar I had in my race bag before checking it. My only option was to eat one of my two of my GU's before starting, and I didn't have water to wash it down. I went ahead and ate it because I was more afraid of things going badly if I didn't, even though I would have preferred to wait til later in the race to eat it.
I also realized I hadn't really stretched! That was a big deal to me because of my injury proned left leg. I had done a little stretching on the floor in the Convention Center, but not a lot. Eeeek!
In hindsight, we made a big mistake not getting to the start line sooner. It was CRAZY congested! I'm not sure why a race as huge as Thunder Road doesn't have corrals or separate out the half marathon from full marathon, but they don't. Everyone starts together at the same time. That equalled complete CHAOS! The start line was a massive sea of runners and spectators, and we literally could not get to the start line for a couple minutes after the race started.
Finally, I found and opening and jumped in, but lost my friends. About a half mile in I saw Jen though.
|Cute shirt, huh??|
We parted ways and I got into my groove. I have heard a lot of bad things about Thunder Road. Historically, the weather has been awful, the course is hilly, you should expect to be miserable, and good luck getting a PR (personal record). I also knew that I was still getting over this nagging cold I have and that would add to my discomfort. I guess I went into Thunder Road with pretty low expectations.
The race was huge! It was a constant sea of people, even later in the race. I always had lots of people around me everywhere, which sometimes meant I had to weave in order to get space to run and forge ahead.
Early on, I noticed my pace was fast. I was seeing low 8 minute miles on my Garmin, but I didn't worry about it. I feel like I needed to take the speed and fast miles wherever I could, as long as I didn't feel uncomfortable.
We got out of the city and started running through neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. I felt pretty good. It's amazing how much better and faster I feel during a race than on a training run. I grabbed water at the first water station to help wash down the GU I had taken at the beginning of the race. I think I had a Sharkie around mile 4 or so.
Around mile 7, I started thinking about eating my Hammer Gel. I had put on my Go-Belt over my long sleeve shirt, but under my vest, and it ended up being a big pain in the butt every time I wanted to get anything out, including my camera, so I didn't take that many pictures. I removed my Hammer Gel and put it in a pocket of my fleece so it would be more accessible when I wanted it. A couple minutes later I reached for it and it was gone! :( I was really bummed and immediately regretted not bringing more GU or Gels. Luckily, I had my baggie of Sharkies. I munched on those when I needed a burst instead.
Also, in the middle of the race, I decided to stop very briefly to stretch my IT Band. It was burning a little and it made me nervous. I really didn't want to stop, but I thought of it ruining all of my marathon training and hardwork and decided I'd better stretch it or I'd regret it if it flared up. This may have cost me the chance to break 2 hours. Next time I'll make SURE I stretch well before the race!
In the last 3 miles, I realized I'd probably PR if things kept going as they were. It crossed my mind I might break 2 hours, but I wasn't sure.
In the last mile, I ran as fast I could. There was some woman near me panting and grunting like the Monica Seles of running. It was annoying and I cranked up my IPod in an attempt to drown her out.
I finally saw the finish and pushed it! The time on the clock was about 2 hours and 2 minutes, and as per usual, I forgot to turn my Garmin off right away. When I remembered, I had 2 hours, 43 seconds, and 13.23 miles on it. So, I spent all day yesterday wondering if I had broken two hours or not.
Here were my splits:
Mile 1- 8:36
Mile 2- 9:27
Mile 3- 8:58
Mile 4- 9:08
Mile 5- 9:23
Mile 6- 9:09
Mile 7- 9:07
Mile 8- 9:15
Mile 9- 9:09
Mile 10- 9:04
Mile 11- 9:01
Mile 12- 9:22 (hills!)
Mile 13- 8:52
Last nub- 2:07
Once I passed the finish, I got my medal and amazingly found Jen and Michelle!
We started heading towards the food and water, and then I heard Greg call my name.
Look who else came to cheer me on! Clyde!! Poor pup was a little cold, even with his sweater on.
We wandered though the food area and I picked up water, Myoplex drink, Gatorade, marathon bars, gummy thingies, banana, bread, and whatever else I could grab. I ate the bread and drank the Gatorade as we made our way out.
We had pre-arranged to meet our friends back in the Convention Center after the race, so we headed in there and I said goodbye to Greg so he could get Clyde home and out of the cold.
Inside the Convention Center I stretched and checked out my medal.
I had a Skinny Vanilla Latte and a banana, and we all chatted and recapped our race experiences.
We got a group picture of most of us!
This morning the race results were up and in fact, I did not break 2 hours. My time was 2 hours and 21 seconds. In any case, I am really excited and shocked that I broke my OBX half time by 4 minutes at this race! I definitely didn't see that coming knowing I'd be running in the cold weather, on a hilly course, while fighting a cold. I'm so happy I did this race!