Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Race Recap: Capital City River Run Half Marathon...

Last Sunday, I ran my third Half Marathon of the year. The race itself was chosen for me by a friend who wanted to run her first Half. Surprise, surprise, I registered, her life got super crazy, I ran alone. The good news is that I didn't regret it.

She chose the Capital City River Run Half Marathon in Lansing, MI. It was billed as a flat, fast course through the Michigan State Campus and "featuring paved trails, parks, and scenic treks along rivers and through beautiful wooded areas" including the Lansing River Trail.  It did not disappoint.

Lansing is about an hour and fifteen minutes from home. After driving to Ann Arbor for packet pickup and a teeny-tiny 'expo' the day before that Half, driving back home, driving to the race, driving back home all in about 36 hours, I didn't really want to drive to Lansing just for packet pickup, and it wasn't far enough away to justify a hotel stay (especially with a dog at home and an 8:30 start time). Luckily, they offered packet pickup race morning.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early. Actually, at 5 a.m., when I got up, it hadn't quite 'dawned' yet. In standard race morning fashion, I couldn't really eat a thing. I had coffee to get thing moving, and a nuun to get hydrated. We hit the road and by the time we got to Lansing, the sun was up. We found parking and headed toward the Lansing Center for packet pickup.

I was impressed and grateful for the use of the Lansing Center. It was a chilly morning, but with an entry list of maybe 2,000 for both the Half Marathon and the 5k, there was room for everyone to stay warm, hydrate, de-hydrate, and re-hydrate inside the Center. (In Indianapolis, this is probably an option, but I found myself on the wrong side of the corrals to enter the Convention Center.)

I grabbed my bib and shirt and snagged a corner of floor to get ready.

Pre-race munchies! Gatorade and Bonk Breaker bar! (Plus a PowerBar Performance Blend)

Luckily, my husband is willing to tote around a bag full of pre- and post- race possibilities, so I changed from sweats into my shorts and t-shirt, laced up my Inov-8s, grabbed some munchies and Gatorade, stretched and headed out to line up. 

The start line was a bit funny in that the 5k and Half Marathon started at the same spot, but rather than having a staggered start, the Half would head off to the East, while the 5k would head off to the West. Thankfully, the race announcer did a good job reminding everyone which was to face. 

I lined up right after the National Anthem. This was the first time I've been to a Half with pacers, so I placed myself in an ambitious position in hopes that I could use the pacers to push my time a bit. They had a start line photo drone, which prompted more than a few NSA jokes, and then off we went!

Due to an inability to agree with Michigan State, the course had changed at the last minute, but that probably was a good thing. I think this ultimately shortened the first, most boring portion of the race, and kept us on paved trails a bit longer. 

The course was pretty! I would describe it as more rolling than flat. No hill was challenging, but there were frequent ups and downs. There were also several sections that were on boardwalks, they were fun, but I did notice that the give and bounce of the boards may have added a tiny bit of leg fatigue. 

I was super impressed by the volunteers and residents. Quite a few people had come out to cheer family or friends and made sure to cheer for the rest of us too. Definitely a big help! There was one section where the course made a loop and then crossed back on itself, causing two-way traffic. The first time I ran this, only a few people reacted to each other. On the second, I decided to high-five and cheer for anyone passing me who would accept it. Probably my favorite moment. People went from faces of agony to smiles, and I felt a new burst of energy to go with it. 

The finish reminded me of the Mini Marathon, but on a 2k participant scale instead of 35k. We crossed over a bridge and descended down into the park where the finish line party was happening. People were cheering, music playing, etc. I saw my husband, who had found a great spot to watch me finish, gave a last burst of energy across the line, grabbed my medal and headed off to celebrate #3!

Finishing with a lovely "I'm tired and running downhill" heelstrike!

My overall impression of the race was good. Things were well-organized, the course was pretty, and not too crowded. The pacers all wore costumes, which made them easy to spot. I would've loved to see a few more water stations. I think there were maybe 6 total... it seemed like they were every 2-3 miles. It was 55*, but I'm a sweater and I like running hands-free. Otherwise, I had no real complaints about the race itself. 

My performance is another story...  I had the pre-race need-to-pee (I hate my body. I can pee 10 times, and still will 'need' to pee right before go time), but the line at the final port-a-pot was way too long. I figured I'd peed enough and it would go away. It did not. For the first time ever in a race, I had to stop and pee. I'd had a very good pace prior to this, staying in sight of the 10:00 pacers. When I came back out, I was behind the 10:30 pacers, and would never manage to pass them. 

This race hurt. It was a struggle. I've been insanely beyond stressed lately with our normal life conditions, the job loss and subsequent financial worries, and my FIL's Parkinson's diagnosis and trying to properly be there for my husband. I've hated running in the summer heat, fallen short on several training runs, and overall felt like I was accumulating too much fatigue. I could feel it race day. I wanted to quit several times. But didn't. I did walk at the last two water stations simply because I got tired of getting water up my nose (seriously, 3 Half Marathons and I can't not get it up my nose).  At one point, I started losing the mental game big time. A dirty voice in my head kept telling me, "You're not going to PR, you're so far behind pace, you're tired, just give up. It doesn't mater. Just walk. You won't PR."

I honestly thought back to this amazing comic from The Oatmeal and thought, 'Fuck you, blergh'. I felt much more drained by this race than my last two, and yet there's a partially insane side of me that wants to find another one in October and run, run, run.  I'm also considering running my first full marathon in April, so part of me says back off the training, take it easy until mid-November, when marathon training would commence. There's a big part of me that thinks if I could just get a job and thus an income, I'd be happier with all of this, less stressed, and I could do both! 

Regardless of fatigue, stress, and drama, I finished in 2:21. Yeah...  Right smack in between my Mini time of 2:20 and my Ann Arbor time of 2:25. I guess if nothing else, I am consistent. So overall, I didn't quit, I didn't listen to the Blergh, and my time wasn't too bad. I'd call that a win.  

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