Sunday, May 5, 2013

500 Festival Mini Marathon

Yesterday was a perfect day for a road race. Overcast skies and temps in the high 50's. No excuses for a bad race.

I couldn't sleep AT ALL the night before. Usually, I don't sleep well before a big race but Friday night was ridiculous. I think I woke up every half hour to use the bathroom. Finally, at 4 am, I got up as planned.

I have run this half marathon more times than I can count. The past couple years, I have the same race day ritual - up at 4am, leave the house by 4:45 am, get to the parking garage by 5:15 am. I always park in the parking garage downtown that is directly in front of my race corral. I think it opens at 5 am. I am always there early so that I am POSITIVE I can park in the garage. This all started several years ago after I drove downtown "late" (like I got there at 6:30 am) and almost couldn't find a parking spot for my car. You are suppose to be in your race corral by 7:00 am and the race starts at 7:30 am. I decided I would rather get there early than stress about parking. Plus, the parking garage is ideal. If the weather is bad, you can just hang out in the garage or your car then step out into your corral at race time. It's so close that I just leave all my stuff in my car rather than check a gear bag. All the port-a-potties are lined up on the street next to the parking garage too. Overall, it's a PRIMO spot to park.

I ran out of corral E this year. Corrals D and E and right in front of the garage. The corrals are lettered A-Z down Washington Street downtown. A-C are the seeded corrals. You have to run under 1:50 to get in the C corral. I would love to qualify for the C corral some day...

5:30 am, I eat my banana, peanut butter sandwich, and Powerade. I always eat the same thing on race day 2 hours before the race. I got "bored" one year and ate two bananas instead of one and I will NEVER do that again since I had a GI emergency at about 7 miles and I am convinced it was the extra banana that did me in!

NO joke, I think I visited the port-a-potty like 20 times before the race started. It was pretty windy too and I'm glad I bought a throw-away jacket the day before. I got a very nice zip-up fleece jacket from Goodwill for $2 and it was well worth the comfort. FINALLY, it was race time.

So here was my plan. Nine minute miles for 8 miles, then, if I felt good, I'd drop my pace.

That plan went out the window my first mile.

The only thing I don't like about this race is how crowded it is. The start is just ridiculous. I can't stand that bunched up feeling where you feel like you're not going anywhere and you're running up someone's back. I always end up squirming and darting and running off to the side to try and get clear of some of the people. Then, when I try to settle down into my planned pace, it just feels like the whole world is passing you by.

Mile 1 - 8:37

Way too fast. I feel great and I'm telling myself to settle down.

Mile 2 - 8:43

Better but I still need to slow down.

Mile 3 - 8:47

OK, I give up. I feel like I am expending more energy trying to slow myself down. I feel great. The weather is perfect. I decided I was just going to go with it and run this pace as long as it felt easy but certainly not push it any faster.

Mile 4 - 8:37
Mile 5 - 8:39
Mile 6 - 8:45
Mile 7 - 8:45
Mile 8 - 8:50

In years past, when I got into trouble it was usually between miles 7 and 8. This year I felt like I was slowing down some but I was still under 9 minute pace and I didn't feel bad. Let's see how long this will last...

Mile 9 - 8:48
Mile 10 - 8:45

At this point, I realized, short of me falling on my face, I was going to run under 2 hours. I also realized I might have a chance at 1:55 which had been my goal last year before I had my melt down.

My original plan had been to "drop the hammer" after mile 10 and try to speed it up the last 3 miles. However, when I got to mile 10 I realized I really had nothing more to "drop" and it was going to be a struggle to maintain my current pace. I had been forcing myself to stop for a sip of water and cups of Gatorade at every aid station. I hate to stop because usually I don't feel thirsty, it breaks up my rhythm to stop and drink (I have to walk, I can't drink and run at the same time), and the stations are so congested. I stopped for water at mile 10 and after that, I just felt like I couldn't get my legs going again and I could feel my hamstrings tighten. No more water stops for me!

Mile 11 - 8:46

My legs felt dead and it was getting really hard. Miles 12 and 13, I was just hanging on as hard as I could.

Mile 12 - 8:52
Mile 13 - 8:57

Official finish time - 1:55:45

I couldn't be happier! I ran far faster than I expected and felt that I "left it all out on the course." I had nothing left at the end. With my original plan, I had been a bit worried that I would have too much left at the end and would be left wondering how fast I could have run. No questions now. I ran as fast as I could.

Here are my final stats that I found online:

Time: 1:55:45
Pace: 8:51
Overall Place: 5441 / 30063
Divsion (F40-44) Place: 163 / 2102
Gender Place: 1326 / 16034

I am enjoying a day off today!


  1. I'm SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!! I thought about you all day, wondering if you'd have an epic tale of woe or an awesome story of success. Glad it was success!! Congrats pal.