On Saturday I completed my 3rd half marathon, my second since starting to run again just over a year ago. While it didn’t go perfectly, I’m really happy with how I did and I can’t wait to run my next 13.1 in just 12 days!
Race Prep: Because the race was across the lake in Vermont, I packed Thursday night before I headed to M’s house on Friday. The weather was calling for 50*, wind, and clouds, so I had no clue what I’d be wearing come race-day. I packed two different outfits (both consisting of skirts), and my Nuun and Honey Stingers – of course!
Packet Pickup: The race offered packet pick-up for two or three days prior to the race at Ski Rack in downtown Burlington, VT. I got lost getting there without my GPS app, but was able to eventually find it. I waited for my bib and shirt for about 20 minutes. The store was generous and gave 15% off to runners but I didn’t see anything there I absolutely needed. Afterwards M. and I went out with some friends of his for dinner. I had a couple of beers, wings, and half a chicken caesar salad wrap that were all delicious and we were in bed by 10!
Race morning: (Here you learn about my time obsessiveness…) I got M. up at 8 in order to get breakfast at 9 at a local bagel joint. Unfortunately I woke up to nasty womanly cramps – really, body?! Aside from that, I felt great. I had a whole wheat bagel with butter at around 9, and then M. took me to the bus at 9:45. My bus time was scheduled for 10:15, but I always have to be super early. The buses were thankfully there and I hopped right on to stay warm (it was about 30* with the wind chill, and cloudy). Everything was super easy and I was nice and calm for the most part.
The race!: I got to the start line at about 10:15 for my 11:00 start (again, unreasonably early for this race in particular). There was also a 9:00 wave but I chose the later one to afford myself more sleep time! It was so cold waiting, but I passed the time by being chatty, eating my chocolate Honey Stinger waffle and stretching as much as I could before positioning myself pretty close to the back of the group to start.
I started off trying to control myself and not looking at my watch. Actually, I made it 2 miles in before looking at it. Apparently I didn’t rein myself in very well because my first two miles were my fastest. As soon as I looked at my watch I forced myself to slow down. I felt really good through the first bit and walked some of mile 5 – through a water stop and to take my first honey stinger (at 45 minutes). I tried to run while taking it but it wasn’t happening. The sun came out around mile 4 and I got warm pretty quickly.
The second 5 miles were spent trying to control myself. After mile 4.5 we went onto a bike path that had beautiful views of Lake Champlain. The path was paved, but there was dirt on the side that I ran on when possible to save my legs from unnecessary pounding. Miles 8-9 were a little slower, thanks to walking through a water stop and also to take my second honey stinger at 90 minutes. My cramps were awful during these miles, and I spent mile 7 trying not to “toss my cookies”. During these miles I ended up setting a new 10K PR on my watch, and saw that I reached 10 miles 6 minutes faster than I did on my 10 miler! I felt so good that I didn’t take water at the 10 mile water stop. Honestly, I could have pushed it more in these miles, but I wanted to be conservative knowing I have another half coming up so soon.
Miles 11-13.1 were just awful for me, mostly mentally but somewhat physically. My IT Band was starting to tighten up, and yet again, cramps. These miles were also the “hilliest” of the 13.1. These hills wouldn’t have been half as bad in the first few miles. It was also torture to pass by the finish line, know that M. was there waiting for me, and then to keep running. By mile 12 my pace had seriously dropped and I was just ready to be done! FINALLY I turned the last corner and saw M. waiting for me and went for the finish as hard as I could without tripping over my own feet.
Finish: I was actually underwhelmed when I crossed the finish line. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to set a new PR (the clock said 2:20:56, there wasn’t a mat at the starting line for the time differential). but I was still bummed that I didn’t hit my 2:15 goal. If the last miles hadn’t been so rotten I would have been so so close! But I was thrilled to see M., get my free food (Moes’!) and beer (Switchback ale!). He had to force me to eat/drink because my stomach was feeling a little upset and wanted nothing to do with food/drink. We headed to Chipotle, and about an hour later we were home, (me) showered, and eating. I got just about a 10 minute nap before we started having fun with his friends and we went out for the night –> where I succeeded at falling asleep at the bar…
Verdict: This race was wonderful and really stayed with the “Unplugged” theme. The price tag was only $35, and I paid $15 for a nice v-neck (gender-specific) t-shirt. The volunteers at the three water stops were great, but aside from that there was not much course support. The course was 98% flat and great for a PR. I also love that they had the two waves, which is necessary. Each wave had 850 people (and sold out quickly), and one wave wouldn’t be possible because the bike path is pretty narrow. The post-race village was good for the size of the race, and there was free yoga sponsored by Lulu Lemon the next day! I will be doing it again next year for sure!