Wow. Where do I even begin with this race recap? I guess let’s start with the week leading up to the race. Because I was carbo-loading for the race, a lot of my dinners looked like this:
Note about carbo-loading: you’re not supposed to eat more calories the week leading up to the race, just make sure a higher percentage of your calories are coming from carbs.
On Friday I went to Rogue Running to pick up my race packet!
I love the shirts we got! They’re a technical fabric, which is great for wicking sweat away from your body. They’re a little shorter in torso length than I’d like, but I still think it’s pretty cool. I also got the 13.1 bumper sticker for my car and some Body Glide so I wouldn’t have a problem with chafing during the race.
I knew that it was going to warm the morning of the race and all race registrants got 15-25% off anything we bought at Rogue Running that day, so I went ahead and invested in a nice running tank top. It’s a very light weight material, comfortable, and not too tight. I knew it would be a good idea to try it out on a run before race day, just in case, so I wore it on my easy Saturday run.
It also matched the shorts I was planning on running in, which is a win in itself! (Please excuse the toothpaste on the mirror.)
After my run on Saturday I decided to make some potato bread (yummy carbs). I didn’t realize I was almost out of flour when I started making the recipe, so I used some whole wheat, all purpose, and buckwheat flour in the recipe. I also used my food processor to mix it instead of the dough hook it called for. It turned out okay and I plan on making it again.
Sunday morning I woke up at 6:00. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00 and it was 20 minutes from our house. I wanted to be there by 7:15 so we planned to leave the house around 6:50. Waking up at 6:00 would give me plenty of time to make a huge smoothie for breakfast, get all my stuff together, and not feel stressed or rushed.
For my breakfast smoothie I used 1 cup of green tea and 1 cup of yerba mate (brewed the day before and left in the fridge overnight to chill), 2 whole bananas, some frozen strawberries and blueberries, 2 dates, 2 tbsp flax seed, 1 tsp coconut oil, and some stevia. This made enough for two smoothies, but I drank it all. I also made some Gatorade and drank that to make sure I was well hydrated and got plenty of electrolytes. I finished drinking everything by 6:30 so that I would have plenty of time to process it and wouldn’t have to pee during the race!
The night before I made some direct fuel energy bites from the Thrive book to eat during the race, and I also made some recovery pudding for me to eat after the race. 6:45 finally rolled around and I was ready to go!
I wanted to drive to the race rather than let Ross drive because I thought it would help to calm my nerves some. I kept telling myself over and over, “You have nothing to be nervous about. You know you can run this distance, and the whole point of this race is to get an idea of what your pace should be for the marathon, so calm down!” That didn’t really help much though.
We arrived at the race right when I wanted to and I peed three times before it started! While Ross and I were walking around waiting for the race to start we saw a lot of these shirts:
And only one shirt like this:
It made me really wish that I was running in a No Meat Athlete shirt, too! Maybe next time.
As it got closer to the race start I headed over to the starting line. I decided that I wanted to run with the 2:00 pace group to help me meet my goal. When I was at Rogue Running on Friday I talked with some people about running with a pace group and they really recommended it. They suggested that I start with the 2:10 pace group and stay with them for a mile or two, and then pick up my pace a little and finish with the 2:00 pace group. This was recommended to make sure I didn’t go out too fast and use up energy that I would need later in the race. I decided to just start with the 2:00 group and try to hold on!
Standing with my pace group before the gun went off I started to feel a little anxious. And what do I do when I feel anxious? I talk to strangers. This isn’t something that I make a habit of doing in my normal life, but there’s something about being there for a race, I just want to talk to people! The woman next to me had run this race the previous year and she confirmed that there are lots of hills! I looked around a bit and noticed a woman lined up without any shoes on. I had just read a blog the other day about a woman who ran a 5K barefoot, but I was still a little surprised to see someone lined up for a half-marathon with no shoes! (Note: Ross said she finished the whole race barefoot, about five minutes before I crossed the finish line).
As we were standing there waiting, lots of people were commenting on the weather and how warm it was. It was 72 degrees when we left the house at 6:45, and it was now 5 minutes until 8:00. I had no idea what the exact temperature was, but it was warm. And humid. I know that 75ish degrees is not hot, but when runners sign up for a race in December they expect it to be a little cooler. And runners like cool weather. We do not like humidity.
I forget if there was a gunshot, a horn, or if someone just yelled go, but something happened and we were off! As we were running I felt really good. I was happy to be in a pace group with people who had a similar finishing goals, and the pace felt great. When we passed the first mile marker I was really surprised because I didn’t feel like we’d been running that long!
The pace we were keeping felt really good. I was happy that I’d started out with this group because otherwise I fear I would have gone out too fast and hit a wall halfway into the race. At the pace we were going I felt like I could run all day! Remember, we’re still only two miles in when I’m thinking this…
There were hills. Lots and lots of hills. Luckily though, they weren’t really steep hills. They were long and steady, so even though they were a pain in the ass, none of them were real killers. The hill from my triathlon on October was much worse than any of the hills I encountered on this race!
It’s good that the hills weren’t too bad because the humidity was killer! Within the first two miles I was dripping with sweat! Running with a pace group didn’t help this aspect because we were all running a little closer to each other than we might have been otherwise. Lots and lots of body heat. Some people were running in the long-sleeved race shirts that we’d been given in our race packets, and they were all peeling them off before we got to the 2-mile clothing drop. Now there were lots of shirtless men and sports-bra clad women. I was very happy to have my lightweight tank!
I felt really great those first few miles. I was really confident that running with a pace group would give me the motivation to just stay on pace with them and be able to finish in two hours. When we got to the 3-mile marker, the time displayed was 9:45. I crossed the start about 15 seconds after the timer started, so I was doing just over 9:00 minute miles. I felt good.
Then mile five started and my feet started to hurt. Not the my-feet-are-tired-of-running kind of hurt that you can just ignore and push through, but the I’ve-got-some-serious-blisters-developing kind of hurt, where each time your foot hits the ground it stings. This was not a good sign. As the mile progressed, the pace group leader holding the 2:00 sign slowly started to get farther and farther away. When I crossed the half-way barrier in the race (at mile 6.55) they were completely out of my sight.
I didn’t feel like my pace had slowed significantly, so I knew I’d still be happy with my time, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to keep up with them. Somewhere around mile 8 or 8.5 I joined up with a man running in a yellow bike jersey and we stayed together for the rest of the race. I had seen me a few times throughout the race because we’d been keeping about the same pace, but now we were shoulder to shoulder, trying to make it up what he assured me was the last big hill of the race.
He asked if I had run this race before and I told him no, it was my first ever half-marathon. He told me that this was the last big hill and that I needed to save some energy later for the last bit of the race. This race is tricky and there’s a bit of flat ground and then just as your turn the corner for the last 1/2 mile of the race, it’s uphill from there. What kind of crappy race finishes on an up hill? I thanked him for letting me know!
Around mile 10 we turned a corner to see another big hill looming in front of us. “Ooops, I guess this is the last hill. Sorry about that!” The hills really weren’t as bad as I expected them to be, so I didn’t mind this last big one.
Throughout the race there were water stations every two miles. I carried a water bottle with me and rather than try and drink from a cup while running, or walk through the water stations, I unscrewed the lid to my bottle as I got close to the station and just poured a cup of Gatorade in and kept on running. This actually worked out really great!
My friend in the yellow jersey and I passed the 11-mile marker and I remember thinking, “Thank God!” and kept on pushing. My feet were really hurting at this point and I just wanted to stop. Luckily I didn’t have any problems with chafing during the race, and even though my feet were killing me I felt a lot better than I had on my long run last weekend.
When we got to the next water station, the woman who handed me Gatorade dumped a cup in for me as I poured mine in, so I got double on that stop. I was so happy at this point because I knew we were at the 12-mile water stop and we just had 1.1 miles left in the race! Every step I took brought me a little relief because we were getting closer and closer to the finish. We made our way over a few small rolling hills, and then around a corner. And then I saw it up ahead.
Not the finish line, but the 12-mile marker.
WHAT? We’ve already gotten to mile 12! What is this sign about?? Since the water stations were supposed to be every two miles, I assumed when we reached the last one that we were at mile 12. I was wrong. They put the last water station at mile 11.5 and the realization that I had to run another mile when I thought I was in the half-mile stretch to the finish mad me so sad. I knew I had it in me to run several more mile if I needed to, but mentally I just wanted to be done.
The guy in the yellow jersey and I started talking again. I mentioned that I had started with the 2:00 pace group but now was hoping to just finish before the 2:10 pace group. He said he’d started with 2:00 too, and that he wished he’d gone out slower so he could have finished stronger (yeah, me too!). He asked if the 2:10 group had passed us yet and I said, “No, they’re they people right behind us!” We both picked it up a little bit to make sure we stayed ahead of them.
The race started and finished at the Travis County Expo Center, and as we turned on to the premises at the end I kept thinking, “Where the fuck is the finish line?” We kept running though parking lots, making turns, going up more hills and I couldn’t figure out where the finish was. I could tell we were close and it was so frustrating to not be able to see the finish line.
When we had about 1/3 of a mile to go, the guy to the left of me (not my friend in the yellow jersey) stopped running and started walking. I patted him on the back and said, “Come on, man! We’re so close!” and he started running again. I know if I was that close I would want a little encouragement to keep running.
Finally we could see the finish line! The last 0.2 miles of the race were actually a light down hill so I picked up my pace and tried to finish with a little kick. As I got closer the the finish like I could see Lynn and Ross cheering for me! That brought a huge smile to my face. There’s nothing like seeing people you care about waiting for you at the finish line!
I finished the race in 2:09:45. When I crossed the finish line I was so happy that I had finished in less than 2:10! As soon as I stopped running the smile left my face though. Suddenly every part of my body hurt. I had blisters on the bottoms of my toes, which made walking incredible painful, and the rest of my body ached, especially my lower back. I walked around for a while trying to loosen up but I really felt like crap.
I look a lot better in this picture than I felt! I met back up with Ross and Lynn and headed inside the expo center to get some post-race snacks. Luckily they had some chiropractors/sports medicine doctors inside giving free massages. I told one of them where I was sore and he had me lay down on the table. He said my lower back was sore because my hip flexors were tight and pulling my back inward. He called someone over to help him and they pressed and pulled and caused me a lot of pain, but when they were finished my back didn’t hurt anymore. It was amazing!
Ross and I found a spot on the floor so I could eat my recovery pudding. I forgot to bring a spoon so I had to use a torn paper cup to eat it. I’m sure I was quite the sight!
Honestly, I’m a little sad that I wasn’t able to push myself to finish in 2:00 like I had wanted. But I keep reminding myself that this was my first half-marathon and the whole point of it was to check my progress for the marathon in February.
As soon as we got back to the car I put the 13.1 sticker on my car. I am so proud of that silly sticker!
I really wish I would have taken their advice and started out slower (with the 2:10 group) so I had more energy left at the end of the race. Even so, I really think that I could have finished a little faster (maybe 2:05) if it weren’t for my feet. When I got home I soaked in a nice hot tub with 3 cups of Epsom salt to help relax my muscles. That helped my feet to feel a little better too, but this is still what my left big toe looked like before I went to bed last night:
The crusty part at the bottom of my toe is a blister from a couple of weeks ago and didn’t affect yesterday’s race at all. But can you tell that the rest of my big toe is essentially one giant blister? It is NOT fun to walk.
Here are my results from the race:
Total time: 2:09:45
Overall pace: 9:50 per mile
Age rank: 26 out of 77 in my age group (33%)
Gender rank: 169 out of 529 women (32%)
Overall rank: 478 out of 1032 runners (46%)
I finished in the top 1/3 for my age and gender, and in the top half for all runners, so I’m happy with my results! : )
When I checked my facebook this morning I had a message from the guy who I patted on the back at the end of the race!
Overall, I’m really pleased that I finished the race and happy with my results! : )