Tuesday, February 14, 2012

still cold . . .

Mercedes Half Marathon - 13.1 miles in 4:49
Pace: 22:05
My view of the race at about 0.5 miles...
Another 0.5 and most of those people were out of sight.
Yes, you read that right... It took me a really long time.  Far longer than any Half ever. 

But I finished.  I went the distance.  Someone has to be last, right?

I haven't been able to manage that in a Half lately.  So I'll take it as the big accomplishment that it was and celebrate it. 

I do have to share though:  Somewhere around the Relay handoff at Mile 6, I was almost on the bus.  But I didn't stop.  And my main motivation was that I couldn't blog the DNF.  Yes, I really wanted the medal and I also wanted to be able to wear the shirt and finisher hat, but having to post that I quit - again?  I just wouldn't let myself do it so I kept walking.

A few thoughts on this race:
  1. Thank goodness for the double loop!  Despite my concerns about the 4 hour time limit, no one cared a bit that I was out there and slow.  Granted it was pretty lonely from the start until the Full and Relay runners started passing me (around an hour and 40 min in) but the closer we got to the end, the more of them were encouraging me along as they passed... 
  2. Another plus on the double loop?  No cone pickup truck or sweep bus tailing me for 12.6 of 13.1 miles.  That was a nice change.
  3. Holy cow - It was cold.  Wind-burn on my face, hours to shake the chill, ice on the road at the waterstops cold.  I kept my fleece headband on for the whole time and only took my big fleece mittens off a couple of times.  (Fleece - love it for the cold but sometimes it crosses over quickly and irrevokably to "too much too much".  Not this time.)  Maybe if it hadn't been so mild up until 2 days before the race, it might not have been so jarring but it was brutal.  BIG props to the waterstop volunteers that were actively salting at one of the middle stops -- good thinking!  (Side note - I was seriously wondering why I wasn't in Florida when searching for packet pickup on Saturday afternoon... but then heard from my friends at BCM that it was almost as cold in Jacksonville on Sunday morning, although I'm guessing it warmed up more later in the run.)
  4. I really really have a hard time sticking to my run/walk intervals when it's just me.  I know it makes me slower to just walk but it's really hard for me to stick with it when I'm alone.  Definitely something I'm working on -- I need to do more 5K's just to make myself run/walk the whole way.
  5. This was my first ever race with music... I actually used iPod most of the time.  I had a big Queen block somewhere in the last couple miles (good), lots of ballads in the first few miles (very very bad) and the Supremes coming across the line (also good).  If my hands hadn't been so frozen, I would have fussed with it a little more (i.e., skipping the ballads) but I turned it on and let it play through.  The earphone cords didn't bug as they have other times when I've attempted music.  Now that I know this can work, I'll actually attempt to make a playlist that's run/walk appropriate.  (Since I always run with a group, this is definitely not something for my training runs... so it'll take some tweaking.)
  6. Major props to the volunteers.  There wasn't a grumpy or surly one amoung them -- and they were probably colder than we were because they weren't moving.  Plus there were a lot of water and Gu stops.  Definitely a well organized race in terms of support.
  7. Someone somewhere (also at one of the middle waterstops) had a big bowl of peppermints.  I grabbed one and it literally lasted for miles - even at my pace!  I don't know why, but it was such a treat and I was seriously sad when it was gone.
  8. Time difference in Alabama meant an "extra" hour of sleep ahead of the 7 am start.  (Staying a block from the start didn't hurt either.)
  9. Birmingham hills were not nearly as bad as the elevation map made them seem.
  10. Birmingham also has some really cute areas (and an amazingly yummy restaurant - seriously, I would drive back there for the chicken kabob and rice that I had on Saturday night!)
  11. I was glad that a) the clock was still up when I came across the line, b) there was a medal and a hat left for me, and c) the 2nd to last finisher waited at the end to make sure that I made it in ok.  I had passed him between miles 1 and 2 but then he passed me around mile 10.... I could see him out ahead of me most of the way to the end but I kept losing time on him.  He was definitely more consistent than me. 
  12. After I came across the finish, a woman who had been on the sideline near the end came running after me just to tell me how inspired she was that I finished.  Yeah - almost 5 hours is a lot of pain and I think it was on my face.  It was so sweet and as I mentioned above, more than a few Full runners were encouraging me on in the last few miles or spoke to me afterwards with a congratulations and a mention that they saw me in those last miles.  (After about 10, the road split Half to the left, Full to the right -- so I was pretty obvious on the road all by myself!)  
  13. There was a party after the race... it seems nice from the pictures on FB, but I completely missed it.  I just hobbled back to my hotel.
  14. I was also very glad that a) I had late - really late - checkout at the hotel and b) home was only a 2.5 hour drive.
I'm still walking like Frankenstein this morning but I'm also still very glad that I finished.  The poor showing was disheartening but I know I can get back at least to where I was a year ago (not my best but better than this).  I just need a plan to get back on track.  I'm a work in process... 

This would have been a much cooler shot
(note Affair to Remember playing on Valentine's Day!),
if I could have...

gotten this part in, too.
(But I didn't want to backtrack!)


  1. Congrats on finishing. I live in North Alabama...and complete this half in on my "one of these days to-do list" What an inspiration you are!!!

  2. You are an inspiration!!! Congratulations on finishing!!! Im so very proud of you!!!!

  3. Congratulations on your awesome effort! Thanks for the report, I loved reading it. Sounds like you had a blast and met some lovely people. How about the person in front of your sticking around to see you in, cool! Keep running girl..


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