Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My first Half Marathon - Fort4Fitness Race Recap!

Let me start off by apologizing about not posting about my half marathon until now... the reason is two-fold. Number one, my family was here from out of town and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. Number two - and probably the biggest reason - is that I am still trying to come to terms with the whole event.

You see, I had lofty goals.  I told anyone who would listen that my "real" goal was a sub 2:00 half, even if I wrote down on paper that my "perfect" time was 2:05 and my "reasonable" time was 2:15.  Now, don't get me wrong - I am relatively happy with my time.  What I am struggling with is how I got that time, we all want to go out there and give it our best.  Despite my time, I know I didn't do that.  That's were my disappointment comes from, not the time itself.

Now that I have that off my mind, lets get to the "good stuff."  The two days leading up to the race I tried to eat extremely light to ensure that I didn't have any digestive problems - I did  "so well" that I lost over 5 pounds in 2 days.  (Not sure this is a GOOD thing when you are prepping for an endurance event like a half marathon).    Friday I spent the day shopping with my mom, sister, and the kiddos.  Not sure being on my feet all day was a good idea, but I put on my calf sleeves and enjoyed my family time.  Dinner was my "running tested" spaghetti with marinara sauce and bread.   The nerves started kicking in and I was stressing out.  We finally got my shirt finished up and then I laid everything out.  (Thanks for that suggestion Wells L, without it I am sure I would have forgotten something).  I think I finally got to bed at like 11:30....  (meant to be in bed MUCH earlier, I do better with 7-8 hours of sleep)

Prior to the Race Saturday Morning:
    - alarm went off at 4:30, had a moment of panic when I realized I had forgotten my Imodium the night before.
    - ran downstairs and took Imodium, then hit the shower
    - got dressed, put on my pace tattoos as well as my motivational tattoo
    - spent the rest of the time getting everyone ready and planning Mom's cheering spots
    - left the house a bit after 6:30, realized as I was pulling out that I hadn't eaten breakfast (whoops) so had to run back in and grab myself an english muffin.
    - got downtown about 7:00 and found out that Mom's car had been making clicking noises over half of the way down, kept clicking after the car turned off.   The clicking eventually stopped, but we decided that it was not a wise decision for her to drive the course to cheer me on - didn't want her to break down and be totally stuck somewhere.  (Ended up getting her car towed and fixed by Monday!)
   - It was FREEZING - spent some time with family, took some pictures, and tried to calm my nerves.
I have the best "fan club" ever, the only person missing was my Dad who couldn't come due to work!
   - Visited the port-a-potties twice before the race (whats with the peppermint scented potties? Don't get me wrong it was much better than what it could have been, but still weird!)
   - Broke down and started crying as I left my family to line up for the race
   - Ran into "E" my half marathon class "coach" before the race and he wished me good luck - seeing him calmed my nerves quite a bit.  I wished him good luck as well and decided to see if I could find "L" and "C" from my class.  It didn't take me long to realize that I didn't have time to find them and get back to my corral so I sadly decided I would just see them afterwards.  Found my way back to my corral "I" and saw "D" as she walked to her corral - wished her luck and took my place and did some leg swings to try to calm my nerves.
I look much more confident than I was feeling! 

The Race:
Miles 1-4:
   -Waiting for the cannon to go off to start the race seemed to take FOREVER, I was a bundle of nerves!  
    - Stayed to the right after the start because I knew my "photographers" were on that side, ran past my sister first just after the start line on Baker Street.  I knew I wouldn't have photographers on the course so I decided to ham it up hoping my sister would get some good pictures for me!  

 - After passing my sister I focused my attention on getting myself at a nice easy pace and get myself in a comfortable position.  I was in a corral based on a finish time of 2:30 and I typically run faster than that, so to start with I was passing quite a few people.
 - Hubby and Mom were just a bit down Calhoun (probably between a quarter and half mile into the race) to snap a few more pictures and cheer me on.  Mom also got a short video.  Hubby didn't have the best luck with photos but here is what he got

 - Had tucked my fuel into the band of my spibelt, but I realized just after I passed Mom and Hubby that they were slipping around and I was going to lose them so I had to try to stuff them in the spibelt - ended up having to carry two of them because they wouldn't fit.   Fail, need to figure this out before the next half!
 - took gatorade by accident at the first aid station, drank a little but didn't want to risk drinking too much of it
- These first miles were easier than I anticipated, I thought it would be torture running down one road straight for nearly 4 miles.  But, it was going pretty easy and I was feeling strong, passing people quite frequently.
 - Got passed by two guys carrying flags, they were full of energy and patriotism.  I wonder if it was true blue patriotism or wanting to get noticed, either way it was a great distraction.  They carried flags on poles for the whole 13.1 miles (if I remember correctly, they finished about 10 minutes ahead of me).
  - Realized I wasn't getting my "every 5 minute" stats from my phone, figured I had the volume turned down and tried to keep trucking because I didn't want to lose time fiddling with the phone.
  - Fueled with chocolate #9 around mile 4 because I was afraid I would die if I waited until the next aid station.  I didn't have water though so I was DYING for water by time the aid station rolled around.  I did use a sip of propel to get it down with, but didn't want to drink too much of that too early.

Miles 5 - about 7.5: 
- I was so relieved to see the greenway come into sight.  This was the only area of the route that I hadn't seen and I wanted to get it over with.  I knew it would probably be relatively easy for me.
- I loved the greenway - so pretty, relaxing, shaded, and an occasional slight breeze.
- There weren't a ton of spectators,but there were a couple groups of people at the beginning and end - and I found the environment made up for the lack of spectators, at least at that point in the race for me.
 - I was excited to see my 5 mile split, it showed I was ahead of where I needed to be!
 - Started to feel some twinges in my tummy around mile 6.5 but seemed to fade away some so I kept running past the stops.
 - Fueled somewhere around 7.2 miles with another chocolate #9.
 - For some reason, getting off the greenway was a huge relief for me mentally.  Maybe its because I was over half way?
 - I might have had one or two 15-20 second walk breaks but can't recall.

Miles 7.5 - 10: 
- Tummy started acting up again but I was determined to not stop.
- I felt like I was running a bit slower, but still strong.  I was happy with how I was doing so far.
- Started to really struggle with my tummy after mile 8 - ended up stopping around mile 8.8 for a bathroom break.  Was relatively quick except I got tangled in my spibelt - haha.  I might have been able to push past it but I didn't want to risk being one of "those" people I see pictures of online.
 - For me, things got hard when the 10k'ers joined us - at first it was an emotional boost for me to realize I was doing the "hardest" race but soon the dodging and crowding got annoying.
 - Ran out of propel at around mile 9
 - At mile 10, the clock showed I was still about where I needed to be pace wise, maybe even a bit ahead (I forget)

Miles 10 - 13.1: 
 - Saw someone down on the ground getting aid - looked like she had passed out.  It was a reminder to make sure I was listening to my body
 - was struggling some and was taking occasional walk breaks, but I still felt like I had my sub 2:00 in the bag.
 - SO surprised to see my Mom and Daughter at about mile 12.7 (?)  - huge boost for me mentally.
 - threw my hand-held bottle at them and posed for a few pictures and kept on running.

 - ended up walking the short distance on Baker street because I wanted to be able to finish strong with  my running.
 - ran as strong and hard as I could the rest of the way, really picked it up when I hit the stadium.
 - I was scanning for my family and couldn't see or hear them, so I just tried to focus on the task at hand - running as fast as I possibly could.
 - When I saw the clock, my heart broke a little but I tried to stay positive and finish strong.  I may have passed some people in that last push to the finish line?
 - My hubby wasn't able to get good finish line photos - hopefully I can get a good one once the race photos are available!
- Crossed the finish line at 2:02:46, official time of 2:01:37

After the Race: 
- I thought I would cry when I crossed the finish line but I didn't, I was emotionally numb.  What a humbling experience I had just had.
 - Got my medal and post race refreshments and got in line for my finisher's photo, this is when I realized how my phone had failed me.  It wouldn't turn on.  Somehow I had either stopped the app or crashed my phone at about mile 1.2 -  guess that's why I wasn't getting updates on my pace and such.  Whoops!  While standing in line I got woozy so I ate an apple.
 - THOSE STAIRS out of the stadium sucked, and there was such a crowd to exit, all I wanted to do was find my family!!
 - TOOK FOREVER to find my family, but I finally did!  Mom helped me get my sleeves on right away and I told her I needed to go look for my friends.  After a bottle of chocolate milk, I decided to head outside so that we could see them better.  "C" surprised me as she rounded the corner.  She looked strong and was ahead of pace!  YEAH "C"
 - I waited a bit for "L" but decided that I would help run her in.  I knew those last few minutes were really hard for me and I would have loved to have someone there to help me - so I went to find her!  Mom went with me to snap some pictures!
 - Found "L" and she was KICKING BUTT!  Ran with "L" until the tunnel then went inside to see her finish and meet up with her after the race.
 - Met up with  L, C, and their friends April and Tia for pictures.
 - Waited a while for my other classmates but never did find them!
 - Lunch at Granite City with the family and then REST the rest of the day! WOOHOO!

THIS IS SOOO LONG ALREADY so I will have mercy on all of you and end this.  However, I will do another post of "the good, bad, and ugly" of my first half marathon hopefully tomorrow.

ETA: I am looking into getting some sort of "wrist GPS" system like a Garmin. Anyone have any recommendations or suggestions? Thanks in advance!


  1. Superb Job, Jenn! You're quite the competetive runner these days and an inspiration to Daniel and Natalie!

  2. Great job! You did an amazing job for your first half-marathon. I promise that sub-2 is just around the corner. (I finished a half in August '10 with a similar time and got my sub-2 the following month.)

    I have a Garmin 305, and I love it. It's a bit bulky but you get used to it. You can get them on Amazon for a very reasonable price. And the cost is worth it because it really turns around your running. You can really hone pacing and focus on a particular goal during runs.

  3. You did AWESOME!!! Way to go! I use my phone yet so I have no suggestions on a wrist GPS.

  4. I have neither a fancy phone nor a fancy watch so . . .not the person to ask.

    I think you did a spectacular job. I think it's sad you don't feel you did your best. How do you know what your best is -it was your first one! I think you did great and Kimberly's right - it's right around the corner!!! I have faith in you.

    Heel up that ankle and you'll be back on track!!!!

    Such an awesome time tonight!!!!

  5. Thanks everyone!

    @Wells L - It's hard to put into words really, its just something internal - I let myself down - I slowed WAY down that last 5k when I had more to give, I just got cocky and thought it was in the bag. Live and learn! Hopefully soon. I don't want to seem like I am ungrateful for how far I have come - because truly I am not. I just wish that I hadn't given up those last few miles.