Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oak Barrel Half Marathon Recap

I am a bit late getting this up since I was enjoying a vacation with my family.  Even though Oak Barrel was my fourth half marathon, it was by far the toughest I have run to date.  Being that I live in Northern Indiana, I am used to running on very flat terrain.  Oak Barrel was advertised as having "rolling hills" with one "character building hill" and one more quick, but challenging hill at mile 6.  They weren't kidding!  I don't have an elevation chart because I am stupid and left my garmin running so its all screwed up, but, I found this on a fellow runner's blog.
 Now, I planned for Whiskey Hill, I really did.  I may not have TRAINED for it, but I did plan for it.  When I drove the course on Tuesday before the race, I wanted to cry - I didn't expect so many rolling hills.  The site says they are there, but MAN... its ALOT for this Indiana girl!  I made a rookie mistake and read that the elevation gain was 407 feet during the race, but from what I can tell, thats the elevation gained from max to min elevation during the race.  Based on the chart above, the elevation gained was actually more than 1000 feet.  I asked on facebook and the one response I got was 1,113 feet.  So, I am guessing the total elevation increase is SOMEWHERE around 1000 feet?  The most I had gained to date in a run this long was around 350 feet if I am remembering correctly.  All this to say, I didn't have a great race... the hills killed me and I DEFINITELY need to work on hill training!

Before you go any further, you should go check out Suzanne's recap from the race, she took some great pictures along the course, including some photos of Whiskey Hill!

I don't have a mile by mile recap of the race in me, so I will do bullet points:

~ Suzanne finding me just prior to the race and running the first 2 miles or so with me - this kept me from going out too strong the first few miles and took my mind off how nervous I was.  I could get used to having someone to run with!
~ The course was beautiful, very scenic and always something to look at
~ I made it most of the way up Whiskey Hill without walking
~ Completing the first 5 miles (including Whiskey Hill) in less than 49 minutes
~ My foot issue wasn't too bad - only a few minor twinges
~ The course support was awesome, gatorade and water, oranges at two places.  There was someone on a 4 wheeler offering to take coats that were tied around waists, even though this was a small race I saw more race  support than at larger races.  There was a decent amount of spectators on the course as well. Great post race offerings.
~ Awesome race swag: long sleeve tech shirt, hat, backpack, and a wood "medal" made from a whiskey barrel
~ The feeling of passing people on the way to the finish even when I am dead, my body still has a kick left, I ran a sub 6:30 (fluctuated from 5:30 to 6:30) from the corner to the finish line.
~ Finishing in under 2:30 (my unspoken goal for this race)
~ A guy named Monte who was at the race and put his photos on smugmug for purchase - he actually got a few good photos of me!

~ Failing to realize how much elevation change I should be prepared for.
~ Completing the first 5 miles (including Whiskey Hill) in less than 49 minutes *yes, this is a bad thing, it meant I didn't conserve enough energy for the rest of the course
~ At some point I mentally checked out, around mile 6-7 I was in tears wanting to quit, I texted my mom and told her I was struggling, once I stopped to walk it was hard to run again
~ My stomach acted up again which meant no fueling on the course, I should have taken 2-3 packets of fuel, instead I drank water and some gatorade
~ Feel like I was dehydrated going into the race, I drank everything I had, took water on course, and was still dying of thirst at the finish line
~ Brightroom sucked it up on the photos, only one of me was tagged, I did find one more going through the lost and found but both are terrible.   I always buy race photos, this time.. NOT EVEN TEMPTED! :-/
~ Missed my "dream goal" of 2:10 - and honestly if it weren't for my stomach I probably would have made it. Between the lack of fuel and having to walk to control cramps, I figure that was at least 10 minutes!

The bottom line:  I swore I would never do this race again, but I am already trying to figure out how I can get back and show that course that its not stronger than me!  If you get a chance, DEFINITELY run this race - its the best I have run to date!

Not very proud of them, but here are my splits (more for my future reference than anything).

Avg Pace

Last but not least, some photos from the race...

Me, pre-race
Suzanne and I at the start, we are in the middle of the picture
1.5-2 miles into the race, running with Suzanne
Coming up the highway towards the Square in Lynchburg - almost done! I passed the guy you can barely see in the yellow before the finish line!
Looking around the corner towards the finish line
Kicking it to the finish!
Yes, I was dying.. 
Suzanne and I post race
Medal and custom engraved bottle of Jack Daniels
My race swag, minus the backpack (my parents bought me the engraved bottle of JD, THANKS!)

ETA:  These two race photos I just got... the start line photo is probably one of my best race photos ever! 


  1. Love the recap Jenn! I'm so glad we got to meet up and very happy that we ran together at least for the first couple of miles. You ran sooo fast in Miles 3 & 4 without me slowing you down! Congratulations again on a great race!

  2. You really weren't slowing me down, promise! I wish I would have stayed with you, honest! Miles 3 and 4 I was running too hard, I have a habit of doing that... and then I died later in the race! I will learn eventually! :)

  3. Great race and great recap.

    I notice that you've had some issues with your stomach during training and races. Have you ever tried anything unconventional? I spoke with Jeff Galloway at one of the Disney events and he suggested that I try some form of sugar candy, sugar cubes or something containing simple sugar. Simple sugar shouldn't upset your stomach and it provides instant energy.

    I have now switched from gels and sports drinks to Lifesavers and sips of water. The goal is to take 25-50 calories every couple of miles (I do one Lifesaver every mile at 15 calories) and a couple of sips of water. Since I changed, I have suffered from stomach upsets. It took some trial and error until I found a candy that worked, but it might be worth trying...

  4. Nice job! That hill looks hellish!