(I can’t find the source for this…don’t hate me!)
*Alternate Title: The Race Where I (Did NOT) Set Fire to the Rain
*Alternate Title: The Race Where It Fucking Hailed On Me
Half Marathon 2 of 3 in the Heartland 39.3 Series is in the books, readers, and it was one of the strangest races I’ve ever run. As strange as fighting vomit for 7 miles and losing feeling in my fingers? No, but strange in a different sort of way, and looking back, “There ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you,” Garmin Half Marathon 2014!
I’m giving myself a C for race prep in the few days prior to the race. Maybe because I wasn’t expecting a PR after the previous debacle and given that my legs didn’t quite feel funky fresh, I threw caution to the wind a bit. On the advice of PirateBobcat, I had wine. We were out late Thursday night at a fundraiser…
I cleaned up! HH was stunned…
To make matters worse, we had Taco Bell for dinner Friday night (bad circumstances.) I just knew that was going to come back to bite me in the ass…perhaps literally.
I got up on time, fueled and geared up, then hit the road. The Garmin half marathon runs at the same time as the full. This was my marathon last year (my first marathon, so special memories galore.) The race was scheduled to start at 7:00. I reached the highway exit at 6:12…and twenty minutes later still hadn’t made it off the exit ramp and onto the highway overpass. Traffic was trés hideous, and there were no police officers ANYWHERE. I hate to be negative, but that was ridiculous. This is a big event, and a showcase race for the city of Olathe, yet no one was around to help direct traffic, and there were a million of us sitting around with worried looks, all lined up in our cars with our cheesy running stickers on the back.
I finally got over the overpass at 6:35, just as I saw one officer passing on a motorcycle to head to the ramp. Way too late. Then as i approached the Garmin complex, I saw that there still was no one directing traffic into the complex (which was a steady stream of red lights), so I had no way of knowing if the lots were full or at capacity. I ended up parking behind a tire and lube shop with a bunch of other runners. We all flew out of our cars (after I dumped a salt packet under my tongue and grabbed my brand-new handheld water bottle filled with Nuun) and tried to do an energy-conserving 10-minute hustle across the complex to the starting area.
Lots of port a potties…and lots of lines thirty deep to gain access. I could hear the announcer telling everyone not to worry and reminding us that it was chip time, not gun time that mattered. Um, yeah right. I knew what I was in for, and I was right.
Pre-Race Grade: C-. Eating Taco Bell as preface fuel? Not being ready at the starting line when the gun goes off? Boo.
I held on to the side of a port a potty, swung my legs a few times and hit the starting line with the 5-hour + marathoners and the 3:00 + half marathoners. I’ve never started a race so far back. It was like bizarro world to see the thousands of runners in front of me (many of whom never got to go to the bathroom one last time!), and it was a truly novel situation to be back with that kind of runner.
Here I go bitching, mostly for laughs, but with one caveat. These people were awesome. They were chasing down a half marathon dream, and they were lined up appropriately. They were doing nothing wrong, and their spirit was incredible. I wanted to yell encouragement to every single one of them!
But it was a ginormous wave of tutus, matching running group t-shirts with cute sayings (“no maps! no coaches! where’s breakfast?”), groups running five abreast, run-walkers (3 minutes jog, 1 minute walk, and always right as I ended up behind them!) and wide lumbering runners, and I had to work to get past every single one of them in order to be able to run my pace that I was striving for…which took time and energy.
Remember my list of the Ten Types of People Who Annoy Me During Races? Meet #11 and #12…the person who wears an unnecessary layer and gets so hot, so fast, that she has to strip it off in the first three minutes of a race when everyone is still bottlenecked and her big swinging elbows are a danger to everyone around her AND the person who runs REALLYYYYYYY slow but hugs the left side of the street right along the curb so you can’t get by her.
I tried to minimize the weaving but get to my pace as fast as I could. It was just a lot of work, but I just hoped that I would soon break through the logjam.
Splits for the first two miles = 8:55 and 8:50. Not what I wanted, but my legs felt fine and I passed a ton of people.
By Miles 3-5, the marathoners broke off and I needed to make up some time. Yet, looking back, I see that I didn’t, and I don’t know why, really. I could tell that I got lulled into a slower pace a few times because of the other runners. I was trying to run more on feel and less on watch-checking, and I found myself a couple of times running pretty comfortably with a group of reasonably fit runners, then suddenly realizing that I wasn’t really pushing very hard. It felt good, I was high-fiving kids and saying thank you to supporters and volunteers, but I wasn’t really going for it. I was a little scared from my last half, I think, and I was soaking up how nice it was to be feeling normal again.
Splits for Miles 3-7 = 8:38, 8:40, 9:03 (major hill), 8:52, 8:55. Unimpressive looking back, but like I said, I really wasn’t paying attention. I should have. These are not difficult paces. I didn’t push it real good.
The rain started in the ninth mile. A sprinkle or two fell, which was fine. Then the sprinkles turned into a shower, which then turned into DRIVING POURING SHEETS OF STINGING SIDEWAYS RAIN AND MY GOD I COULDN’T SEE. I kept trying to wipe my eyes, but my hands were so wet. Nothing helped. Everyone went silent, except for someone yelling behind me, “I’m melting!”, which went great with the Wizard of Oz theme. The drops were huge, and they kind of hurt.
It was a quiet group of determined runners who quickly got more determined once we started seeing the lightning. Picture if you will (and I think you will) me plowing along, mouth open gasping at times because I was getting so cold and soaked. Throw in a few worried faces and a lot of splashes, and you’ve got Miles 8-10. It was difficult to run through, even sprinkled with the motivation that was lightning, and I knew I was running slow, though it felt like close to max effort. I didn’t look at my watch. I couldn’t see it anyway.
Splits for Miles 8-10 = 8:43, 8:41, 9:04. Sigh.
The streets flooded quickly, and we all ended up running through rivers pouring down the streets. I saw one guy in front of me stop to ask a police officer a question, which I assumed was, “Are they calling it?” or “Are we safe?”, but I couldn’t hear what the policeman said. My thoughts were only of my car three miles ahead and the fact that I don’t love racing enough to die for it. Unfortunately, this was the point where I started to feel fatigued, like the previous half marathon two weeks prior was catching up with me. I was fine and running hard, I just knew that I wasn’t running very fast.
Then the hail hit…extra unfortunate. Misery, thy name is marble-sized hail falling on my head.
A chorus of “ow”s and a few curse words (those might have come from my mouth), but otherwise silence, except for one tremendous reverberating burp let out by a delicate-looking gal in a tunnel. I’ll give her credit for great timing.
I thought my pants were going to fall down. My feet were soaked. I knew my time wasn’t anything outstanding. Yet I wasn’t experiencing the physical pain of two weeks prior, where my brain consciously uncoupled from my body in pain. I was running, I was present, and I was about to wrap up my second half marathon in two weeks. I had nothing to hang my head about, even if I was capable of better. There are many joys in racing, and they don’t always come with a PR attached. My legs weren’t giving me my best, but it was okay, as long as I didn’t die and it ended eventually.
I splashed on. Looking back, I’m surprised at how slow my 13th mile was–8:48. In comparison, two weeks ago when I was just trying to get to the medical tent, I put up an 8:27. My last 1/10 on Saturday? An 8:58 in comparison with a 7:52 two weeks ago during my out-of-body experience. So weird. It was the best I could give at that moment, I guess, so I need to live with that. It’s not like I wasn’t aching to finish–I just was spent!
I rode the wave of water in and finished in 1:56:23, a shockingly bad number. I was so wet that I didn’t care, and given that I’d started so far back, I had no sense of how good it would be in comparison with other runners. I ran into two friends (also running the Heartland 39.3 and very strong runners) who told me their legs were also a bit fatigued, which made me feel better. I shivered my way home and walked in the door to the laughs of HH and the boys. I could not stop shaking. I had the best hot shower of my life.
Race Grade: B -. The Taco Bell stayed put, I was conscious for all of the race and ran reasonably hard in terms of effort, but the hail and rain was godawful, the course was incredibly boring for much of the last three miles winding constantly through residential streets (run one block, turn, run another, turn) and my paces were dismal.
Final numbers? 14/184 in my Shebeasts 40-44 smoking hot division (top 7%), 183/1317 for women (top 14%), and 550/2199 overall (top 25%).
I took some solace in the numbers and spent the rest of the day doing my best Lili Von Shtupp around the house (“I’m tired! Tired of playing the game! Ain’t it a crying shame! I’m so tired. God dammit I’m exhausted!”)
Let’s face it…everything below the waist is kaput!
Now I rest and regroup one more time for the third half marathon, Running With the Cows! I share this video because it makes me want to run, right now, and that’s pretty amazing given the state of my legs. If you watch this, look for the dancing and clapping priest. He makes my day (but the older lady terrifies me.)
The word on the street is that the postrace food here is fantastic…lots of Catholic ladies make homemade food! I can’t wait to finish the trifecta, and I will be keeping my fingers crossed for no freaking hailstorms!