24 February 2012

back 2 back races

Doing back 2 back races/events is not anything new for me, not that I'm saying I do it several times a year or anything but it is something I've been known to do occasionally. However it has always been a shorter race combined with an endurance event, ie running a 5k or 10k on a Saturday then a sprint duathlon, a century ride, or a half marathon on a Sunday.  This past weekend I ended up running 2 longer distance races--the Sylamore 25k trail race followed by the Run the Line Half Marathon on Sunday in Texarkana.  Yes, I know the true distance runners are scoffing at my classifying these as distance events but let's not forget that even a 5k can be a daunting amount of miles for those starting out.  Heck, a 5k still scares me and that's my favorite distance to race.  

KT Tape and my new Brooks Running Launch trainers

I had no plans/illusions/goal times for the Run the Line half marathon, all I wanted to do was get there, get the distance done, collect my Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix point, and hopefully still be able to walk afterwards.  I told Julie and Luke (who I car-pooled down with) that I would be much slower than them (btw, I'm slower than those two in ideal conditions) and apologized in advance for the longer than usual wait time they were going to have because of me.  It was so hard waking up at 0345, feeling my left ankle throb and knowing that I was going to have to run 13.1 miles after a long drive--which I was just a passenger for thanks to Julie!!!!--but I had my goal and with KT Tape snugged around the cranky ankle I was all set (sorta) to get it done.

ummm, is that a bullet hole?

This was the first time for the three of us to run this race so we had no clue of where it was, what the course was like, the parking situation, etc but everyone I knew who had run it last year said it was great and we had no problems locating the place and everything went quite smooth with finding a primo parking spot close to the start line and the packet pickup.  The only complaint I could make was that there were 3 porta-potties outside and 2 of them appeared to be locked judging from the constant line of runners walking up and trying the doors and not being able to open them.  Thankfully there are facilities available inside the building where packet pickup was--yay for flushing toilets and hot water to wash your hands with!! Yes, that's a recurring theme for me, lol.  

Lots of hugs, lots of talking about my previous day's adventures, and lots of good lucks later we were off and running.  The first mile was all about getting my ankle un-stiffened up but once I did I was able to settle into a nice, steady pace, the good thing about the ankle was that I did NOT jack-rabbit this race like I have a bad habit of doing.  Also since I had no time goal pressure I was able to chat with other runners, the cyclists who were riding back and forth checking on everyone, and the volunteers at intersections and aid stations.  I generally make it a policy to say thanks to those directing traffic anyways but on Sunday they got smiles and "how ya doing's?" too, lol.  What I didn't have to do thanks to me carrying my Amphipod water bottle of Heed mix was walk the aid stations in order to get fluid (unfortunately I don't get any money/endorsement from those links, it's just what works really well for me) so I was able to keep my steady pace going.  Even the long-arsed incline on the busy roadway at mile 5-6 didn't slow me down an extreme amount.  Not saying I didn't slow down quite a bit, it just didn't hit me near as hard as I expected it to. Was very glad to see it end though, whew.  

That steadiness and feeling surprisingly decent lasted right through to around mile 8 then we turned into a headwind that sapped the energy right out of me. I still hadn't walked a single step and didn't have to until just before mile 10 where I took a piece of candy from a kid to try and boost my flagging energy.  Could only get down a couple of bites of the twizzler though.  After that I played the game of I'll run to the next intersection, mile marker, person, etc then take a walk break if I need to.  I WANTED to take walk breaks but was able to convince my brain to keep going.  Yes, brain.  While my legs were fatigued and it was getting very warm, it's more a matter of my brain wanting to quit rather than my body saying it had enough. Surprisingly during those last 2 miles of sluggery I was still able to keep catching and passing people and no, there were not any further walk breaks.  

I knew that I was keeping a decent pace thanks to the teenagers volunteering who called out the time and sometimes pace at every mile marker.  Yes, EVERY mile marker! That's something a bit different than any other race I've done and I kind of like it.  However I was still surprised to see the finish line clock and realize that I was going to come in under 2:05.  Don't ask me how I managed to put in a somewhat decent half marathon time on a bum ankle and the day after a 25k trail race because I have absolutely no clue myself.  A good bit of it was probably due to the not putting any pressure on myself to "race" on either day.  

Click to enlarge--mileage splits

My garmin mileage splits were quite interesting to me.  While it's not a negative split race, they are fairly consistent and much better than I expected.  The mile 14 data is skewed because I forgot to turn it off and there is some walking about time on there.  Needless to say, I'm happy with the result and it shows me that if I hadn't have ran 25k the day prior I would probably have gone sub 2 hours and might have even come close to pr'ing. Final stats: Gun time 2:03:17, chip time 2:02:58, 231/447, 13/44 female 40-44 age group, and 75/213 gender.

I thoroughly enjoyed this race especially the portions that were on the trail, crowd support was great, fantastic volunteers, intersections were well policed, and a gorgeous medal with an interesting tech shirt.  There was ample food afterwards, fresh grilled hamburgers and chicken with lots of condiments available and free beer from Hopkins Ice House.  I didn't receive one of course but the age group awards were cool-looking too.  A nice touch was posting the results immediately and they had a monitor scrolling through the results, showing overall finishers and where you placed in your age category.  

Such a cute moment

Finish Line disassembly

If you know Julie be sure and give her a huge congrats on her sub 2 hour half marathon finish.  She killed it Sunday!!! And this is all before her first year anniversary of running!!!!! She's also a cancer survivor and quit smoking approximately four years ago so there's an inspiration to get out and move if there ever was one.  My only whinge? She's in my age group, lol!!!!!!!!!  All kidding aside, I feel very privileged to have gotten to know her this year and look forward to seeing her ahead of me in many more races.

Seen during a bathroom pitstop

Quick ankle update, I took Monday thru Wednesday off from running. Monday there wasn't much choice since I was limping and hobbling about but by Wednesday there was only a little stiffness left so all is good.

Race bling

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