I've completed 7 half marathons up to this point. Each one of them had a feeling of running for 13.1 miles and that I would start, hang on the hip of a pace group leader, zone out for a while, then in the last few miles I'd pick up the pace and finish.
This one was different. For one thing, there were no pace groups. So I was going to have to focus on my own pace. Another thing was this race did not seem like it was going to be a 13 mile run. Maybe doing 7 half marathons have made them an attainable distance. Maybe it's because my last major race was a full ironman.
I'm not saying it was going to be easy. I just had the confidence of my last hard run and now I'm looking to add another 5k to the end of that 10 miler. Putting it that way, I was looking at doing just over four 5Ks at an easy 5K pace!
Another thing coming into this was that I had a chance at a podium for my age group. Knowing that, I was determined to bear down and stay focused for the entire 13 miles.
They offered Friday packet pickup at Gary Gribbles, so TKB and I stopped in. Since they offered a 5k distance, TKB decided to sign-up and join in on the fun! I love it when we get to race together!
With the race in Peculiar, MO it was going to require some travel time. It's about an hour away from Parkville. Even though the race was at 9am, we had to leave by 7:15am to get there with time to warm-up.
Temps were in the 40s and partly cloudy with some wind. Aside from the wind, it was really a nice day for a race.
After a run around the parking lot and a bio break, it was getting close to toe the line. A friend from Master's Swim class (who I actually got to know through Dailymile initially) was their supporting her boyfriend Donny who was using this race as a prep for Boston next month!
The race started on the track inside the stadium. After lining up and a few words from the race director, we were off with a boom! Literally. I mean... I had been in the stadium for about 20 minutes and I never noticed one thing, the freaking huge canon sitting right next to the start! I was NOT expecting that boom!
We did about 350 meters on the track before releasing to the parking lot, around the school, and then off onto the roads.
Mile 1 - 3
These are the slow start miles, which I'm pretty hit or miss. I was planning 7:30 for the first mile and I was cruising along at 6:30. I did my best not to focus on the people around me but I have a feeling I got swept up. I slowed myself down but still logged 6:45.
Mile 2 saw us leaving the school grounds onto the road and kept trying to keep the brakes on. 7:02 for mile 2. With mile three at 6:58, I was starting to get into a good pace. During mile 3 I got past buy a guy and girl who seemed to be pacing pretty well. I kept them within my sights.
Miles 4 - 6
These miles were mostly uphill but I managed to keep my paces between 6:46 and 6:56. I was starting to catch-up to the guy and girl again. The hill was impacting them more than me.
The end of mile 6 marked the beginning of the loop to the turn around. It also marked the start of the real race.
Miles 7 - 9
So as the turn around began, I started pushing the pace a bit. I had caught the guy and girl that had passed me earlier and there was another set of female/male runners (what's with the pairing?!). I slowly caught up to them around mile 8 by taking advantage of the down hill.
At this time we were starting to meet many of the other half marathoners because they were still on the "out" leg of the race. One of them was counting off lead runners. The girl was 12, the other guy was 13, and I was 14!
In the next mile I had edged the two (putting me in 12th). The girl, who I assumed was a high school cross country runner, had snuck in behind me. There was a nasty headwind blowing and she had tucked into my slipstream. Smart move... until our legs connected. Luckily I didn't break form and she apologized... and moved ahead.
Miles 10 - 12
These miles brought on more hills and the pounding of the race was catching up on me (and likely my fast start). 6:59, 6:53, and 7:08. The guy and girl I had caught had pulled ahead. I was in 13th overall as we had passed by someone during mile 9.
Eventually I made a 90 degree turn and looked back. The path behind me was clear.
Unfortunately, I lost my heart rate monitor. This happens to me occasionally if I don't tighten it up. While I don't have data heart rate displayed on my watch during a race, I still wanted to the data. It had been falling on me most of the race, so I just let it fall and rested around my waste (I had a hydration belt on, so it was trapped above that under my shirt).
We wind back through the Ray-Pec School parking lots (surprisingly big, so they must have all the schools together). I kept pushing and pushing. I was probably 10 seconds behind the guy in front of me and we were booth trying to push the pace. The girl had taken off and no longer in sight.
As I entered the stadium, Donny had taken to the track with me. I kept pushing and pushing and using his encouragement.
For being a small race, there wasn't much of a finish line. You enter a chute to have your chip removed and hand you your medal.
I finally checked my watch: 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 7 seconds! ARGH!!
No sub-1:30 but I'm still thrilled with the race! After another 20 minutes, they finally posted results. My official time was 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 6 seconds, which was good enough for 3rd in my age group!
|It wasn't until about 5 seconds after this photo that I realized it still needed to be filled out...|
Not bad starting this season out with a podium spot! Overall I ended up in 12th place.
They had a good variety of food from fruits, bagels, granola bars, water, and they also had pasta in the form of Mac & Cheese.
We decided to wait for awards since, you know, I was getting one and cheered on more of the finishers. We ended up staying another hour in order to wait for the award announcements but the sun had come out and laying on the field turf was rather comfy.
I was happy with my time, even though I do wish I had cut out another 6 seconds. The 7 minute PR is pretty sweet. I justify this by saying I went out way faster than I had planned. So even of those 45 seconds did not translate into 51 seconds regained later in the race, I wouldn't have beaten the sub-1:30 anyway.
I did like this race and would recommend it. It is a challenging enough course with the 550 feet of elevation gain (which comes in chunks) plus some nasty headwind on the return trip. The road was a asphalt country road and, with the nasty winter we had, the roads had some rough patches. As long as you were paying attention, they were manageable.
The course was well marked with mile markers and Ray-Pec Cross Country flags at each post. Aid stations were about every 1.5 miles with only one station containing gels; however, with the out-and-back nature of the course, you would hit it twice.
Our support for TeamHelm during the race. We wear these shirts at Head for the Cure. Our friend Mark just had his 5th surgery to remove brain cancer and he rocked it!