Race Report: Andrew Jackson Half Marathon

I won’t mince any words here.  It was ugly.  I did not PR.  In fact, I walked away with my second worst half marathon time yet.  But you know what?  It’s okay.  The conditions were brutal, and all things considered, I am not upset.  I am disappointed in the circumstances, but it’s nothing to get tore up over.

I went to bed Friday night thinking the most positive of positive thoughts.  I fell asleep visualizing myself running strong and finishing within my goal time. 

Very cool free pace band I printed off from marathonguide.net.

 Those feelings carried over to the next morning.  I felt great.  And I had to smile when I walked into the kitchen and found this note from D on our refrigerator’s dry-erase board:

This is as close to romantic as it gets with D.  I’ll take it!  I did, however, have to crop out the part of the note that specified how he would like me to wake him up.

I was out of milk, so coffee was out of the question.  I had to go with the next best thing.

No caffeine, but it has the same jolting GI effects.  Just saying.

So I sat down with my breakfast and looked at the weather one last time.  Yeesh…

This was at 5:00 am.  Yep, 71 degrees at 5:00 am.  And muggy!  Whew!  My hair kinked up just opening the door to let the dogs out!

And as is typical in April in Tenessee…

I knew the oatmeal at 5:00 wouldn’t be enough to sustain me, so I grabbed my preferred race-day breakfast, tossed it in my bag for later, and we were out the door by 5:35.

The half was set to start at 7:30, and it was in Jackson, which is a little over an hour away, but I knew we needed to get there in plenty of time for me to get my bib and all that.  We got to the college and found the gym without incident.  I had to wait in a long line to get my packet and only walked away with a bib.  There was no schwag.  Which is cool.  I’d rather pay a lower entry fee ($45) and have no schwag than pay for a bunch of crap I won’t use.  There was supposed to be a technical tee, but the volunteer told me they ran out of size small tech tees.  She offered to either give me a small cotton tee or mail me the tech tee later.  I opted to have it mailed to me.  And I was proud of myself.  I showed restraint and didn’t pop off with the, “Wasn’t that the whole point of asking for shirt size on the preregistration form?” that I so badly wanted to ask.

Bib #339 SOUNDED lucky enough…

After making use of the (indoor!!!) facilities, I went outside to stretch, apply sunscreen, etc.  While doing all that I realized I had to pee again.  So back inside I went and when I was next in line for a stall, a volunteer stuck her head in the bathroom and announced, “Two minutes to half-marathon start!”  SHIT!  (This race was not chip timed, so I couldn’t be leisurely about things.)  I was in and out of a stall in 30 seconds flat and rushing out the door.  Sorry if my lack of hand-washing offended any of the 5Kers standing in line, but come on people!  There’s no time for hygiene when it’s two minutes to start!

I had just enough time to grab my fuel belt from the truck and get to the start line.  The race director was already giving the last-minute instructions when I made it to the line.  And with that, they sounded the police car siren (that was our GO!) and off we went.

It was hot, but the first few miles were relatively comfortable.  We were running through tree-lined residential areas and had plenty of shade.  I had gone back and forth on whether or not to even bring my hydration belt, and within the first few minutes I was so glad I had decided to bring it with me.  The first water stop was at mile 2, and even though I had my belt on, I decided to walk through the water stops.  I knew from the way I was sweating that the 32 oz around my waist weren’t going to be enough.  (As it was, even with drinking from the water stops, I still drained my belt by mile 9.) 

I’m blurry on the details.  I suck really bad at remembering what I encountered and saw and how I felt at what point during the race, but I know this much.  Around mile 5 is when we ran out of shade.  And when we were out of the shade, that also meant that there was nothing around to block the wind.  What had been a comfortable breeze in the beginning had quickly become a forceful gusting wind.  I was keeping an eye on my pace band, and I was dead on at mile 7.  To get a 2:17, my pace band showed that I needed to be at 1:13:12 at mile 7.  I was at 1:13:06.  Perfect.  But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be able to hold that same pace with the sun and the wind.  It was then that I made the decision to back off.  In addition to walking the water stops, I started taking walk breaks at every mile.  I did this until about mile 10.  By then it was all I could do to make it to the half-mile point before I had to take another break.  I said going into it that I was not going to kill myself knowing that I have another chance next weekend.  So when I saw that a PR was out of reach, the pressure was off.  The last 3 or so miles, I walked when I felt like it and ran when I felt like it (Basically,  I walked in the sun and ran through the little bit of shade that we were starting to backtrack through.), no longer caring what my time was.

D was there waiting for me at the finish line.  He kind of cringed and asked, “Well?  How was it?”  I believe my exact words were, “It was everything I knew it would be.  And then some.”  He said that seemed to be the general consensus.  While he was standing at the finish line he was hearing conversations other finishers were having with their families.  He said they were all saying the same thing.  Everyone crossing the line was talking about how we didn’t stand a chance.  We jumped from the 50s to the 80s so fast that no one has had time to acclimate yet.  (It was already 83 at 10:00 when I finished).

There were no post-race parties.  No finish line bands.  I went back into the gym and handed in my finisher’s card in exchange for a medal, grabbed a banana, some trail mix, and a Powerade, stretched for a few minutes, scraped off the insane amount of salt I had caked all over me (and I even took a Salt Stick tablet that morning!) and we were out of there.  I was so ready to sit down and get my shoes off.  My feet and hands were so swollen!

I was peeling clothes off as I walked in the door.  A cool shower never felt so good.  And a nap.  I haven’t been that drained after a long run since training for my first half two years ago!

So half-marathon #4 is in the books, and a new medal is on my hanger.

Unofficial results:

Garmin distance: 13.13 miles
Garmin time:  2:31:02

Pam vs. Half #5 coming up next weekend!  Current forecast conditions:  Partly cloudy with a high of 51!  WOOT!

28 thoughts on “Race Report: Andrew Jackson Half Marathon

  1. Good job getting through it! Your second worst is still better than my best 🙂 I can't believe it's already that hot there. Send some our way, I can't wait to wear t-shits! But I totally understand the acclimation problems, I'm sure when my half rolls around in May I will be cursing the sun as well, I can't imagine dealing with humidity as well. You rock!


  2. Great job being smart – no sense in killing yourself for something that's virtually impossible in those conditions. Hopefully next weekend's weather will be MUCH nicer to you!


  3. First, congrats! Second, I'm glad you're not going to beat yourself up for not getting what you wanted…the first few races in heat, before you've had a chance to acclimate, are always HARD!


  4. Congratulations on finishing your 4th half. That alone is awesome. We have the same weather in Texas. My 5k yesterday was miserable, can't imagine running more without having time to acclimate. Watched a friend run her first full today and the heat seemed to be killer for most people. Yay for a better forecast next weekend!


  5. Well Pam, I have to say – you are a much better sport about this race than I was about my latest race. I could probably benefit from following your example…

    Windy and 83 degrees?! I'm not sure the conditions could be any worse! Sounds like you ran a really smart race and did the right thing adjusting your goal to fit the conditions. Awesome job and good luck next weekend!


  6. first: congrats, you finished, you did not give up.
    you have a great attitude. Wind is my number one enemy, and the heat a close second and you had both. this is hard.
    You will get your PR next week!


  7. aw, sorry the race didn't go as you hoped! it was REALLY hot for april this weekend, so i can imagine it would be hard to jump into adjusting to the high temps!

    and i now i'm off to find a pace bracelet for me… I LOVE THAT!!


  8. Haha, i loved that super cute whiteboard note from D. My manfriend isn't so much the romantic-type either, and I would have swooned over something like that!! 🙂 (My manfriend has only been to one, yes ONE, of my races.)

    Great job getting through this race — those are nasty conditions. You are a hero for toughing it out! And you have next weekend to get through, too, so good job not killing yourself at this race. You have a blue half fanatic shirt on the line!!!



  9. Congrats on conquering the elements! You still rocked it! It was crazy hot here yesterday too…I got sunburned! I NEVER get sunburned!

    And I agree 100% – I would rather pay a minimal entry fee (I don't even need a shirt frankly) and get no swag, than to pay $100 and get a hand towel and a hug. That's just me!

    Congrats on a job well done!


  10. seriously, great race in those conditions, sounds like you are very strong mentally to deal with all that, and not get into a funk about the results.

    I keep seeing those pace bands, I've got to get me some of those.


  11. Your commentary about the race was right on! My initial goal time for this was 1:36. That quickly changed around mile 5ish when the shade was gone. I told myself to just jog the rest. I was soaked in sweat by mile 2. My finishing time was 1:47, but I was fine with that considering the heat and wind. ( I placed second in my age group)


  12. Well done, I know not a PR you might have been pining for, but good job listening to your body. Heat can strip you down! This weekend's race sounds like much more ideal conditions, glad fo ya!


  13. Way to go! Even though the conditions weren't perfect, that was great training and an obstacle that you overcame. That should make you really proud of yourself. And you have another chance next weekend for that PR! The weather sounds much better for that one!
    And I'm with you on the shirt thing. Why do they even ask if they're not going to order it!


  14. Sounds like you had a pretty good race even if you didn't PR. You listened to what your body needed. I ran a 5k in North Alabama on Saturday morning and it was 86 when I crossed the finish line…the third mile was miserable.
    It is suppose to be cooler next weekend, so you got the next one!


  15. Wow. I feel drained and salty just reading that… and… oh wait, that's because i just came in from a run.

    Seriously, Congrats on toughing it out and making a good decision. Proud of you.

    Oh, and thanks for your comment, it totally made my day!


  16. I was laughing so hard at your comment! I have trouble with those 3 middle toes too! And I can just barely do it. And that's after more than just a few minutes at the computer! So now who's the weird one? My husband looks at me like I'm crazy at least once a day so I'm glad I'm not the only one!


  17. Congrats on finishing! One of my friends who did the half ended up in the medical tent getting two bags of IV fluids.

    I ran the full marathon (my first!), and you can read all about it at my blog. http://www.joyfuljohnsons.blogspot.com

    My story is pretty similar to yours (hot!!!) but just a little bit longer! Ha!

    My husband, my friends and I have just set a new rule: no marathons in temps over 55.

    Have a great day!


  18. Awesome job, woman! You are a Grade A Bad Ass!

    If you showed up to Dinah Shore the following would happen: A.) I would love you even more and B.) You would be hit on numerous times. So basically, it would be awesome. 🙂 Next year, end of March, Palm Springs? I'm sure the hubs would approve.


  19. Whelp, that was about what you expected. BLEH. I remember reading an article about the temps and their effect on the body. Anything higher than 55 and down down goes the speed. Of course, I didn't want to tell you that LAST week. 🙂

    I'm glad someone else puts notes like that on the fridge. My fav thing to do is put various things on the grocery list. Man, that pisses off my wife because she has to rewrite it. 🙂


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