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!