Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Run – Marine Corps Half Marathon Recap Part 2

Like I said in the first part of my recap, this is one of the most inspiring events I have run. My original goal for this race was to finish in 2:30, and as I got further along in training, I just wanted to beat my time from the Richmond half marathon. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I didn’t accomplish either of those goals, but I am still happy with my time. 

After picking up our packets on Friday, I made it a goal to take Saturday easy. My legs had been having a hard time recovering the past couple of weeks and I wanted to make sure they felt fresh for the race. The Saturday before the race consisted of a few errands, church and an early dinner. We were in bed by about 9 that night. 

Before the race
On Sunday morning, 4:30 a.m. felt really early. I got up, dressed and grabbed my standby peanut butter bagel. By just after 5 a.m. we were out the door. In the car I had some Nuun and water. I wanted to make sure I was hydrated going into the race. 

We got up to Fredericksburg a little after 6 a.m., found a place to park and headed to the start line. It was a little chilly, so I was happy I remembered a trash bag. I knew I would be fine once I started running, but just standing around it was pretty cool. 

After a quick stop at the porta-potty, we lined up by the sign for those expected to finish in 2:30 to 3:00. This is the first race I have done that did not start in multiple waves. From where we were lined up, we couldn’t really hear the race announcer, but at 7 a.m. we heard the howitzer shot and everyone slowly started moving forward. 

About 6 minutes after the official start, we were to the starting line and on our way. My legs felt good and I was very happy. The race is an out and back course and the first mile or so was a slight downhill and while I was enjoying it, I knew running up it at the end would not be as fun. 

Somewhere between the start and mile 2, the marker for mile 1 was missing, you turned a corner and a huge American flag was hung between two ladder trucks. The sun was really starting to shine at this point and the combination of the sun and the flags took my breath away. 

The first 10K was hillier than I was anticipating, but I was easily keeping my goal pace. I was surprised how good I felt at this point. My 10K time was 1:14:11. The next couple of miles took you through downtown Fredericksburg, and I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated. At the next water stop I took 2 cups of water and choked down a gu. I knew I was running slower, but I was still determined to keep my 5 min run/1 min walk intervals. These were the intervals I had used in training and I really wanted to keep them for the race. 

At about 9.25 to 9.5 miles in (my garmin was a bit off at this point), I really started to fall apart. I desperately wanted water and my legs started to feel like lead. I let myself walk a bit and then shifted to 2 min run/1 min walk intervals, but that didn’t last long. I shifted down to 1 min run/1 min walk intervals because I figured some running was better than walking the rest of the race.

Just after mile 10, I turned the corner and saw it…hospital hill. I knew it was coming, but this hill was long and relatively steep. At least it was conveniently located next to a hospital, so if I collapsed, medical care would not be far away. I started the hill with the intention of keeping the run/walk intervals, but that plan quickly fell apart and I walked up most of the hill. I was kind of annoyed with myself, but the majority of those around me were also walking. 

Hospital hill is a little over a mile long, and after a brief break at the top, there was another hill between there and the finish. I picked up the pace and tried to keep to the 1min run /1 min walk intervals as much as I could. Mostly because I knew the more I ran, the faster I would be done and that was the only thing important at that point. 

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I kept my intervals for the next mile or so and then picked up the pace a little for the last tenth of a mile. My finish time ended up being 2:47:54, which was faster than my first two half marathons and this was a much harder course. I found my husband, who did awesome, and we grabbed some water, Gatorade and snacks and hung out at the post race area for a bit. We also found the beer tent and turned in our tickets. This was the first time I had beer after a race and it was delicious. Far better than the Gatorade, which always messes with my stomach.

Overall it was a good race. Since the race, I have figured out some of my fatigue/recovery issues and I’ll post more on those at some point in the future. I didn’t hit either of my goals, but I am okay with that, especially given the difficulty of the course. I am normally all about setting and achieving goals, so I am a little surprised by my reaction. 

Have you ever had a race that was tougher than you anticipated? How did you feel about not hitting the goal you had trained for?