It has been a long time since my last post. That means, it’s been a long time since my last Half Marathon in this quest of mine. Don’t mistake that, however, for inactivity. My last Half Marathon was 34 days before this one, which, when scheduling, seemed like a great idea. However, between the two races on my slate, I also ran the River to River Relay and the Spartan Sprint in Laurel, IN.
The River to River Relay is an 80 mile race split up amongst 8 teammates who each run 3 segments that add up to about 10 miles per person. Also, it’s ran on some of the toughest hills in the state of Illinois from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River on the back roads of Southern Illinois. It was an incredibly great time with beautiful scenery, but took a lot out of my legs.
The Spartan Sprint ended up being 5.2 miles of obstacle course racing through mud and hills of Southeast Indiana which ended up taking my team 4 and a half hours. That’s a time I’m not proud of, but a story I’ll share at another time.
Unfortunately, these races also created a bit of a let down in my training. I cut back on my weekly mileage after the Relay due to some soreness and tightness in my quads afterward, and the grueling 3 day trip to Indiana for a walk in the woods took away 3 days that I normally put in some of my best distance building miles. On the positive side, though, I’ve learned that I do need to be prepared for any terrain at any time, and have altered my training program to start including some hills, some strength building, and some trail runs as recovery.
This week’s race marked the beginning of a daunting 3 races in 4 weeks stretch that starts with the “Iron Mom Half Marathon”, moves to the “Run River City” 25k (I know, not a half, we’ll discuss later), and finishes with the “Thin Mint Sprint” on June 1st in Edwardsville, IL. After the Iron Mom race, I’m a little worried.
I left my house on Saturday at 4:50 a.m. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I am getting up earlier on the weekends than during the week for school. I’m an evening runner. I arrived in Paducah around 6. That was plenty of time to use the restroom, stretch, and find the starting line. Also, if you judge races based on Porta-Potties… what are you waiting for??? Sign up for this race (next year) as soon as possible. Here are the bathrooms at the start and finish:
Since I had some time, I did some looking around. Here’s the Ohio River shortly after sunrise:
And, this was the finish line before it became the FINISH line:
Not so cool when you’re not dying to get there.
2 hours later it looked like heaven.
The race starts in the historic downtown area of Paducah, Kentucky. It’s a nice area with a lot of restaurants and artsy places. You know…
crap….antiques. But, apparently, it’s a mecca for quilters. So, there’s lots of those, too. Who knew? We ran out of downtown Paducah and by the first mile marker we were running through some beautiful neighborhoods of houses that were gigantic and from the early 1900’s it seemed. Maybe earlier. The course seemed to go on straight forever, and I started to get bored with the straight flatness.
I should have stopped my mind from worrying about that.
At about mile 2.5, we started hitting some little annoying rollers. Uphill long enough to slow you down, but not downhill enough to speed you up. Up. Down. Up. Down. UP. DOWN. At mile marker 3, the course got fun. We started going around curves, right and left, and through some nice suburban neighborhoods, but still with the rollers. I must say, the thing I was most surprised about was the neighborhoods. There are some sweet places in little ole Paduchie. And, even better, the support of the community was fantastic. In all of these little subdivisions, you saw families out in their driveways handing out water, holding signs, giving high fives, spraying hoses, and parents showing their kids the runners. I even heard one little girl yell out “You’re all my heroes!” It was adorable!
After a good long downhill out of the suburban neighborhoods, we ran through some parks on some crushed gravel trails. It was just before the entrance of the parks where the most people were stacked up to cheer (and also because it was an exchange for the half marathon relay). That mile was my strongest. My second fastest, but my strongest. And, that’s where it stopped.
I’m not a big fan of gravel trails. However, I’m not using that as an excuse. I tried, I pushed, I struggled. I popped a gel. Nothing was in the tank. Nothing. I went straight from 8:30-8:39 miles to 9:18-10:22/mile (though I think the GPS messed that up). No matter, it wasn’t good.
The parks in Paducah are beautiful. I’m not going to lie, this course, this city, this race: very impressive. Me: not so much.
All of this running stuff has gotten me a lot of comments from friends, coworkers, family members. Things like: “Great job, that’s amazing!” to “Wow, I could NEVER do anything like THAT.” to “You’re such an inspiration!”. I love hearing those things…but, you’re wrong. I don’t see it as amazing. YOU, yes YOU, could do this. And, c’mon, “inspiration”? Kids fighting cancer, firemen pulling people from burning buildings, a baseball team pulling a car off of a screaming girl (look that up, great story)… that’s inspiration! A fat kid who runs so he can take seconds at family gatherings isn’t inspirational. It’s just crazy!
I say all of that, to tell you this story. A story about a first I had at this race. At mile 12, I’d had it. I was beat. And, creeping into my mind was the idea that my goal for 2013 was to FINISH 13 half marathons. I was 1 mile from the finish, and I started to walk. It’s the first time, during ANY half marathon, that I’ve walked. From behind me came a voice booming: “DON’T YOU F’ING WALK! (She said the word, not my polite way of typing it) YOU’LL BE SO PISSED IF YOU GET PASSED BY THAT 2:00 PACER!”. So, as she passed, I said: “I’ll be fine.”, as I looked over my left shoulder and saw that 2:00 stick bouncing up and down about a block behind me. “Shit”, I thought, “there he is.” I turned to the lady and said “Yeah, I need to get going.” She replied: “All I care about is keeping him plenty behind me.” I said: “Then don’t turn around.” Mile 13 was back under 9 minutes.
I pushed as hard as I could. Breathing as heavily as I have in a long time, I rushed toward the finish line. I crossed in 1:57:49. Not my best by FAR, but not my worst. I got some water, a banana, some blueberry bread, and sought out MY inspiration: A scary pierced up, tatted up, jet black haired bitch who had cussed me out not ten minutes ago. I told her thanks and shook her hand. She smiled. She wasn’t so scary after all.
My streak is alive. That’s 5 half marathons in 2013 under two hours. I earned a medal, a t-shirt, and a pretty great story at this one. Hopefully it won’t be as close at my next Half Marathon. But, I’ll keep her words of wisdom in my head for when I’m thinking about giving up. I really would have been pissed had I not made it!
The free shirt and the bib.
(I didn’t wear the shirt at the race)
Not bad, but not my favorite
Overall, I’d say this was a magnificent race! On my scale of 1-10, I would give it an 8! On the plus side, it’s a great course with lots of water and gatorade and amenities. It had a solid medal and a great shirt! The negatives were the early wake up time and the hour drive. Not worth getting a hotel, but not close enough to sleep in!
Look for the next post to be up next Monday. Next Sunday is the inaugural Run River City Marathon and 25k in Peoria! Right by my hometown of Pekin! See y’all up there soon!