I had a plan for this half marathon, start slower and finish stronger. Well I did the first part right but the second part not so much.
The expo was very small. I have to remember this isn’t the Twin Cities marathon or Grandma’s marathon where it is a huge event and brings a lot of vendors. My assumption that I can just pick up my honey stingers (my fuel choice) at the expo was bad as they weren’t there. Thankfully we found a running store near our hotel that had them in stock. It was looking pretty bleak!
I didn’t sleep well and I woke up an hour before my alarm and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was a little worried about my performance. I also didn’t prepare very well for this race so I had serious doubts about my ability to go the distance. I struggled to run after the last half and the longest run I could muster in that 7 weeks was 8 miles once. I was very scared, more than usual. I had my two pieces of toast and Nutella and water for breakfast. We hopped on the shuttle to the start/finish. It was nice that this shuttle was across the street from our hotel! We got to the start with plenty of time to spare. We hung out at Dunn Bros. Coffee to stay warm…well so Mary Linda could stay warm. Ha! The temperature wasn't bad, a little warmer than I had hoped but still was in the low 60s. The humidity was a killer though. We lined up for the national anthems…yes they sang O Canada! Grand forks is practically in Canada so it didn’t surprise me.
I lined up near the 3 hour pacer. My plan was to stay with her but the adrenaline in me said go! So I went! I didn’t go crazy though. I ran for the first 8 minutes or so before I broke into my 1:30 run/30 second walk. I keep changing my mind on what strategy to do but lately I have stuck to this one. I have decided this works well for me. The first mile was a nice warm up. A lot of people passed me but I was ok with it! I don’t remember much about the first couple miles of the race. I stuck to my splits and had some consistent miles. At one point a black cat darted out in front of us and there were about 5 of us who started laughing and making jokes, "dang, guess I’m not going to win" and "oh no! our race is cursed now!" Haha! Good times.
I wanted to keep my pace right around 13:22 which would have put me at a 2:55 time. I knew with my lack of training that this was a lofty goal but I had been running consistent miles around this pace so I knew I could do it for a while. Miles 1-4 were: 13:13, 13:32, 13:23 & 13:14. Mile 2 was a bit slower because of a water stop. Unlike all previous half marathons, I didn’t run fast in the beginning. I didn’t have any 12 minute miles which is unusual for me. I stuck to the plan and I was only 5 seconds off after 4 miles. I was happy and feeling good!
The middle miles went surprisingly well. I was already passed by the lead marathoner and that meant that these miles I was constantly passed until the marathon diverted a different direction from us. Mile 6 was around a park. We were running on pitted cement which made for an interesting time. Of course it rained all night so these holes in the cement were full of water and by the time I left the park my feet were soaked. It was a tough mile and I’m surprised I still maintained my desired pace. Mile 6 had the one “big hill”. So it was only like 25 feet but when the whole course had an elevation gain of 118 feet that was a big hill. Ha! I tried running it but gave up and walked with everybody else. Mile 7 we crossed over into Minnesota, my home land. I saw something near the end of mile 8 that surprised me...I’ll get to that soon. Miles 5-8 were: 13:12, 13:17, 13:28 & 14:03. As you can see I lost it during mile 8. This is no surprise to me, as I mentioned above, this was my longest run during training.
As I was running down a hill, close to crossing the mile 8 marker I see Mary Linda. WTF? Mary Linda was walking and I never saw her pass me so I was so confused. I caught up to her and said how did you get in front of me? Well she had a snafu and somehow missed the pitted wet concrete mess in the park. She is so lucky! Anyways I spent the last 5 miles with her. We did some run walk splits for mile 9 but mostly walked the last 4 miles. The 4 Mile Death March as I like to call it. Ha! We did sprinkle some running in between but mostly it was a fast walk. She walks really fast! We were again on the shared course with the marathoners so they were screaming past us. They got a 30 minute head start and had ran 13 miles more than us. Crazy! I wish I could run that fast! We eventually crossed back into North Dakota and before long we were at the finish line. Miles 9-13 were: 14:11, 15:09, 15:43, 16:23, & 16:21. Finish time 3:08:33.
Could I have finished faster? Absolutely! But I had fun walking and talking with Mary Linda and sometimes having fun is important too!
I felt pretty good afterward. We had bananas, oranges (I gobbled those up!), pineapple and granola bars. I even had a Mello Yellow! I was starving. We eventually boarded our shuttle bus back to our hotel. I immediately headed to the pool and hot tub to swim a bit and then soak in the heat. After a quick shower, Mary Linda and I went to Perkins for lunch. Eric decided to lay in bed. After Perkins, I crashed, took an hour nap and for the evening we went to the movie, Bridget Jones' Baby. Overall it was a great day.