After my first Marathon, I was so sore I had zero motivation to run (at all). Then, winter came in full force and I decided that I was only going to be a fair-weather runner. I couldn’t stand running on a treadmill and with it getting dark around 4:30pm I hardly there was hardly any time to safely run before or after work. I continued my yoga and lifting routine; but, when I finally started running again in April, I realized how out of shape I became. Coming out of the WDW Marathon, I knew I was not going to let myself go back to square one again. Thus, I already signed up for my next marathon and three half marathons before I even ran at Disney.
The half marathons I signed up for were a part of the Winter Warrior series – the Snowmans, Ice Cube, and Mud-dog. Each race would use the same course and would be 4 weeks apart – one in January, February, and March. For only a registration fee of $100 dollars, I got/will get:
- Registered in all three half marathons in the series
- A pint glass at all three half marathons
- A hat, a pair of gloves, and a sweatshirt
- A race medal at completion for each half marathon (that will combine to make one giant medal)
- Free beer after every race
For those of you that are runners, you would know how much of a steal this deal was. $33.33 for registration and a pint glass per race! I have honestly paid more and gotten way less.
The first of the Winter Warrior Series – the Snowmans – was last Sunday.
The day’s before the race I had no clue what to expect. I had only been on CMU’s campus once, and to be honest, I didn’t think there would be enough to run a half around it. I decided it would be best to book a hotel for the night before. This would allow me enough time to scope out the area and pick up my race packet early. Plus, although the half did not start until 9am, nothing is worse than having to drive two hours before running. Since packet pick-up was 4:00 – 7:00pm, I decided I would leave my house at two to be there right when it opened.
After a late start, I arrived at O’Kelly’s at 4:30pm to retrieve my packet. To be honest, I completely forgot that we would get a pint glass with each race. I was surprised to see that they were even pretty high quality (actually glass instead of plastic). We also received a chip timer instead of a bib. I never used one and was excited to see how well the chip worked. I then hopped back into my car and typed the directions to my hotel. Being completely underprepared for this race, I did not look up the distance between the start location and the hotel. There was only one Marriott in the town, and so that was the one I went with for the #points. As it turned out the hotel was a five-minute walk away. I pulled out of the parking lot of O’Kelly’s, made a right turn, and then instantly pulled into the Marriott.
I was looking forward to some rest and relaxation at the hotel. It would be plenty of time to catch up on some blogging and read. I was happy to find that in my hotel room there was the perfect couch to do both of these actives. Not wanting to leave my hotel room, in my overnight bag, I included a packed dinner of turkey-Portobello meatballs and spaghetti and a bagel and almond butter for before the race. Right before I went to bed I laid out all of my clothes and packed the rest of my stuff up.
I was up at 7:00 to eat and get dressed. Having learned that I could walk to the start line, I left all of my stuff in my car at the hotel. At 8:30am, I began my walk to the starting line and was happy to see that it was 39 degrees outside. Michigan’s weather is never predictable, especially in January; and I was nervous I would be running in -10 degrees and snowfall.
Once I got to O’Kelly’s I began looking for the start line. In the information e-mail, it stated that the start line was the same as last year, across the parking lot and on the path. There I saw a large “Finish” banner, but no one was around. Was this the right place? Is there a “Start” banner somewhere else? When more people arrived, all of the early arrivers, I found out they thought the same thing and aimlessly tried to find a “Start” banner. As it turned out, the “Finish” was also the start.
Due to the small number of runners, the 5k, 10k, and half all started together at 9:00am. I have never been a fan of combined starts, as it sets my pacing out of whack. I made sure to stay around a 10:00min for my first two miles, but it was difficult with the mental pressure of everyone speeding past me. Before I even got to mile 1, there was already someone running the 5K headed back to the start. At this point, we had run around the football stadium and through the athletic campus.
As I round the corner to mile two I realized that I was right. CMU’s campus was too small for a half marathon because 9 of the 13.1 miles were out on dirt roads, in the middle of nowhere. A huge smile popped across my face. Having lived in the boonies for the past 10 years, I have done my fair share of training on dirt roads. I never thought it would ever benefit me in a race before. As soon as my feet hit the dirt, muscle memory took over and I sprinted off. For the next 6 miles, I saw nothing but negative splits. 9:50, 9:43, 9:40, 9:39, 9:32, 9:06. I had never felt better! But then, once I passed the mile 8 sign, I took a walk break at the water station and OH MY GOSH. My left foot killed.
The week before, I had gone out to run an easy seven miles and stepped in a pothole around 2.5 miles. My ankle rolled over and I fell flat on my face. I finished the mile then walked home. There wasn’t any pain or swelling, so I figured I was in the clear to run the Snowman half. Two days before the Snowmans half, it started to ache. I own a walking boot from the last time I sprained my ankle and decided to wear that as it helped what little pain I add. That’s when I broke the number one rule of running: Don’t try anything new the day of the race.
I bought an ankle guard to help from rolling it again – a smart choice since the race ended up being primarily on pothole covered dirt roads. However, it clearly messed something up because it hurt to stand. I walked all of mile 9, stopping twice to readjust the brace then eventually taking it off. I convinced myself to run all of mile 10 and mile 11 at 11:10 and 10:42 respectively. Once I got back onto the paved roads, I didn’t want to risk making it worse so I walked the rest of the way. I even stopped by my parked car to put on the walking boot and grab my ID (because I desperately needed that beer now for the pain). As I rounded the corner to the finish line, I began running again; boot on and everything.
Overall, I finished at 2:28:33. Not bad for having a couple of 16:00+ miles in there. However, I still came in the bottom ten of the race. Small races like this one typically only bring out the fastest runners. The first place women ran a 1:31:49, almost a whole hour faster than me! I didn’t mind this though because it was good motivation to push me. Now that I got the okay from the podiatrist to run again (no fractures! YAY!) I am hoping to get a PR during the Ice Cube half. It shouldn’t be too difficult to break 2:15:00 on this course. Here’s hoping for the best!