The second installation of the Winter Warrior Series was on the 18th of February. I was looking forward to it as the weekend before I completely slacked off of my training. Most of this had to do with the fact that I was supposed to go on vacation to San Antonio; but instead, Michigan ended up with 14inches of snow and I was able to cancel my flight since I couldn’t even drive safely to the airport (I was able to get a full refund #ThankYouDelta). Now that the snow was almost completely melted, it appeared to be another great weekend for a half marathon. Once again, the forecast was calling for 40 degree and sunny weather. I do not know how we got so lucky to have two amazing weather days in January/February but I was not complaining. This time, I was driving up to CMU with one goal in mind, to finally get a new PR.
As we ran on the same course as last time, I knew where the water stations were and where the hills were located. I came with a pacing plan (the first in any of my races), and I was not going to wear my hydration pack to limit the amount of weight weighing me down (another first). My previous PR was a 02:14:38 and I ran that in the Motor City Half Marathon on August 21, 2016. My goal was to run a 02:10:00, which meant I needed to run 09:55min/mile.
Like with the previous race, I drove up the night before to stay at a hotel. This time, I didn’t arrive until 6:30pm as I got lunch with a longtime friend and then cleaned my bathroom since I wanted to make sure when I got home I could take a long soak in the tub. As I mentioned in the previous week, for the IceCube Half we were to receive a pint glass and mittens with this race. Once again, the pint glass was surprisingly great quality. The mittens, I don’t think I would necessarily wear as they are not racing mittens, but they are perfect to add to my emergency-snow car pack.
At around 07:00pm, I checked into my Marriott. I recently caved and got the Marriott Visa Card, this automatically bummed me up to Silver Elite Status. I was excited to see what new perks I got with Silver Elite, but there was really nothing too different compared to being only Elite. So, I spent the rest of the evening catching up with blog posts and reading. At 11:00pm, I headed to bed.
I woke up at 07:00am and really did not want to run. I was still in a funk and wasn’t feeling as motivated at all. I even laid in bed for 40 minutes contemplating if I even wanted to run or if I wanted to spend some quality time in the hotel room. Most of you know I have had a pretty hectic February (why I haven’t been posting as much lately) and the idea of chilling in a hotel room by myself seemed like perfect mental health break. Instead, at 8:20, I gathered my strength, packed up my car, and headed to the start line.
At the start of the race, I was beginning to freak out because my Garmin was not connecting to the GPS fast enough. I was fully prepared to wait well past the starting gun before bothering crossing the line. Thankfully, two minutes before the start, my GPS finally connected and I was off.
Sticking to my plan, my first 4 miles I all tried to stay around the 10:00 mile time. I did a pretty great job at maintaining it running a 9:55,10:02, 9:52, and 10:19 respectively. My first walk break was at the 10K turn around point (aka mile three). This was also where they snapped the half marathon photos. I knew I was booking it though because this time, I almost made it to the photographer for the 5K photos before she packed up and drove to the 10K and half marathon location.
After the fourth mile, I cranked my pace up to a 09:30min marathon pace, for miles 5, 6, and 7 with a slight walk break in the 7th mile. Miles 5 and 6 were almost spot on with a 9:38 and 9:39 respectively. The 7th mile, with the walk break, came in around 10:26. Not ideal, but I desperately needed a little rest, so I popped a Gu as well for some added energy. Miles 8 and 9, I then cracked up my pace more, aiming for 9:00min miles. I was happy to see that they ended up being 9:19 and 9:11 respectively. This is when things started to get difficult. Like with the last half, after mile 8 my feet started to kill. This time, thankfully, it was only for an external issue.
I do not know how many of you have grown up on dirt roads like me. But, when the weather begins to warm up, to prevent the entire street from becoming mud; the street grates and distributes gravel all over those roads to attempt to harden them up. If you have ever walked barefoot over gravel, that is exactly how running on gravel feels. My shoes could barely protect my poor little feet from the blisters they were about to get. That was when I came up with a plan. I knew miles eleven and twelve were on pavement so, instead of walking in mile 11, I decided to walk early in mile 10 so that I could save my feet some of the pain. This resulted in a 9:42 time, higher than the 9:00 I was hoping to get, but it really paid off come twelveth mile.
Mile eleven was a huge struggle, thankfully, there were two other people pushing me along. I would have slowed down a lot more if it was not for these two. I ended up maintaining the 9:48 pace, so I was at least under the 09:55 I knew I needed to maintain. Then, I got to mile twelve, and my adrenaline kicked in. I already knew I was going to make my PR. Normally, I hit two hours right around the ten-mile marker; but this time, at the ten-mile marker, I was at an hour and thirty minutes. It only started to feel real at mile twelve though. I kicked up my pace, completely passing the two people that were keeping me motivated at this point. As I passed my hotel, I could see the finish line banner and I began to cry. I was so ecstatic at this moment. Going from debating about running today, to breaking my PR and finishing at 02:06:16 are the moments I live for.
To make it even better, this time I finished early enough to even pick up the “trophy” for this week for being third in my age group. It ended up being an ice scraper with the logo on it! I also talked to the race planners about possibly getting my third place t-shirt from the Snowmans race at the Muddog. They recorded my name and said they think it is possible!
Happy Running! 🙂