Going into the 4th month of my #12monthsof13.1 challenge, I decided to go with the Martian Invasion of Races Half Marathon. However, based on my marathon training plan, I needed to get an 18 mile run in that weekend. Thus, I took a leap and signed up for the Milky Way 26K.
Running the Milky Way 26K meant that I would run in the 5K race, then, when I cross the finish line for the 5K, I instantly get back the starting corral and run a half marathon. I never completed a racing challenge before, so I was anxious about what to expect. It is one thing to run 16 miles training, but I had no idea how to pace for a half marathon after running a 5K. Would I be tired? Would I even be able to finish? It would be an experience that is for sure.
Since the race ended up being after my big move, I ended up using one of my Marriott vouchers to stay for free at the Dearborn Inn. G also tagged along to make a date weekend out of the event. Since with my new job I no longer work on Fridays, I drove down to pick him up after work then continued our way on to Dearborn for the expo.
The goal was to have a quick in-and-out then head to dinner, so I got to the expo with only 30 minutes left. I bolted straight to the back to grab my bib and shirt. On my way out, however, I remembered I forgot to bring KTape. I stopped to buy the last packet at the expo and that is when I saw it – The Roll Recovery R8, on sale. I have seen many an Instagram runner post #ads involving the device and wanted to give it a try. WOW, I was so impressed. I rolled out my left leg and then said thanks and began walking away, but there was an extremely noticeable difference in how loose my muscles became. I turned right around and bought it. G made fun of me a little quoting how I got swept up in the materialistic fad, but he agreed with me that it was the best purchase I made after he tried it :P.
From the expo we ate a pre-race meal at our favorite restaurant, Mint 29, then headed back to the hotel so I can get some shut-eye. When I woke up at 6:30, it was absolutely poring. I knew there would be some rain, but I didn’t think we would get a flood warning. I got dressed then went to the hotel restaurant for my way too expensive breakfast. All I wanted was half a bagel and a banana, but to get those items, I had to pay $20 dollars for the buffet. Then, I marched to the front desk to ask for a trash bag that I could wear. G was still asleep because I told him he didn’t need to come to watch me due to the weather. At this point, I had full intentions for running the 5K and, if the weather didn’t look better, potentially leaving before the half marathon start at 8:45am.
My Lift Driver dropped me off as close as he could to the start line around 7:45 am. The rain let up a little but was still rather heavy. Every potential coverage spot near the start line was packed full of people attempting to stay dry and warm. I ended up taking coverage under the playground slide.
The biggest issue with the rain was that the Pace signs for the 5K were falling apart and near impossible to use. Thus, first time 5K walkers ended up near the front and the runners ended up near the back, thinking that everyone in front of them planned on running. I planned on running the 5K at my training pace, but I still had to walk the first 2 minutes of the race trying to weave my way around the walkers in front. When we rounded on to Military street; however, the crowd evened out making the rest of the 5K easier.
Mile 1 came in at 11:06. Not bad given the rain and the walking crowd at the beginning. Mile 2 then ended up being 10:34 (main goal average pace for the 5K). The best part was I saw a women wearing a shower cap, and I wish I thought of that idea. The trash bag was working great! It went all the way down to my knees so my core was dry and super warm. The only problem was my ear warmer was now soaked and water kept dripping in my eyes. I was now regretting not bringing my swim goggles. Thankfully, Mile 3 was almost over and I ended up finishing in 00:31:58.9.
At the end of the 5K, I still had about 13 minutes until the half marathon start. I b-lined to the port-o-potties and did something I wasn’t necessarily proud of, I hid in the port-o-potty for the next 10 minutes to try to stay out of the rain. Extremely selfish of me I know, but I could barely feel my ears or hands after the 5K. I rung out my mittens and at least a pint of water fell on the port-o-potty floor. I then emerged at 8:43am to line up for the half marathon.
Once again, I went into this half marathon aiming to finish at a comfortable pace, nothing hard that could potentially cause stress fracture or any other injury. The only problem was that it is extremely hard to run slow while it is raining. After all, to quote my high school track coach “the faster you run the faster you are #done.” This was also the first half marathon I have run without listing to music. Mostly because of the rain but also because I started training without music as I don’t live in the safest neighboorhood and I wanted to see how a race would go without it.
Mile 6 = 8:49
Mile 7 = 8:33
I had no idea what came over me. I haven’t run at an 8:33 pace since college when I was super in shape. At this point, I was beginning to break a sweat under my plastic bag and made the decision to rip it off.
Mile 8 = 9:19
Mile 9 = 8:49
Mile 10 = 8:51
Mile 11 = 8:53
I was beginning to slow down again as I knew there was no way I would be able to maintain the 8:33 pace. As I grabbed a Gatorade from the last aid station though, the volunteer screamed at me “still looking super strong! keep it up!” and that gave me the last little motivation I needed as I realized I was actually close to breaking the 2-hour mark.
Mile 12 = 8:52
Mile 13 = 8:22
I rounded past U of M – Dearborn and could see the beginning of the finish shoot. I was now in a full on sprint as my watch read 01:59:13. I had to get there before 2 hours was up. I JUST had too. One of the runners in front of me actually got out of my way as they heard me splashing loudly behind them. Unfortunately, I did not quite make it in time I ended up finishing in 02:01:14. Then came the tears. Not because I didn’t make it under the two-hour mark, but because I knew I would eventually get to that point. Had I not walked as many times as I did, I would have made it under 2 hours. Something that didn’t seem possible when I first started running is now a real possibility. I was so proud of myself for not quitting due to the weather and coming in with another new PR!
Video of me finishing super strong at the end of the half!