I found out about the race though an email, and it was a good deal and fit in okay with my training plan, so I signed up a couple of weeks ago. It was "okay" because this week was my "off" week. It wasn't "great" because it came after 3 weekends of a 16.2, 18.4, and 20.0. And that last 20 was tougher for me than usual. I did only run 1 time this week, though, just enough to tide me over to this race fitness-wise.
The Night Before:
I went more carby, but mostly with semi-junkfood... goldfish, tortilla chips, soy crisps... and I had an extra snack of it at like 11pm because at the time, I felt like I needed more, but the next morning, it felt like a mistake. Next time, I'll eat healthier, with whole grain bread or pasta instead.
I looked up the course map and studied the mile markers and turns. The pdf on the race website didn't have elevation, so I plotted it at mapmyrun.com to see what it was like. Since it gave a graph covering 13 miles that was really stretched out, it looked pancake flat.
Since I'm probably close to (maybe past, who knows) top form, I thought that a PR may be possible, given the long runs I've built up. Temps looked pretty good, too, high-40s to low-50s.
The Morning Of:
I showered to get my body warmed up. I didn't pack until the morning. Usually, I pack the day before. I should pack the day before next time, since it took me a few extra minutes to look for certain items. I have some stuff in my running "store" where I "go shopping" to pick out what I need for the day, but some often-used items aren't kept in there, and I had to hunt them down.
I had decaf, half of a Kashi granola bar. Wasn't too hungry.
Drove out to Traveler's Rest. There's a special feeling I get when I go out to my car in the slightly chilly early morning when I'm going to a race. It's like "it's time for adventure".
At the packet pickup, they had REALLY nice long-sleeve tech shirts that I liked. It's loose, kind of glowingly white, light, comfortable, and nice-looking. I really really like it. Maybe one of my favorite race shirts ever, seriously. It was high-quality.
They hadn't posted anything about the number of water stops, so I asked a volunteer about it and continued to study the map for a while. Then, I geared up... applied anti-chafing gel, put on my number. Then, I laid down for a while, since my back was tired from sitting on the bleacher hunched over the map.
The 5K started at 9am, and the HM started at 9:15.
At 5 til, I put on my shoes (my second pair of Kinvaras - only 2 runs totaling 9 miles so far on them) and did like 20 feet of running and did dynamic stretching and range of motion movements.
Went to the bathroom like 3x in all prior to the race.
They ended up startin the HM a few minutes early because they realized that the 5Kers would start coming back in at like 9:17, so we had to get a move on. Good thing the bathroom line was short 7 minutes before race start.
The first mile went off just as planned. If I wanted to go sub-1:35 to PR by 1 minute, I had to go 7:15. I hit the split button on my watch... and the watch re-set itself because it was running out of batteries and couldn't handle any button pushing. So for the rest of the race, I just had to look at the normal time and add time to estimate how far the next mile marker was. That was okay. The only bad part is that I don't have split data.
The race was flat... for the first 2 miles. For the next 10 miles, it got what felt like progressively hillier. I started the first 1/2 mi with about 3 other girls. One girl took off really strong not long after. Another gradually pulled away... super gradually... going from being behind me to like 0.2 mi ahead of me over the course of the 13 miles. So I was third. I didn't look back during the race to see how close the next girl was. Just kept chugging forward.
Through mile 6, I was fine with the water stops they had. I found myself getting low on energy at about that time, though and remembered that I had a gel with 50mg caffeine (oh yeah, I had like 1/4 a cup of coffee before the race), and that helped a lot. There were times during the rest of the race where I really wish I had more water. The second half of the race is where you need it the most.
On the hills, I was running with a shirtless guy who was a good climber, and he'd pass me on the climbs, and I'd fly by on the downhills, and he'd pass me again, etc. He ended up getting a good lead later, but it was just kind of funy. The hills were pretty steep (for me, for whom pancake flat running is the norm), and I power-walked probably 5x up the hills because it got me up at about the same pace my running would've gotten me up, but with much less energy.
After mile 9, I thought I had just passed mile 10 and thought there was only 5K to go, so I put in a little surge, but then I realized that it was really 4 miles to go, so I just ran normally the rest of the time. The last water stop came in at mile 12 (I thought it was going to be at mile 11.5), and I wasn't sure of exactly what landmarks to look for to let me know that it was time to kick. Not that I could've done an extended kick, anyway, though. So just keep looking ahead, to see where the people ahead are, and to see if they've turned yet. Started on the road, when will it end... turned onto the trail... when will it end... up a hill... are we there yet?... and a little after the crest of the hill, it was time to turn. It was a downhill to the end... the sign at the finish was really big, and it felt like a finish at a big race... the long last stretch.
Crossed the line in 1:39:53ish watch time. Given the hills, that's ok. After crossing the line, I saw 2 other girls finish within a minute of me. Phew! Barely got 3rd, then.
It was a good run. Good practice in racing. I had forgotten about my gel, so I'll remember next time I get low on energy. I know what it's like to wish for water. I think my hill power-walk strategy worked well for me. Gear (shades, visor, iPod Shuffle, UA calf sleeves, Feetures socks, shorts with back zippered pocket, number on sportsbra, Kinvaras) were all good. Awareness of competitors. I think I forgot to tell myself "relax the body", since that really helps with efficiency, I think.
Bought a new watch on Amazon.com. Will need it for training! Until then, I may use a Garmin or something.
It was a nice race, and I had a good time. Nice volunteers, a challenging course, super-comfortable long sleeve tech shirt, a medal, good fellow racers who I got to talk to a bit after the race. It was fun. Great way to start 2012!!!
13.1 in 1:39:53, 7:37 ave.