OKTOBERFEST HALF MARATHON
September 19, 2009
While it is far from October, and while the weather here has been anything but Octoberish lately, this was the name of the race. I've never run it before. I may never do it again. Why do I continually find the hardest races in the area to do??
People told me it was hilly. Okay, I've been training on hills. Just to prepare for this and get stronger. I didn't believe them at first. The first 4 miles were gently rollling hills. However, that was the end of easy. From 4 until 11 miles, it was one hill after another, with miles 7-8 the absolute worst: 4 hills. I kept thinking I missed the mile marker for 8 but no, I just hadn't gotten there yet.
Backing up to the start of the race, it was really chilly and windy--probably about 45 degrees. And being near the lakeshore the wind was cutting right through you. The marathon started at 8 am; the half at 8:15. Good thing, because with all this long training, I pretty much take for granted running races, meaning to me its just another training day. Meaning I barely made it to the race before the start. I don't know what I was thinking, leaving the house at 7:10 for an 8:15 race that was 35 miles away, but hey, I made it. No big deal. And luckily I found a parking spot immediately and only about 1/2 mile from packet pickup.
The half marathon started on a bridge overpass, meaning uphill. I wasn't sure if it was a chip start so decided I would not start at the bottom of the hill and walked myself up more than half way to not have to deal with a long hill at the start. It was a chip start, but I was still glad to not start at the back of the pack--I knew I would be there soon enough.
Probably 95% of this race was run on a paved trail, a paved HILLY trail. Not only was it hilly, but the cantor of the trail really made my ankles and feet start hurting by the half way point, almost like someone had stomped on my insteps, so it was painful.
I had been somewhat sick all week, so didn't know what I would do with this race--go strictly for time or try to get a PR. As it turned out, with the cold day, the head congestion, and the almost constantly dripping nose, it seemed a better idea to go for time and practice my run/walk method I would hopefully do at later races.
I decided to go with what I've been doing lately on long runs: 8:2. I know I absolutely will not be able to do better than this at IM, so am practicing on every run longer than an hour. This worked for most of the race.
At around 5 miles, I spotted a woman ahead I was sure had been behind me at mile 1, but couldn't quite figure out how she could have possibly cut the course. But I was determined to pass her then, if she had somehow cut the course.
From 5-10 miles, we played cat and mouse. At 8 miles I came close enough behind her that I knew she probably was in my age group, making me that much more determined to pass her for good.
But the hills continued, and I was getting very frustrated with all the ups and downs. Would it never end??
Nine miles ended on a downhill; 10 miles started on an uphill. I passed the 3rd place woman around 10 miles. She was doing a 2 minute run and a 3 minute walk. I should pass her. I had no excuse.
Soon after, I saw Don on his bike. He had ridden out to the race start from GR. So now I had no alternative--no walking. He wouldn't allow it. I wasn't sure if I appreciated him being there or dreaded it. By 11 miles we turned into a park, but still on the paved path, and my stomach was hurting so much I had to wonder what I could do the rest of the race. I decided to keep running and slow down if necessary to just keep going and keep ahead of 3rd place woman (I had no idea at any point in the race where others were in my AG but I suspected she might be in mine). I had to walk a few more times but kept the time minimal to keep ahead of 3rd place woman. Her husband was biking along with her, helping her with water and gels, something that would not be allowed in a triathlon, so again, I was more determined to keep ahead of her.
At about 12 miles, the first place marathoner came flying by. I was surprised that it hadn't happened earlier, but like I said, this was a hilly course, and I am more than thankful not to have had to do this thing twice.
My stomach was really hurting, like someone had kicked me in the stomach, by now. It was hard to the touch, so I knew I was in distress. There were also a few more hills thrown in there, and while I tried to keep running, I had to stop occasionally to let the cramping ease up.
The last quarter mile, however, I pushed it as much as was possible, and finished in 2:42. Good enough for 2nd place in the AG. I was happy with that.