A few months ago I wrote on one of my former track athlete's Facebook page that I needed her to move back to Ohio so we could be friends in real life. She replied, "how about we meet and run a race?" Well, don't tempt me with a good time! She is a law student at University of Richmond, so we chose a race sorta kinda half way between us: Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon. For me, I made this an "A" race and actually trained for it following the Run Less, Run Faster program for the last nine weeks. I had no goal time in mind, but I knew a new PR could be in play.
But let's back up a minute.
Friday morning I woke up with a terrible headache and a bit of a sour stomach. I took two Tylenol and headed off to work. A couple hours later I was still feeling bad so I left work early. I popped two more Tylenol. Nothing seemed to be working. We left Columbus and I was still feeling awful. I couldn't see straight, my head was pounding, and my stomach was just off. I barely ate any dinner. Come on, Meredith! Are you really getting all worked up over a half marathon? You've run, like, a hundred of these!!!
Saturday morning we woke up and I was still not feeling great. This is stupid. I don't want to run anymore. I'm so over feeling like this. Luckily, we were staying only two blocks from the race site, so we basically got up, went down there and picked up our packets, and then went back to the hotel room to get ready. After seeing there was nothing to get worked up about, I settled down a bit and was able to get down some breakfast. The race finish was at this park close to our hotel. You met there and then they bused you to the start of the race. It was a point-to-point race that was on a rails to trails limestone trail that was touted as being downhill. We boarded our bus and immediately struck up conversations with others around us. Everything was really casual and I was feeling better. The ride only took a few minutes and then we were left for last minute preparations. Then it was about a quarter mile walk down the trail to the start line, or as it was, a stick in the ground with a sign on it reading "Start Line." I do love a casual race!
The race started and immediately I knew we had lined up too far back. The trail could only support, maybe, three people across so it was a struggle to get around in the first mile and get in the position I needed to be.
Mile 1: 8:00
By mile 2, though I had found my position and was cruising. Being that it was a small race and I wasn't wearing my Garmin, I assume that the mile markers were a little off in places.
Mile 2: 7:04
Mile 3: 7:43
Mile 4: 7:29
I've got to be honest. I felt like crap for the first four miles. I felt like the trail was zapping my energy and I just was not interested in running. But, the pace was somewhere around a 7:30 so I knew a PR was still possible.
Mile 5: 7:27
Mile 6: 7:14
By mile 6 I was feeling great. Yes, it takes me a long time to warm up. And as you can tell from the picture below, I obviously thought things were going well.
Mile 7: 6:57
I actually said out loud to myself when I saw that split, "Shit Mer! Slow down."
Mile 8: 7:36
Obviously the previous mile marker was a little off. :)
By mile 9 I had had the same gentleman following me for a couple of miles. I told him, "If we were biking I would tell you to stop sucking my wheel." He told me I was setting a good pace and I asked him what it was. He said about a 7:20. Alright. It could be a PR day. I told him he could keep running with me.
Mile 9: 7:09
Mile 10: 7:06
Around the 10-1/2 mile mark the trail goes from crushed limestone to pavement. And it hurt. It felt like you were running through jello. My legs did not want to go. Still I was catching women and I was hoping this race was going to be enough to get me an age group award.
Mile 11: 7:04
And then I got tired. Like, where the hell is the finish line tired. I was hot on the heels of another female runner and I just didn't have anything left to run her down.
Mile 12: 7:30
I screamed at my legs to get moving in the last mile. I had hit mile 12 at 1:28 and my brain was so fried that I had no idea if that would get me a PR. I kept trying to add 1:28 plus 8 and just kept coming up with 1:40. Yeah, I don't know either. I pushed and pushed hoping there was a PR in me.
Mile 13: 7:27
Last 0.1: 40 seconds
When I could finally see the finish line, I saw the clock was 1:36. Obviously I couldn't do math and obviously I was getting a BIG PR!
1:36:31 (7:22 pace)
Afterwards I waited for Dave and my student, Brittany. We all had lunch together and then went to the awards ceremony.
This race was my kind of race too. There was little to no swag - cotton t-shirts, no medals, no chip timing, and the price was right. But the awards were amazeballs. The overall male/female winners received trophies that were shaped like runners welded out of old railroad spikes. The age group awards (10 year age groups) were also railroad spikes with plaques on them with the placing. I really wanted an award! I had looked at last year's results to give myself an idea of what it
would take to get an age group or overall award. Based on last year's
results, a 1:37 or better would get me an award. But, a small race with little to no swag tends to bring out the real runners. They don't care about all that crap. They just want to run for a cheap price. And there were some fast chicks out there! The overall female winner went 1:17. The age group winner in my age division went 1:27. Third place in my age group went 1:34. My 1:36 got me 6th in my age group and a big fat nothing to take home. Gosh! That's fast!
Overall, this was a great race. Definitely a race I would consider again. The course is fast. The weather was perfect. The price was right. And I'm super happy with my performance and excited to start into marathon training.