Monday, April 15, 2013

Martian Half Marathon race report!

I'm sitting down to write this on Sunday afternoon and my legs cramping up and hips screaming as a sit at the computer are reminding me of what an amazing day I had on Saturday.  Let's back up a bit, shall we?

When I registered for the Martian Invasion of Races Half Marathon several months ago, I signed up knowing I had a 10 miler on my schedule that weekend but figured a race with fun bling and only 3.1 miles more would be a better use of my Saturday.  Little did I know how much of a roller-coaster it was going to be.  My long runs (really, most of my training runs) had been going exceptionally well and I was blowing away most of my training paces.  Then...I got sick.  REALLY sick.  I spent half of Tuesday and all day Wednesday in bed with one of the worst sinus infections I've ever had, complete with fever, body aches, the whole nine yards.  I hadn't originally planned on running the Martian as a race, but with things going so well, I figured a PR was in the cards.  However, since I was still not feeling 100% by Friday, it meant my race goals were seriously adjusted.  When the weather reports shifted from 50 and sunny to 30 with snow/wind/rain, I figured any hopes of a great race were doomed.

I live about 2.5 hours from where this race is held and made plans to spend the night with friends about 25 minutes from the race site Friday night.  I scooted out of work on Friday and hauled butt over to Dearborn, MI (home of Ford Motor Company, among other things) to get to the expo before it closed.  The race expo, held at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center (think 1/2 symphony hall and 1/2 sports complex), wasn't very huge but was decorated with lots of little green, purple and blue aliens.  Tons of kids were running around with their own inflatable martians (there is a kid's "marathon" as part of the race weekend that also included a full, half, 10k and 5k).  It was pretty cute.  Like most expos, you had to snake through all the vendors before you could get to your bib and shirt pickup.  Not a big deal, but I still find that a bit annoying.  There wasn't really anything I was interested it but they had some big beer glasses with the race logo on them, so I bought one to use later.

A random stranger offered to take my picture with one of the aliens.  It's not very often I'm taller than someone, so of course I had to snuggle up to the little guy and get the shot :)

I spent maybe 30 minutes or so at the expo and then headed to my friend's place.  It was pretty late by the time I got there (a little after 8pm) and I don't normally drink the night before a race, but the Bell's Porter was too hard to pass up.  Jen and I split one.  And then split another.  I think it helped me relax a bit, and let's face it, a few extra carbs never hurt anyone.  The conversation was good and it was great to catch up with Dave and Jen.  Around 9:30 or so, I headed to bed and had my usual pre-race-night of tossing and turning and waking up before my alarm.

Because I was less than 1/2 an hour from the start and my race didn't begin until 8:45, I was able to sleep in until about 6:00 who am I kidding, I didn't sleep.  I was a little stressed out driving into Dearborn because a) driving in Detroit just plain sucks, and b) I had no idea where in the heck to park, but I acted like a lemming and followed the crowd, finally finding a lot with some open spaces about 1/2 a mile from the start.  The walk to the starting line at Ford Park was a nice warm up (even though it was FREEZING out).

It's hard to see from this picture, but who starts a race on an uphill?  I mean, seriously?  The benefit was I knew I wouldn't go out too fast :)  I did what is becoming my usual pre-race warm-up of a 5 minute jog followed by 4 strides.  This coupled with the walk from the car definitely had me warm and I was really questioning if I was overdressed (long sleeve tech shirt, Nike Element jacket, warm hat, CW-X tights, and Team Sparkle Skirt).  I figured, if I needed, I could tuck the hat in my belt and tie the jacket around my waist.

At least the Aliens would be able to spot me if I got off course.  I lined up in the corrals (really just a roped off area) about in the middle of the pack.  They had signs for pace areas but the signs stopped at 10mm and that was still a bit ahead of where I'd managed to push my way up to.  I knew it was going to be crowded at the start and didn't want to weave around a ton of people, but I also wasn't going to line up with the 8mm folks. I'm not that person.

The day before the race, everyone got an email indicating Hines Drive, where a majority of the half and full take place, was under water.  It had been raining for DAYS and this poor course follows a flood plain.  They said no worries, we have an alternate course and everything will be fine.

Original course map
It turns out, the "alternate route" was also impassable because of torn up roads, so the race directors frantically created a new-new course the night before (or maybe even that morning).  I still haven't heard if it ended up being certified or not.

What we actually ran.

As we are standing in the corrals, I'm noticing that 8:45 has come and gone.  I started my playlist 4 times before the race actually began around 9:00.  Not sure what the delay was, but no big deal I guess.  I just kept jumping around and dancing to Lose Yourself by Eminem (it's always song number 1 on all my running playlists) to stay warm since I'd finished my warm up a good 30 minutes before we actually started running.

I'm not going to give a mile-by-mile recap of this race because frankly, I can't really remember everything and the looping out-and-back course made it hard to know where I was at any given moment.  It was nice to always have people around me and the out-and-back style meant I got to see the leaders fly by and also never be alone on the course.  I was trying to just go out and run because I didn't want to stress about pace, but I'll admit I looked at my watch. A LOT.  I couldn't believe how fast I was running but I also felt good so I just went with it.  I took off my hat at mile 2 because I was hot and spent the race zipping and unzipping my jacket.  I'd get warm but then the wind would kick in and I'd get cold.  My legs felt like lead at mile 4 and I thought I'd made a huge rookie mistake of going out too fast, but I was able to pull my shit together.  I remember a few other things, like the sleet and snow that started at mile 6 and both myself and the girl running next to me yelling out "yes!" and "bring it on" because you really just have to laugh at that point.  We gave each other a fist bump and then I'm proud to say I left her in my dust.  I remember looking at my watch right at 6.2 miles and realizing I'd set a 10k PR (I think it said 1:03). I remember not really looking around much because my eyes were so focused on the ground.  I noticed a few nice houses but mostly, the roads were TERRIBLE and the potholes were scary.  The last thing I wanted was to roll an ankle or fall.  I also remember the 2 wooded bridges once we hit the nature preserve behind U of M, Dearborn (around mile 11 or so).  These bridges really did a number on me because they FREAKING MOVED! I hit the first one and immediately thought I was passing out because everything got fuzzy.  The bridge was bouncing all over the place.  I was prepared on the 2nd one so it didn't hit me as bad.  I felt strong all the way through mile 10 but then between the bridges and just getting tired, my legs started cramping up and I was HURTING for the last 2 miles.  The weird thing?  Those miles were also my fastest.  I even had enough left to really kick it at the end.  This was also my first race ever of this distance where I never stopped to walk.

I still can't believe I ran mile 13 at a 9:34 pace.

When I looked down at my watch after I crossed the finish, I was both shocked and a little disappointed.  My watch said 13.02 miles.  Was the course short?  Maybe, but I had at least 13 so I'm going with it.  BUT... my watch also said 2:10:41.  2:10 was never on my radar.  Before I got sick, I had 2:15 in the back of my mind.  I went into Saturday morning hoping to pull off 2:20.  I smoked that goal and set a half marathon PR by over 17 minutes!!!!

Happy Girl!
After trying to recover by sitting on the curb and eating part of a bagel, I was able to head over to Buffalo Wild Wings and meet Lori!!! She was sitting at the table when the race reports were finally posted and it was so awesome to be able to celebrate with someone.  Lori ran a great 10k that morning too!

Fuzzy picture - but I think that pretty much sums up how I was feeling.

To say I'm thrilled with how well I ran on Saturday would be a huge understatement.  I set out to just run.  I had no real expectations other than still hoping for a PR.  I knew I didn't want to walk but was prepared to if needed.  I wanted to have fun and finish the race with a smile.  Smashing my PR (that I set back in Oct 2010 at my VERY FIRST HALF) by 17 minutes was just unreal.

The Martian Invasion of Races Half Marathon was truly OUT OF THIS WORLD!

The bling was pretty sweet too :)

Did you race this weekend?  I know there were a lot of races out there.  Good Luck to anyone in Boston today also!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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