Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jax Bank Half Marathon #racereport #runchat

On the last weekend of 2013, I ran my 6th half marathon of the year and 10th overall.  I flew down to Jacksonville, Florida for what I hoped was a little sun and not too hot temps.  I ended up with rain, rain, and humidity.  Lots of humidity.

Going into the Jax Bank Half, I knew I wasn't at my best and I was in no way healthy enough for another PR.  I set some goals though, because that's what I do, and then I watched the weather report get worse and worse.

Friday night I had a great DailyMile meetup.  We met at Engine 15 Brewing and sampled some really great beers.  Meeting people that I had only known online previously was incredibly fun.  It was nice to have some friendly faces to find post-race as well.

Saturday, I decided to go out for a 2 mile shake-out run.  I'm not sure if this was a mistake or if it just solidified how awful Sunday was likely to be.  The humidity kicked my ass, although I was able to maintain about a 10 min/mile pace for those 2 miles.  The worst was how pissed off my heel was afterwards.  It hadn't been hurting much and after that 2 mile run it KILLED.  I limped my way to packet pickup (just tents outside the local running store) and then drove parts of the course.  I hit up another brewery, Intuition, and then went downtown where I had a great pizza for dinner.  I wish I could say I got a ton of sleep but I really didn't.  My hotel had paper-thin walls and I was living next door to an infant.  Who cried.  A lot.

Race morning proved to be just as hot (71*) and humid (90%) as predicted, but at least it wasn't raining.  I managed to eat some oatmeal, have some coffee, and I lined up near the 4:15 marathon pacers (which on a good day would have been a decent half marathon for me).  This was too far up but there were more people than I thought would be there so I just went with it.  The first 5k made a loop.  It was overcast and the humidity was nuts.  I was already feeling it by mile 2.  I decided to stop and take a picture as I crossed a bridge around mile 4.5 since I knew immediately my time goals were completely out the window and it wasn't raining yet. The race staff made announcements about storms moving into the area before we started, so I knew the rain would come.  Sadly, I was praying for it by mile 3.

You can't see it, but Hooters is just to my left. I should've stopped for wings.
Miles 1 - 5: 10:29, 10:41, 10:54, 11:09, 11:23.  By mile 5 my re-established goal to maintain a sub-11 minute mile (when I should have been running about a 10 minute mile) was shot.

I should note that my heel hurt from the first step.  I didn't do any sort of warmup and I'm glad.  I think it would have just made things worse.  Somewhere in Mile 5 it started to drizzle.  The light rain was actually a relief because it helped cool me off a little.  The area we ran was very pretty with the huge live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.  This northern girl had never seen trees like that before.  Somewhere around mile 7 the rain really started coming down.  I stopped at an aide station near mile 8 and put Poweraide in one of my water bottles.  The humidity was kicking my ass and I was getting pissed.  Mentally I had already checked out.  I was walking way more than I probably needed to walk and I was frustrated.  I wanted the race to be done.  I felt very lonely running through those neighborhoods and just tried my best to get lost in my music.

Get lost I did.  Along with a bunch of other runners.  We really weren't lost but someone asked if the half was supposed to go straight at the aide station and for a few minutes, I panicked that I was on the course for the full.  I've never been so happy to see a directional sign in my life as I was to see that sign telling me to turn left around mile 8.3.

Faking a smile for the camera.
Miles 6-10: 12:13, 11:40, 12:46 (this was were I was trying to figure out if I was lost), 11:27, 11:17. My splits sucked.  12 minute miles? Seriously?  I thought I'm better than this but today, the humidity proved I'm not.

As we headed back toward the finish line, I felt a little burst of energy.  Or at least I thought I had until I saw my splits.  I hit the mile 11 sign and told myself that I was no longer allowed to walk under any circumstances.  I could run 2.1 freaking miles no matter how badly it hurt.  I kept trying to figure out if I was going to be able to beat my Grand Rapids Half Marathon time but my brain didn't really want to work.  I was pretty sure I'd failed in that final, last-ditch goal.  This course is a little bit cruel.  You can see the finish area, but they send you on another loop into a neighborhood with about 1.5 miles to go. There were a lot of people walking at this point and I just started counting off kills.  I eventually stopped counting.  Then, they make you run through a grass soccer field (remember, it's been pouring now for about an hour so it's mostly one giant puddle) and then onto the high school track to finish.  I was actually surprised at how well I ran on the grass and track. Maybe it was telling myself not to fall and make a fool of myself.  I saw one of my friends as I entered the track and this gave me a huge boost to finish strong.  A girl I started to pass on the track sped up but I still beat her.  I have no clue what my pace was for the last .1 because my Garmin read 13.0 but I'd be willing to bet it might have been my fastest pace the entire race.

Miles 11-13.1: 11:30, 10:57, 10:30.
Are both feet off the ground?  That chick in blue was the one who thought she could out-kick me.
I managed to finish a very hard half marathon in 2:26:53, an 11:12 pace, 80/133 in my age group.  I came no where close to meeting my time goal.  When I first planned this trip, I was thinking PR (2:06:xx).  Then my injuries really started to act up and I wanted to finish this race in my top 3 (2:19:xx).  By race morning, I just wanted to beat my first half marathon time (2:27:52).  I barely made it.

Very glad to be in the tent with Deb's running group.
I found my DailyMile friends at the finish line and managed to snag some beers with Deb's running club.  Those beers tasted so good.  I was very thankful for the tent they had set up because within 10 minutes of my finish, it looked like we might need to hire Noah to get us all home in his ark.  I have never been so glad to not be running a full marathon in my life.  My thoughts went out to Beth and Meghan still out on the course and I hoped they were doing ok.

How do I feel about finishing my 10th half marathon?  I'm definitely proud of what I've accomplished since I finished my first only 3 years, 2 months ago, but I'm not happy with how I ended 2013.  I raced too much and I'm paying for it.  I'm broken.  I can't walk without pain.  Even biking on the 1st aggravated my heel.  I'll survive, because I always do, but I wish I could have ended my 2013 racing year on a more positive note.

At least the swag was nice and I got to meet some really awesome runners.  The sunrises, beaches and beers were pretty special, too.

What's on my race schedule for 2014?  I honestly don't know.  Until I can get healthy I can't really make a plan.  Not having a plan stresses me out.  I have it in my head to complete my 2nd full marathon this year and even that is up in the air at this point.  Stay tuned.

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