The adventures of an unlikely pair. Follow us if you dare....

Friday, September 28, 2012

The One About The Panhandle Half Marathon

Gun's Up! For all you Red Raider fans out there.

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this up – I was just not really motivated to write about it, not because it was a bad race or anything, it was actually a good race, I just didn't feel like writing about it. Lame I know.

Last week I posted two goals for myself for this race and those were to 
1) run the entire thing and 
2) have consistent mile splits.

Well for number 1 I am going to give myself an A+!
And for number 2 I will go with an A-.

It was actually really nice staying in Lubbock at my aunt and uncle’s house – they are both extremely hospitable and it was a relaxing weekend spent with family and taking care of a few things ( I picked out a wedding band!). Saturday night after a wonderful dinner I actually went to bed at a fairly early time of 10 pm (that’s early for me folks!). I slept ok and didn't have to be up until 6:15!

Everything in Lubbock is pretty much “right down the road” and when I say it took us 10 minutes to get to the race I mean it took us about 8 ½ minutes. This was a smaller race of about 1200 people total (Marathon, half marathon and 5K) and parking was not an issue at all. We were also able to use the bathrooms in the civic center so that was great too. I saw some people standing in line at a port-o-potty but I have no idea why when they could take about 10 more steps and pee indoors and actually flush the toilet – I guess they must have really wanted that race experience!

We got there about 7 am for an 8 am start time so we sat in the car for a while and let Alex’s phone charge up. I ate a banana and drank my pre-workout drink. I went out about 7:20 to use the bathroom and then I did my 10 minute warm-up (0.90 miles) by running around the parking lot a few times. I've never warmed up before a race before and honestly it was kind of nice – it got out some of those prerace nerves and got my blood flowing. In hindsight my warm-up mile was a bit faster than it should have been so in the future I will probably do this again but go really really slow!

Once I was warmed up I found Alex and we took a couple of pictures and then waited about 10 minutes for the race to start. The weather was great and it wasn't cold but it definitely wasn't hot. There were maybe about 300 or so people doing the half marathon so it wasn't crowded either.

The race used the jaguar timing which meant that the timing strip was on your bib and you didn't need to put one on your shoe which was weird because it made it a bit confusing as to where the race actually started (I’m still not sure because when I look at the starting times online everyone starts at the exact same time!). But at 8 on the dot we took off and started out around what I would call a ghost town, but was actually probably downtown Lubbock.

I joke about it being a ghost town but actually it was extremely quite as we wound our way through the downtown streets. It made time go by quickly as we were weaving through each street and most of the buildings looked to be vacant so they were kind of interesting to me. I quickly zoned out at this point and just let myself settle into the run (I do have to mention that right at mile 1 I saw a guy sitting on his front porch with a Scottie puppy – so sweet!).

Early on there were a couple of ladies that I would trade spots with back and forth along the course but eventually around mile 5 I lost them for good. There were pleasant and during the first couple of miles their husbands and kids would be cheering for them because they could just walking each block of the downtown area to see us as we all passed by and that was cute.

The first three miles were weaving through the downtown area and then right at mile 3 we entered a park area. Alex had taken off in the first half mile of the race and I saw him at mile 3 in the port-o-potty lines. I waved, asked how he was and kept going, I figured he would catch back up and pass me soon.

From miles 3-9 we were in a large park, Mackenzie Park and we ran on the roads around that, it made a loop and once you came back out of the park you turned left and went back towards downtown. I actually got a little bit bored of this portion but at least it was a nice day. As I was approaching mile 4 I could see the people that were either running the marathon (since they started half an hour earlier) or the really fast half marathoners.  I remember people being so encouraging at this point and everyone on both sites of the course telling each other they were doing good and looking strong, it was a fun and positive race environment. This was where most of the spectators were as well.

I kind of zoned out at this portion of the race because I was already a mile farther than everyone else (meaning I didn't reset my Garmin when I was done with my warm-up, so if the mile marker said 5, my Garmin said 6), there were a few up and down areas, I wouldn't really call them hills but this wasn't a pancake flat course either.

We ran around a water/theme park and then we ran around the windmill farm and we ran around a “lake” which looked more like a pond to me. There were a few fairly good inclines on the back portion of this park loop and at one point (mile 8 of the race) I saw a guy fall to the ground in front of me on the incline because of a cramp. I checked if he was ok and then at the bottom of the incline there was actually a police officer directing traffic and I told him there was someone that needed medical attention.

Mile 9 of the race (10 on the day for me) I started to really feel like I was hitting a wall; I hadn't taken any fuel up to the point (on purpose) and had only had a banana to eat about an hour before the race (again on purpose). I am really trying to not use as much GU while running and trying to train my body to not need those things while running. And besides, I had eaten so much pumpkin bread that my aunt had made the day before so I know I had plenty of fuel stored up in there! So far it’s been good to not take fuel during my runs but I was glad that I did bring a just in case GU with me because I took that at this point. It was actually one of those Chia seed gels and it was pretty good, not as sweet as most GU is which I like.

At mile 10 there was a giant incline when we were leaving the park and heading back downtown, we were on a main road now and passing the Mrs. Baird’s Bread factory – that was totally not cool to be smelling the fresh bread as you are almost at the end of a half marathon!

At mile 11 of the race (12 for me) you can see that I get excited that I’m almost done because I speed up a bit too much. When the mile beeped at 11:28, I’m pretty sure I said, Oh Crap! Or something similar….

I calmed myself down because I still had two miles left and I was feeling tired. I was really starting to feel the heat from the sun now but honestly the weather was still pretty nice. We were weaving our way back into the downtown area now and it got all dead and quiet again, I started passing a few people who were walking and that was nice.

At the last water stop I grabbed some Gatorade and dumped that and a cup of water into my handheld for some added electrolytes but that actually gave me some really bad stomach cramps. At mile 12.5 (13.5 for me) the cramps hit so hard I had to stop running and I walked about 10 steps before I realized I was so close to running the whole thing and I needed to just suck it up, cramps or no cramps.

I tried to speed up some as I was nearing the end but I misjudged how far this one stretch was until we turned for the finish and so I had to back off a bit to get to the finish area. I finished the day with 14.1 miles in 2:45:37, so subtract my 10 minute (exactly 10 minutes on the dot!) warm-up and I’m sitting at 13.2 miles in 2:35:37, that’s only 2 minutes off my current PR!

Honestly I couldn't have asked for a better race; I ran the whole thing (minus those 10 steps which let’s be honest, when I've run 14 miles for the day 10 steps really isn't walking…) and I had my second best time in a half marathon ever. I've run 16 half marathons now and that is only the second one where I have run the whole thing. It was such a confidence booster for my marathon training and for running in general.

As for the other goal of consistent splits, honestly I’m not disappointed in what I did, I managed consistency for the most part and honestly the main point of this goal was for me to be consistent enough to accomplish my number one goal, so it definitely served its purpose!

Once I got my medal I thought I should hurry over and wait for Alex because I just knew he was right behind me, but instead I wound up waiting for about half an hour – he had had some foot issues and I made the mistake of not bringing GU for him poor guy so he had a really rough race!

Over all this was an excellent race – one that I would highly recommend. I know Lubbock is not the most scenic place to go but I thoroughly enjoyed the race and the course (although there were a few steep inclines I would still say this was a flat course). I'm pretty sure that elevation chart doesn't lie!

 I am very good as zoning out at races and this was the perfect race to zone out and run a nice and easy long run that counted as training miles for marathon training. I’m not always a fan of the races that this particular racing company puts on but this one was probably by far my favorite that this company has done. Everything was well executed, the location and site were nice, there seemed to be plenty of water on the course (I always have my hand held so I usually ignore water stops) and the crowds were small but so encouraging. There were also lots of police officers and volunteers along the course. I had a great day and would probably do this race again if given the chance.

*I'm not sure what is wrong with the formatting of the text, I have messed with it and trust me it's bothering me but I just have to let it go!


Erin said...

Congratulations to both of you! I'll have to check that one out for next year. The nice thing about Lubbock is that it's dry heat so very low humidity...which is awesome for running!

armyamy said...

I've been so curious to know how this race went! As a former Red Raider and someone who has run a lot of Mellew races, I kept hearing about it and wishing that I could run it! Congrats on a great race!*