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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The One About the Fairview Half Marathon

Last weekend I ran the Fairview Half marathon; my 30th half marathon! This is a race that had been on my mind for quite some time now. I actually volunteered on race day last year and then got to run the course for my medal a few weeks later but I was really looking forward to running it on race day. I also had every intention of this being my goal race in which I ran for a PR. In hindsight I’m actually really glad that didn’t play out for several reasons but I’ll get to those in a minute. This race is a small, very local race that’s super close to me and where I grew up and I know the race director personally and there are always so many runner friends around that you can’t help but feel excited and encouraged on race day.

Believe it or not I still get nervous on race day, every single time. Every time. But this race was actually a little different, for the first time in a really long time I a) felt like myself
as a runner (no injuries, no pain, well prepared and at a pace I like being at) and b) had no expectation on myself other than to have fun. The last one was a true blessing and something that is actually really hard for me to do. No matter what the circumstances are going into each race I always tend to expect a great deal from myself or I’m already aware of the fact that the day won’t go as planned and I’m negative before the national anthem is even sung. But this race was completely different - I knew there was no way I was hitting anywhere close to the goal I had originally set for myself but I was not even bummed about that at all. Like I mentioned several weeks ago God has really been working on my life in a lot of ways and showing me what balance is really all about. It’s very refreshing to get up and run just for the pleasure of running (I promise, that’s a real thing).
Race morning was super easy, I was up, ready, had breakfast and out the door, with a husband (who was putting his best efforts into not being cranky!) in tow. 

Getting to the race site was easy, parking was SUPER easy and there were NO PORT-O-POTTY LINES!! I think I screamed with excitement over that one. It actually turns out that there were indoor bathrooms and that’s where everyone else was lined up. But heck, I prepare myself to use a portable toilet on race morning so no lines is totally worth it, you guys can wait for the indoors all you want. I got to pee twice while you were just waiting in line!
Race morning weather was perfection for me - a little chilly, overcast and the most gorgeous sunrise I could have imagined.

After peeing twice, singing the national anthem and telling Alex bye the race started right on time. I easily found the 2:35 pacers and my plan was to just hang out with them. I felt great and knew I was capable of more but I haven’t raced as much as I normally do so I wasn’t entirely too sure what the day had in store for me and I wanted to be comfortable and enjoy the race. I also knew the course was hilly so I figured a safe bet was to hang with them as long as I could and speed up later if I wanted to. I say I didn’t have a goal but we of course all know that’s a bunch of crap, I definitely had a finish time in my mind and it was somewhere between 2:30-2:35.

Within the first mile I saw a friend of mine and we chatted for a little bit. She is coming off of an injury yet has continued to run/walk marathons and halfs. She even did a walk/run for the entire Dopey Challenge at Disney this past January! Totally amazing to me! At about the 1 mile marker she sped up and I got back into the 2:35 pace group. The hills started pretty early but weren’t too bad. I chatted with one of the pacers for a bit. She commented on my shoes and we started talking about how much we love our Brooks running shoes. She was 27 weeks pregnant so we chatted about that too. I seriously hope I can be running like her at 27 weeks pregnant!!

I actually had a bit of a cramp in my side for the first 3 miles which is really unusual for me but I just took a lot of deep breaths and right as I saw the 3 mile marker it just all of a sudden went away. I also started to pull away from the 2:35 pace group a little bit as well. I wasn’t planning to leave them that early but I was feeling awesome and my legs were feeling antsy to move so I just dropped the pace ever so slightly.

One of the perks of this race is the small town country roads that the course is run on and with that comes awesome houses, lots of great scenery and some interesting pets, like longhorns and llamas. I kid you not, within the first 3 miles we passed both a herd of longhorns and llamas. I’m telling you, this race does not disappoint, y’all!

At mile 3.5 we got a nice little downhill portion along the highway and that felt nice. I have to take a moment here and also mention that since this course is on country roads and through neighborhoods there are a lot of volunteers and police officers and they are just awesome! I cannot stress enough how awesome all of the volunteers and law enforcement for the race was. So nice and friendly, very professional and the water stops were great and frequent. I never felt like I was running a smaller race when it came to the necessities of racing.

Right before mile 4 we turned into an awesome neighborhood with amazing houses. I don’t know about you guys but I love house hunting while I’m running, love it! For several miles we wound our way through awesome sprawling neighborhoods with cool houses and lots of little ups and downs. Right about mile 4 I saw a guy sitting in his driveway cheering people on and I realized as I approached him that I knew him and his family. I waved hi and asked about the family. That’s one of the fun things about this race - it’s just so down home and friendly.

Right as I hit the 5 mile marker I was still running strong and I could actually see the 2:30 pacers in front of me. They were still a ways off but since I was feeling so good my goal now was to slowly catch them and hang with them as long as I could. I was feeling good but I’m not sure I actually still believed I had a good race in me at this point. Over the next 2.5 miles I kept them in sight and slowly, slowly, slowly gained on them. This middle portion was fairly even with only a few slight hills here and there.

By mile 7.5 I was at the back of the 2:30 pace group and exactly as we hit the 8 mile marker I passed the pacers. I’m not actually sure who the pacers were because I passed them and kept moving on but I do have to say that the guy pacer was by far one of the coolest and best pacers I have ever seen. He was having the time of his life out there and he was telling a story about one of his race experiences. I only heard bits and pieces of the story but I could tell it was a story that was going on for miles. He was very animated, very funny and quite entertaining; exactly what you want in a pacer!

It was right after I passed the 8 mile marker that we were coming up on a right hand turn that would take us back out towards the highway and there was a big hill coming up. I realized then that I still hadn’t taken any GU or water so I quickly grabbed my GU and actually took my time taking little bits of it over the next mile and a half. Once we got up the hill there was a flat portion before we made another right hand turn to go back up the hill we went down at 3.5. It was a pretty long hill and it was then that I realized I really need to get back to consistent hill training. I never walked though! Once we reached the top of the hill at 9.5 we were heading back through the same neighborhood we did the first 3 miles in. It was exactly the same just in reverse. I know some people were dreading it because of the hills but I actually kind of liked it because I knew exactly what to expect and I knew exactly where I needed to give a little extra push and where I could relax a little bit.

Mile 10 came along and I started to pick up the pace just a little bit, the thought of catching the 2:25 group ran through my head but I didn’t actually have them in sight so it really wasn’t a possibility. However, I did want to come in under 2:30 now. At this point it was pretty much a mental talk for myself: I was telling myself that if I could keep this pace at exactly where it was I would be done in about 32 minutes and I just ticked the minutes off. Mile 11 was the hardest, there were a few hills and I really wanted to stop. I was still ahead of the 2:35 pace group and I wanted to keep it that way but my pace dropped a little bit. Finally I saw the 12 mile marker and we climbed the very last hill!! It was a flat course the last mile on the highway and I knew I could do it. Right at mile 12.5 the 2:30 pace group caught me and they were running strong. I didn’t let it bother me because the time on my watch showed I was coming in well under 2:30. But I also didn’t want them to get too far ahead of me either.

Then right at mile 13 I saw Alex and I knew I had a sprint in me so I took advantage and pushed passed those pacers to finish. 

I saw a friend working at the finish line and she yelled and waved at me. I stopped my watch and saw I came in well under what I was wanting for the day! I finished in 2:25! I grabbed my awesome medal, some water and a few snacks and easily found Alex.

I attempted to take a picture in front of town hall but we actually didn’t get a good one. In my attempt to hold up a 3 and a 0 for 30 Halfs I accidentally held up a 3 and a 5….blame it on the runner’s brain! It’s funny now but I didn’t even realize until later I had done that.

After that I found the race director and thanked her for such an awesome race. I love how accessible she always is on race day, being right there in the action and available for you. We chatted a bit and I asked her about her awesome adventures from the weekend before on her trail races.

Overall this was such a wonderful event and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate 30 half marathons. From start to finish everything was well done, professional, detailed and above expectations. The venue, the shirts the medals and course, the details along the course, the volunteers and police officers and medical staff they were all so wonderful. The city of Fairview really hosted an awesome race and I will definitely be back for more.

Now, to the reasons I am glad this didn’t end up being a PR race… For starters, it was a hilly course, very hilly. Ok, not like the Austin half type of hills and not the I’m going to die type of hills but more like those hills are not really meant for a PR type of hills. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually know quite a few and when I saw quite a few I mean more than I can count on 2 hands a few people that did in fact PR at this race, so it is definitely a friendly course. But for me, even though I love hills I think it was better this way. I also when signing up and planning to PR this race didn’t realize this would end up being my 30th half marathon. As nice as it would have been to have a PR for 30 I really am glad I was able to just enjoy the day rather than worry about trying to go for a PR. So PR or no PR this race is definitely on my favorites list, thank goodness it’s local because it’s one I want to run over and over again.


Clarinda @ Enjoying the Course said...

Congrats on your 30th half. That's quite an accomplishment, and I've given you a high five over on my blog today for National High Five Day. Just thought you'd like to know. :-) said...

Well done! I love a race that you are really able to just enjoy, which it sounds like you did!

I've never done the Fairview Half as I think Libby developed it after I moved away, but if I'm ever back when it's on, I'd love to run it. She's the best about race organization!