Short version: YAY! It’s done!It was super hot and I had to go to plan B (survival) and walk a bit. But I finished, in an almost-goal 2:35:39 for 13.23 miles.
Longer version: Unfortunately (in this case) the weather outdid itself and went above and beyond the forecast – it must have been about 75-80 out there and it was brutal on the unshaded areas (of which there were many). I’ve been training in 55-60 degree weather (usually in the 50’s) and the heat just sucked the energy right out of me. Even the local paper pointed out the heat’s effect on the race.
The morning started out pretty normal, I got up at the bum crack of 5am and sleepwalked through getting my outfit on and drinking some coffee. I drove down to where the shuttles were ferrying runners to the starting lines and on the way out I noticed a bank clock reading 65 degrees… at 6:50am. Not a good sign of things to come.
At the half start, I chilled with other runners in a warm field but started to get a little nervous at how warm it was. There were a bunch of empty port-a-potties so I did my business and checked my gear bag. Right around 8:45 everyone lined up self-seeded at the pace poles and I slid in between the 10 and 11 min-mile poles, with a goal pace of around 10:30-10:45.
Within the first mile I had a tiny sideache. I pressed on it for a bit and it lessened, but I was already noticing I didn’t have my usual energy for this point of a run. In mile 2 we broke out into open sunlight and the heat was ON! I was feeling like the pep was just leeching out of me. In training, my first mile is usually my best-feeling, and I have to force myself to slow down. There wasn’t a lot of forcing going on here :S I was glad I’d worn my sunglasses, but DANG I need to get a pair of actual running ones… my cheapo 7-dolla Old Navy aviators were sliding down my face the whole race, I think I must have pushed them up about 5,000 times.
Right about mile 3 we hit the first/worst gnarly hill of the course – a super steep creek bed that went dooown and then very steeply uppp. I let pride get the better of me and ran up the dang thing, which left me gasping and staggering to the aid station conveniently located at the top. Spoiler: I walked pretty much 90% of the remainder of the hills in the race.
I abandoned my pace strategy pretty quickly and went into survival mode and just chugged along. I took my first Gu a little earlier than planned (I wanted to take it around mile 5, and was trying to string myself along with that as a carrot, but then was just like “screw it, I’m tired NOW” around 4.5 miles), but the mint chocolate deliciousness was a nice distraction for a wee bit.
I just started counting down the miles as they passed… 8 miles left, 7 miles left, halfway done! Since I had abandoned all hope of meeting my time goal I took a few photos and walked through all the water stops. They were all themed differently and some of them were pretty creative… there was one modeled after Survivor that was pretty awesome, I really should have taken a photo! I walked up most of the hills after the halfway point as well and sluffed along in the heat as best I could.
I had no leg problems, no bathroom issues, and only slight foot soreness. It was mostly just the heat killing me out there. It was BEAUTIFUL though and the mountains looked amazing. I tried to distract myself from the glowing orb of death in the sky and stare at the mountains as much as possible.
Running down to that creek (the photo above) was pretty fun as it was the first real substantial downhill of the race. At that point we entered a bit of a shady area as we headed north toward the coast which was a huuge Godsend, but a bit of too little too late since I was already pretty well overheated. There were a few homes along the forested path and one couple had brought out their little mini-cooler and were filling up tiny dixie cups of water and setting them out for the runners, which was so awesome of them, I thanked them profusely as I went by (though there was no garbage can so most people were tossing the dixie cups further down the trail :S)
We broke out onto the coastal part of the trail (the final 4 miles!) which was back in the burning beams of the sun. My energy was really sapping at this point and I was starting to lose the mental battle to not walk. I took my 2nd Gu (delicious chocolate frosting flavor!) around mile 10 after a water stop and I may or may not have dragged it on a little bit so I could continue walking. I walked about a half mile of mile 12 as well (a weird little detour around the old mill site, up and around a gravel path), but I reallllly wanted to run the final bit, so forced myself to pick up my feet and run the last 1.1 miles to the finish. I passed the final course photographer and struck what must have been my best delirious pose:
Finished in a chip time of 2:35:39 for 13.23 miles (measured by Henry the Garmin), which, considering the heat and my sporatic walking, I’m fairly happy with. I think without the heat/walking I probably could have hit my goal (2:15-2:20). I think I did give in a little too much in the later stages of the race to the walking urge so I ‘m a bit disappointed in my mental fortitude.. I think I need to write a motivational word/phrase/verse on my hand for the next one. Hopefully the RnR Seattle half June 25 will be a little cooler!
I now have 7 angry blisters, a sweet sunburn (yes I forgot sunscreen, and my calf sleeves made for some particularly classy burn lines), and an automatic half-marathon PR, which I hope to smash shortly!