Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race Review: Applefest Half Marathon!

Back when I was training to run a marathon in November I signed up for a bunch of races to match my training plan. I lucked out and found a half marathon just down the road form me AND it offered all you can eat apple crisp at the end! I was very excited about this race as I read about it on Active.com as one of the best half marathons in New England. And then I messed up my foot.

Who wouldn't run for all you can eat apple crisp??

I took the boot off a few weeks ago, ran a little, ran a 5k, ran a little more but nothing really more than a 5k. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to compete in this half marathon. I know, it was probably a bad idea since I hadn't really trained for it but I figured I could walk it if I needed to.

Well as the day drew closer and I actually looked at the race website, I found out that they don't allow walkers because everyone had to finish in less than 3 hours (poo). But I did it anyway.

Stupidly, I didn't do any type of course research. The website warned of "rolling hills" throughout the race course but I figured I could handle them. I met up with a friend on race day and she told me that the beginning of the race was pretty nice, a few up hills but it was a net downhill at the beginning, then there were a few crappy hills towards the end. That's when I started to get nervous...

I didn't have ANY clue what to expect for my pace of the race since I hadn't really run in 2 months. I picked 10:40 min/mile since that is about what I ran at my fastest half marathon and I was running sub 10min/miles before I hurt my foot.

I showed up to the race a few hours early, hung out with my friend, checked into the "filly" aka fat kid division and waited for the race. The race started at 10am which kind of annoyed me since I didn't know how to prep foodwise. I didn't want to eat too much for fear of tummy troubles during the race (a race which only offered potties at mile 6.5 for the relay racers!) but I also didn't want to be STARRRVING half way into the race since I knew it was going to take me 2+ hours to finish the darn thing. So I had a bagel at 8AM figuring it would give me time to digest before the race and brought some Gu Chomps along for energy during the race. It was not enough! By mile 10 my stomach was rumbling and by the time I finished I thought I was going to puke I was so hungry! I'll have to work on that for next time.

So actual race summary. They were very well organized, check in was quick and home base was at a high school. They opened up the gym for check in and milling around pre race which was good considering it was raining outside. They spread out the portapotties well so there wasn't a HUGE line at any one area. The starting line was a little cramped but that was ok since the race was limited to 1200 people. I lined up a few minutes before the start and set my Garmin to a 10:20 pace figuring that if I could keep that pace in the beginning I'd had a little bit of buffer at the end for the treacherous hills.

The gun went off and I was OFF (well after the first 500 people started in front of me). Once I got through the pack I was cruising, attacking hills left and right and totally maximizing the downhills (I'm learning!). I checked my Garmin a few times and I was kicking butt! Under 10 min miles. This totally gave me motivation to keep running through the rain and the hills. As I got farther in the race it became more and more of a mind game. I told myself I wasn't going to walk on any uphills until I was at least halfway through the race and my awesome time kept me going. I was on track to cut 20 minutes off of my half marathon PR! I was going to finish in under 2 hours if I could keep up my pace!! And then it started pouring around mile 6.5...like POURING RAIN!! Misting/drizzling is fine because it cools you down and your feet stay pretty dry. Once it started pouring my feet got soaked and I started to blister. Then around mile 9 I hit the hill from H-E-double hockey sticks. You start up this steep but short hill, manageable...and then you turn the corner, expecting it to flatten out but it was just steeper and longer!!!

That's when I gave up and started to walk. This was my fatal mistake in the race. Once you slow down in a race when you've been keeping up a great pace, it is hard to get back to the running. And even harder if you are taking on challenging hills. The next 1.5-2 miles was allllll uphill. By the time I reached flat ground again my feet and calves were toast and I was hungry. I was determined to finish and since I had been kicking butt for most of the race I could walk and still come in close to my half marathon PR time. I wanted my finishers medal!! And finish I did!

It's a bottle opener too! To help dull the pain...?

I ended up finishing in 2:25ish, 7 minutes slower than my best time which I was still pretty proud of considering my lack of training for the past 8 weeks (the boot sucks out all of my motivation to exercise and eat well). What sucks though is that during the race I totally screwed up my feet. Huge blisters all over the bottoms and in my attempts to continue to make forward progress and avoid making the blisters worse I reinjured the stress fracture in my foot.

SOOOOO back in the boot for another 8 weeks, which means I'll be in it pretty much up until the time of my next half marathon (which used to be the full marathon I was training for...). So who knows what will happen. I still really want to run it and it's flat and I certainly proved my lungs and heart can handle it after spending time in the boot. But the big question is whether or not the foot can handle it. I think I'm going to break down and go to the doctor and figure this out for real.

1 comment:

  1. What a great recap - sucks that you trained for all of 2 minutes before racing it and it rained buckets, but I would have run for the apple crisp and sweet finishers medal too. My first half marathon was an inaugural one for the course so they didn't even give out medals... how lame is that?