My third half marathon was a memorable one for many reasons, with the biggest being that I set a new PR! You can’t really tell here, but I’m pretty darn cold in this photo. It was a chilly one!
Also, for those of you who asked on Instagram, I’m wearing:
But let’s back up to the beginning, shall we?
I previously mentioned that the Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon started later than normal, which was a treat! They offered both a Half and a 10K course that started at the same time and start line.
This was the first race I have done completely on my own, without knowing anyone during the run or at the finish line. Scott had rehearsal at the arena for a game later that night, so I dropped him off on my way and parked knowing it was just going to be me, myself, and I this go around.
That didn’t bother me too much. I pulled up around 9 AM, got out of the car around 9:15, and stretched while I waited in line for the (Port-a-Potty) restrooms. I usually line up earlier than fifteen minutes before go time, but it was cold out and I am kind of a wimp… hence, me getting out of my car at the last possible moment.
I followed the crowd to the start line and decided to put myself right in front of the 2:00 pace team.
I had a specific goal of completing this race in under two hours and knew they would help me reach it!
We all started in one wave and there was a decent crowd sporadically on the sides to cheer us on throughout the first mile or so. I love when people make funny signs! They give runners something to distract themselves with when the miles start to run together.
Some of my favorites were:
“Your feet hurt because you’re kicking so much ass!”
“Pain now, beer later…”
“Hurry up, we’re freezing!”
Having a crowd show up and cheer runners on is so motivating. If you have ever gone as a spectator and cheered runners on during a race, bless you!
I wasn’t sure what to expect with a half marathon course through back roads. I guessed the majority of our path would be on dirt and trails, though. I was right.
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous! I only stopped to take a couple of photos during the race, but I wanted to take so many more. The leaves and lakes were so beautiful!
(photos taken after the race)
Against my better judgement, I started the race between the 1:50 and 2 hour pace marks. I figured that knowing my goal pace was at my heels the whole time, it would make me push a little harder and faster, and it did.
Next time, I will probably just pace with the 2 hour group and then go faster later on if I’m feeling good. I almost tired myself out half way through!
I loved the scenery, but running on the trails at a fast speed for miles and miles is no joke, y’all.
The unsteady rock surfaces and mud pot holes almost did me in a couple of times. During the very first mile, I tripped on a rock that came out of nowhere and rolled my ankle a little. It caught me so off guard that I almost fell to the ground and the girl next to me stopped and asked if I was okay!
I shook it off, rolled it around a couple of times and kept going. It was sore, but it didn’t really hurt. It shook me up more than anything else.
This was the first race I grabbed water from almost all of the water stops, and I think the hills had something to do with it. As much as I like to think I am in shape, I’m the type of person who gets seriously winded after a flight of stairs. I can literally run for hours, but five flights of stairs do me in every time. I can’t explain it.
The hardest part of the half distance for me is usually the 7-9 mile mark. This time it was the 4-6 mile mark and then again at the 10-12 mile mark. Again, this had everything to do with the hills.
They might have actually been the death of me.
I got in sync with the 2-hour pace team around the 5 mile mark and made a point to stick with them for the remainder of the race. I loved the extra motivation!
All was going well until around the 10 mile mark. There were a few hills up and down there, but I legitimately thought somebody was pranking us when I got to the 11. It was ALL hills. Steep hills. After running for over an hour and forty minutes, that’s the last thing my body wanted to do and I honestly couldn’t believe they saved this challenge for the very end.
I stayed with the pace team the best I could. There were points where I felt like I was barely moving just to go uphill and then had to try my best to gain control of my legs on the way down. I eventually gave that up around 11.5 miles and let the pace team go. I had to stop and walk just to catch my breath. I was SO winded!
I took my phone out of my zipped jacket to try and take a photo to show you guys and didn’t even get the steepest of them. There wasn’t an end in sight and I felt very frustrated. And robbed.
After a small pitty party, I pulled myself together and starting running again. Then I got out of breath again and walked again. I had no idea how far I was from the pace team and I really didn’t care anymore.
Luckily, things started looking up around the 12 mile mark. There weren’t too many hills and the path expanded to roads and streets again. The finish wasn’t so far!
I picked up my pace and tried to catch up to the pace team as much as I could. We made the same loop we took at the beginning of the race and I got to see all of the fun signs again. That placement was strategic and I loved it.
There was a crowd of people waiting at the 13 mile mark and I knew I was in the clear! I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 1:58:31. I made my goal!
I quickly grabbed my medal, a space blanket (still not sure what they are actually called), a banana, and a water, and sat on the grass to stretch for a while. I spent a good ten minutes stretching everything out and watched other runners cross the finish line. When I felt good enough to stand back up, I walked around and snapped some photos. Then I awkwardly asked someone to take one for me!
I was going to head back to the car (it was really windy and getting chillier by the minute), but I decided to go over to the beer tent for some free macaroni and cheese. It was from Union Woodshop, (a.k.a. the best mac & cheese in town) so it was well worth the wait in line.
There was a live band and a bonfire, but since I was there by myself and getting really cold I headed back to the car.
I shared the good news of my finish time with Scott on the way and couldn’t get to my car fast enough. I think I’m good on long distance races for a while!
Three halfs down, two to go to make my goal!
The next one on the books is the Drumstick Double in Detroit Thanksgiving morning. I am doing the 10K followed by the 5K and my mother is joining me for the 10K! She’s never run in cold temperatures before, so it should be interesting. Don’t worry, I bribed her with cute (warm) running gear and a warm meal afterwards.
We are finishing up our trip in Chicago, so I am going to enjoy the rest of our time here and will check back in with you guys tomorrow.
Have a great Wednesday!