I think that Mother Nature might have it in for me. Looking back over the past several months – I have raced in some pretty soggy conditions (see recaps here and here). This past Sunday was no different as I ran the Amica Iron Horse 1/2 Marathon in Simsbury, CT.
As most runners are prone to be, I had been stalking the weather for the better part of the week. No matter how many prayers I said to the running gods – it was a foregone conclusion that it was going to rain on Sunday.
I have no problem with rain BUT combine that with the soupy humidity that the weathermen had also forecast and I was not sure what to expect.
The timing of the rain, however, was TBD – some reports said that it was going to rain all morning and others indicated it was not going to start until I was on my way home.
Much to my chagrin – I awoke to the pitter patter Sunday morning, so there was nothing left to do but grab a light rain jacket, a change of clothes, and make the best of the situation.
I am notorious for arriving close to the start of this race. I then start to panic while finding a place to park, run around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for a short port a potty line and make it to the start with moments to spare before the start gun goes off.
BUT earlier in the week I got an e-mail from Coach James welcoming me to participate in a group warm up, drills, and pep talk. So – I got myself (and Mark whom was running the 5k) to the start at at 6ish to prepare. I have never warmed up for so long before a race and wondered to myself how I would run an additional 13.1 miles after all the “work” I did.
BUT there was a method to his “madness” – I got to talk to him, talk to some of my “teammates”, and lay out a race plan based on the weather conditions. It was oddly calming to be surrounded by the comradery.
After the warm up and obligatory rush to the port a potty one last time, I lined up and realized that I was putting to the test (even though not in the most ideal conditions) all the work I had done since starting with McKirdy Trained. I wanted to execute and run a smart race, so that meant listening (which is a learning process) to the plan and not exploding from the start like a jack rabbit as I have been known to do.
As soon as the race started, so did the rain, which up until this point had been a sprinkle. There was nothing I could do – I was just going to get wet, For the Amica Iron Horse, the 5k and half marathon races start at the same time, so for about the first mile and a half or so the two races are running together. It can get a little crowded but I tried to not bob and weave as much to conserve energy and not run more than 13.1.
Once we split from the 5k racers, I settled into a good pace – running about 8:15’s or so. After the 4th mile, I felt pretty good and decided to speed it up a bit. I love the course – it’s a mostly flat, almost double loop course, with a couple of hills. When the weather is nicer, there are families cheering the runners on and during those years when the race has been held on sweltering days, runners can find spectators with hoses ready to provide a bit of cooling relief.
I chugged along toward mile 8, which is the part of the race I dread because the half marathoners basically “go through the finish” before heading onto a wooded trail. For years I have hated this part of the course because 1) I realize I have another 5 miles left and 2) I get so inside myself I don’t take my Huma gel until mile 9 or later. This year, however, I was conscious of this and made sure to take my Huma gel (mocha flavor with caffeine) at mile 7.5. This gave me a bit of extra energy to power through.
At this point, however, I was feeling a bit of fatigue – both from the weather and my own endurance. However another surge of energy was brought on by Mark whom ran beside me for a bit with a bottle of water to see if I needed any – that’s love.
The later miles are a bit of a blur and I think I slowed down a bit on that last hill around mile 10ish BUT I was just focusing on staying at a consistent pace and not stopping (as one wants to do when they are tired).
Heading back to the finish – I finally looked at the clock and realized I was on pace for a 1:45- WOOT
Wet, tired and happy I grabbed a water, my medal and looked for Mark whom successfully completed his 5k.
We headed over to check our ‘official times” and see what post race food was available. Hartford Marathon Foundation does a great job for post race food at their events, but I have never been impressed with the grilled cheese option – it just does not sit well with me after a race.
We chatted with a couple of people but we just wanted to get back to the car and start to dry out. (which we found to be easier said than done)
So – what did I learn from the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon:
- Races could not happen without the countless volunteers that show up to do the grunt work, and I always try and take the time to thank a couple of them, BUT volunteers that show up when it is raining and humid are my heros. At least I was moving during my race, many of the volunteers (especially the course monitors) stood for hours making sure we were safe and sound. A huge thanks to them!
- I think that my warm up before the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon was the longest I have ever done before a race, regardless of the distance. Myself and Haley Maldonado commented during our 20 minute run before the race that were sweating and could not imagine running any faster – but guess what – we did. Guess Coach James knows a thing or two 🙂
- I had even splits!!! That is a rarity for me as I usually go out too fast and pay for it at the end but I started off slow and increased the pace at mile 3ish. I can only think as to how I would have done if the weather had been “perfect” but as runner we don’t get to choose race day weather.
- Looking back I know I could not have pushed it any more in the later miles, my endurance is just not there….yet.
- I think I have finally gotten over my hatred of going through the finish at mile 8.5. I think this had to do with seeing Mark (whom ran beside me for a bit asking if I needed water) and taking a Huma Gel – who knew fuel helped 🙂
- The rain, which was a downpour at times, actually helped cool me a bit (as strange as it seems) but combined with the humidity – Yuck! I was so soaked when I got home – it took the rest of the afternoon to dry out.
- Try as I might I still picked the longest port a potty line and “rushed” to the start line – I have to get better at this, my nerves cannot take it.
- Having been a McKirdy trained client since February I am happy with my progress thus far, especially after Sunday’s Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon. I did not PR BUT I had a 2 minute improvement from last year and I ran this race uninjured. PROGRESS!