Here’s my race report/recap from Saturday’s Mistletoe (official results here). This was my “A” race for the fall, so I followed an 11 week customized plan from Runner’s World–slightly less running than the Hal Higdon plan from the springtime. Last year, I ran with my friend Kim, so I knew the course from that race. Unfortunately (and this seems to be a theme now!), Gabe got a nasty cough the first day of Thanksgiving break, so I ended up staying home half a day with him on Monday. And of course, by Tuesday evening, I was coughing and had major congestion. I spend Wed. and Thurs. trying to will myself better, even going so far as to mince some garlic and swallow it (hey, it might have worked!) I drank hot tea, ate salads and fruit, went to bed early… and by Friday, still congestion but not quite as bad. I figured I’d still give it my best effort, and if I felt a little “flat” then I already knew why.
My sweet hubby picked up my race packet Friday afternoon at the William G. White YMCA in Winston-Salem (site of the race), so all I had to do was figure out what to wear with the 37* predicted temps at the start, and gather my things. Hubby had to work on Saturday, so he couldn’t join me, which also meant I had to get both kiddos ready and bring along with me. Thankfully, the Y provides child watch during this race!
Race Gear: I decided on my Oiselle tank, Brooks arm warmers, Pro Compression socks, and trusty Asics shorts (with the pockets in the back for phone, GU, and gloves!) Not pictured: Mizuno WaveRiders, RoadID bracelet, headband, iPod, and Garmin vivoactive watch. And yes, I pretty much support every brand, LOL!
I knew I’d be cold at the start, but by 10 AM it was supposed to be in the 50’s, so I’d rather be too cold than too hot.
Nutrition: I made sure to drink Nuun hydration the day prior and the morning of the race, to prevent my GI issues from flaring up again. I had chicken + rice the night prior, and had half a banana and a PB&J the morning of (3 hours prior to the race). I ended up feeling a little hungry, so I probably could have had the other half of banana. I just didn’t want any stomach issues! Thankfully, this seemed to work well.
Race Morning: Blessedly, no major issues–except that I couldn’t find my gloves, so I ended up using Javi’s. I got the kiddos ready, and we were parked about a block away by 7:15 (race started at 8:20). I got them settled into their kid zones, and hit up the bathroom. So far, so good! Despite my cold, I had a good feeling about this race. I met up with friends and former co-workers, and what little nerves I had pretty much disappeared!
Had one more bathroom break (and the coast was clear!) I kept my jacket and sweats on as long as possible, then turned them into the Gear Check area. I didn’t feel too cold, which was awesome. Found the last of my friends, and got a quick group shot before the start!
A trio of high schoolers sang a beautiful a cappella National Anthem, and I thought of my friends who died too soon–mostly recently, Andy Byers, who like me, was on the Army Crew team. Whenever I think of them, my sadness bubbles up, but on this day I pushed it down, and said, No–they would want me to celebrate life and run strong. So I made it my mission, that no matter how this race went, I would stay strong (no pity party like at Richmond).
The gun went off, and away we went!
My first goal was to not go out too fast.
Guess what? I FINALLY didn’t go out too fast 🙂 My first 2 miles were both 8:46. I hadn’t done my usual stretching routine (it was so crowded and oops… I forgot until too late!) so I eased into it. I stopped looking at my watch, so I tried to stay consistent and run by feel. The first miles had hills too, so I didn’t want to burn out too soon chugging up all those hills (153 ft elevation gain, zero feet downhill!)
The biggest issue I had with this race was the sporadic water stops. The first one was at mile 1.5, if I remember correctly. I figured I wouldn’t see water again till mile 4 (and I was right) so I took half a GU with some water at mile 1, which felt weird since we had just started but whatev.
Miles 3-4-5-6 went by quickly and easily, and I was somewhat consistent: 8:08, 8:18, 8:35, 8:30. With the rolling hills, I felt like I just couldn’t get in a good rhythm. Miles 6 and 7, I had a painful cramp in my left side waist. So strange because I rarely get cramps while running. I tried to slow down just a bit, but it didn’t work, and the cramps persisted until mile 8 or so.
The start of mile 7 had a water stop that I fast-walked through, to get my GU down, as well as a big @$$ hill. After that, it flattened out and had a turnaround point.
As an aside: Before the race, I had caught up with my former manager, DK, from my previous job at DH. This was his first half marathon, and he was shooting for sub-2 hours. I knew he wasn’t far behind me, but at the mile 7 turnaround, I saw him and we high-5’d. I figured he was only a minute or so back, and I wanted to keep in front of him (because, you know, I’m annoyingly competitive). Mile 7, 9:13, my worst of the race, likely due to the triple whammy of water stop + big hill + the turnaround.
At this point, we entered the Wake Forest campus and I finally started to feel like I found my groove. I was in a group of 3-4 and took the lead of the group. However, at the water stop, I decided to power walk through it (to get enough water, I had to take 2 cups, so I walked as not to spill). My little group passed me, but I caught back up, quickly passing them again. We began the climb near Reynolda Gardens and out to Graylyn Park area. Miles 8 and 9, 8:32, 8:54.
After passing Graylyn, I knew there wasn’t much more, and I celebrated reaching mile 10 and feeling good. And not having to stop for a bathroom break! Mile 10, 8:46. I allowed myself to look at the overall time, and it was 1:27-something, so I calculated real quick that it would take a near-5K-PR-effort of 24 minutes to be able to PR that day. Part of me wanted to slow down, knowing I wouldn’t beat my best time, then I remembered from the Raleigh half marathon, the motto of Jimmy V, “Never, never, NEVER give up.” With this new resolve, I pressed on. I knew it was all downhill from there, so I turned up the speed for mile 11, which strangely felt like the longest mile. I had a quick GU/water break, and quickly got back to my rhythm. With two miles to go, my efforts felt hard but sustainable. Splits for miles 11-12, 8:22, 8:20.
Hitting mile 12 gave me a surge of adrenaline, so I began to ramp up—probably way too soon. I hit the downhill section by Runnymeade, focused on the most gorgeous yellow tree, and then a long downhill stretch by Hanes Park. Mile 13, 7:30!
Then I knew the finish was close, but not close enough, and I had this near-panic “where the $&@! Is the finish line???” and then, blessedly, it appeared. My last 0.2 (yes, the course was a tenth of a mile long, darnit!) was a 6:57 pace, or 1:34. So I figured my overall time would have been 45 sec or more faster, were it not for the extra distance. At the finish, I had a huge kick but was completely spent once I crossed the line. Hands on my knees, panting, at exhaustion… and loving how close I came to my PR, despite the congestion and cramps.
The awesome part was DK finished shortly after me, having crushed his 2 hour goal. Then I saw BH, and he had a new PR (1:32?!) and KK got a new PR too (2:25). So everyone had a great day!
I took a bathroom break, got my bag from gear check, changed clothes, stretched a bit, grabbed soup, and then KK and I went to watch TM and her hubby finish!
For me, I’m calling it a “tie” with my PR. My previous fastest half marathon time (not race time, as the Brewsfest course was short) was 1:51:56. My Mistletoe official time was 1:52:40. Taking away the 45 seconds of the extra tenth of a mile yields 1:51:55… a 1 second PR? So I’m happy with my performance, and happy that I finally negative split a race. First half, 57:08. Second half, 55:32. Of course, it helped that it was mostly downhill the second half. Those are times I can be proud of, and I know that I gave it my best effort, so there’s no regrets. Just looking forward to my next half marathon attempt, Raleigh (maybe third time’s the charm!?), in April.
This was the last race of 2016… it’s been an amazing year 🙂