Monday, March 18, 2013

Germantown Half Recap

This past weekend is still kinda a blur - it definitely went by way too quickly, but I've noticed that tends to happen when I have a race scheduled!  I figured I'd bring you the recap today while it's still fresh on my mind.  There were some good things and some not so good things about yesterday's Germantown Half Marathon - here's my recap!

Saturday we (we = me, my friend Andi - who ran her first 5K, and my BIL - who ran his first half) headed over to the Germantown Athletic Club for the expo and bib pick-up.  Now, I've been to two expos (St. Jude and Disney) and I realize this is a much more scaled down event so I wasn't expecting much - but a better description would have been just bib pick-up.  There was maybe a table or two set up by vendors but they didn't have much in terms of items for purchase and the people staffing the booths didn't really look like they wanted to talk to you either.  We were literally in and out in about 5 minutes.  Oh well.

Saturday night I made spaghetti for our carb loading feast and then Andi and I set out our race gear.  The Weather Channel was still forecasting low 50s during race hours and overcast skies so I decided to go with a lighter, long sleeved top.
And yes, I know this was a race on St. Patrick's Day but I do not have a green, long sleeved top so I decided to make up for it with bright green, sparkly fingernails:
(The return of the sideways pics, GRRRR.....)

Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30 to start getting ready so we could leave the house by 6:10.  I had my ritual cup of coffee and two wheat waffles with peanut butter then downed a glass of water.  We picked up Chris (my BIL) and then headed back over to the Germantown Athletic Club.

I have to give them props here:  parking was a breeze and they were VERY prepared for the "bathroom situation" - the building was open for our use, as well as the additional buildings by the tennis courts and pools, AND they had brought in port-a-potties for the occasion, so we did not wait in line long for a last potty stop.  One thing I had NOT planned on for yesterday morning was the COLD - the Weather Channel app on my phone said it was 49 yesterday morning on our way over - what happened to my low 50s Weather Channel???  The sky was very cloudy and it was windy and I was beginning to wish I had on more layers by the time we walked over to the corrals.

Ok, here is another rant about these "corrals" - they were separated by your estimated finish time but they were nothing set in stone and all they had designating the corrals were a few signs - AND they had the 5K and the half marathoners all starting together.  With no wave start so once the race began, everyone herded like cattle up to the starting line.  I think a wave start might be better, especially if they are going to continue to start the 5K and the half at the same time - it will make for less congestion through the first mile.

I made it no secret that I was gunning for a PR in this race and I was aiming for an 11:00 min/mile average so when my Garmin told me I'd finished the first mile in 11:30 I immediately panicked.  I was going too slow.  I knew the congestion at the beginning had not helped me one bit and I was trying to stick with Andi and Chris but I realized that I needed to run my race too.  I felt bad but eventually left both of them and found myself on my own for a majority of the race.

After that first panic attack with the Garmin I decided to stop looking at it and just run.  I had my music going and after the first mile or two I felt myself get into my "zone" and I knew I was picking up speed but I didn't dare look to see how much.  Right before the 5Kers turned off to head for the finish we encountered THE huge hill I'd heard about in this race and it honestly wasn't that bad.  I topped the hill and made the left turn and almost immediately passed my friend Laura and her husband Jeff.  We chatted for a few - they had signed up for the half but after Jeff injured his knee they had planned to just run the 5K, but then changed their minds at the last minute.  I eventually bid them farewell and took off again.

The race was relatively uneventful.  Really not a lot of spectators, which was surprising considering we were running through neighborhoods for the majority of the race.  There is an "out and back" of sorts around the 5 mile mark and when I was on the front leg and saw the elite coming down the other side I felt my competitive side kick in and I sped up again - this time to my disadvantage though.  When my watch buzzed at the next mile marker I looked down to find I had just run a 10:30 mile.  WHAT??!!!  Whoa, Kristen, slow down honey.  I paid for it in the next mile when my legs started to feel like jello and I ended up having to fuel a little early.  At one point they had us running behind a school with a bunch of speed bumps in the parking lot - NOT a wise decision.  I hate speed bumps while running!  I thought we'd never get out of that parking lot!!  We ran through a few parks which provided some protection from the wind but towards the end I started to really get cold - surely I was getting close, right??

I was really getting discouraged with my time and around the 8 or 9 mile marker I had a little pitty party for myself because I realized that I was NOT going to hit the 11 min/mile goal I had set for myself.  I looked down at my watch and did some math and then perked up a bit when I thought even still I might be able to pull off a PR.  I immediately switched to my good ole' 5:1 run:walk ratio to give myself a little bit of a break and my one regret was that I did not do that sooner during the race - I guess my body just does better with more walk breaks.  I definitely negative split this race thanks to my walk breaks.  Around 11.5 miles I decided to fuel one more time so that I could make the hill they had promised at the end, and so that I could have a strong finish in front of my family, who were waiting for me at the finish line.

Around the 2:10 mark I passed the 12 mile marker and my heart did a happy dance because at that point I knew the PR was in reach but I didn't want to overdo it at the end so I still took my walk break and when we made the last turn onto Exeter, a REALLY nice lady standing at the corner with her son told me I was almost there, just over the hill.  I told her I really hoped she was right and trudged on - and she was!  Up the final hill and I spotted my family on the left - they began to cheer as I approached and I glanced at my watch - 2:27??!!!  Dangit, what happened to my PR??  How much further, can I still pull it off?  I yelled over to them that I wasn't gonna make it and they told me the finish was LITERALLY at the top of the hill.  I get to the top and I see it - ALMOST THERE.  I sprinted towards the finish.  I heard them announce my name as I came through the chute and then - it was over.  I hit stop on my watch and looked down immediately.

2:28:47 - the PR I was hoping for.

I did it :)
My overall view of this race - not too bad.  It was boring in parts and the lack of spectators did not help that.  I have a love/hate relationship with hills and it had it's fair share of those but hills make me a better runner so I can't complain too much.  Will I do it next year?  Maybe.  The price was definitely right, especially since I registered before the end of last year.  Could they improve on the expo?  Absolutely.

And finally, my treat for my PR - a big fat piece of carrot cake from McAlisters :)
**For the record, I couldn't even finish it.

QOTD:  Did you race this weekend?  How did you do??