I've wanted to run this race the past two years but because of timing it's never worked out for some reason or another. This race offers prize money to the top five male and female runners so when I knew I wasn't doing Boston this year I wanted to add it to my running calendar. ( Last year it was scheduled just 5 days after Boston and I knew I wasn't ready physically or emotionally.) Jonesboro is a little over an hour and a half from my house. A few of my girlfriends were also interested in doing this one so we ended up leaving Friday night and staying in Jonesboro since the race had a 7:30 am start time.
Friday night we got to the health expo and attempted to drive the course using the map they gave us at the expo. The map didn't have give any directions and only provided two street names so it was impossible to follow. After a few minutes we gave up and decided to go to dinner instead. I'm so glad we did- I honestly don't know how we would have handled knowing what was headed our way...
|All five of our "flat mamas" ready to go!|
Saturday morning we arrived to the race by 7 am. While we were in the restroom we overheard some ladies talking loudly about how hard the course was but we really tried to block it out and ignore them. Who wants to hear that before a race? Surely it would not be that bad...
I jogged a little over a mile warm up but it was already getting so warm outside that I didn't want to get too hot. At this point it was in the low 60's/ 80% humidity but climbing. This would not be an issue if I were used to running in warm weather but it had been in the 30's-40's for so long now. (Just last weekend at Capital City it was 42 degrees and perfect.) The weather had just changed. I can't remember my last 60-70 degree weather run and it usually takes my body a week or two to adjust to warmer temps.
|Pre-race group picture- so warm and sunny at 7 am!|
The weather was not my biggest concern. I had to admit I was starting to wonder about all the hills. I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew the course had "measured long" for runners in previous years but heard it would be more accurate this year with the new timing company.
From the very start I found myself immediately in second place behind a guy who did not seem like he expected to stay in the lead. By the half mile marker I was the lead runner following the escort vehicle. I have only been in this position once before and it was for a small local 10K. I've never been the lead runner for a half marathon or any big race. There were around 200 runners in the half.
Mile 1- 6:27. Since my pace goal was to stay in the 6:20-6:30 range I was right on target. Sadly this would be my only mile in the 6:20's... I really can't single out any good miles I had. The hills were constant. When I got up one and started heading down I just saw the next one. It was like being on a roller coaster that wouldn't end.
Mile 2- 6:30.
Mile 3- 6:34.
Mile 4- 6:34.
Mile 5- 6:32. In this mile a guy who I'd heard behind me came up along side me with a cyclist. He said good job and kept moving. He was talking casually with the bike guy as if he were on an easy training run. He reminded me of Lance Armstrong. I wish I could have moved on with them but I was not feeling it. At this point I acknowledged that a sub 6:30 pace was not going to happen. I still had 8 more miles and it was getting so hot.
Mile 6- 6:38. I was started to get discouraged now. I couldn't see "Lance" anymore and at a sharp left turn I glanced behind me to see if anyone else was behind me. I was alone. I never saw first or third place the rest of the race.
Mile 7- 7:01. That's right. A 7. I didn't want to see a 7 in my last marathon- let alone in a half marathon. In this mile was the steepest hill followed by a calm serene cemetery. You know you're at a low point in a race when you start getting envious of the bodies at rest in the cemetery. I was in a bad place mentally and feeling defeated. I had some gu and water and hoped that would help me pick it up a little. I said another prayer.
Mile 8- 6:41. Better than a 7-something but switching into my marathon-pace mode now. At this point I started looking at the race as a great training run on hills. If I could just maintain marathon paced miles I would consider this race-turned-workout a success. Just get through it.
Mile 9- 6:41. I grabbed some more water. It was close to 70 degrees at this point. Sweat was getting in my eyes and stinging but I still had more than a 10k to go...
Mile 11- 6:45.
Mile 12- 6:41. When I reached the 12 mile sign my watch said 12.2. I knew the course would run a little long but I remembered when I did another race that was 13.3. Not ideal but I guess that happens.
Mile 13- 6:35. The finish for this race was WAY OFF. When my watch said 13.1 I still had about another half mile to go. No joke. And not just any half mile- a long uphill stretch to the finish. I reminded myself that this was a training run and I was doing 20 miles total anyway (marathon training) so I had to keep moving.
Mile 13.56- 3:44 (6:37 pace).
Total time: 1:30:16. 1st female overall. (2nd overall)
Official results can be found here.
After I finished I grabbed some Gatorade. Then a very kind lady let me borrow her phone so I could call John. I told him my time/ extra distance issues and reminded him that I was heading back out to cool down and get in another 5 miles or so. My plan was to jog back to my friend Leslie and finish with her.
I was able to see Kem finish. (She ended up being 3rd overall female.) Then I started heading back to Leslie. I saw my friend Kerri who wanted to know how long the course ended up being. I hated having to break it to her. I ran a little with Leslie and then I found our friend Ann who was running her first half marathon ever. What a race to be your first! Ann was doing great. I stayed with her until the 13 mile sign and then I veered off so she could finish. At this point I had just over 20 miles and was glad to be done.
|We did it!|
My biggest suggestion for those involved in this race: please re-measure this course to make it 13.1 miles. (Or anywhere in that ball park!) Use a GPS watch, car odometer, measuring wheel, Jones-Oerth counter on a bicycle- whatever it takes! I know I was using this as a training run but to all of those who trained and planned for a half marathon- running 13.6 is a bit frustrating. Everyone I talked to after the race had the finish between 13.56-13.60. The RD apologized to one of my friends and admitted they made it too long. Hopefully they will work out this issue before next year. (Although I think this has been a problem the last few years??) Honestly they could do without the entire last uphill half mile loop. Just adjust the starting line a little and you would have 13.1 easy.
Having Miss Arkansas hand me my award was definitely a first!
|Thank you, Miss Arkansas|
Kem and I were pretty excited about winning some extra cash too.
Instead of t-shirts this race did hoodies and I must say they are AWESOME. We fought some serious hills and heat for those hoodies and (once the weather cools down) they will be worn with pride!
All in all it was a fun weekend. I loved being able to share this experience with friends. But I'm not going to lie- I'm a little scared by the half marathon distance right now. My last three have all had their own share of challenges. I am loving the 5k and 10k distance though. In the meantime my marathon is just over 4 weeks away! I'm still trying to wrap my head around running 26.2 miles again. 3.1 just sounds so nice...
Do you ever find yourself dreading a certain racing distance??
And now for a few random pictures from after the race last weekend...
|Totally non-flattering picture of me with the giant sonic milkshake I asked John to get me Saturday night after the race. I was so tired and it was so good!|
|This was after church Sunday morning. My little guy turns 8 tomorrow and is getting so tall!|
|My younger three at the church Easter egg hunt!|
|This is actually from a few days ago... I found this Walmart list that Abi made. What in the world?! Lol!|