I’m more than halfway through my quest for a half-marathon every season. This weekend I completed the third of four planned half-marathons this year by running the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. This was only the 2nd year for this race. They only allow women to run it and approximately 2200 of us signed up for the challenge. Would I do it again? I think so but I’m not totally sold.
1. The Expo: was disappointing. They really built this up to be something different… but it wasn’t. It was small and, in my opinion, nothing special. I’m not a huge expo buff anyway so it didn’t really matter. I did like the race swag: a decent drawstring back pack and I really like the shirt.
2. The Course: Indy was my home for 12 years and I loved the excuse to run in this city. As an added bonus, I was running along what was once my daily commute – in the years before I even thought about being a runner. The course started downtown, went past Lucas Oil Stadium, wound it’s way around Monument Circle and then headed north through neighborhoods where they are rebuilding & rennovating old homes then along Fall Creek Parkway to the fairgrounds. We turned back south and made our way to the campus of IUPUI then ran around to finish by the zoo and State Museum in White River State Park. Flat, comfortable, plenty of room and the police officers managing traffic did a great job.
3. The Weather: Tropical Storms from Hurricane Isaac were predicted to hit at race time. Luckily they didn’t. However, the 90% humidity (that had us starting the race under a red flag) was pretty darn miserable. I sweat so much in this race that I literally squeezed water out of my shirt and my socks were soggy from the sweat pouring down my legs. It was hard to breathe and for the first half of the race there was no breeze. I’ve run in enough humidity this summer that I knew I could manage but it was rough going. And it sucked the energy right out of me for the rest of the day.
4. My race: Let me start by saying that I’m so excited I was able to do another half marathon this year. I’m pushing myself hard and haven’t let up on training all year. This race in particular was special because I ran it with my good friend and it was the first race she’s done just for herself in a long time. As you’ll see, my race wasn’t very pretty but I still finished strong and I’m proud of that.
The humidity effects me physically and mentally. I didn’t stick to a race plan. And I disobeyed the cardinal rule of a long race: I tried something different. I was concerned with how much I was sweating so I slugged down two Gatorades when I rarely drink Gatorade (and when I do, I drink low sugar Gatorade that has been watered down). By mile 9 I wasn’t feeling so great. I was so disappointed in myself. I wanted to be whatever kind of runner my friend needed. Turns out, I couldn’t even be the kind of runner I needed to be.
I convinced her to leave me behind a little before mile 10. I had my worst mile after that, I actually ended up vomiting – something that has never happened to me before on a run (see note above about Gatorade I think). After that I felt a bit better and had to decide what to do. I still had a potential PR within reach if I ran the last 5K hard. However, I knew it would be difficult and, since I didn’t come into the race expecting a PR, I wasn’t so excited about pushing myself into misery to get it. I decided since my body wasn’t feeling its best, that I’d take it easy on the last 5K. I ran to each mile marker and then let myself walk for about a tenth of a mile before running again. It was comfortable. I wasn’t miserable. And I knew that by sticking with a strong pace when running I’d still finish in less than 2:30.
I ran the final .5 all out (my last tenth was at a 10 minute flat pace) so I was happy with my decision to take the final three miles comfortably – it felt good to finish strong. My chip didn’t work but my Garmin time was just under 2:29. And I finished above the halfway mark – 676 out of 1416 finishers. I’ll take it.
It wasn’t my best race but I ran it. And I know all too well that when you’re dealing with a long race, there are factors outside of your control. Sometimes the runs are beautiful. Sometimes they are not. The accomplishment is not diminished either way.
4. Post-Race Party: I was pretty excited about this one – the menu looked great and they had craft beers, mimosas and bloody marys for runners. Turns out those drinks were unlimited too – a perk I couldn’t take advantage of since I was driving but a nice perk nonetheless. The food was gone by the time we got to the party and with only 2200 runners that’s pretty lousy planning in my opinion. So the party was sort of a bust though I did enjoy my ice cold chocolate milk and Belgian White Ale.
If I get to fill out a race survey I’ll make note of that lack of food as well as the dumbest chip ever seen in racing. It was a piece of card stock paper with a wire taped on it that was stapled to the back of my (rather large) bib. It was awkward. It kept catching on my clothes and since it was on paper the sweat pouring off of me in buckets apparently rendered it useless. I’ve never seen a chip like it – it was very strange.
Would I do this race again? I think so. I liked the course a lot but this is a hard time of year to run a half marathon. In all honesty, I had some high expectations for this race that it didn’t meet but it is still a fun event. I guess I’m a little wishy-washy on the whole thing. It probably just depends on how my summer running goes and if I can talk some friends into joining me.
And now? I’m running right into training for the Hot Chocolate 15K the first weekend in November and half marathon #4 the week after: Wine & Dine Half Marathon in DISNEY WORLD! 🙂 🙂