It truly amazes me how NOT intimidating any race 13.1 miles or less is while you’re training for a marathon. Crim, for example. A very challenging 10 mile course and I was like, meh! I got this! The first year I did it, I was terrified – it was the furthest I had ever run. But now that I have multiple Crims, a few half marathons, and a full marathon under my belt? 10 miles is easy!
I was feeling the same way about running the half marathon distance at the Capital City River Run this past weekend. The only thing that had me concerned was that I was planning to run with my friend Jenny to try to get her a 2:30 time to submit for proof of time for her Dopey race. Leading up to the day I was pretty confident that I could do it, but of course race day always proves to bring something unexpected.
We drove down to Lansing the afternoon before the race and made it in time for packet pickup at Playmakers. And of course we had some time to shop a little bit – Ken and his friend Mark were with us, and Mark was able to buy his first official pair of running shoes! I was also fitted and analyzed, and was not entirely surprised to hear that they recommended I start to transition to a more neutral shoe. Unfortunately they did not have any of the shoes the guy had recommended for me in my size in the clearance section, so no new shoes for me. We ran into a couple of our other running friends – Nick, Crissy and Brittany. I told Crissy my plan to run with Jenny and that we would be doing run/walk intervals, and that I wasn’t exactly sure if I could keep up with Jenny. We said we’d play by ear the next day but Crissy was very happy to find out we would be running intervals! We enjoyed my favorite pre-race meal – PIZZA! – at Deluca’s in Lansing, then headed to my sister’s house to drop off our stuff before heading out again to plan our race day driving route and parking. On our way back we hit up Kroger for some sweet munchies, and this is where the downfall for race day for me started.
Race morning I woke up with a sick feeling stomach because I decided eating 4 bakery cookies with milk right before bed was genius the night before a race! I was concerned that I may not be able to go the whole race without stopping for a porta potty break! This made me not want to eat breakfast, either, but I managed to get a little cup of cereal down. I didn’t drink much and knew that for days leading up to the race I was NOT getting proper hydration. We stopped at McDonald’s to get Jenny’s traditional pre-run meal which for some reason took FOREVER for them to make. I even had enough time to make one last potty stop… which wouldn’t be my last, technically, since I peed one more time when we got to the actual race!… before her breakfast was ready! Boy oh boy were we off to a good start.
We headed for the race and quickly found out that the lot we had planned to park in was charging to park. We ended up parking in the back of a Wendy’s parking lot. I decided when we arrived to change my tank top because it was already feeling too hot and we weren’t even at the race yet! I had really wanted to wear my Michigan Runners “Positive Vibes, Negative Splits” tank, but ended up wearing the same tank I wore to the race last year. I’m hoping it will make for some great comparison pictures, since last year I was about 10lbs heavier than I am now AND I ended the race in a heck of a lot of pain with a strained hamstring!
I have been suffering from minor shin pain for a while now, which has happened in the past and I even went to physical therapy for it. Just before we left that morning, Jenny helped me to tape my shin, but unfortunately as we walked to the race I was not feeling confident about it. I had my husband Ken run back to Jenny’s car to grab my compression sleeve (I wanted to try to just use tape since it was going to be so hot that day) and crossed my fingers that it would be okay.
When we arrived at the race, we hit the rest room one last time before meeting up with our friends. We were really confused about how the race was going to start because the 5k and half marathon started at the same time, but were going in different directions. Once we arrived at the start area, we saw that they had the start line split in half and the 5k racers were facing the capital building while the half marathoners were facing the other way. It was a pretty cool set up, actually. We found our friends and took our traditional selfies before the race started. Just before the national anthem was played, I realized that I had made a HUGE error in getting ready that morning. Remember my dream about not using body glide before the marathon? Well, it kinda came true – I remembered to use my body glide, BUT I completely forgot to put on deodorant that morning. I wasn’t too concerned about my stench – whatever, get over it, runners stink! What I was worried about was OH the chafing! Ugh! What a rookie mistake!
The race started off and I stuck with Jenny for a while. When the crowd started to clear she picked up her pace and I lost her right away. She looked back to me and I said “I’m sorry I can’t keep up! My shins are already hurting!” I got a little teary eyed in frustrating about my dang injury and because I had suggested this half for Jenny so I wanted to run it with her, but I knew I had to be safe rather than sorry with my full marathon less than a month away. I thought I was going to run this half alone, which I was okay with, just a little upset and then I realized that Crissy was with me. I still felt bad for not being able to run with Jenny and I kept telling Crissy that over and over again, but I was glad that Crissy was there with me. Her and I make wonderful running partners. She cracks me up with her quick witted quips and we keep each other positive in the challenging parts of our races. This race was no exception to the fun! You know you have a true friend when you can run together for miles and miles and miles and not get sick of each other. This was our third time running a race entirely together (we ran most of the Silver Bells 5k together and we ran most of the Crim together this year, too – we ran all of the 25k together and all of the Mid-Land 10k together last year).
The miles went by without many issues, other than my complaints about the change to the course from last year. It felt MUCH hillier than the year before (although looking at the elevation charts it wasn’t a whole lot different) and I had told Jenny that it was mostly flat. We reached a point where we saw this huge hill and both Crissy and I said “I hope we aren’t running up that thing!” and of course, we did. It was quite fitting that it was next to a cemetery, as we both felt at that moment like we’d rather roll over and die than keep running up that hill in the heat and humidity. It also felt like it was very tight quarters – not much room for passing other runners safely, and we were running on roads that were not closed to traffic, running in the same direction as traffic. We didn’t spend as much time on campus as last year, either, which kinda stunk. When we ran on the trails in the park we were running with others going the other way. It was nice to see some of our speedy friends going the other direction, but it was very close running conditions! You got caught running behind others at their pace, or you had to try to pass them off the path. There was a lot of course support and plenty of water and Gatorade stations; however the tight running paths, hillier feeling course and running with traffic instead of against it did not sit well with me.
We mostly maintained our pace throughout the course, which was pretty dang impressive considering the heat, humidity and seemingly hillier course. Around mile 9 or 10 we found our running friend Brandon who was finally running his first half marathon. He was hurting – he said within the first few miles his hips had seized up on him. We encouraged him to run our intervals with us, and he did for a while. He joined in on our jokes and took advantage of me carrying my water with us. We hung together for a mile or so before he had to stay back. We were confident that he would make it to the finish, maybe at a slower pace, but he had it in him! About a mile or so from the finish, we started to run 1/1 intervals instead of 3/1. At first we pushed those running minutes really hard, but then Crissy started to feel lightheaded. So we took it easy. Neither of us were really concerned about getting a PR that day, we just wanted to enjoy the race and finish it without dying or feeling like we were dying. We also wanted to be able to push it at the end, in true Megan and Crissy style, so we tried to save what we could for that finish.
Of course just before the finish you get to run uphill a bit, and then the course finished in the baseball field – which meant we got to run down a steep ramp into the field! Crissy and I charged down that ramp and as I got on the turf I turned back to her and reached out my arm, telling her to come on! We heard our friends yelling and cheering for us, and saw a few on the sidelines, but as usual I had total tunnel vision just dying to cross that finish line finally. We crossed at just over 2:39, about 5 minutes short of Crissy’s PR and giving me about a 4 minute PR.
All in all, despite some stupid mistakes – cookies are not a good night before a race snack and forgetting your deodorant SUCKS – it ended up being a good race. I didn’t completely kill myself and still did quite well considering the conditions. Now I only have one race planned before my full marathon, and that will just be a fun 5k with my hubby the weekend before Detroit. Bring it on 26.2 – I’m ready for you!