The forecast for Saturday’s morning was not very pleasant. It was some rain and was to change to a wintery mix and with some reprise it was only supposed to be a “light winter mix” for most of the day.
I woke up just before 6am, realizing that my alarm had not gone off. Later, I found out it was not even set! Go Figure. I had, the night before, already had most everything that I was going to need for Saturday morning already laid out. I did have to make a Peanut Butter Bagel, which I would eat on the road plus some coffee. I needed to get to the race site by 7am and I was hoping to get another 5 miles in addition to the 13.1 miles of the race.
The weather at my house wasn’t all that bad. It was cold and light rain but not frozen, at least not yet. I made it to the interstate and that’s when the rain turned to freezing rain. It was much louder bouncing off the vehicle. Driving really wasn’t that bad and I was glad that I left early! When I made it to the race site, the rain HAD changed to snow, but wasn’t quite sticking yet. The roads were wet but not slick, with it being around close to 7, I decided to find my volunteer coordinator and see what I was dong in regards to parking.
Parking at Strawplains is a nightmare! The parking is very limited for the number of people who run the race. Your best bet is to be there an hour or so before the race even starts. Since I was there 2hrs before the race start, I got a primo parking space! I ended up helping fill up the church parking lot, which took about an hour or so. While working the parking lot, the snow flakes got bigger and increased in intensity. It was sticking to the grass, roof tops and parked cars, but the roads were fine!
At 8:30, I ran in and got my race number and made a final decision on what I would wear. I decided on a LS coolmax base, SS cotton shirt, then my red NB windbreaker plus hat and gloves. I was also “mic-ed” up with an older digital voice recorder and had 2 Carb-Booms pinned to my Almost Tights. I did do a little stretching and warming up since it was FREAKIN’ cold working the parking area… I couldn’t even use my pincher grips with my fingers. I met up with Marty at the race start and we briefly discussed strategy for today’s race. With wanting to start on time, there was about 10 seconds after the National Anthem and we were off running the 18th annual Strawplains Half Marathon, my 4th running of the race.
The first mile was filled with excitement. I think more from the fact that we all braved the weather to run this race and got to run in the winter weather. After all, some winter weather does make the race recount more exciting… did I tell you about the Virginia Creeper marathon when it snowed 4 inches the night before? Marty and I were right at our planned pace in the first mile. Marty had been able to run about a 3 mile warm-up before the race itself, but he was still hurting from his Thursday’s speed workout. Some of the excitement of the race caught up with us and our pace dropped in the 2nd mile. It dropped enough that we wanted to slow down, but by our time we still were pretty fast after mile 3. Our 4th mile, we slooowed down considerably. It did help that it was almost ALL uphill. The view for the next few miles was OUTSTANDING. It was still snowing and we were in part of the valley near the Holstein river. You could see mountains in the distance and snow covered land all around. The roads were still fine, no slippage, but the grass had about an 1″ or so. We pass an number of farms on this course and I noticed that the Horses were running about but the cows just stood there. Moo.
For miles 5 and 6 we were back on pace but miles 7 and 8 were slower because of the up hill. Mile 8 was the worst up hill because it was for all practical purposes inclined the entire way. Some hills have a small flat area as a reprieve and you can gain some energy back. Not mile 8… it was up Up UP! But the nice thing about an out-and-back course, is that what must goes up usually comes down. So most of mile 9 was all down hill. Here we ran into Marty’s wife Solange and my friends Tom and Annette. Mile 10 just plain sucked! The snow had turned into freezing rain and the wind was driving it into our face. It made it hard to stay looking ahead which is proper form. When you look down, you close your throat some and so you take in less oxygen thus leading to performance degradation. So, we had to endure that for the next quarter mile or so until we were back in the home stretch and protected by trees.
Mile 11, was something of a fluke. I was tired of dodging the pot holes so I decided to get to the far shoulder and cruise. I made some great time and was able to hold that pace by the sheer fact that I was going to stop to stretch at the next water stop. I was running out of energy! Close to mile 12 Marty went ahead and settled into a pace that wasn’t comfortable but that I knew I could break the 2 hour mark if I just kept it up. I actually knew that I could slack a little, if need be, but I was trying to keep within 2 hours. The last 0.5 mile or so, the snow picked up quite a bit. I couldn’t see more than 0.1 mile ahead because once I saw the 10k’s 6 mile marker (0.2 miles left for me to run), I couldn’t see our 13 mile marker! And actually, I couldn’t hear the finish line announcer until I was right there! I finished officially in 1:58:56 and was the 169th finisher out of the 257 finisher field. I was 13th out of 16 in my age group and just like at Calhoun’s 10 miler, I some how managed to fend off another age grouper at the finish line. Sweet!
My performance at Strawplains Half marathon was my 3rd fastest half marathon time and set a course personal PR time. Unfortunately, I did NOT get a chance to run the 7 extra miles on Saturday that I needed to run. More on that in a separate post.
Here are my split times:
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and also a few pictures from the race. I will post a whole photo album on the running site as well.