Woodlands Half Recap!

After my 10 mile training run last weekend I was feeling pretty good about the half. I worked on getting extra stretching in, staying hydrated and trying to get more sleep than usual last week for my final preparations. The only big thing that I wanted to do, but forgot to do was to update my running play list. Not earth shattering by any means, but I was a little bummed I forgot.
Friday night I attempted to leave work a little early, but ended up being there till 5:30. I headed over to the chiropractor for a pre-race adjustment. I had been a little stiff all week and I knew this would help me. I was right. I left there feeling a lot better. Then I went to the race expo to grab my race packed before I headed to grab some dinner and then home. It took me over an hour vs 20 min with the traffic and Pei Wei was so busy!!
I got home, ate some dinner, got all my race gear ready, took a shower, put KT tape on my foot and hit the sack. Then I could not fall asleep!! Ugh…I think I fell asleep close to 1, then had a dream that I missed the race and woke up in a panic around 3. Finally drifted back off around 4:30 and my alarm went off at 5:20. So needless to say there was not a lot of sleep happening.
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I got up, changed into my race clothes, grabbed a banana and some water and drove to the race. It was nice to not have to drive so far to a race for once! As I drove over to the race course it began to rain….NOOO, I was not looking forward to running a half in the rain.
I arrived shortly after 6 and silly me thought I would be able to find parking quickly. Well that was a huge mistake! I spent the next 45 min being shuffled from lot to lot with many other runners only to find out they were full. When I was finally able to break away from the crowd I headed towards the other side of the event site and found parking near the mall. I was originally going to park over there, as that is where I parked last year for the 5k. However, this year in the participant guide it designated certain lots for the participants. I guess they did not account for all of us. I am thankful I was able to find parking that wasn’t too far from the start line.
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I took my first bunch of Energy Bits then I made my way to the start and my corral. It was SO packed that it took me a while to find an opening in the fence to even get into the corral. I made it right as the National Anthem was sung, and the gun when off. About 10ish min later I finally crossed the start line.
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I started running right away even though I did not feel really warmed up. I didn’t want to be that runner who everyone had to pass. After a few minutes the running pack thinned out a bit and I slowed to a walk. I could feel my left hamstring was a little tight and so I did a few stretches. Back at it and was feeling pretty good. Took a mini break at mile 1 for one last pee break. I wanted to go before the race but did not have time with all that happened with the parking situation.
Started mile 2 and was still feeling great. I dug into my run 2/3 walk 1 groove. Thankfully the rain lightened up to more of a mist. It was cloudy but a little humid. There were short bursts of cool breezes, especially as we passed the big lake and that felt really good! The course was familiar to me as I have run this area SO many times with the twins. I felt comfortable knowing where I was!
Right before I got to mile 3 my left leg cramped and locked up 😦 I slowed down and did more stretches but it would not release. I had just completed my fastest 3 miles in a long time and other than my leg I felt really good. I almost started to cry. I decided to walk for a bit to see if it would relax. Sadly, it never did. For mile 4-6 I tried to shuffle run for a min here and there, but the cramp would return stronger when I did this. I still had a bit of energy, thanks to my Energy Bits! I came upon a fellow runner at mile 6 who was not looking so good. I asked if he was ok and he said yes, but that he had a stomach bug! Poor guy! I don’t think I would have come out for the race if I had a stomach bug! I hope he was able to finish!
As I headed towards mile 7 I knew I was over halfway. When the pace I was doing I though I would maybe be able to finish in under 3 hours. Not my original time goal, but at this point I was just aiming to finish. Right after mile 7 I passed by a neighborhood of some friends from church and they were there on the corner cheering for the runners! It was so wonderful to see a familiar face, to get a hug, and a picture taken! Thanks Miss Sandy!!! You gave me a little boost! At this point another runner came up beside me and asked if we could go together for a bit. We had been going back and forth passing each other up and I was happy to have someone to talk to. My leg was feeling a tiny bit better so my fellow runner, Traci, and I did a few jogs here and there, but mostly walked and chatted a bit. The course had also brought the full marathoners back to join the half marathoners so it was fun to cheer on the super fast runners!!
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Around mile 9 my leg seemed to be worse and I encouraged Traci to go ahead of me. I could tell I was slowing down and bit and kept focusing one one foot in front of the other. I saw the medic golf cart pass me a few times and I was so tempted to jump on. I also received a super sweet message from the twins and their mom! (Turns out they posted this sign for me on the course but I missed seeing in.) This gave me another boost as I was really struggling at this point. I was really in a lot of pain and it was hard not to give up.
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The weather had been still ok, mostly cloudy still with the breezes here and there.  Around mile 11 for me, the sun came out. Normally I would be really thrilled to see the sun, but as soon as it came out I could feel my body freak out a little. I am really easily dehydrated, and the sun is not my friend during long races. I felt I was doing pretty well overall staying hydrated till this point. The course had water stations every 1.5 miles and it was perfect for filling up my 24 oz water bottle. I almost didn’t bring the bottle, but I am SO glad I did. The volunteers were so great and refilled my bottle with fresh COLD water each time! It was great! So that, along with my Energy Bits refueling every hour or so made a big difference.
Mile 12 was my most challenging mile. In past races I have been able to pick up the pace here and focus on the finish line with a strong finish. At the point my leg was really in pain and I had to stop every few minutes to stretch it. I felt really discouraged at this point and just keep praying that I would cross the finish line. My Runkeeper GPS was a little off and I thought I was close to mile 13 when I passed a group of ladies who were cheering and they said “Only 1 more mile!!” I almost cried again. Ahhh I was so ready to just be finished at that point.
It was getting hotter and but I kept plugging away. After a few turns I knew I was getting close. At this point I was pretty much hobbling along. I am sure it was a sad picture. There was one of the race directors on the course helping to guide people to the finish line. He came up to me and gave me a little side hug and encouraged me saying I only have 400 more yards to go. In my head I knew that wasn’t very far, but my body felt like it was a million yards away. With some other people cheering me on I kept on going. It was literally downhill and I mustered up all my strength and tried to run. It just wasn’t happening. I saw one of my other friends who had finished a while before me. She was cheering me on and came over and gave me a hug. I wanted to stop and just rest but she gave me a little push and said, “GO! Don’t stop! You are almost there!!” It was very helpful right then!

Even in the worst conditions, and when my body is ready to give up, there is always something in me that cranks on when I actually SEE the finish line. It happened again. I came up to mile 13 and I knew it was time to dig deep! As soon as I passed the marker, I knew I had to run, pain or not. I started to slowly jog and then I heard people saying my name (so glad it was on my bib) and cheering! As I got closer to the finish line I felt like I was sprinting. I am sure it wasn’t as fast as normal, but considering how slow the last 10 miles had been, I sure felt speedy! I crossed the finish line and they announced my name with lots of cheering! For a second it was like I was the winner! Haha.

Finished! That is what I wanted to do. It was not pretty, and it was my worst time to date, but I finished!
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As soon as I stopped moving my leg started shooting pain. I hobbled to get my medal, water, finishers shirt and some post-race food. It took a while for me to get around but I did manage.
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I knew I had to keep moving or I was not going to make it back to my car. It took me about 30 min to walk the half mile back to my car. During that time it hit me that I had not brought my house keys. The hubs had locked the door behind me when I left. He was at work about 90 min away. Then I really did cry. I felt so helpless in those few minutes. My phone battery also died while I was shuffling back to the car. I have never been SO happy to see my car! I got in, turned the car on, blasted the AC, plugged my phone in and drank more water. After a few min of thinking WHAT AM I GOING TO DO, I managed to gather my thoughts and hoped and prayed that my landlord was around and that he had a key. I called and told him what happened and he said he DID have a key! I am so thankful he did! It took me over an hour to get home from all the roads being closed from the marathon that still had runners. By the time I made it home my door was unlocked and I was so glad to be there.
After a nice shower and fresh clothes I hobbled back to the car and headed to get my hot-stone massage! It was amazing!!! Second best part of my day following crossing the finish line. I have never had a post-race massage the same day, and I have to say it really did help with the soreness. Other than the pain in my lower hamstring/upper calf and a little chafing on my arms, the rest of my body has recovered really quickly!
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Even though it was not as great a race I was hoping for, I am still glad I did it! Half-marathon #8 in the books! Here is to many more with my body cooperating and getting to my goal time!
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I am so thankful for everyone who was cheering me on through twitter, facebook, text messages, and in person!! Thank you ALL for your love, encouragement and support! These races would not be possible without so many cheering me on!
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Overall the race events were done pretty well. Like any race there is always room for improvement. I felt it was much more organized than last year, and they seem to take the comments seriously from the participants and do what they can to make it a great experience. Other than my leg issues and the humidity it was a great course to be on. I am thinking of doing the marathon relay with some friends (anyone want to do the relay next year??) 🙂

Thank you for reading this LONG recap. I guess it gets long when there are 13 miles to cover!

How do you deal with a disappointing race or injury?
Did you race this weekend? Tell me about it or post your link!

– Chocolate Runner Girl –

3 thoughts on “Woodlands Half Recap!

  1. Pingback: More March Races… | chocolate runner girl

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