Monday, August 22, 2016

Stomped {A Race Recap}

"I don't think I like you anymore," I wrote in a text message to Tami.

Tami – my BRF. My injured BRF. My injured BRF who was responsible for me running probably one of the most humbling races I have ever finished.

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Running Between the Vines is a half marathon in Jackson, Michigan, that begins and ends at the Sandhill Crane Winery. Race directors promise a beautiful course with a calming and beautiful roads, dirt roads and a finish among the vines. They also promise wine samples, of course, as well as cheese and chocolate – a perfect polygamist marriage of post-race treats.

But when you venture off the main page and start exploring, one finds that this seemingly picture-perfect race day comes at a price – hills. And lots of them.

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The race boasts 580 feet of elevation gain, a far cry from the 100 I can log on a particularly hilly run in Fort Wayne. For 90 percent of the race, you are either running up or running down. There were no extended flat sections, at least according to my elevation reports on Strava and the way my quads felt after the race.

So the race. This half marathon was to be a training run – and that's it. I knew that I was not even close to PR shape, and I knew it would be hot. Really hot, at least for a half marathon. The conditions at the start were 75 degrees with nearly 100 percent humidity.

Of course, I am me and my hope was that I would be able to hold back on the first 5 miles, pick it up from 6 to 10 and finish strong.

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Yeah ... about that. The race didn't really work out like I had hoped.

Not even close.

I started too strong – the first miles were 9:12 and 9:18. I was able to dial it back for miles 3 through 5 (9:49, 9:57, 10:08) and I was able to pick it up in the sixth mile (9:28).

As for mile 7, I came in at 10:03 but didn't fret as there were some decent hills and I was still running up them. I figured if I could get a good drink at the next aid station that I would be OK.

And then more hills came. And the water wasn't enough. And it was just so flipping hot.

I started to walk every other hill and then half of every hill and then walk the hills and run the downhills. As I fell farther and farther behind, it seemed to be the MO for those around me.

Somewhere around mile 10, I was passed on an uphill by a #sportsbrasquad runner. She was running steady as she held her shirt in her hand. I envied her. It wasn't just that she had the energy to move faster up the hill than I could but that she had to be cooler than I was. My Nuun tank, which I love, was soaked. Sopping, even. And it just stuck to me. To every curve and roll, there it was hanging heavily. It wasn't just gross – it was uncomfortable.

I thought about that girl as I ran that mile. I thought about her as I picked up my pace on the downhill and slowed to walk up another. As I slowed, I decided to say fuck it. I stopped. In my tracks. I unpinned my bib, moved it to my shorts and took off my shirt. FREEDOM!

The 11th mile was my slowest because of that stop and though I promised to keep slow and steady the rest of the race, I just couldn't muster it. It was hot and I was tired. And I just released myself from any expectations, making it my goal to get across the line.

And I did. It was slow. There was no kick. No triumphant finish. But I earned my medal.

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Highlight of the race: The volunteers. There was an aid station, which we passed twice, that handed out wet towels. The first time, I took the town and wrapped it around my neck. The second time, I did the same but about a mile out, I sucked on the towel as I needed more water. There was another stop with ice in the towels. I stuffed that effer in my bra and pulled out pieces for the last 1.5 miles. I think it was the only thing that got me through.

Lowlight of the race: Feeling so defeated and not feeling strong at the end.

Thoughts on the course: Even though it was hilly, the race organizers were right. It was stunning. The route went along mostly country roads – some dirt, some gravelish, some paved – with stunning vistas on either side with wooded areas and lush green farms.

Thoughts on the race: It was well run, affordable and the swag (a wine glass and medal with wine stopper) was nice. The samples at the end were a bit on the small side and runners were given just three tickets for free. Mark and I bought more tickets (6 for $5) but that still didn't equal a full glass.

1 comment:

  1. Let's a take a moment to realize the positive of this situation. If I hadn't gotten injured, my pregnant ass would have been running those hills. In that humidity. Maybe this was God's way of making sure I did not suffer that day. Thanks for being the sacrificial lamb. :)