Friday, April 26, 2013

On My Own Two Feet Half Marathon Race Report

Running a half marathon in April in Northeast Ohio is challenging. I can recall last year running Dover the weekend before the Boston Marathon. It was 83 degrees at the start of Dover, which turned out to be a bad race experience for me last season. Saturday when I got up to get ready to run the On My Own Two Feet Half Marathon, I realized it had snowed some the night before. It was cold (30s, windy and grey with a 30% chance of snow). Needless to say not the best weather conditions you'd hope for on April 20th. Steve and I got ready and headed out around 7:15 since we had to drive from Concord to Kent - about an hour drive. The race would start at 9am.

I felt pretty good before the race...not too nervous just a little cold as was to be expected given the temperature and wind. Steve and I ran an easy mile to warm up, took in our prerace fuel courtesy of PowerBar and lined up.  The race director Melissa said some words about the race day dedications. Close to my heart were the words about the Boston Marathon bombings. They had given out blue and yellow ribbons to wear in honor of Boston. As you can imagine it was an emotional thing to race the weekend following Boston. As she spoke of Boston she asked us to dig deep within ourselves and honor the Boston victims and our freedom.

We lined up and the start was fast from just next to Beckwith's Orchard. We started on the Portage Bike/Hike for maybe a mile or so and headed into Towner's Woods. At this time I was the second female behind the woman who won the full marathon. The trails were fun and challenging. Although I have not done much trail running for the last several weeks I was grateful to have had a good base of trail running in the fall and winter. I was quickly reminded of how dangerous trail running can be especially with the ground being wet. Within the first couple miles of trail I had twisted my left ankle and then my right - fortunately my balance was good and I was able to hold steady and move on. I fatigued a little coming into the grassy trail section and I knew I had to slow my pace a little.
Running through the trails during the race

Around mile 4 the woman who placed first in the half marathon passed me as we headed back out toward the bike/hike trail. She looked solid and I was not interested in trying to catch her at that point in the race. I threw off my jacket and gloves and handed them to a race volunteer as I was warm at that point. In retrospect this was not good as maybe a mile later it began to literally snow/sleet sideways - almost to the point where it was difficult to see where I was going. And being that this is a smaller race, I was alone for a lot of this section until maybe mile 7 when the woman who won second in the half marathon passed me. The course was confusing here as you had to get off the bike/hike trail, run down next to the railroad tracks then up Crain Ave and onto the trail by River's Edge park off 43.

Running through River's Edge was both beautiful and dangerous given the conditions. Much of this course was on a paved path, wooden decking including many sets of steps and some wooden bridges winding through the park along the water. Much of which was snow covered and slippery so it was a little slow going  for a mile or two to maintain solid footing. I grew very excited around mile 8 or so seeing Steve and being able to high-five him. He was in 2nd place for the men and looked great! The turn around point was around mile 9 where I took in a gel and hit the gas. I could see the woman in second (at the time I thought she was third as I didn't know the first woman was doing the full). The point is I really wanted to at least try to place third so I went for it.

After the turn-around as I passed the runners behind me I felt a real sense of oneness with everyone. I made sure to wave, thumbs up, scream for, throw up my arms or make some sort of friendly gesture to let them know they were all my fellow runners and therefore friends. It was a real pick-me-up to see them return those gestures and shout back and cheer. This helped get me through some of the tough last miles of the race.

The last mile was especially tough for me back on the bike/hike because you could actually see people at the finish for a good distance and the finish line seemed to be close yet far away. I thought of the Boston runners and Melissa's words about digging deep for Boston and for freedom and all runners everywhere and I did my best to honor those words and in fact dig deep. I tried to kick at the end. I grew excited to see Steve at the finish waiting and cheering for me. I crossed my hands over my heart for Boston as I crossed the finish in 1:50:24. Not a fast time for me for a regular half marathon but this was not a regular road half marathon! Steve and  fellow athlete and Friend Elizabeth who had been volunteering informed me that I had placed 3rd overall female! Holy Crap I was excited. I thought I was 4th but as it turns out the speedy first woman was running the full! Bonus! Steve had also placed 3rd overall male running a 1:36 and change! Second Sole was kind enough to have provided gift certificates to the top 3 finishers male and female so that was an extra bonus too!
Post race celebrating 

After the race Steve and I were both starving. They had a nice spread of goodies and generous folks on site to give complimentary massages! That was much needed! We headed to Starbucks so I could change out of my sweaty race clothes, hit the Second Sole to use our gift certificates and headed to Ray's Place for a hard-earned tall IPA and some yummy food - including those killer fries! It was a great day and a great race despite the weather. We will definitely run this race again!

1 comment:

  1. awesome blog. I kept thinking...I shoudl have said something different to the camera man..