And just like that, I became a member of the (maybe imaginary) elite club (that I just made up) comprised of crazy people who have run 4 half marathons.
Weekend before last, I completed the Shamrock’n Half Marathon for the second time! And then we left for a vacation to Maui the next day. I typed up this recap on the plane ride over to Hawaii while everything was still fresh.
Each time I run a half marathon, I’m reminded how different every race is. I use the same training plan, the distance is still 13.1 miles, but each race really becomes its own unique experience, starting with the first 7+ mile training run all the way till the moment I cross the finish line.
This race was no exception, and in fact, was even more different than any half marathon I’ve ran…thanks to California’s best friend/worst enemy, El Niño.
For basically 2 weeks leading up till race day, Northern California got a much needed dumping of rain. Like, we were basically under water. Our dams were full enough to let water through for the first time in who knows how long.
As a result, 4 days before the race, the organizers announced that they were re-routing the course because Discovery Park (AKA miles 10-11 of the race) was completely flooded. 2 days after that, they released a new course route.
What is normally a beautiful, scenic course that winds around the American River Bike Trail and through classic Sacramento monuments like Old Sacramento, the Tower Bridge, and ends on the 3rd baseline of Raley Field…was basically reduced to an out and back through Downtown Sacramento that ended at the entrance to the stadium rather than on the field.
All that being said, the change did nix some of the only hills on the entire course, and I was pretty sure running between tall buildings downtown would be better for braving the elements than running on an unprotected bike trail on the river.
On the day before the race, there were tons of people out for St Paddy’s pub crawls. We met up with friends for a couple of drinks and I soon realized I had zero interest in being the only sober person among the St Paddy’s crowds, so I didn’t stay long and ordered take out Thai food to enjoy at home instead
I was paranoid about road closures, so I decided that riding my bike was the most logical way to get to the starting line since I could ride through the closed streets and it would be quick since it’s only a 2-ish mile ride.
And then I rolled out of my apartment 30 minutes before my start time and remembered there was a monsoon going on outside.
I got there mostly dry except for my lower half, hit up the bathroom, and realized my wave had left early. Whoopsy daisy Since I had no reason to rush anymore, I took my time stretching and headed out before the next wave moved in.
That first half mile made me re-think the whole thing. It was raining hard and my trash bag was whipping in the wind, but once we crossed into downtown and changed direction, the wind died down. From miles 2-4 there was barely any rain and it was pretty pleasant! I was unable to feel my hands, but at least my trash bag was still in tact 😉
During this time, MapMyRun said I was running 9 minute miles. I was a little surprised – my pace is usually between 9:15 and 9:30, but I definitely run faster on race day – and wondered if it was off, but continued at the same pace. As I approached the mile 3 marker, I realized that my GPS was definitely .25 miles off (I must’ve started it before the official starting line) and that I might not actually be running 9 minute miles 😛
So right as I passed the mile 3 marker I re-started my GPS and thought of it as me starting a new 10.1 mile run. Since I figured I hadn’t been running as fast as I thought, I picked up the pace a little bit…and the GPS still said I was hovering around 9 minute miles. SWEET, I thought, the distance was off before but not the speed. I might PR! And will definitely get under 2 hours!
The race kept going and I did a pretty good job of maintaining negative splits, picking up speed as I went – maybe getting rid of my trash bag couture around mile 6 got rid of some extra wind resistance haha. I also got high fives from Russell right around the turnaround point, which always helps
Everything was going great until around mile 9 or 10 when I realized I needed to make a trip to the ladies room. At this point my GPS was telling me I was in the 8:45/mi range, but it was still saying I had gone .2ish miles further than I had. I felt like I was pushing my pace and like I was definitely in the sub-2 hour range, so I decided I’d rather stop for a minute and get a slower time than get a PR but poop my pants.
My GPS went crazy because I let it run the 1-2 minutes I was in the bathroom, so it shot ahead another .3 miles and then I was really messed up. The GPS was .5 miles off, and I had no idea how fast I was really running and what my time would be- I only knew roughly what time I started the race and what time it was currently.
So I started pushing it and feeling confident I would be close to 2 hours. As usual, Mile 12 sucked and I really started losing steam…Until the final stretch, when I basically sprinted across the finish, and found Russell. I told him I had no idea how I had done, but that my GPS said I was running 9 minute miles or less the whole time (true story. Though after I corrected my bathroom stop, it also said I ran over 13.5 miles.) so it must be a pretty good time.
I clocked in at 2:04:21. Not my worst (actually, it was my 2nd worst) but definitely not how I thought I did. After talking to some other folks who ran it, I think my results reflect a combination of a few things:
- The re-routed course was definitely a little longer than 13.1. Not sure how much longer, but too many people tracked the run at close to 14 miles for it to be a coincidence.
- Running downtown with tall buildings is terrible for GPS trackers.
- I stopped to use the bathroom, so, extra 1-2 mins.
- It was freakin raining and storming!
Regardless of the time, I’m proud of myself for powering through what was a very difficult race. And to be honest, I still thought it was kinda fun! You can’t help but smile while running through a crowd of grown adults wearing trash bags.
And I still got my beer at the end, which is the most important part, right? 😉
Stay tuned for a recap of our vacation in Maui!
Have you ever run a race in the rain?
How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?