IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Palos Half Marathon Race Report

Not only was I excited about racing the Palos Half Marathon last Sunday, it was also the first "team" event for our new triathlon club, Team Tri Smart. In the week leading up to the race, I was just as excited to bring our group together for a powerful, fun kick off to the season as I was to see what I could do at this year's event.

The rain woke me up at 3:01am and I started to freak out. About racing? No - about providing gear check to the many Team Tri Smart members I had promised to could leave their belongings at our tent through the race. I needed to make sure everything stayed dry and so I started texting tri club members who I thought might have plastic tubs to keep things dry. I'm not sure how happy they were with me for that wake up call!

Thankfully, the rain subsided by 5:30am when we went to assemble the tent. Everything went smoothly and it started heating up and becoming rather humid. I scrambled to get changed and take in a bit of Pre Race from First Endurance. This stuff does not taste very good when mixed with plain water, but I'm adjusting because it's like magic! I was a little late in taking in my last bit of calories for the morning, but I tried not to worry about it. This is just a half marathon.

Plan for the day? Take it out a little slowly for the first mile. Increase speed in the second mile and settle in by mile 3 and hold it until I collapse. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but if you never blow up, how do you know where that point is? Based on some of the long runs I've done recently, I calculated my target pace to be somewhat aggressive, but realistic if all goes well.

A quick team photo before the race kicked off took more time than one would think. The sea of red and black at the race was fun. It was Team Tri Smart all day - to the left, to the right, in front, behind. Don't slack, someone for sure will see it today! At the start, a big pack of red and black lined up between the 8 and 9 min/mile pace. It kept my mind relaxed right up until the gun went off.

Several teammates and I had our plan to run together. This lasted for about a half mile. The pace was too fast. We spread out faster than any of us expected. Mile 1 split - TOO FAST! Shoot, slow it down! We laughed and joked as people started settling into their grooves. Mile 2 - TOO FAST! OK, so much for easing into a cruising pace! But now I was there and didn't feel the need to slow down. So I didn't. I was able to hold good conversation until about mile 5 when I kept thinking how great it was going to be when we make the turnaround. Seeing all our teammates on the out and back was going to give me much needed support.

I tried getting water at each of the aid stations without actually slowing to walk. At one aid station, I dropped 4 cups of water. FOUR! Maybe I should slow down to walk next time. I was thirsty and it felt like the volunteers weren't letting go of the cup when I grabbed it...and then we both would let go at the same time and the cups went flying. I was fortunate that none of these cups landed on my shoes.

By mile 9, I'm in the hurt zone. My legs are feeling heavy and my breathing is labored. I want to let up. Why am I working so hard? Four more miles seems like an eternity and this stopped being fun several miles ago. My legs are hot, but my hands are freezing. It's humid as all get out and my shirt is sticking to me. The sunglasses I put on my head because it was threatening rain at the start have too much condensation to see out of when I tried to put them on as the sun started peeking through. Would anyone care if I started walking right now?

Mile 10 - ok, same pace. This is where it got tough. I'm not looking to get faster, but I want to be consistent. When one of my teammates, Ed, said, "Hey, let's turn on the jets at mile 11" I wanted to kick him. If I had any breath at that point, I would've started screaming at him. Jets? My legs are going to fall off. I encouraged him to move on - my pace was definitely not making him work hard enough! A little encouragement from some fans around this point was a huge help (you guys know who you are - THANK YOU!).

The last couple miles now seem like they went fast, but I do remember thinking "OK, I'll be done in about 24 minutes, OK, now it's like 10 minutes if I hold the pace," and so on... I had no kick and it felt like I could see the finish line forever before I got there. Happy with my time? You bet! Happy with not starting it out slower? Not sure - will test the plan out again at a future race.

Congratulations to the Team Tri Smart members who placed in their Age Groups. This is a competitive event and it was great to see some of the awards go out to the red and black!