Lola's Lake Waconia Half Marathon Relay (6/7.1 miles)
Team Time 2:22:21
Average Pace 10:52/mile
Team Ortho cancelled the Minneapolis Marathon / Half Marathon.
I know, big surprise ... something Team Ortho did didn't end well. *eye roll*
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't registered for the Minneapolis Marathon / Half Marathon. But guess what? Two people I've been hoping to see run a half for awhile had FINALLY bit the bullet and signed up for one. And, of course, Minneapolis was "the one".
With Lola's race only a week later, I knew those two had to do it. They were already trained and mentally ready to go. And they were trained at a pace that I thought I might be able to keep up with. So, I pushed them to register and told them I'd join them ...
And then I did a test run on the Monday night leading up to this event. BAM! Instant regret.
Yeeeaaaah, it wasn't good. I realized something that Monday night: I am quite out of shape speed and endurance wise right now, despite just having come off of Run100 last month. Yes, I realize some of you might scoff at my "being out of shape" statement, but I honestly could not see myself racing an entire half only a few days later. (Side note, it's possible that my 30+ mile averages in the last two weeks of Run100 with no ramp up to it, plus a beer mile at the end, had something to do with my "being out of shape"... but I digress.)
Anyway, as I was perusing the race's website considering my options ...
Wait - I can run the race for almost HALF the price, AND not have to run more than half of a half!? Ok, this is going to happen. Queue CCC Run Club.
True to form, within minutes, partner found. And so, team "Rainbows & Sunshine" was born.
Fun fact - my newly found partner was born the same year as me and
got married the same year as me. It must be a sign that our team was meant to be!
With everything all wrapped up pre-race, all that was left to do was packet pickup - which my partner graciously offered to do. By the way, packet pickup provided this very cute shirt:
I just have to say how much I love the mermaid on the shirt and finisher's medals:
Ok, once packet pickup was done, it was time to get down to business. Race day. Let's do it.
But wait, being that this is a race run by me, you know of course this is NOT going to go smoothly.
Let's start by pairing a 5:30am wakeup call race morning with a late business outing at the Twins game the night before. Yes, that includes a rich dinner of appetizers, nachos with plenty of jalapenos, multiple beers and a giant slice of dark chocolate hazelnut cake ... the last of which was eaten just shortly before 11pm. It also includes an arrival home well after midnight, a bed missing sheets (I had a smart idea to do sheet laundry Friday morning but hadn't put them in the dryer yet), and a very tired me. I am not too proud to admit that I pulled out a second set of sheets, only laid the flat sheet on top of my mattress, put a fresh pillowcase on, and collapsed into bed just before 1am.
As you can imagine, my wakeup call was not pleasant. I can honestly say that is the first time ever I woke up with heartburn so bad I thought I might puke... and I hadn't even started running yet.
No time for that, though. I had to get dressed.
Realizing that the potential rain forecast from earlier in the week had become a hard yes, I scrambled around the house trying to figure out what to wear. Considering my late night out the night previous, I had put no thought into what I needed for race day, and it promptly bit me in the ass.
My GPS watch was totally dead. The display screen didn't even turn on. I couldn't find our oversized trash bags for a quick pre-race rain poncho. I didn't have any "cute" chafe free clothes clean for racing. And sin of all sins, in my tizzy I forgot to pack a post-race gear bag.
As I sipped my coffee on the way to Waconia, I figured it was a sign that the day was doomed.
On the up side, when I arrived in Waconia, I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking wasn't too terrible. Within a few minutes, I was able to find a spot just off the main drag. At which point, the skies began to open up, so I started to evaluate... Nope! This rain is too heavy. I am NOT running with my phone today. That means no music to motivate me through what may be the worst run of my life. This race was shaping up wonderfully. Oh well, onward!
I forced myself to nibble on a banana as I headed up to the pre-race check in area, where I started to look for friends. My trusty / ugly wicking running hat was doing double duty that morning: it kept the rain totally out of my face, and everyone I was looking for could see me from miles away. I grimaced at my banana as my friends meandered over one at a time. Eventually, I tossed the last half of my banana and we all huddled in the park's gazebo, hoping the announced 30 minute rain delay would pass and we could get started.
Finally, as promised, the shuttles started running and my relay partner took off. Shortly after, the first of my friends headed out too; she was running the 10 mile, which started a few minutes before us.
In no time the 10 milers were lined up, the national anthem was played, and then... they were off!
Feeling slightly jealous that they were en route while we still had to wait, the rest of us lined up. While we were milling about, I saw my friend the pacer (from the Lake Minnetonka report) holding a 2:00 sign, which I was entirely too tempted to follow, but thought better of given my heartburn. I yelled a quick hello and traipsed further back with my friends.
There we waited for our turn to go. While we waited, we decided to document that we made it to the start together, and took a quick "before" photo:
As you can see, I wasn't joking about an ugly hat and drab outfit.
I look so ... average!! :-(
At least my shirt & hat match my shoes. We'll pretend that's intentional.
As we waited, the usual pre-race jitters somehow amped up the entire crowd despite the dismal weather. I personally found the mood to be generally very cheery. And then, before we knew it, it was time to ... GO!
Oh god. Not only did I have heartburn, now the wind had hit me and I needed to pee. Just make it to the first water stop, I told myself. There should be porta-potties there.
My friends and I ran along, and at first everything seemed tough for me... maybe because my friend's promised 11:00 pace was more like a 9:30? I dunno. (Thanks a lot guys, *wink*). I managed to keep pace and chat as we ran along, with only a slight curse word or two as we approached the base of each hill.
And then something suddenly jarred me... why were we climbing so many hills without having any down hills afterwards? WTF, I didn't know we were climbing a mountain for this race!! That's the only good part about a hill, and we weren't getting it! BOO!
As I lamented the hills, time quickly passed. All too soon, the first water stop arrived. My friends took a quick sip and scampered on. But, since I prefer to take more time at water stops, I let them go on ahead. Somehow during all of this, I decided to skip the potties and wait for the next water stop, hoping that my need to pee would push me to run faster.
Wishing for super speed, I powered through the ever lasting hills and past the rhythmic lapping of water on the shoreline - I had cleared the city and finally started to make the loop around the lake.
As I passed mile three leading into mile four, I saw what I thought was my pacer friend. Giddy at the idea of running a 2:00 half marathon (to mile 6 anyway), and being able to make the statement that I "kept pace with a sub 3 hour marathoner", I started to chase that Boston unicorn. I picked up my tempo, and the pace sign in the distance got closer and closer.
But alas, I finally caught the sign and realized it was actually the pacer just behind my 2:00 friend. Rats. Oh well, it was good motivation either way.
Somewhere around mile 4.5, I arrived at the next water stop. Just as I finished my last sip of water, I saw my friends from the start pop out of the porta-potties ahead of me. I don't want to slow them down, so I let them cluelessly scamper off. I again skipped the potty stop, wondering if the cold wind would make me regret that decision before the 6 mile mark. I continued on.
Between mile 4.5 and 5, the run transitioned from asphalt to ... I don't know what it was, but I'll call it a grassy mud pit. The rain made a semi-woodchip-paved trail into a literal slip and slide. Although I'd already taken more than my fair share of walk breaks at the two water stops (one of which I had literally just walked through), I decided to use common sense safety skills and walk the trail.
Eventually I hit asphalt and yes, another hill. Not even to mile five, and another hill.
At least the hill topped out at this guy:
"Run faster or I'll drop my sign"
Right around this somewhat long climb at mile 5, I realized something. Despite my awful heartburn and need to use the bathroom... I felt... GREAT. My pace was good, my running felt smooth. What the heck happened? Earlier in the week I felt like crap in ideal running conditions, and suddenly I felt fantastic in crappy running conditions.
I kicked myself for not signing up for the 10 miler and continued on.
What seems like seconds after passing the 5 mile marker, I saw it - the checkered flags in the distance. I started manically waving my arms at my partner, also in a pink hat. We waved like idiots at each other, and I ran in screaming "HOORAY FOR RAINBOWS & SUNSHINE!!!"
The people in the exchange all laughed at my fanatical approach. I don't think they realized I was screaming out my team name and not commenting on the foul race day weather.
Before I could explain to the crowd what I meant, my partner snapped on our belt and was gone. Wasting no time, I jumped on a bus and headed back to the finish line... where I learned my walk strategy in the mud pit was the right choice. The woman across the isle from me on the bus said she slipped in that stretch and "felt something pop" in her knee. She was supposed to complete the full half distance, and was immensely grateful to find the relay point just a mile down the road. While I outwardly pitied the woman for her fall, I inwardly I patted myself on the back for my choice to walk that section of the race, even if it did cost me some time.
Minutes later, the bus pulled up to the finish line, and I jumped out to I await my friends. During this time, I found out that they were running through vineyards and contemplating a pit stop winery tour. True story!!
Due to my massive mistake of not packing a post-race gear bag, life caught up with me once I stood still at the finish line, in the rain and wind. Wearing nothing but wet race clothes to keep me warm, I could wait no longer and hustled to the bathroom. I spent as little time as possible there, and hoped that my friends wouldn't cross the finish line while I was MIA.
Fortunately, I missed nothing. When I re-appeared, one by one my 10 miler friend, my relay partner, and my half marathon friends came to the finish line. Of course, those of us already there screamed our heads off when the half marathoners came through - it was their first, after all.
Tired from our runs, we all enjoyed the immediate finish line snacks of fruit, potato chips, mini nut rolls and bottled water. After everyone had a moment to collect themselves (and drop things at their cars if need be), we headed down the street to the official post race BBQ in search of beer.
As I arrived there, I could barely control my shivers and get two sips of beer down before, again, I needed to pee. My body and I apparently need to have a little chat about appropriate timing of events.
I asked my friends to supervise my Summer Shandy (YES! They had GOOD beer at the finish line) and scurried away. I came back to a group of well fed friends, as they had all found the burger & pulled pork sandwich tent. I threw down a burger myself, and then we all took some victory photos.
Of course, we all hung around long enough to maximize our drink tickets, but not much longer considering the weather (and my shivers). About as soon as all our drink cups were empty, we shared congratulations all around one last time and headed home.
For me, home meant one of the most heavenly showers I've taken in a long time. Cold, wet clothes + mud soaked feet = one great hot shower.
Post shower, I pulled up the relay results for Rainbows & Sunshine, and found that strangely enough our paces were very even - which was totally unintentional. Despite all my walking, I maintained a respectable 10:46, and my partner came in at 10:52. We really were a great match!!
Then, I began evaluating the mess that was my race shoes. Eventually, I came to a conclusion. Training for a marathon, running most of that marathon, completing Run100, and finally running a muddy half marathon relay has done my shoes in.
(Note: I must have put a true 500+ miles on those shoes. They were well past my typical 300+ and my feet were not too happy about that.)
With some less that desirable results from my last few pairs of Sauconys, I decided I'm going to give a new style a go ... farewell Saucony, hello Brooks.
My decision has nothing to do with color, of course. But it does help me love them a little bit more.