Two Halfs Before 5

Based on the truckloads of email complaints I’ve been getting lately, apparently I have not been posting fast enough for all my fans.  Sorry about that, but been kind of busy as of late thanks to some recent big events.  One of which is shooting the crap out of Owls and Picas, but that is for another time.  Today’s topic is the other big event this month – the River City Half Marathon which I ran on May 18th.  For those counting, this would be the SECOND half marathon in this early race season.  In fact, this is the second half marathon before I normally run my first 5K of the season.  This isn’t a normal year and the reason the training season started in the cold of Winter.  River City was suppose to be the first of the year but a late decision added the Height’s race earlier (link here).  One thing for sure, the race organizers for these two events know how to select medals.
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For sure, the shirt wasn’t as cool as the Heights’ one and overall the swag was pretty weak.  When I came home from the expo I showed Linda the goodie bag and the only thing it had in it was the shirt and the bib, a beer bracelet and 4 clips.  As the norm, my personal (dare say now professional) photographer was along for moral support .. and to snap pictures of course.

That was the pre-race picture noted by the fact it was FREEZING.  Think it was close to 39 at the start and the morning was spent trying to decide what the race time apparel was going to be – long sleeve or short sleeve, shorts or running pants … decisions decisions.  Pretty mixed between the other entrants so opted for the shorts and long tech shirt – same selection for the Heights and it seemed a little colder this race day.

Hit the jump to read about how the race went

There was some concern looming over this race.  When we drove the course earlier that week it became apparent that the theme was flats and turns.  Those that know me know that hills are my friends – flats are not and I view them only as a necessary evil to get to the next slope.  Thanks to Google and Linda’s odometer readings I was able to map the course.  It was going to take the same amount of effort to remember the turns as it was going to run it.

Linda wanted some split times to aid in her picture takings so went ahead and cranked out some ranges based on the standard 8:30 to 9:00 pace – same as the Heights and that worked nicely there.  The course layout allowed her to take pictures at the start, two midpoints and the end with minimal effort – well, she did complain A LOT about the walk to and from the parking spot – sigh.

Here’s the start where the word of the moment is “Fresh”.  It always brings a smile when looking at the starting shots because of the LACK of real smiles at the start.  Running isn’t fun people – it’s torture.  The lady in black has her game face on – she’s going to be wishing for a different clothing choice before too long.

Believe this is somewhere in the 2.5 mile range coming back from the Western loop of the race.  Word of the moment is “Cool”.  The downtown buildings and the trees along the route were keeping the temps down which was welcome.  Hot pavements tend to start draining the energy cells a little early.  So far doing and feeling pretty good and the flats were not causing too much problem.  The thing that was working in my favor was the course started out with the Marathoners – this means I could leverage their pace runners.  I moved into the 3:35 pace leader and settled in.  Nice not to have to worry about my splits – although for some reason I was beating my planned splits so far.  This is the section where the two guys next to me were going on and on about fartlek that and fartlek this and track work here and recovery here.. blah blah.  At the two mile mark one yelled out “Only 22 more to go!”.  I looked over and saw the half bib he was wearing – dude you have 11 not 22.

Next up was the long flat haul out to Glen Oak Park.  Roughly 1.5 miles out and back … flat and exposed to the rising sun .. not my cup of tea, but it was the same course as the start of the Steamboat (link here) so it was at least familiar.  Every step of that 3 miles was spent paced perfectly with another individual who was having fun (must not be a runner ha).  He was cracking jokes with the spectators .. not good ones, but enough to keep my mind off how fricken flat this part was.  It was time to turn up Main about 6.5miles into it.  Finally a hill and Linda was there to give me a gel.  Times were really good for that last stretch so word of the moment was “Push”.

From there it was up the hill and then basically back to flats.  Granted the Moss Ave. part was beautiful.  By now the times were drifting back a little but still ahead of expected pace.  Every second gained below pace was that much more wiggle room at the end.  My pace partner had pulled ahead and the marathon pacer had turned off onto the outer loop leaving me all to myself – nobody around behind me and only 2 or three pretty far ahead.  Mind over body now – redemption was at mile 12 which was the top of Main St hill.  Make it there and it’s downhill to the finish!.. Thank God.  To get there was a death march from mile 11 to 12.  That stretch of road felt like infinity – you could see the 12 mile mark but no matter how far I ran it seemed like the same distance – road was turning into molasses.  Saw my physical therapist on that stretch clapping for me which gave me a needed boost to push through.

Eventually made the final turn on Water St. and smiled when the finish line came into sight.  Also heard my name called out from the side and spotted Rhonda’s husband and daughter cheering me on – just the ticket to put this body across the line.

Linda was giving me grief for looking at my watch BEFORE crossing, but in reality I was just checking to see if I could beat 1:51 (chip time) and wanted to be ready to hit the stop.  Another half in the books and I was spent.  As suspected, the flats had taken their toll but nice to know it can be done.

Had to laugh when processing the previous shot.  Thought about cropping the U Haul truck out – then decided it was an appropriate sign for “U Hauled Ass”.  A quick recovery no thanks to a pretty weak post race party.  They had water, orange slices and some bananas and that was it.  We even had to hunt for the beer truck.

… and the traditional post race picture – no ambulance but we found a willing paramedic.

.. did I mention it was hard to find the beer truck!?!.  Know what tastes better than a cold beer at 9am after running for 13 miles… well, having a cold beer at 9am after running for 13 miles… with your running buddy!  Here is Rhonda (recall from the Screaming Pumpkin runs – link here and here) and I enjoying a post race celebration.  By the way, Rhonda rocked that race coming in 8th for her age group even though she mentioned her training was impacted by the crappy weather we had this year – CONGRATULATIONS

Weatherwise, the start was cold, the middle was perfect and the end was .. well it was hot.  I could have gone with short sleeves, but once the race was back to the hoodie burrrrrr.  So here is the final numbers for the race.  Crushed my planned 8:46 pace and shaved 4 minutes off the Heights time – some of that due to the hills.

Well, another one completed and another medal on the wall.  Next up the Steamboat followed by the BIX – all less than a Half but plans are to keep up the training and maybe start expanding .. maybe – every time I get to a half finish the thought of going further is the farthest thing from my mind.

2 thoughts on “Two Halfs Before 5”

  1. Next year, I pick the parking spot!!!! I am sure I got a 2 mile Quick Bix in walking between the car and downtown Peoria – twice!

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  2. Guessing the kicker was when Linda found out the Stalters parked near the finish line. For the record, we parked exactly where the race organizers told us to … I had no basis at the time to believe they were just trying to punish Linda.

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