Thursday, September 13, 2012

River Run Half Marathon Race Recap

It's taken a while to get this race recap in order because I've been swamped at work. And with my boss leaving and our office trying to find a replacement, it's just insane.  However, the beginning will be the race recap, but the end will be some upcoming run information, so please stick around...

As I previously mentioned, I had signed up to do the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland, Ohio on 9/9/12.  I have a few friends that live there and I had heard they would be doing it.  My friend Susan decided she would do it to and therefore, we could car pool and split the costs (and have a nice girls weekend).  We were going to leave early that day so we could get down there and possibly do a little sightseeing, however, nothing ever goes as planned.  Susan had baby sitter troubles and ended up picking me up 2 hours late (which I knew there was a chance she was going to be late, so it wasn't a huge surprise).  It didn't bother me at all and I just waited around until she got there.  We ended up leaving about 9:00 a.m.  I was just really excited to get out of town.

Initially I was going to joke around with Susan to pay attention to the directions while driving because when I drove with her in May to Rockford, we just chatted on and on until at one point, we realized we had actually gotten OFF the expressway accidentally and was not heading in the right direction anymore!!  I didn't say anything to her so it was pretty ironic when, about an hour into the trip, Susan said to me, "Should we be in Michigan?" and pointed to the sign that said "Welcome to Michigan."  Now from a previous experience taking my nephew to South Bend, Indiana once to see a Notre Dame hockey game, the same thing had happened to me!  I knew we were on the wrong expressway but that the two expressways run parallel (I found that out the last time when I stopped into the Welcome Center.  I told her to pull into the same Welcome Center until I could get the directions back up on my GPS.  When we pulled back out... I was able to snap this shot...
"Michigan Welcome Center"
Note to self: while driving with Susan, don't chat and chat and attention to the directions and signs!  The problem was, I had turned the GPS off before that because we were going to be on I-80 for almost 300 miles!  I figured I didn't need it!  I was wrong....

It really only took us 20 minutes to get back on course.  We were at least heading in the right direction the whole time!  And when we finally saw this sign, we were happy!
Anyway, we got to our destination later than we had originally anticipated and decided to go straight to packet pickup to get our bibs.  After that, we went to our hotel which was near the airport and checked in.  We only had about an hour or so left before we had to meet my friends for dinner so we just vegged out in our hotel for a while, checked phone messages and called family to let them know we arrived safely.

My friends had arranged dinner at an Italian place called "Peppers" in Lakewood.  I met up with my friends Jodi and Missi and met some of their friends.  And for those that don't know...I met Jodi last year from her blog Run, Jodi, Run.  I had a ginormous portion of pasta and chicken since I was super hungry at this point.  The Jimmy Johns sandwich I had for lunch did not hold me over very well!!  lol.  Then it was time for a group photo (obviously)...

Top (L to R): Susan, Me, Michelle, Bick
Bottom (L to R): Jodi, Missi, Kim

After eating far too much at dinner (and seeing a waitress walk out of the bathroom with two slices of cake...??????  Haha, long story), we said our goodbyes and planned to meet up before the run.

Susan and I went back to the hotel and I wanted to get into the pool and hot tub.  Susan had other plans because she's crazy.  Susan was stressed all day because she hadn't run for 2 days and wanted to hop on the treadmill and get an easy 2 miles in to loosen her legs.  I however, do not need to loosen anything and cherish a solid 2 days off of running!

When I went into the pool, I wanted to see how my shoulder felt if I tried to swim and do that movement in general.  I "practice" that movement at home in the air... "air swimming" (like air guitar) but you don't get the right angle and how it would feel with the water resistance.  So I did a few small strokes in the pool (our pool was small and laps were not possible).  My shoulder felt a little sore just from the overhead part of the stroke but I think it's just because I typically don't raise it up in the air (because it hurts).  I have since started trying to stretch it up or hold up it for a while to try to get the natural range of motion back in that shoulder (or so it would not hurt anymore).  So, yes, a general swim stroke would be possible for me, however, definitely no back stroke.  I would be afraid to try that!  Afterwards, I hopped in the hot tub with some complete strangers (always fun to talk to complete strangers in the hot tub).

Haha!  Gotta love Don!  I had Susan snap a photo of me using my foam roller to send to Don...
I texted this photo to Don...

Don returned the text with this photo (that's a pillow from the bed!!) Hahaha!!!!!
I gotta love Don!!  Don was in a hotel room with his BW (Bar Wife)...a friend of his that was going to be running her first half and Don was going to run with her.  So he was cheating on me with her and I was cheating on him with Susan.  It worked out.

The next morning, Susan and I got up at the butt crack of dawn (well, it was in Chicago!...not necessarily in Ohio)....and got ourselves down to the shuttles at the half marathon.  The course was a point to point course and we were getting shuttled to the start line.  The elevation chart showed an overall decline during the course and I was excited for that.  It was raining before the start but luckily stopped while we were in line for the bathrooms.  Photos were of course snapped in the bathroom line...
Pre-race bathroom line photo
Susan and I pre-race
 After some chaos, we headed to the start line (chaos included gear check).  Susan took off and the rest of my friends were all gone (although Jodi ran into me for about 30 seconds).  My garmin didn't register any signal for almost a mile in.  I turned it on before mile 2, but lapped it at mile 2, so I can see how much mile paces were going.

What was my strategy for this race??  Well, I'm at the tail end of my marathon training.  But it's still a heavy time in training.  What I told everyone was that as I would like to PR this race, I wasn't going to try for it.  I just wanted to run strong as my half marathons this year have been awful (due to many different circumstances).  That was my goal, run strong and feel good.  After my garmin registered the 2nd mile, I saw it was a 9:15 pace.  For me, that is way too fast!  I train for the marathon at a 10:00 pace.  My PR would have been under a 10:08 pace.  Plus, during this training season, I've struggled with the last few miles of almost every long run (I think it's starting to be a mental issue).  So I didn't want to run too fast and fall apart at the end.  My 3rd mile was a 9:26.  That was better but still too fast in my opinion.  I just kept repeating "This is just a training run!  This is just a training run!"  over and over to try to get myself to slow down (I clearly have a real problem pacing myself at the start).  Most of the middle miles were about a 9:43-9:48 and I felt better about that pace.  I was still nervous about bombing at the end but I felt ok running this pace.

The course was in a really pretty area of a forest preserve. We were running on the street of this area instead of on the path.  At times the path was slanted to the right or left and is not necessarily the best to run on.  I tried to stay in the center as I was told the previous night that with all the turns in the course, you typically run long (especially if you are on the outer edges).  When I get tired though, I generally find myself weaving all over the place.  All in all, I really liked this area for a half and since it was a smaller half than what I'm used to, it wasn't overly crowded to run.

Around the halfway point (between miles 6-7)....I have a tendency to struggle a bit mentally. Something about already running for over an hour and having over an hour left...seems like a long time.  I starting talking to myself to clear my head and get through my mental hump and this is what ended up coming out, "It's just a normal Saturday run. And I'm running with Shelby and Curtis and Bob and Julie and Jeanne!"  Over an over I just kept repeating this.  I was mentally placing myself on my normal Saturday long runs with my marathon training friends.  It seemed to work but I thought after that it was pretty funny!

Also, even though the elevation chart showed an overall decline from start to finish, there were some up hills....not terribly steep but sometimes kind of long.  Around mile 8 there was a hill that was long and I ran up part of it but finally decided to take a quick walk break.  I quickly started running again though because I actually was on pace to PR.  And my next goal for a half was to come under 2:10 (my PR was 2:13:31 from the Rock N' Roll Chicago 2011 half marathon).  I was actually still on pace to come under 2:10 as well but it was pretty close so I decided to keep running.  At about mile 10, I bargained with myself to keep running until mile 11.5, then I could take a quick walk break.  But at mile 11, I realized I actually was still on pace to possible break 2:10 and I told myself there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to walk if it meant not breaking that mark.  Kind of funny that I was able to push myself through that because the few days before, I came to the realization that I actually have a really hard time pushing myself during the end of a run when I'm tired.  So, I just kept running.  The last two miles fell about a 9:48 pace (my garmin was a little off, so the paces I'm listing might not be 100% accurate).

There were a few cameras right before the finish.  I think I had some crazy half smile on my pace because I knew my PR was in the bag.  Then I tried to sprint to the finish (I'm not a sprinter)...and I'm pretty sure I have a pained expression on my face for the finisher photos!  Haha!  I almost can't wait to see that.

And how did I do???  Yes, I of course got the PR....and I got my second goal too!  I beat the 2:10 mark and came in at 2:09:29!!  A 9:53 pace and a PR by 4 minutes!  Definitely happy with that result!  I found my friends and a good number of us PR'd!  We were all pretty happy with our runs and that was nice.  Of course my friend Susan came in at 1:48:01 (totally hate her)....   The half marathon was also giving out ice cream.... um...yes please!!  We all posed for some photos and here are a few of mine...

Missi, Jodi, Kim, Me, Susan, Bick (L-R)
My boss told me I looked like a little kid
Susan, Me and Jodi
Me and Susan

Jodi was kind enough to let Susan and I shower at her house.  It was nice to meet her husband and kids.  Then we all went out to lunch ( really, I was so hungry!!) was great to hang out a little more with Jodi because I hadn't gotten a chance to talk to her much.  Seemed as though she got along great with Susan (they are a similar age and both have a 10 year old).  Susan and I ended up jumping in the car and decided to just go home.  We were both pretty tired.  Since Susan drove the whole way down, I ended up driving the whole way back.  I don't mind driving at all so it was not a problem.  I had a great weekend and glad I got to see Jodi and Missi again and meet some of their friends.  Had a fabulous time that included a PR.  I actually haven't been PR'ing anything this year and had decided I probably wouldn't.  I was just focusing on the marathon and possibly PR'in that.  So a PR for my half was a nice surprise.


I have my 20 miler this weekend.  THE LAST LONG RUN!!!!!  I am actually pretty nervous because it's the Newton Ready to Run 20 miler and I had a rough time last year with the same run.  I keep telling myself I've done 20 miles twice now and 26.2 twice, so I can definitely do it.  But it's all mental and last years pain came back in full force.  You can read about last year's run here.

I will keep you updated on how that goes this weekend!


  1. I have totally made this same mistake and ended up in Michigan when en route to Ohio. I think the problem is on their end!! :D

    1. Haha! No doubt! It must split left for the Michigan one and right to stay in Indiana on I-80. And if you are not paying attention, you probably just keep going...I HAVE to pay attention next time! Normally I'm going a different way because I go to Columbus...this is the first time I went directly to Cleveland from my home.

  2. Congrats on the PR!!!!

    I have only ever driven to Michigan, so I've actually stopped at that Welcome Center (intentionally) many times. The only time I've been to northern Ohio (to go to Put-in-Bay & Cedar Point), my brother was driving.

  3. I was so swamped at work I am just catching up - HOORAY FOR A PR!! That's an awesome time. I am just getting back to running after my bronchitis, I did a walk/jog/sprint for a 5k on the treadmill at lunch - my fastest 2 minute sprint was at a 9:04 pace - and I didn't cough at all when I was done!

    But boy, not exercising for nearly a month and my stamina is shot!

    So proud of you Amanda!