Saturday marked my official return to distance racing, with the Hartfest Half Marathon, a small local race in Wauwatosa. As my “A” race for the year will be Lakefront Marathon in October, this race would be a good “see where I’m at in training” type of situation. The week leading up to the race I was having some problems with my right calf, which really had me worried. It felt like it was just on the brink of becoming strained after my easy run on Tuesday. I took off on Wednesday and then tried a super easy 5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday. It felt ok as long as I went slow, and actually felt a little bit better by the time I was done. I decided to play it safe and rest it on Friday, and was able to have my massage partner work on it briefly in the afternoon. I also rolled and stretched the hell out of my legs and hips in the days leading up to Saturday, something I really need to be doing a lot more often.
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:40, and it was time for coffee. I had one cup (oh how I wanted another one, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea for my stomach). I also had a banana topped with peanut butter, corn flakes, honey and cinnamon. Weird, I know, but it is tasty and sits well in my stomach. Kai woke up around 6:30 so I got him out and gave him his bottle. I finished getting ready and just after 7am I woke up Steve to take over baby duty.
I drove the 25 mins or so to the race and was pleased to find plenty of parking available at the start. I got my packet and returned to my car to pin on my number and stay warm. I snapped a selfie before heading out to use the bathroom and do a warm up jog.
Here goes nothin’!
I jogged a little less than a mile to warm up, and I was still really worried about my calf. I could feel it even running slow, so I had no idea what would happen in the race. I knew I had to be careful and bow out if necessary, as it would not be worth getting injured right at the beginning of marathon training.
I did some stretching and ran into Julia and her husband Nate. How those two manage to train with three littles is beyond me, I find it hard enough to fit it in with one when you factor in Steve’s training as well. We chatted for a while and headed to the start, and before we knew it, it was race time.
Pic stolen from Julia’s blog.
I started the race very comfortably, which was the plan. My coach had originally planned for me to be in the 7:40ish range for pace, and I doubted that. He told me to go out at 8 min pace, then drop it every three miles or so according to how I was feeling. I think my first mile was an 8:02, right on target. I realized about a mile in that I totally forgot about my calf, which was a good thing. Miraculously, it wasn’t bothering me at all. Miles 2 and 3 were right around 7:50, and mile 4 was 7:22. Whoops! I dialed it back to the 7:45-7:50ish range for the next 3 miles. The course was fun, it had a little bit of everything. Paved path, gravel path, sidewalk with plenty of turns and a couple hills for good measure. Not a fast course by any means, but interesting enough to not get bored.
I saw a lot of friendly and familiar faces throughout the race which was great, and one of the things I love about running. Around mile 7 there was a pretty big downhill, and I started to feel a little twinge in my calf. I decided not to push it any harder and hoped that it would hold up to the finish. Though I didn’t fee like I was pushing too much, miles 8-12 were in the 7:30-7:40 range. By mile 12 I was really starting to get tired and I couldn’t wait to be done. The fronts of my ankles/shins started to cramp a little, a telltale sign that I needed salt (Gatorade), but I knew there wouldn’t be another aid station before the finish. I held on as best I could during mile 13 which was 7:44. A woman sprinted past me in the finish chute (dang it!) and I was finally done.
My official time was 1:41:33 (7:43 average), which I was really happy with for this point in the season. After the race I chatted with a bunch of different friends and enjoyed the breakfast of pancakes, eggs and fruit. I did not partake in the free beer, and was really wishing there was coffee.
I headed home, showered, and then played with my little buddy (who was so so so crabby) for the rest of the day. That night Steve picked up a good IPA, we grilled food and had Bubba’s frozen custard (it was peanut butter custard with chocolate covered pretzel pieces and a caramel swirl, omg).
And now, marathon training has officially begun!