On Friday I went to Union Station to get my packet. It was just raining then, but was predicted to turn to freezing rain any time. The "fastest packet pickup" only works if the person scans your code. Mine just wanted to me spell my name. Which I had to spell three times, as usual. So much for fastest race pick up! It was well organized though. I was surprised at the quality of the hoodie. Actual embroidery! I bought myself a beanie and a jacket. I splurged since this was the biggest and longest race I'd ever ran. Or at least I hoped I was going to run it, as I also bought my 15K sticker!
Saturday brought lots of snow. It was gorgeous. However I was unable to try my new Garmin on either Friday or Sat. So that was a bummer. I'm having some issues/disappointments/frustrations with this watch. I'll write another post about that this week. On Saturday evening I started to figure out what I was going to wear, what I was going to pack and generally just getting nervous. I was in the last 15K corral - E. I was worried I was going to end up being the last person to finish! Ahh the things you think about the night before. All I wanted to do was sleep. They wanted us at the race at 6:30 AM for a 7:30 AM start. That meant a 5:00 alarm as we were leaving at 6:00. That came way too early!
In the morning it was cold. Brr! I was nervous about what to wear just to stand around. I knew once I started running I'd be fine. But they had hyped up this cold weather so much. I should have just trusted myself as it wasn't as cold as they predicted, but I still let the thought of the cold get to me. I decided to wear shorts as a base layer. Funny huh? But they are biker shorts so they gave my entire upper leg (and butt!) a base layer. I didn't want to try to layer two pairs of pants for the first time. I wore my cold weather under armour tights. On top I put a tank top as a base layer. I just wanted my core to warm. Then my under armour cold weather shirt. Then a fleece lined jacket on top. And a full fleece jacket on top of all of that for standing around. What I didn't manage well was wearing my normal socks. :( My feet were freezing cold standing around.
Here I am just after arriving, before finding the porta-potties or the corrals.
So we managed to find parking downtown and only about a block and a half from the race. Not too bad. The streets were kind of a hot mess. The sidewalks still icy. The sides of the streets just piles of ice. Getting to the ports-potties was a "cross the ice at your own risk" kind of thing! Ha. There was a TON of them all behind ice. Basically the plow must have come through after they were set up, so you had that pile of plowed snow all frozen and lumpy. I managed to cross without breaking an ankle or embarrassing myself. It's so fun to adjust all your layers inside the small little area. Ha! I got hot!
The corrals were just a mishmash of space really. They were going to release corrals A-C at 7:30 and then 4 mins later the next wave of D&E I think. I was in E and the 13 min clock would start after the last person in E went through. No 15K runners were in any corral after E. The start was fast and rather anti-climatic. I wish it had been more fun.
The first mile was painful. Literally my toes were frozen by then and I wondered if they would ever return to normal. Even my hip felt stiff at the start. But on we go! The crowd was crazy. I was actually surprised to how fast my first mile was (10:30) cause I try very hard to not start too fast. And honestly I thought because of the massive crowd it would be even slower cause I was weaving in and out of people. There was a DJ at some point before mile 2 I think. It's all a blur. And there was one water station as well. At mile 2.8 we split from the 5K runners. It was soooo tempting to get on the 5K side of the road. The split was very clear and there were big arches over the road for both sides. It definitely cleared out once we split from the 5K runners. I felt like I was going fast. My Garmin indicated it as well. Since this was my first time running with a Garmin, I set all kind of records. Including fastest 5K, but I really think this was probably my fastest 5K this year. I may have been a bit faster at a 5K last year, but it's too hard to know when most of my races aren't chip timed. Look at that avg pace! Sub-11:00!!!!! Woo hoo!
So on we go. Somewhere around mile 4 I see a big screen on the side of a building rotating through information and ads. I see the temp is 23 degrees. Perfect! Around mile 4-4.5 there was another DJ and a chocolate station. YUM! They handed me a piece of wrapped chocolate. No need for one of my chomps! This was followed by a water/Gatorade station. I opted for Gatorade. Just before mile 6 we had to do a U-turn. That was weird, but it allowed me to see who was behind me and to see I wasn't last! YAY. There was a chip scanner at the 10K marker it seems, but I haven't seen that data posted anywhere. Of course my Garmin recorded my fastest ever 10K. Ha!
Things went downhill, or should I say uphill, right after this. Hello big hill. We are now in the Soulard area of St Louis. On Russell to be exact. I've driven this road many times. Joanie's Pizza is on this street and when I worked downtown I ate there many times. Funny how it never seemed to be a hill before. Whew. I think I could have walked up it faster, but I kept running. It sucked and I heard people complain about it once we made it to the top. That was definitely my slowest mile and it took me a bit to recover. Thank goodness I peeled off my jacket at the 6 mile mark!
From here things are a bit of a blur. I was just trying to keep running. I felt my hamstrings and calves get tight somewhere in here. I think they were cold. I ate a packet of Gu around mile 7-ish. And there was another water station in there somwhere. At mile 8.3 there was a DJ telling us we had one mile left. He was playing "Shout" and everyone was raising their arms. I got kind of teary-eyed because I knew I could make it now. I couldn't believe it was almost over and I had done it! I was texting my husband at certain mile markers (5, 7, 8, 9) so he knew when to expect me. Unfortunately some rude people standing in front of him stopped him from seeing me cross the line. My friend that ran the 5K also missed me crossing as she sent me a text about 15 mins later asking me how far out I was!
There were photographers on course and I know I was photographed just prior to the finish. I can't wait to see how horrible I look! When I stopped running my knee was in quite a bit of agony. I limped very slowly across the snow and ice to get my finishers mug!
I scarfed down my snacks so I borrowed photos from a friend. There was cup of hot chocolate, a banana, an area of melted chocolate to dip items in. Those items included a marshmallow, pretzels, rice krispy square and a wafer cookie.
Of course I took the obligatory "I did it!" photo! I had put on my official race hoodie and the beanie I bought at the Expo.
My hubby and I checked out the merchandise booth while snacking and he bought me a shirt I was checking out when I picked up my packet. We connected with my friend that had missed me cross the finish line. She and I took a photo. She is as short as I am tall. Wow don't I look like a fat blob in this photo! Whew. I will not stand like that again!
By this point I was freezing. I also seem to get very cold after a run, even in warmer weather. Not as noticeably cold, but still cold. Standing out in the snow I was freezing and my fingers were turning to ice even in my gloves. So off we went. Time for a post race meal!
My husband introduced me to "hole in one" eggs when I first met him. I'd never heard of them before. Cracker Barrel calls them Eggs in the Basket. I love them! Basically the egg is cooked inside the bread. I get mine over medium (I think they call it) so I have yummy runny yolk. YUM! I was so hungry and still so cold. :)
It was at this point I decided to check out my Garmin and see what info it would show me. I was *thrilled* at the pace!! I really stomped my expected pace. I wanted my avg pace to be under 12:30. I rocked it!!!
It matched the "official" time really closely!
I could not be more happy with this result. And here are my splits from my Garmin:
I was thrilled that only miles over 12:00 were mile 7 (cause the hill was between 6-7) and the mile after it where I was kind of recovering and in la-la land. :)
And finally, I know some people think this is totally dorky, but I'm proudly sporting this sticker. I can say that this is probably my proudest moment. Cause I did this all by myself. There was no trainer involved. There was no horse as my partner (helping or hindering me). I did all the training runs myself. I ran this race alone. ME!!!! I never thought I'd be a "runner" and I still don't consider myself one. But I did it! Yes I'm proud of it!!
I ended the night taking an Advil PM. I hadn't been sleeping very well for about a week anyway. I was getting more sore as the night went on. I did take some Advil with breakfast, but that must have been wearing off. I slept *really* well except when I woke up before midnight crying and screaming with a charley horse in my calf. Ugh. I get those randomly anyway, but I'm not surprised that I got one after the race. I went right back to sleep though. I took off the next day so I got to sleep in a bit and that was nice!
I know it's cliche to say, but if I can do this anyone can do this. I did this one year and one day after I had hip surgery! I'm not skinny. I'm not a "good" runner. My body isn't built for running. I don't "love" it and I argue with myself in my head during every run. Even this race - I had to convince myself to NOT get off at the 5K split. Ha ha! So it's very true. If there is anyone out there afraid to try a distance like this, you should go for it! If you haven't run your first mile, it's ok. You can start slow. I did. For this race I followed a training plan and that was difficult to trust. But I think it was successful. The next question is: what next? Maybe a half? Maybe. . . .
Here are some photos I yanked from the Hot Chocolate FB page. I thought they were pretty and they showed the city nicely.