Tuesday, September 20, 2011
After our May half marathon, Bonnie and I thought we should do somewhere for another one in the fall. Looking at schedules and costs, Erie's Half Marathon on Presque Isle seemed like a good choice.
We went up late Saturday morning and went right to pick up our packets. I've never really been to Erie (maybe twice in college to visit a friend) so it was nice to see such a pretty place like Presque Isle. Packet pick-up was quick and easy and they had three vendors (I think the local running stores) with small tents. Funny how we bought more at those three tents than we did at the huge Pittsburgh expo in May. Found long running pants for 50% off. Then some capris that were a decent price. They were so comfy that we went back and got a second pair. Best purchase of the day, though, arm sleeves/wamers! Plain black but only $10! Came in handy the next morning when it was 50 degrees and windy!.
The half marathon started at 7:30 but they wanted cars in the lots by 6am...that's a long time to wait but being the rule followers that we are, we got there about 5:55. It was nice that Erie is so small, we got up around 5 and were there by 5:55. As we sat in the car eating our bagels with peanut butter cars are still pulling in at 6:30! Must be hard for the race organizers trying to set up the course!
The race was about the size I expected - I think the half marathon (runners) was about 800 people, then there were full and walking half participants. So it was a nice size but not totally overwhelming. The course was around Presque Isle which is a peninsula into Lake Erie. So the scenery was pretty with a lot of trees and water! We had gone on a boat tour after packet pick-up and the guide said there was over 700 species of plants/vegetation on PI, so you can imagine it's lushness. It may be worth going back up in a couple of weeks to see the fall colors.
The course was relatively flat which was nice. I was feeling really, really good for the first 8-9 miles thinking it was going really well. It was nice that they had water/Gatorade stations at every mile, so I started looking forward to those thinking "another one down". Somewhere around mile 10 or 11 my legs really started to hurt. I wish I knew why since they don't feel that way on long runs. Granted, I was going a bit faster than long runs but not that much faster. It could be a surface issue, remembering an article Coach Nancy posted a few weeks ago. It was mostly asphalt with some concrete (I think that's what Bonnie said) and my long runs are generally on crushed limestone trails. Shorter runs are on the sidewalks, so is that cement? Anyway, I tried moving off the road into the grass for a little bit but then was afraid of the uneveness of the grass. Once my legs started bothering me my mental "toughness" started to fade. I doubted I was going to finish and again was getting bummed that I wasn't going to hit my 2:30 goal. One thing, I can say though is I didn't walk. Well, I walked a few steps thinking I was just going to walk and then said no, just run slowly. So I did. My last three miles were at about an 12 minute mile so I guess it could have been a lot worse. I finished strong and I am happy about that. Time was 2:32 and an 11:36 min/mile pace.
Crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and then the real pain in my thighs! Gosh, I don't remember them feeling that way before. Stretching, walking, sitting, nothing really seemed to help. They were passing out chocolate milk amongst other goodies and that may have helped somewhat. We didn't stay at the after party too much because I was getting cold (and the one thing they didn't have was the foil blankets!). So we walked back to the car trying to get the pain to subside a little bit.
So number two in the books which I am proud of. It was an improved time but my mind is downplaying that a little because the courses were totally different since Pittsburgh's had a bunch of hills (although with hills come downhills which can help pick up time). I basically ran for 13.1 miles which is a first. I'm learning that if I stick with it, I can do it. I just need to work on my mental game a little.
We're comtemplating another one on October 15th. 11 miles or so is on crushed limestone so maybe that would be good for my legs. Although, it's a lot of downhill. Oh decisions, decisions. Maybe I have to go in thinking any time is a good time since I'd be doing 2 so close together (for me, anyway).
This weekend is Pittsburgh's The Great Race - we're doing the 5K. We got a 5K PR two weekends ago but I do think we're going to push too hard this weekend and just enjoy the race. Our legs will probably thank us :)