I woke up four minutes before my alarm, amped for the day’s race in two hours. Fortunately my parents and I stopped at a co-op the day before so I could stock their house with my favorite coffee (Love Buzz, a tasty dark roast). Coffee prepped, I ate exactly what you’re not supposed to on a race day–something I’ve never actually eaten before–but really, what harm could a fancy organic cacao bar do? None, as it turns out (phew!)
I traveled 300 miles for the Discover Whitewater Series half marathon (and to see my parents, hi!), so my duffel bag was packed with three race outfits plus two pairs of running shoes (options, love options). Deciding on the most minimalist outfit–a pair of men’s Brooks spandex shorts (thicker material and longer than most spandex shorts I’ve seen for women), a lightweight Brooks t-shirt (no silly flare at the hips, long enough to cover past the top of my shorts, modest crew cut, and sleeves that happen to be the perfect length and circumference for my scrawny arms), plus the lighter weight shoe option (Altra One)–I grabbed a Honey Stinger gel, partially-filled water bottle and headed outside for the short walk down the street to the starting area.
A view of the start line merely steps away from my parents’ house was one of the many race perks. My parents arrived a few minutes later and we chatted with family friends (small town charm at its finest!) until it was time for the half marathoners to line up behind the inflatable START archway.
3, 2, 1… BANG, I took off… MUCH TOO FAST. Of course I felt great… miles 1, 2, 3, even up to mile 6 the legs are relatively fresh. Then they realize, hey, we’re not trained to keep this pace for this distance… And down goes the energy level. Fortunately I had a caffeinated Honey Stinger ready to go and a peppy volunteer at the next aid station hand me a cup of water. I subsisted on Gatorade (my runner guilty pleasure) throughout most of the race and despite pushing the pace followed by the inevitable slow down, I smiled wide each time my parents appeared, cheering loudly, matching smile for smile.
The course, incredibly well-marked and well-stocked with aid stations and volunteers, plus one high school band, made for a solid reminder of why I’ve been loving trails more and more–that concrete and cement of a road race is brutal on the legs. But I suppose so are the STEEP hills commonly looming around any given trail corner, albeit in a much different way.
Overall, I wanted to finish in under two hours. Considering my half marathon PR is 1:46, I eventually felt good about my 1:50 finish. Plus, after slowing down by 30-45 seconds or so per mile in the latter part of the race, I was pleased to find a burst of leg speed in the final mile for a solid finish down Walworth Avenue, through the high school parking lot and for a lap around the bouncy track. I never doubted I could handle the distance, so there’s that bit of a confidence boost going into this weekend’s Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet Half Marathon… Hills, hills, and more hills.
Discover Whitewater Series Highlights
- Free pasta dinner (I’m more of a sweet potato or wood-fired pizza type of pre-race dinner person, but the free family dinner was cool)
- Several aid stations and super encouraging volunteers at each one
- Separate finisher shirts (there was a miscount, so I haven’t yet received my shirt) and medals for each of the three events (5K, 1/2, kids’ race)
- Free Kiwanis breakfast post-race (another family meal opportunity)
- Free beer and aquatic center pass (sadly as an out of towner I didn’t leave time to take advantage of these perks)
- Hometown course! My parents know the area, so it was great to see them often along the course; I also ran into some old high school friends, my 1st grade teacher, my childhood doctor, my childhood swim instructor, plus a few other family friends
Thanks to my dad for the great photos!
My mom made sure the car was full of snacks for the long drive back to the Cities, so I started the energy replenishment on the go (blueberries, a green juice, water, plantain chips). Ideally I would’ve taken the time for an epsom salt bath upon arriving home, but maybe I’ll learn my lesson the next time around…starting this weekend after another 13.1 miles in Theodore Wirth Park!