Red, White, and Boom! Half Marathon Abbreviated Race Report

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This is a race that I would rather forget, but I should make a few notes about it. My running buddy Laura and I decided a couple of days before the July 4th race to sign up for it. We are in the thick of training for our next marathon (I'll be doing TCM for the 14th time, and she'll be doing Portland on the same day). Our long run for the week was only 13 miles, so we figured it could be fun to do it as part of a race. I have been feeling really good on some of our long runs lately, and the numbers during the first half of our marathon in early June suggested that sub-2 would be completely doable, so that was our hopeful goal.

I ran this race in its inception year in 2010. I remember it being a hot, sticky day with a drenching rain. Thankfully, this years temps were looking much better, and there was no rain in sight. (Last year they shortened it to something around a 6 mile due to dangerously hot record temps.) I started the race optimistic, but I had just come off of a 9 out of 10 day stretch of 10+ hour days at work, and looking back, I was spent before I even got to the starting line. The race starts in the St. Anthony Main area of Minneapolis, takes you up through Northeast and then back across the Stone Arch Bridge. Laura and I smiled because much of the course was a repeat of what we had run during the marathon a month before except in reverse. People were in fun, patriotic costumes and in great moods knowing there were barbecues on the horizon!

Laura and I breezed through the start and survived the cobblestone. That stretch of road is a little treacherous, and I was glad to see that they changed the course so that we didn't have to finish on it this year. The first couple of miles went fine as we made our way up to Northeast. There were people out on their lawns cheering. Laura and I were moving at a quick but maintainable pace. By mile 3, though, I was already feeling it. I was just generally a little crampy, especially in my abs, and mentally, I didn't feel strong. We hit halfway point in 1:00:04, and I knew it would be a bit of a struggle to pull out a sub 2 hour race.

One thing I had forgotten about the race is how HILLY it is. Soon after the halfway point, we started the REALLY big hills, and out times went out the window. The hills were rather unrelenting well into mile 7, but they did eventually let up. At that point, I was feeling so sick to my stomach that I essentially stopped eating and drinking, and even the smell of the Powerade at the aid stations made me want to hurl. I was not in a good place. Laura always teasingly calls me Miss Congeniality at races, but she took over thanking volunteers and high-fiving the kids. I was spent. As we neared mile 12, I started looking for Steve and Henry. I knew there was a possibility that they would come out to cheer. Laura was obviously feeling better than me, and I told her to go on ahead without me. She passed my boys just before I did, and when I saw Henry, I just had to give him a hug.

Though seeing my boys lifted my spirits, I had nothing left. I am ashamed to say that at mile 12.5, I walked across part of the bridge. My abs were cramped. My entire back was one giant cramp. I haven't felt that awful in a long time, and every time I have, it's been in extreme heat. I crossed the finish line in 2:03:47 - nearly a minute behind Laura. Yuck. 

I shouldn't be too down on my performance. I finished in the top half runners and in the top quarter of women, but it's always defeating to feel that mentally weak and that horrible physically during a race. After the race, I was just. so. hot. I grabbed my post race snacks and just laid down on the grass for a few minutes waiting to cool off. I remembered from 2010 that they have Bomb Pops at the finish line of this race. Between that and the chocolate milk that they were handing out, I was in heaven.

So what happened out there? Well, aside from the obvious fact that I simply imploded, I think the 2 biggest problems were the fact that physically and mentally, I was exhausted from a taxing work schedule and the fact that I had likely overheated. The temps were in the low 80s, but it was sticky, and in retrospect, all of the symptoms I was having point to heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Several racers were sent to the hospital for body temps of 107 degrees, and though I doubt I got anywhere close to that, I definitely overdid it.

Would I do this race again? Absolutely, but under 2 conditions: I don't go for a PR, and I aim to have fun. The heat coupled with the hills make this a non PR course for me. The 2 times I've done this race, I've had a time goal in mind. It's a beautiful race and a great excuse to get out there and earn your 4th of July picnic food. It starts early (6:30), so you are home in time to make it to the local barbecue. The race is well-organized, and parking wasn't really a problem.  Popsicles and cold chocolate milk are hands-down the best post race food, and this race has both. The course is beautiful, and the race is spectator friendly. Plus, the medals were so fun that Henry wore mine around the house for 2 days straight.



Sounds like a tough race, especially given your work schedule leading up to it. Congrats on finishing it and don't ever beat yourself up over that! :)