Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Middle Half Race Report, aka Where's my Shade, yo???

W'sup!!!! I am so over how quickly weekends go by. Americans need more time off. And why do I feel like I ran more than a half yesterday??? Geez, I think someone whacked me in the back with a baseball bat or something. Aleve and I have been BFF the past 24 hours.

Anyway......the race report. Saturday morning the alarm went off at a very, very early hour. It started with a 4:, which is not a good thing. I ate a Clif Bar and a banana, did my business, and we were out the door at 5:45, right on plan. The sun started coming up as we headed towards the 'Boro and we pulled into a parking lot right on schedule at 6:30. We went straight for the porta-john line. There were only 2 porta-potties near the start, and the line moved pretty quickly. I was out of line with exactly 5 minutes to spare. Sweet. Before-hand we ran into some former coworkers of Brent's that we see at the races from time to time and Michele also saw me right before! Yay!!

So, the big contro at this race was the stupid ipod ban. And honestly, going forward I will only support races that don't have this ban. I think it's dumb and if it cuts back on the number of events I do a year that's fine. I completely get it in the tri-environ, but not the running world. It's dumb. SO, all that to say I proudly put my ipod on and started weaving through the crowd to find where I wanted to start - hearing many murmors of "oooooh, she's wearing an ipod". You would have thought we were in kindergarten. I never put my buds in until the race has started and we've gotten a good half mile or so in - when it thins out a bit. So, the gun went off, off we went and I settled into my pace. It was so freaking hot, and we were running right into the sun. It was 70 with 88% humidity at start. Ugh. Not a cloud in the sky. I plodded along, hoping I could stick with my 9 min/mile plan.

Mile 1 beeped off at 8:24. I was really concerned about that being too fast, so I tried to slow down a little. We were weaving our way off the MTSU campus, and had to head back past the START line again. It feels sort of defeating to pass under the start banner once again. Then we started heading towards some monument that marks that the 'Boro is the geographical middle of the state. I had no clue there was an actual monument there, and I completely missed seeing it because Brent was stopped on the left side with his camera, so of course I was posing it up for him and totally missed it. It's a good thing he took some pics of it.... Mile 2 was 8:14 and Mile 3 was 8:28. (Brent wasn't able to get a shot of me with the monument, but he did get the three Kenyans the race brought in.)

I was watching my miles tick off and was still concerned I was going too fast. This section was basic suburban road - 2 lanes divided on each side as we wound our way past boring suburban developments. You couldn't buy a tree around here, what I wouldn't have given for some shade!! I wish they wouldn't knock every last tree down to build shopping complexes, but they do and I was starting to get concerned about the heat and how I would hold up. Around mile 4.5 Michele and Lana blew past me just as Brent was set up for his next photo opp so he got some cute action pics of us together! Then I saw a coworker of his set up taking pics of his wife, so I yelled to him that Brent was out doing the same thing. I felt like I was really starting to slow down, so I ate a couple of Clif Blocks and kept on trucking. Mile 4 was 8:27 and Mile 5 was 8:37.

The Clif Blocks really started to kick in, and I decided to zone out and focus on my Tunes. I know a lot of people proclaim safety issues for this ban, but I never have my headphones so loud I can't hear people, and I never run city streets/non-greenway/non-blocked off roads with them. In a race I am very careful to have the volume low so I can hear waterstop peeps, etc. Brent came up behind me once in the race and I could hear his camera clicking above my tunes and knew he was there. That said, during this race the music REALLY helped me. It was so sunny, so shadeless, and so hot that having that distraction really helps me zone out and not focus on the suffering. Different songs remind me of different people, and different moments in the races I've run over the years. Anything JT reminds me of Mouse, Pink reminds me of Elizabeth and meeting her in Cincy (Pink was playing when we saw her on the hill during the Pig), Cold reminds me of my first marathon finish and My Chemical Romance reminds me of my last half finish at CMM, Rascal Flatts reminds me of Susie, Sweet Home Alabama reminds me of Jayhawk, and the list goes on and on. And if ipods were never allowed in races I know I could still do it, but I don't feel like I'd have those same strong emotions helping me mentally.

From here we were slowly heading through the commercialized part of town towards the quaint Town Square. Mile 6 was 8:48 and Mile 7 was 8:58. I knew the sun was getting to me, and I was just trying to keep it under 9, knowing I had banked some time in the "keeping it under 2 hours" goal. I could also see Lana and Michele just ahead of me, maybe 30 seconds up, the whole time, so that also gave me something to try and hold onto. We did a couple of little out and backs through here. I'm not a huge fan of running stuff like that on my own, but in a race it's nice to see people in front of and then behind you. I always enjoy looking for my friends and watching the leaders. Of course the first female was this awesome masters runner, who has the best abs EVER. She is insane. Before circling the square we ran through a SHADED neighborhood of beautiful antebellum homes. I was hoping this treed section would last forever. Mile 8 was 9:06 and Mile 9 was 9:03.

Once we got through the square we did another little out and back towards some antebellum mansion. I was reaaaallly starting to hurt. I was glad to see one of my coworkers (running his first half) not too far behind me, and doing well. I ran with Lana a little and as soon as we came out of this mansion neighborhood we were straight in the sun again. Ugh. By this point it was nearly 79 degrees and wicked sunny. Mile 10 was 8:58 and Mile 11 was 8:54. I ate a couple more Clif Blocks and tried to keep on trucking. I started feeling better as we got closer to campus, and they had some oranges around Mile 11 which was JUST what I wanted. I knew I was going to break two hours and I just had to keep on moving. Mile 12 was 8:51.

I knew we would finish on their track, I just had no clue where their track is. The course was mostly flat and you could see quite some distance, so I kept watching for the people to turn off in front of me. FINALLY, we turned and I could see it - the FINISH line. One quarter around the track and we were finally there. The track was a nice springy change from the asphalt. I saw coworker (whose husband was running) one last time, waved to the crowd when the announcer called out my name and crossed the line in 1:55:39. Mile 13 was 8:47 and the .1 was at a 6:46 pace.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. The first person to greet you put an ice cold towel around your neck. I almost wet my pants. Seriously, I did (almost). I was so sweaty, and around Mile 12 I had actually had some chills, so when that wonderfully cold towel touched my skin I nearly lost all control of bodily functions. Then I remembered where I was and snapped back out of it, got my medal and was found by Brent. I started inhaling water, talked to Michele and Lana for a bit, then waited on coworker #1 to cross, then coworker #2, then saw a former coworker finish, talked to more people, tried to eat some food, spent a very long time in the bathroom (twice), tried to eat again, talked some more, saw a few other people we knew, and eventually left, at 10:30 right as the awards were starting.

What I didn't get was how high I placed in my division. 1:55 is not a remarkable half time - by a LONG shot. For me personally it ranks right around half-way in the half marathons I have run, and it's 5 minutes off my PR. There are not many halfs here - 1 local one in the spring (excluding CMM), and 1 in the fall. Normally all the fasties are there and I am nowhere near placing. For some reason very few of the usual swifties-particularly women- ran this race, and I ended up 5th in my division. Naturally 5th isn't in the top 3 - but here's the twist. 1 & 2 in my division - were 2 & 3 overall, which means I was 3rd in my group once they "move" up. And here's twist #2 - what about my ipod irreverence? Will they truly go back and disqualify me??? Who knows, and either way it doesn't really matter to me. The website says awards are not mailed and I guarantee if I had been there to accept an award the Ipod Witchhunters would have started a scene and possibly burned me and my nano to ashes. One girl posted on the local running board afterwards about how she wore her ipod and her general not understanding of the strict enforcement of this new rule, and someone else posted back that she's lucky there was more than one person with her first name in the results because he would have turned her in. What a ridiculous witch hunt. The ipod debate has seriously gotten out of hand here on the local message boards. A lot of people posted about how they saw people with them strung up through their shirts and how they'd take them out of their ears at water stops and other places where race crew was located. I say either wear it full on or quit being such a pansy and conform. Don't be a ninny.

Overall, I would recommend the new Middle Half to anyone who wanted a flat half, and doesn't mind heat with little shade. It would be better if it was a month later since it's still wicked hot here this time of year (it should not be 90s in September, this is just stupid). The course was very clearly marked, and although it was boring at times (a lot of the time) that's sort of how they had to do it to get you to and from the "scenic" points. Race volunteers were great, water stops were very efficient, and the post race grub was excellent. The icy towels were AWESOME, the medals are nice, and there was a ton of food afterwards - pizza, cookies, the usual fruit, milk, ice cream, sandwiches, etc. Door prizes were efficiently done before hand with winners numbers posted on a board that you could claim quickly without waiting through a billion drawings from a bowl. And the shirts were nice, too. Since it's a tech shirt I will certainly be wearing it (the men's were white and the women's blue, I sort of like the white better). All in all, I would call the race very well organized for a first year, and even though there was the ipod contro I appreciate that the directors spelled out how they would enforce it weeks ago.

Sorry so long, I just didn't feel like this was a "big" enough race to break down into 500 parts and I've started and stopped a billion times today during various interruptions (aka BRENT and gassy Pippin) and as I've been in and out. Hope you all had great weekends!!!



At 11:48 AM, Blogger Lana said...

Rae - Stop selling yourself short! I know 1:55 is not your best HM time, but it was a damn good time for that race Saturday, AND there were a lot of people in your AG. You did great! There were plenty of people out there dying like I was - but you hung on and deserve that place in your AG. Great job!

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flatulant dog. How bout an entry just on that.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Michele said...

It was great to finally really meet you.
Great job on your race. Do they have the prizes anywhere to be picked up??? If so, you should get yours, you eaarned it.
Congrats again!

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Firefly's Running said...

I can not believe what a bunch of crap that whole "iPod ban" was. I can not live without music during long race. Hell to them!

At 3:09 AM, Blogger Jack said...

Congratulations on a good finish during a hot race. Sounds like you enjoyed the run, headphones and all!

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Running Jayhawk said...

Nicely done, Rae! Those splits are great, especially in such nasty hot conditions. I still can't believe how many folks had their knickers all in a twist over the iPod bruhaha. That's ridiculous.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Oscar said...

hi there. i am sorry that I am not replying to anything written in this post. I was doing some research on luxating patellas and found your post. I am curious to know if Pippin had the surgery and if not how is she doing now? I ask because my pug was just recently diagnosed with a luxating patella. Please e-mail me at and let me know what your experiences with this has been. I'm awfully scared.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Runner Susan said...

awesome time Rae!

At 9:00 PM, Blogger robtherunner said...

Way to go, Rae! I agree about the entire Ipod issue. It's lame and people need to get over it. Has there been an increase in Ipod related deaths or injuries at races that we don't know about that warrants this action?

At 11:37 AM, Blogger mouse said...

i'm totally behind on catching up with people. but for real... solid performance!

and the ipod ban? I concur: totally lame.

and... when did pippin change sexes? :)

At 4:53 AM, Blogger Anne said...

Winning an age group award -- and for a hot half -- is quite an achievement, Rae. You are awesome! It'll be interesting to see if you get the actual award now. Do keep us posted and ROCK ON.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Awesome job!!! Man, that is a killer finish time. And I was so glad to hear your thoughts on the ipod thing because ING Georgia (AKA BYOF Death March) added that to their rules for '08 and I'm going to bring mine anyway. I'm the same way you are, keep it low, and I'm over this new revolution.

I may try this half next year!

And congrats on the swimming progress, I need to get back in the pool!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger RedheadFangirl said...

shoreturtle told me about the ipod ban-- that is so absurd. In a closed course it's not a safety issue at all. And if I don't have some screaming guitars or Blondie Atomic or Jackson 5 while I run, it ain't happening. To me that's like driving with no radio on.

At 9:28 PM, Blogger jeanne said...

whoa, i think your time is fantastic! but i know these things are always relative.

the ipod ban is a NATIONAL phenom, i believe USATF is behind it. My local running club has an entire IDIOTIC campaign banning ipods. be prepared to see it more often.

but awesome that you placed! and in tough weather conditions! go you!

At 8:54 PM, Blogger Just12Finish said...

Congratulations! Another half to add to your collection!


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