Yesterday morning Scott and I joined our marathon training group bright and early for a 15k race. I did this same race last year with my half marathon group, and while it was tough, I really enjoyed myself. This year I was nervous about how my injury would allow me to perform on the challenging course of constant hills.
Around 7:30am we stood in a group and listened to a pre-race pep talk from one of the marathon group coaches. A few minutes later we headed out as a flock for a slow and easy 1 mile warm up. Shortly after finishing that, we joined the crowd behind the starting line. After a few words from the race director (that no one could really hear because it’s pretty much impossible to talk over the chatter of 500 pumped up runners), the gun was fired and we took off!
(This photo and all photos thereafter are credited to the awesome Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)
The first 3 miles took us through the roads of the state park, and starting at mile 4 or so we ventured into the surrounding neighborhood roads. Up and down, up and down, UP AND DOWN we ran. At first, the hills didn’t seem so bad, but as I got further into the race I could tell that climbing and descending was irritating my hip. I went into the race with no particular time goal, because I didn’t think it would be possible for me to even come close to last year’s time with all of my hip and back issues. I was surprised to see an average pace of 10:30 min/mi every time I looked down at my watch– my average last year was 10:45 min/mi, putting my finish time at 1:40:22.
At mile 4.5 I ripped open my pack of Honey Stinger chews, ate a couple, and mentally prepared myself for my least favorite part of the course– a loop that contains some of the bigger and more steep hills. It wasn’t incredibly hot, but the humidity was definitely an issue. I ended up drinking my entire water bottle and having to refill it again at mile 5, and by the finish of the race I had emptied it again– a total of 24 oz of water for only 9.3 miles! My hip was hurting, but with the chance of beating last year’s time, I continued to push on. At mile 6.5 I was just coming to the top of a long hill, and it was as if my legs chose that moment to let me know JUST how tired they were feeling. I finished off my chews in hopes that it would give my tired legs some extra pep and continued on.
I totally look like I’m power walking– but I promise, I was running! Ha… This was taken at mile 8 and I was pretty tired at this point. My hip was in pain, my legs felt like lead, and I was ready to be done. I could tell that I had slowed down, and knew that I probably wasn’t going to beat last year’s time– but I could come close to it!
Meanwhile, Scott was having a great race. This was his first time on this course, and he totally rose to the challenge! Look at him go!
When I saw the mile marker for mile 9, I was so relieved. The last part of the race seemed to be stretching on forever! I picked up the pace a little and was able to run strong through the finish line.
I finished the 15k in 1:41:43– missing last year’s time by a little over a minute! Not to bad considering I ran injury free last year! 🙂
Scott finished in 1:27:48– which placed him as second in his age group! So stinking proud of that guy 😀
Here’s him with the race director and the guy who won 1st place in the age group (the guy who won 3rd apparently already went home and wasn’t there to get his award, bummer!):
Overall a very good race for both of us! I had some pain and the course was definitely challenging, but I still enjoyed myself. I really love this race– it’s cheap (only $10 for early registration!), chip timed, provides awesome long sleeve tech shirts, is always well organized, has a beautiful course, well placed aid stations, and an overall awesome atmosphere. The only thing I might possibly change is to have the race begin at 7am instead of 8am, only because it got a little hot in the sunnier parts of the course.
After the race we headed home to clean up and then went back out for a post-race meal of burgers and fries, and later in the evening we went and saw Captain Phillips (HEART WRENCHING). It was a good day 🙂