Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A spooky (and not in the good way) Halloween half marathon

This weekend I ran the inaugural North Carolina Halloween Half Marathon in Spring Lake, NC.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, the race started at 4 in the afternoon, and it was a five minute drive from my friend's house so it was a guaranteed winner.  Until I got there.

If you want the quick and easy recap, hit up my BibRave review. This is the more broad overview :)

This half was meant to be part of my overall marathon training for the Space Coast Marathon on November 30th.  I didn't count on hurting my calf leading up to it. I hadn't run much in the past couple weeks in an effort to speed up my leg's recovery process so I was actually pretty nervous about this race.  The apprehension got worse on Friday when I looked at the weather and realized I would likely be running in the cold and the rain. The forecast was a 70% chance of rain with temperatures in the mid 40s.  Eww.

The expo sounded really cool on the website, but when we got there it was two or three tents. I am blaming the rain for that one and like to tell myself it would have been a much better event if the sun was shining!  I grabbed my bib and shirt and bundled myself back up in the car without visiting the tents so I suppose I am part of the problem.

The race bag was pretty basic. There were entry forms for a couple other races and a 13.1 sticker. This was my first half so I was really excited about the sticker...until I realized it said Key West Half Marathon through the middle. Major bummer.

After warming up at my friend's house for a while, we headed back to the race a few hours before it was scheduled to start to avoid traffic and parking problems.  I was very very excited that there was a Dunkin Donuts truck in the parking lot and promised myself a delicious treat after the race! I wanted the coffee then, but was not willing to deal with potential consequences.  

We watched a super cute kids race before the half started which was neat. When it came time to line up it wasn't very clear where to go and there was no order in the starting area.  From what I heard there were under 400 runners so luckily the chaos was minimal.  By that point I was just ready to start running in the hopes of finally getting warm! Luckily the race is posting all the pictures on their Facebook because my fingers were too frozen to take any while running.

Pre race! Wishing I could run in the vest

And we are off!
Around mile one I started to wonder where the mile markers were, then I made a new running buddy and plugged along with her for the next 3 or so miles.  The first part of the route took us through a trailer park then back through the start/finish at which point I started asking her if we perhaps started with the 5k group on accident.

5k down, 10 miles to go

Apparently we didn't and we kept going.  By mile 4 we accepted that there were, apparently, no mile markers.  Having someone to talk to was great at that point and I was doing much better than I had hoped. I certainly wasn't going fast, but I was running everything but the water stations. By mile 4.5 my new friend had to stop to stretch out her foot so I was back on my own.  Through more creepy neighborhoods.  There were no real spectators so I felt very much alone.  The course was also not clearly marked so many times I was just hoping I was going the right way.

Around mile five, I realized that the course was also still open to traffic.  I spent a good amount of time running in the mud alongside the road trying to avoid getting clipped.  Runners were yelling out to each other when a car came up.  Hooray for camaraderie at least.

We passed within eyesight of the finish line around mile 11 (according to my Nike app since that was all I had to go by) then were sent for a long loop back though the first trailer park.  At mile 13 (again according to my phone) the finish line was nowhere in sight.  I finally saw it just shy of 14.5 miles and hustled to the end.  Partially to get warm, partially to get to safety. (Did I mention a guy on the course told me the reason he ran marathons was to look at the girls? Hello creepy)  My finish time was 2:28:?? so I was THRILLED to come in under my unofficial goal of 2.5 hours.

I was handed my (awesome and huge) finishers medal and a bottle of water, met up with my boyfriend, and headed over to the aid and food station. Oh wait, that was my imagination. There was no aid station at all, and the "food" was a bunch of empty pizza boxes on the ground.  The Dunkin truck was even gone :( I got a dixie cup of beer...which I poured from the keg without anyone IDing me. Woo security haha.

 Talking to other runners I found out that many of the top finishers had run only 11 miles.  This is not to say I would have beat them if they had run the full distance (or been even close lol) but that they were frustrated that the "certified" course they had run was short. According to a statement on the race Facebook some runners were misdirected which accounted for the short distance.  For some reason that just doesn't seem like a good thing to me!

Anyways, I wanted to stay and watch the rest of the finishers, but I was just too cold and hungry.  There were no space blankets or anything of that nature so I was a little worried for my health.

We tried to stop at Red Robin for dinner (because who doesn't love burgers?) but as soon as I got out of the car I started to feel sick. I bailed and proceeded to make my boyfriend pull over twice so I could get sick. I am super glamorous like that. He is very lucky to have me.  Or the other way around.  Probably that one.

Once I got home and got warm I felt better, so I guess all those times my mom made me bundle up after volleyball practice she was right.  Getting cold after getting sweaty is a recipe for disaster.

Lessons learned: eat better before afternoon races. Pack gloves. Pack a coat. Pack your own snacks.

Perk: I can manage to look pretty good around halfway through a half marathon! Also I fell 100% totally and completely in LOVE with my running shoes.  They are the bee's knees.

Overall, my legs were sore at the end but I wasn't overly tired so I am actually feeling better about my marathon now!

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