Sunday, June 7, 2015

On the Run: DX-A2 1/2 Marathon 2015

Last Sunday was my post-injury half marathon debut.  Although it was 4th time racing the Dexter-Ann Arbor half and my 22nd half marathon, I was anxious.  Anxious about anything and everything.

  • Hamstring:  It's not 100% pain-free and I wasn't sure what the combination of 13 miles, hills, and increased pace would do to it.
  • Pace:  Could I handle the pace I've been working on during speed work for the duration of the race?  My 9k on Memorial Day was hard and that was less than half the distance.
  • Fuel:  I'm finding that my fueling needs have changed since I've started racing again.  What used to sustain me for a 5k or 10k just isn't enough.  I needed to figure out a plan for 13 miles so I didn't bonk.
  • Weather:  As if all that wasn't enough to worry about, the forecast changed from 60 degrees and sunny to 50 degrees and 100% chance of rain.  

To help set my mind at ease, I talked through pacing with Coach Terra earlier in the week.  My bestie Megan helped me figure out fueling.  My hamstring was going to be a nagging issue but I could push through for the race.

That left the rain.  I don't mind running in the rain but I wasn't looking forward to the combination of wind, chilly temps, and 13 miles.  I texted Terra the day before and told her as much.  Her response was just what I needed to hear: "You are Detroit Tough.  Face it and embrace it."  Face it and embrace it.  Hmmm...  I liked that.  I was going to use that as my mantra when the going got tough.

Saturday evening when I made my playlist, I put a few special rain-themed songs on it.  I made my chia pudding and added some PB2 for an extra boost.  I laid out my gear, including two CLIF Shots.  I was still a bit jittery but not as nervous as I'd been.  Everything would fall into place.

Race day dawned just as dark and rainy as predicted.  As he always does, Brian drove me to the staging area in Dexter so I didn't have to take a bus from Ann Arbor.  (The course is not looped.)  It was pouring and he kept asking if I still wanted to run it.  I knew he was worried about me but I was ready.  After months of base-training, speed work, and long runs, there was no way I was going to let a little rain stop me from seeing what my hamstring could do.  With a valet stop at the port-a-potty and a kiss good-bye, I ran into the school to stay dry for as long as I could.  

While I waited, I passed the time in a bathroom line talking to a really friendly girl.  Then I found my RUNdetroit friends in the gym and Coach Geo from Detroit Tough.  I did some run drills (high knees, walking lunge with twist, drinking bird) instead of a warm-up mile.  During the National Anthem I finally went outside to wait in the rain.  I found the 1:35 pace team and decided to run with them.  I needed some company, at least for a while.

By the time the race started I was wet enough that it didn't seem bad anymore.  Once I hit the first puddle I was set.  Face it and embrace it.  It was a medium steady rain, never a downpour, and actually kept my body temperature cool enough throughout the race.  All in all it turned out to be much better than expected.

I was running slightly behind the pacers, making sure to stick with them.  I was trying to keep my head in the game, not worrying about how many miles were ahead of me.  One mile at a time; run each one and forget about it.  (More words of wisdom from Coach Terra.)  After turning onto Huron River Drive about 3 miles in, the group spread out a bit. One of the pacers asked me if I was going to pace the group because I seemed fast.  I explained that I was going to hang with them for a while and not try to push the pace.  We got to talking about different races and ran together for a couple of miles.  It was nice to have someone to talk to for a while.  There were also two girls near the pace group that I chatted with a bit.  They were keeping a good pace but accelerating a bit.  At one point I told them my goal was to stay with them or at least keep them in my sights!

I stayed with the pace group for maybe the first 5-6 miles before gradually starting to pick it up a bit.  I didn't get that far ahead because for a while I could still hear the pacer shouting out the splits at each mile.  He had them slightly ahead each time.  I took my gel around 5.5, drank a cup of water at mile 6.  I started to worry because I still had more than half the race to go.  Then I thought about those first 6 miles . . . and I put them behind me.  They were done.  I felt a renewed push and ran on, feeling stronger.  

My hamstring started talking to me at mile 8 but it was manageable.  When I got to mile 10 and there was only 5k left, I really tried to focus on looking forward, staying strong, not worrying about the Garmin.  The next mile went by pretty easily that way.  I chicked a couple of dudes and caught back up to one of the two girls who had been running in the pace group (one was way out of sight).  At the mile 12 water station someone shouted out, "Vegan runner!" which totally made my day!

Coming up off of Huron River Drive onto Main Street is a sizable hill, which I handled pretty well.  I probably used up more energy on that and in the next half mile, however, because by the time I neared the finish I didn't have much left for a final push.  One of the girls that I'd been going back and forth with and had passed before that big hill caught up to me in the final stretch and beat me in the end.  I sure wouldn't have done as well overall without her and we congratulated each other at the finish.  There were a few guys that had been near us that all had similar comments, as well.  I love the camaraderie at this race.  

As soon as I got my medal I looked up to see Brian waiting for me.  By then the rain had just about stopped.  He snapped this picture of me.  You can't fake this happiness!

We hurried over to where the RUNdetroit cheering section was to see Coach Geo finish, along with the rest of the RUNdetroit Flight Club.  I was in such a rush to get over there I forgot to grab a post-race banana!  

I finally had to go get changed into dry clothes (complete change in the car) and then I went down the street to Starbucks for my usual post-race Starbucks coffee and oatmeal.  I seriously run for coffee!

I was so proud of myself for finishing at the goal Terra and I had set.  I'd stuck to my pacing plan, run a negative split, fueled properly, and most importantly raced with happy legs and a happy heart!  



Chia pudding & banana (pre-race) CLIF Shot (mile 5.5)

Caught in the Rain / Preston School of Industry
Back to the Shack / Weezer
Last Raindrop / Fitz & the Tantrums
You Called Me / Mayor Hawthorne
All About That Bass / Meghan Trainor
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters
Believer / American Authors
Sorry I Stole Your Man / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Shut Up and Dance / WALK THE MOON
Rainy Taxi / Spoon
I Bet My Life / Imagine Dragons
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
Move Like You Stole It / ZZ Ward
Only Happy When it Rains / Garbage
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
Cheer Up Boys (Your Make Up Is Running) / Foo Fighters
One Engine / The Decemberists
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Set Fire to the Rain / Adele

Previous DX-A2 race recaps:

Have you run a rainy race?  How did it go?


  1. Great job on a very wet race! I didn't run DXA2 this year, but I had some friends who ran. This was my first half marathon back in 2013 and that hill coming off Huron River onto Main just killed me. One of these years I need to do this race again.