Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Race Recap: Caesar Rodney Half Marathon & my Half Fanatics Qualifier!!

After I got home from the RnR half marathon, showered, and napped a short bit I packed up my stuff and headed to Wilmington, Delaware to do it all over again!  A fellow Red Felter, Jennifer, offered to let me stay with her the night before the Caesar Rodney half.  She was also nice enough to get my race packet for me so that was one less thing to worry about.  I got there around 7pm and we headed to dinner.  We both loaded up on pasta, chatted for a while and then went home and headed to bed early so we could get some rest before the race the next morning.

Pre-Race & Meetup:
The CR half started at 9:30am, which was a nice time.  I had to be up at 4:30am for the RnR half the day before so it was extra nice to have a little time to sleep in.  Jennifer and I woke up and casually got ready.  I had my usual bagel, jelly and banana breakfast and about 20 bathroom breaks (pre-race nerves!).  I'm trying to branch out and try new things before running, but I learned the hard way not to try anything new on race day so I stuck with what I knew.

It was pretty cold outside, colder than the day before, and sadly I didn't bring the right layering.  The day before I felt like I had too many layers on and the morning of CR I didn't have enough.  I'm still figuring out the layering thing.  I think that's why I prefer summer.  Just one shirt to worry about.  Anyway, it was St. Patrick's Day so there was a lot of green.  I'm not really into costumes, but I figured I could get a lot of green.  I got some green compression socks, a green shirt from Dick's Sporting Goods and found a cool, sparkly green headband and sleeves at the RnR expo.  It came out nice I think.

There were 3 other Felters who came in to do the CR race, Lance, Betty and Tod.  Tod also did a fantastic write up of the CR race on his blog and I recommend reading it.  I had met Tod before at the Myrtle Beach half the month before.  While Jennifer and I were waiting for them to arrive we got our faces painted!  The local radio station did that and it was a fun treat.  The vibe at CR was very different than RnR.  It was a much smaller, local race.  I kind of liked the casual-ness of it.

Both Jennifer and Tod are half fanatics and knew of some other half fanatics who were also running this race.  We met up with a few of them and took a pre-race photo.  They were all so nice and wished me luck on qualifying.  I can tell you I was definitely nervous and sore from the day before so it helped big time to have some extra support and encouragement.  I had kept saying things like, "if I finish," but they would all say, "when you finish!"

Once Lance, Betty and Tod showed up we did our usual pre-race RFRC photo.  We chatted for a bit and then headed to the start.  I was loving all the green, festive spirit. that people had on.  I'm still not quite ready for costumes, but I think I can do color scheme outfits :)
This race only had 2,000 runners or so.  It was so much smaller than RnR.  Jennifer and I started in the back and as soon as we started we noticed the police sweeper behind us!  Haha!  That was different.  We didn't like it so we picked up the pace a little.  I hung with her for about a mile and a half and then had to slow down.  I was tired (duh!).  I saw an older women who was wearing a shirt that said half fanatics and chatted with her for a little while.  She was 69 years old and also did the RnR the day before!  She did RnR for her birthday and her whole family came and did it with her.  She was doing CR by herself though.  That's rockstar status in my eyes.  She also informed me of the race time limit, 3 hours...eek!  I hadn't realized there was a time limit.  She was doing a 30 second run/walk interval.  I hung with her for a little while, but that interval was awkward for me so I ended up doing my own thing.  We passed each other back and forth for a while.  In my head I admired her for being an older runner and clearly a beast for doing a half the day before too, but also wanted to beat her.  How sad that a 69 year old woman was rocking it more than me?!!   Running has definitely been humbling for me.  You can't judge a runner by how they look.  There have been so many times I see runners before a race and think, "oh, I've got to be better than them" and then they kick my ass!  Everyone is really out there to race themselves.  I can't be sad that I'm not as fast as others because I'm faster than I was last year and that's really all that matters in the grade scheme of things.  I'm improving!

The course was a lot hillier than the RnR the day before and I hate hills.  However, it was a beautiful course.  There was not a lot of crowd support, almost none actually.  Someone or a group of people did manage to post signs throughout the race, which was really nice considering the lack of crowd.  It was great to be able to read them along the way.  Part of the course looped back so I was able to see all the faster runners come through (and be jealous for a moment), but it was cool because I saw Tod while he was going down hill and I was going up.  He totally caught me walking, dang it!  We passed and gave each other a high five!  I loved it.  I tried looking for Lance and Betty, but couldn't spot them.  There was so much green and was hard to pick out people in the crowds.  I ended up running into Jennifer at a pass point too.  I loved that part of the race.  It always gives me a little boost when I see my friends along the course.

By far my favorite moment of the course was when I hit mile 12. I know the time is definitely slow, but when I saw the time I started to get teary eyed.  I had to stop and take a picture to remember that moment.  In a half mile 12 is always my favorite spot because it's the spot that I know "I've got this."  It was also extra special because I not only had the chance to beat my time from the day before, but to possibly have my best half marathon time ever.  It was such a sweet moment for me.

There was also a nice down hill (actually there were several, which probably contributed to the faster time) right after mile 12 and I ran faster on the down hills.  As I got closer to the finish I saw Jennifer waiting for me.  At first I thought she was done and came to cheer me on, but she figured when we passed earlier I wasn't that much farther behind so she would wait.  It was awesome.  I told her I thought I was going to PR so she pushed me to the finish.  There was one last big hill right before the finish, but we did it!  I sprinted to the finish once I saw it (after almost getting hit by a car because there was no one directing the traffic at that spot) and had a new PR,  2:51:53.  I know that's still slow, but I guess you have to start somewhere.  It's 20 minutes faster than my very first half the year before so at least I'm improving.  That's also with inconsistent training, which the last couple weeks I've been doing much better so I'm sure in the future I will continue to see better times.

Post Race:
 The post race food was my favorite up to that point.  They had delicious, salty pretzels, pizza (I had 2 pieces) and very tasty soup!  There was also hot soup after the Myrtle Beach half and I'm starting to think that hot soup is one of my favorite post race foods, that and pizza!

We went into a nearby hotel to use their restroom (way better than porta-potties) and walked back to the car to head back to Jennifer's house.  I wasn't really cold during the run, but I sure got real cold when we were done.  I couldn't wait to get back and get a warm shower.

After we showered up, we went to a yummy Mexican restaurant and I pigged out.  I also rewarded myself with a soda.  I have been trying to be better about not drinking soda much, especially days leading up to races.  It was a great treat. After lunch I headed home and had about a 2 hour drive.  I loved the CR course and the whole weekend!  I give CR two thumbs up and would recommend it to others and might even do it again too :)

Half-Fanatics and Post Weekend Wrap-up:
When I got home from Delaware I emailed half fanatics with all the necessary details (okay, I lied, I did it in the car on my way home!).  I had some pretty ugly blisters that needed some attention.  No matter the socks I buy, the shoes I buy, or the body glide I apply I still get blisters after all my longer runs.  I love my current running shoes because I have had no issues with my IT band or bottoms of my heels since I've used them so I'm not about to jump up and buy a new pair.  However, I'm hoping that as my consistency improves during the week (which it has been improving) my feet will adjust.  But, for now I use a combination of essential oils (lavender, frankincense, melaluca) and 2nd skin blister kits.  I put a drop of one of the oils on the blister and then use the moist pads fron the kit, place it on top and then wrap it with tape over night. When I get up in the morning the blisters aren't totally gone, but the pain is and allows me to wear whatever shoes I want.  I started using frankincense more recently and am really loving it.

It's official, I am a Half Fanatic!  I am number #3800 (I totally requested an even number too.  I'm not sure if that was on purpose or they were being nice, but I'm so happy with it).  After 2 half marathons, 2 states, 2 days, 2 medals, 26.2 miles, and lots of RFRC support, I can say mission accomplished!!  I set out to complete a goal and I did it.  I did 2 half marathons in 2 days and am at the Jupiter level in HF.  I am happy.  I don't know that I'll be jumping to do 2 halfs in 2 days again, but it was a fun experience.  Now, I'm really trying to work on consistency and speed so I can be a mid-packer and not back-of-the-packer.  I'm really starting to be over that!  I guess that means it's time to start getting serious with this whole running thing :)

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