Sunday, November 20, 2016

Magic City Half Marathon Race Report

I signed up for the Magic City Half Marathon in Birmingham after my horse had an accident in the pasture. Originally, I was signed up to do the Raleigh, NC, Skinny Turkey half marathon when visiting family for Thanksgiving, but when it became apparent I would not be able to leave my horse and go to NC, I looked around for another half marathon to do Thanksgiving week and settled on this one in Birmingham.

I had a hotel room booked, but on Wednesday I wasn't sure I would be able to do the run because of my mild injury so I canceled the reservation.

Of course, then I had no more pain or issues the rest of the week, so I decided to still run the race, but take it easy and not strain the leg any more. I decided to just drive down, run the race and drive home.

My race clothes all laid out. Made getting ready in the wee hours of the morning easier.

This meant I had to get up at 3:30 AM. I was dressed and on the road by 3:50 AM and reached the race venue just after 6:30 AM. The race was being staged at Regions Field, Birmingham's minor league baseball team's home field. We would start outside the field, but finish along the first baseline!

I found a place to park a couple blocks over and, all bundled up, went to pick up my bib and t-shirt. It was 35° and I was COLD!

I got my bib, but they didn't have the size medium shirt I signed up for and I had to take an extra large. That bugged me. Why bother asking for shirt sizes if they're not going to GIVE me my shirt?? The shirts were running small, but extra large is still too big for me to wear in public. Too bad. I really like it otherwise. And before you tell me that putting on a race is a big deal and t-shirt sizes are a minor issue, sure, I get that. But it's just an extra small thing to check to see what size shirt the person signed up for and actually give them that shirt. Considering I run for the medal, the t-shirt and ice cream, the t-shirt matters to me. Not sure why, I have a bazillion. But it does.

Finish line along the first base line. Start line through the 3rd base gates and some of Birmingham.

I headed back to my truck and finished getting ready, then sat in my truck with the heater blasting until 7:30.

I debated wearing my black hoodie for extra warmth, but decided against it. I wore what I wore on last week's training run. My Under Armour half zip, my RaceReady mid-weight capris and my headband with ear covers. I added a thin skull cap as a nod to the 8-10 mph COLD wind and the shade of early morning in the city.

I jogged over to the baseball field and kept moving to warm up. Finally I moved to the start line and stood in the sun for the last few minutes before the start.

Cold me at the start.

I positioned myself pretty far back in the field. In fact, the drag car was not too far behind me when I started. In a field of some 1000 runners, no need to be run over or in the way of the faster runners especially since I wasn't planning to PR or move out, just an easy early morning run with 1000 of my closest strangers. I just wanted the experience and see how my leg held up.

I started out pretty slowly, walking to keep my average pace down and trying hard to control my pace while I was running. My first 2 miles were my slowest at 13:19 and 13:27 respectively.

I still tried to be slow and easy for the next 4 miles and I was, I just used the gradual downhills to my advantage to ease on down the street with minimal wear and tear and gradually sped up from 13:02 in mile 3 to 12:23 for mile 6.

Miles 7 and 8 were up a gradual incline and my pace suffered a little bit at 12:55 for each mile, but my HR, legs and breathing were ok. By mile 9, I was stepping it up a little bit, using a downhill to get some long strides in. I passed several people on this hill that were walking down it. I clocked 11:51 for that mile. Mile 10 was going back up the hill I'd gone down. I did jog up most of that hill and turned in 12:42 for that mile. My leg was feeling good. No twinges from the previous concern.

Miles 11 and 12 I was starting to feel a little heavy in the legs. I did the math and realized I had no chance of getting a PR at this race, so I didn't push on these miles. I didn't really back off, but I didn't push either. I wasn't expecting a PR, but I figured if I did the math and I had a chance, I might have push harder to see if I could make that happen. But I was a good 4 minutes off my pace for a PR and with only about 3.1 miles to go, no likely way to make that up. So I accepted 11:51 and 12:19 for those miles.

Mile 13, though, I maintained the pace and dropped any walking which netted me an 11:10 minute mile. I stepped up the pace for the last quarter mile to the finish line until I was in a full out, if I trip, I'm going DOWN, run by the time I hit the finish line. That was done in an average 8:34 pace.

The finish line as seen from the stands.

Because of how well I finished I figure I might have been able to go faster during the first 8 miles, but who knows. If I'd pushed harder, I might have re-injured my leg or burned out. Either way, I'm pretty happy with my performance for this run. I had fun and turned in a respectable finish time for me. And no issues with my leg. I'm going to take it easy the rest of the week. Still run, but not push anything and see how it goes.

I wore my Paradigm 2 shoes and am completely happy with them. No blisters, no issues. I think I've found my next long run shoe. Next test is to see if they'll hold up to 15 or 16 miles!

Food was a little different with this run due to me leaving the house so early. I made a mug of mocha to take with me and nursed it all the way down to Birmingham. Turns out, I only drank about half of it. I also had a single "sausage" patty before I left the house. I had intended to stop at McDonald's for an egg white and cheese english muffin around 6 AM (2 hours before the start), but decided to just eat a Picky Bar instead. That worked so well I forgot to take my first gel right before the start, so ended up taking it at mile 2 just before the first aid station. That put my 45 minute eat alarm on my watch off kilter, so I ended up having another gel just before mile 6, then mile 9 or so and the last one at mile 11. Seemed to work out ok.

All done! A good run!

All in all, I had a nice run. I was cold for the first mile or 2, but by mile 6, I was adjusting my layers for best ventilation. I drove home and stopped a couple times to walk around for a few minutes and ended up at home with very little soreness. I will consider doing this run next year, even if I do make it to the Raleigh run. Not a huge fan of getting up at 3:30 AM, but it worked out well.

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