Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green Bay Half Marathon Race Report

Somehow it's not very encouraging to wake up on race day and the first thing you hear - after your alarm going off - is the wind howling outside your window.

Especially on a day when you've got 13.1 miles in front of you. But that's what happened.

Let me back up.

The Green Bay Half Marathon. I had been stalking the weather all week. And it actually started to get better as race day approached. The chance of showers? They disappeared. The temperatures? Projected to be in the lower- to mid-50s, perfect running temps. But then the weathermen put in that pesky word - WINDY. In caps and italicized too. But they never really defined windy. Until the day before.

Saturday I headed up to the expo to pick up my packet and roam around the vendors a bit. I stopped by the Green Bay Running Club booth and got a few last minute words of wisdom from Coach Jim. I had been thinking strategy and after talking with him I decided to start out with the 2:30 pace group and see how I felt, with plans to kick it up a bit towards the end.

After driving the race course - in the pouring rain - I headed back to my parents' house to grab some food and relax. Oh, and figure out a race day outfit. Nothing like deciding at 9 p.m. what I'll be wearing the next day!

Race day
My alarm started buzzing at 5 a.m. And the first thing I heard? The howling wind. Ugh. Not a good sign. I got ready, made my waffles with peanut butter, grabbed my stuff and my Mom and I were out the door. Last year when I went things went so smoothly. This year? Not so much.

First there was the small traffic backup on the highway off-ramp. Then there was not parking in the Lambeau Field Stadium parking lots, so we had to park across the street in an overflow lot. Then the atrium? Pure craziness. And the line for the inside bathrooms? So long I never actually found the end. Instead I headed out to the port-a-potties where the lines were just as long. I think I finally got to with like 7 minutes before the starting gun would go off.

I still needed to find my Mom and get my Garmin, iPod and race belt though. I was a bit frantic at this point. I like to have ample time where I don't feel rushed. I felt rushed that morning. I met up with my Mom, collected my stuff and got a good luck hug from Mom before I hopped a fence and tried to find that 2:30 pace group. I found the group and found a spot to wait with the other 8,500 runners.

At this point I'm noticing my Garmin is having trouble picking up a satellite. Uh-oh. I try turning it off and turning it back on, it's worked in the past. No luck. Great. Just what I need. A Garmin that's on the fritz. I push the start button, thinking maybe I'd at least have a time to go by.

The gun goes off. It's time for my second attempt at the Green Bay Half Marathon. And did I mention it's still incredibly windy? It was.

We start running. I'm pacing myself with the 2:30 group. It feels a little slow for me, but I stick with them. I don't want to go out too fast and die with a bunch of miles to go. Somewhere about a half mile or so into the race I notice my Garmin is working. It signals the one mile mark, but we haven't passed the marker yet. Hmm. Weird. So I stop it, and reset it. Thinking I'd just be a mile shy. Honestly I was more worried about the pace at this point. And because mileage was messed up with the Garmin, I don't have mile splits.

I keep running.

Somewhere around Mile 2 I'm rounding a corner and I see Peggy and Sam, two of my running buddies from the Fleet Feet group. I give them high fives and keep running.

Everything is going smooth. I feel good. Sometime shortly after seeing Peggy and Sam, I make the decision to just leave the 2:30 pace group. The pace seemed a little slow for me. I felt like I could push it and still feel good throughout. So I did. I was averaging an 11 min/mile, which I was happy with.

Still running. I see my Mom right around Mile 4 and Peggy and Sam again right before Mile 6. I'm going with my fueling plan of walking through the water stops and taking a Gu Chomp every mile beginning at Mile 4 and things are working. I feel good. Of course, at this point the wind is at my back or else I'm pretty sheltered from it by the houses that line these streets.

Miles 5-8 go pretty well. But then the wind starts to play a little bit of a factor. There are more parts of the course that are heading north. Which is exactly the direction the wind is coming from. If it was a slight breeze, it wouldn't be a problem. But the winds were pretty steady at about 25 miles per hour. Thankfully those northerly sections were fairly short.

Right around Mile 10.5 the course plays a mean game on you. If you look to your left you can see Lambeau Field. It's a block away. So close. Yet so far. I reminded myself the day before not to look left at this point. I failed. I glanced left. Saw the stadium. Kept running. Only 2.5 miles or so to go. I glanced down at my Garmin and did some math in my head, I was still on pace for a 2:30 half or even possibly a new PR. Normally doing math while running is not a good thing for me, but I was pretty confident in my calculations since the 2:30 pacer had not passed me yet.

I kept running.

I was starting to slow down a bit, but was still feeling pretty decent. Then I turned a corner at Mile 11.4 and I was heading north again. Except the winds? They'd picked up. They were steady at about 30 miles per hour with gusts of 40+ mph. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Remember how I said I was feeling pretty good? Well turning that corner I hit a wall. Both physically - seriously it was so windy I felt like I was going backwards - and mentally because that wind was brutal. I stopped and walked. It felt like I was going faster walking than attempting to run. And during this walk break the 2:30 pacer passed me. Ouch.

I'm not going to lie. I felt a little defeated. I let her get a half block in front of me and I started to run again. I admit, there were a few more walk breaks during these last 2 miles than I would have liked, but I tried to keep them short and at a decent pace. Soon I'm running down Armed Forces Drive and Lambeau Field is right in front of me.

I run through the parking lot, through the bowels of the stadium. Down the players tunnel and then I'm out on the field, doing my lap around the warning track. Just as cool as I remember it from last year. I get my high five from my Mom and it's back out the tunnel and into the parking lot. Round one more corner and there's the finish line. I speed up and cross it.

2 hours, 32 minutes, 18 seconds

Given the windy conditions I battled for the last 2 miles I was happy with my time. I got my space blanket and medal, grabbed some water and a bite to eat and met up with my Mom. I changed into dry clothes and we headed back into the stadium to watch runners. I met up with Peggy and Sam and we were watching for another one of our Fleet Feet buddies and Coach Jim. After they came through the stadium, I needed to leave. I was freezing. And the wind wasn't helping.

Fast forward a day. It's Monday. I took the day off of work and went and got an hour-long massage. So. Amazing. Especially since my entire left leg was angry at me - mostly my hamstring/quad area and my calf and Achilles area (which began bothering me around Mile 7).

But then I hear news. The course? It was certified at the correct distance, but when the "crew" was putting out signs before the race, they mismarked it so the course was actually 800 feet longer (0.15 miles) and the race organizers were going to be adjusting the times. After the adjustment I ended up clocking a time of 2 hours, 30 minutes and 34 seconds.

So. Close. Not only so close to my sub-2:30, but so close to my current PR that I set at Oshkosh in April (2:30:05). Ugh. Then I began the "what if" thinking. If I had just taken one less walk break during that last 2 miles or a shorter walk break or if the wind hadn't been gale-force winds.

Ugh. But still. I'm happy with the result I put up. Especially when I look at the overall results and I see things like the men's marathon winner was almost 15 minutes slower this year than last year's winner (he even joked about how this was his worst time in three tries, yet he won it this year). And it's all because of Mother Nature and the wind us runners had to contend with.

So I'm happy. It was brutal conditions, but I dug deep and pushed through. Because after all, big dreams don't get attained without a lot of hard work. #DBWH


Rachel said...

You should be so happy about your time! It was crazy wind and you pushed through with a great time. DO NOT play that 'what if' game. You listened to your body and ran a great race! SO proud of you! Isn't the Green Bay a great race??

Deanna@MilesToRun said...

Great race recap! I was thinking of you that morning with those gusty winds. You did awesome!

Hope to see you Saturday at the training run!

Claire said...

Nothing can kill a good run like crappy winds! Congratulations anyways!!!

Anonymous said...

That was a superb run and time. I would love to step foot in Lambeau Field even if it was because of a race instead of a Packers football game.

Run with Jess said...

Great Job! I heard the winds were brutal! It's hard to let go of your goal but when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, you have no choice! still you did awesome! I really want to do this one someday! I can't imagine how cool it is to finish in Lambeau!!

Jennifer Cotter said...

Awesome job! I'm really going to try to run this next sounds like a great race. I'm with Mike and would be so cool to finish at Lambeau!!

amybee said...

hey: CONGRATS!!!! Tough day with the wind and the mismarked course, but you did a really great job!

I say, since you were under 2:31:00 that you DID do a 2:30 half.... so enjoy your victory!

J said...

You did so well considering the conditions! Wind is the worst! Congrats on the half!

Suzy said...

Congratulations!! I remember how wicked those winds can be in GB. And in Lambeau they go round and round. You did great and had an uphill battle at the end and still came through strong. You should be proud of yourself!

teacherwoman said...

Awesome job! That wind can be sooo nasty! You should be happy with your results. You rocked it!

Mike said...

I say great work because of the wind. It is nasty to get out and run in the wind like that. Way to persevere!

Badgergirl said...

Thanks everyone!