Monday, April 11, 2011

First Half Marathon of the Season

I just returned from my first half marathon of the season and I am so sore! I did the Go! St. Louis race in St. Louis, MO. We were able to stay at a swanky hotel, see some friends, hang out in a beautiful city that is already seeing summer peeking out, and run a great race.

 We stayed at the Omni Majestic Hotel in downtown St. Louis, which was about 2 blocks from the race start and finish. This was good for two reasons: The fiance could get up much later than me and just watch me at the finish line AND I could shower before driving back to Iowa! It was a super swanky hotel, and I really only got it because I had a coupon, but given that it cost the same amount as any other hotel in the area and the staff was AMAZING and EXCELLENT, I would definitely book it again if I needed to stay downtown.

We saw our friends Cody and Lorraine, who live in St. Louis, and we went out and saw some shops and restaurants.

We went to Gringo Jones Imports and The Bug House, which were two really quirky stores. The industrial Alien and Predator art were amazing and awakened our nerd factors!

We also went out for Italian food at Zia's in a neighborhood called 'The Hill'. I didn't take pictures, but I kept it pretty standard. I got angel hair pasta with veggies, chicken, and red sauce. Nothing crazy before a race!
After that, we walked around an area called 'The Loop', but it was getting hot, so we went to a bar called Venice Cafe, which was the coolest thing I'd ever seen!

Amazing art! It was so quirky. Our friends and the fiance drank some beers, but I stuck to water. This ended up being an excellent decision. At the end of the night, we went to an upscale bbq place called The Shaved Duck. I had some amazing fish in a red pepper sauce, and I sampled some meat from the fiance's sampler, but I felt good and was happy with my choice. The fish was REALLY good. After that, I was so tired, so we went back to the hotel, laid out my stuff, and crashed!

I slept amazingly well for the night before a race. I normally am a terrible insomniac, and the night before races, I barely sleep. I manged to be dead to the world from 10:30-1:30, but then I was dozing until my 5:30am wakeup call.

Ok, race highlights:

1) I knew it was going to be rough, so I planned to go slow and take it easy. I wasn't well trained for the distance because it was WINTER until a couple weeks ago. I seriously did a 10 miler 2 weekends ago in 37 degree weather with a 20 mph wind that was more like 15 degrees.

2) I looked at the course. There was a 3 mile long hill. I knew it. I probably should have gone in blind. It would've gone better for me.

I've lived in Iowa for 5 years. I've run a lot of races. That hill was SOMETHING ELSE. Just killed me. If you compare this to the Des Moines 1/2 marathon from the fall, the elevation change of DSM 1/2 was 20 ft. The elevation change of this race was almost 300 ft. We don't even have hills like that where I live!

Yes, it was good for me. I know.

3) It was hot. I totally respected the race announcer who told us, while lined up in corrals, that if we hadn't heat trained (i.e. all the people from the midwest, where it was winter 2 weeks ago!) we shouldn't plan to PR and encouraged us to take water and gatorade at every water stop. We passed a bank clock just after the start, where the temp was reported at 77 degrees at 7am. It got to 82 by 9am. I don't want to even think about those poor marathoners who were on the course until noon!

4) Sites on the course were pretty cool. We ran through some cool neighborhoods, both the SLU and WashU campuses, and the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

5) They had enough water, gels, and gatorade, and the layout of the aid stations made sense and were long enough to accomodate the 18,000 runners. I highly respect that in any race course.

Personally, I didn't expect too much out of myself for this race. I treated it like a hard, hot training run. I have two more races later this spring that I'm taking a lot more seriously. Plus, the ultimate goal for this season is to do a 1/2 iron distance triathlon at the end of the summer, which means I need to be able to approach a 1/2 marathon with the attitude "Ain't no thang, chicken winnnnng!"

It was hard. It was HOT. I did walk. My knees and hips hurt from the hills. But I learned from my DNF at the Wisconsin 1/2 marathon last spring. It was hot, and it had hills, and I went out too fast. This time, I took my time and I drank a lot of water and gatorade. I refilled my hand-held water bottle 4 times!

People were dropping like flies. I saw runners actually go down in front of me. Towards the end, I saw a girl barely walking, losing directionality, and stumbling. I stopped, gave her some water, and helped her get to the grass and waited for a volunteer with her. That probably took up about 3 minutes of my time, but I would have NEVER FORGIVEN myself for not helping someone in that heat.

2 hours and 17 minutes later, I was done. Not a great time by any means, but I am proud of myself. The prize? An awesome t-shirt and a very cool finisher's medal:
I came back, showered, and we managed a trip to Trader Joes for some pineapple jerky and wine before we left town. Then, we had a treat.

Have you heard of Five Guys? I was introduced in New York this fall. It is seriously the best hamburgers and fries ever! I had the little cheeseburger topped with EVERYTHING and some fries shared with the fiance. It was amazing and the quality just can't  be beat!

That's the race recap from that visit. I'll be back with a delicious and easy meal that is perfect for the upcoming hot summer days!

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