It’s been a hot little minute since I’ve had a race recap! In fact, the last “recap” I wrote was for my knee surgeries last summer, and the last actual race recap I wrote was for the Longview Half Marathon back in November of 2016! Chris and I had initially signed up for Rock the Parkway, I had a rough spring of training, and was feeling super stressed about doing a half mid-April. Chris and I decided to do the Rock the Parkway 5k and move our spring half back a couple weeks, so we signed up for the Independence Half Marathon.
I did not know much about this half marathon before signing up. This was the 3rd year for this race, and there were about 400 expected for the half marathon. I prefer to run larger races, as they are generally better supported, and having lots of runners around me makes me feel more comfortable and a part of something. I’ve had a few small half marathons as well over the years.
Saturday, the day before the race, Chris and I drove to Independence to pick up our packets, and had our normal pre-race dinner of spaghetti. I laid out my flat runner, and I was as ready as I would be for the half marathon early Sunday morning.
We got to the race about 45 minutes early, and one of the huge benefits to a small race is the close parking! We parked about 50 feet from the finish line. I got to chat with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and after using the bathroom one last time, we were off!
One thing I was aware of for this race, but not prepared for, was the hills. The elevation map, below, looked rough, but doable. The course itself, once we were on it, was a different story. The three large hills just never ended! They were super steep and the last hill was ass kickingly relentless. The course was mainly an out and back, with several small out and backs on different roads as well. There was not a lot of shade on the course, which I was prepared for, and luckily, there was some cloud cover, or the temps would have skyrocketed pretty quickly. Chris and I had sunscreen on, but I feel like I sweated it all off by the halfway mark.
I cannot say enough good things about the support on the course. There were water stops just about every mile, with water at every one, and gatorade at lots of the stops as well. They even had gu available at mile 9, which was unexpected; I had my own gu, but it was nice to have it as an option. As I expected with a smaller race, there were not a lot of spectators, but what was lacking in spectators was made up in course support and fun signage along the whole course.
In training this spring, Chris and I had been doing intervals of .35 miles running and .15 miles walking, repeated for as many miles as necessary. One of my goals was to stick as closely as possible to this ratio. The first several miles, I was able to do this ratio, aside from a couple hills that we walked. About halfway, my feet and glutes were sore and tired, and my shins and calves were quick to follow.
This was around mile 4. Already very hot out but I was still smiling! Photo courtesy: Corey Stark.
I definitely did not put in enough training to do a half, but at the end of the day, the course doesn’t care if you put in enough training, 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles, and all of it had to be completed. Throughout the rest of the race, my hamstrings tightened, then my back and hips. I was in quite a bit of pain and it took quite a bit of convincing by Chris to make me keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The last 3-4 miles included a heck of a lot of walking. The last 2 miles included almost all walking, some stretching, and a bit of crying as well. My quads started siezing up during the last few miles, and I hit the wall hard, and did not want to have anything to do with finishing the half. Chris was such a rockstar and the best support I could have had out there. He encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and we cussed the last hill out together.
When we could see the finish line, but had to still complete about a mile loop around the end before finishing, he grabbed my hand and told me how proud of me he was and that we were going to finish no matter what. I am certain I would not have completed this half without him by my side.
We finished, hand in hand. It was my slowest half I’ve ever done. Slowest out of 14. But I’m proud of this race. I’m proud that I went from 2 knee surgeries and 8 weeks on crutches to completing a half marathon in 40 weeks. I hit some low lows in this race, and have nowhere but up to go in my personal running. I gained the confidence that I can keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when I think I can’t. My love for Chris grew even more, knowing that he is by my side no matter what.
Looking below at the 14 half marathons I’ve done, I can see each race in my mind. I can feel the pain, and feel the happiness, I can feel the accomplishments I’ve had, and I can’t wait to feel this again. I’ve got nowhere to go but up. Those 13.1 miles won’t run themselves, so I’d better keep running so I can do it again and again and feel the happiness, the pain, the pride, and each mile of my next half.
I’m a half marathoner, again!