Saturday, October 29, 2011

St. Louis Half Marathon Race Recap

If you want to catch up, please see the following St. Louis Half Marathon related posts:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I finished my fourth half marathon. Going into this race I had a range of goals from simply finishing with a smile on my face, to smashing my PR with a sub 2:20 time. I am proud to say that I ran the best race I could and gave 110%.


Thats right. I ran a sub 2:20 and set a new PR of 2:18.

Heres how the event went down.

Like I've said before, I recruited my friend Rachel 4 weeks prior to run this race with me. Being the all-star that she is, she agreed to spend her weekend driving to St. Louis, running 13.1 miles, and driving back. Thank goodness, because this race (and training) wouldn't have been near as awesome without her.

Rachel arrived at my house at 8am on Saturday morning to make our 6 hour trek to St. Louis. With a quick detour to Illinois, we made it to the Expo at 2:00 with just enough time to pick up our race bib and packet, explore the booths, and pick up some last minute running-needs.

Exhibit A: These fanastically awesome headbands.
My true goal in any race.
After the expo, we were both craving pasta. The hotel concierge (I love that word) recommended a small  family-owned Italian restaurant right up the street.
Holy yum! Needless to say, we stuffed our faces.

We then headed straight back to the hotel. Our crazy Saturday night ended with me in bed at 8:30 and out like a light by 9. I prefer "dedicated runner" opposed to "boring grandma" thank you very much.

Even though we had 2 alarms plus a wake up call for 5am, I was up by 4:30 do to pre-race jitters. It was pointless to lay there tossing and turning so Rachel and I got ready and pumped up in our room. We both packed tons of options. Rachel decided to go with the most comfortable option; I decided to go with the most mismatched option.
See that excitement?!
Rachel dedicated her race to her cousin Jennifer.
And I dedicated mine to my rockin' Big Brother.
Since our hotel was about 20 minutes west of St. Louis, we decided to take the MetroLink into the city.  I am not confident driving through big cities, especially if the city is packed with 25,000+ runners (hence, accidently making a detour to Illinois the day before)!  So I would strongly recommend this option, as it was easy, cheap, and dropped us off right by the start line.

Don't let the tired faces fool you...
...we were pumped!
We made it to the start line by 6:40, stopped at the Porta Potties (which were plentiful and moved quickly), and found our corral with plenty of time to spare.
The starting line was beautiful, as we could see the arch in the background. Tons and tons of people!
The race started at 7:30, and by 7:50 we finally crossed the start line. Clearly, Rachel was ready to get this race started.
During the first mile we passed by the iconic St. Louis Arch and by Busch Stadium.
At the start of races, I am always extra cautious not to start off too fast, as that is supposedly the #1 mistake with runners. The first few miles were flat and beautiful and I had to keep telling myself to slow down because I didn't want to crash and burn at the end. As a result, the first 2 miles were some of the slowest miles of the race.

Mile 1- 10:48 
Mile 2- 10:42 

At mile 3 I saw a man in his full military outfit (is it called an outfit? or uniform? or ensemble? I don't know) running the full marathon. So incredibly inspiring, and totally worth the few emotional tears that came. I love being a patriotic sap. Rock on soldier!
Mile 3- 10:24 
Mile 4- 10:29 

At mile 5, these cute little YMCA girls had a mini-finish line and were cheering their little hearts out. My favorite thing about races (besides the medal) is crossing the finish line, so I was not going to miss the chance to cross two finish lines in one race!
Mile 5- 10:27

I'd like to take this moment to comment on the race volunteers and spectators. Being a Rock-N-Roll series race, there were bands at every mile and each were amazing. But between the mile markers and bands were crowds and crowds of support and spectators cheering their little hearts out. I can't recall one quite moment on the course as there was always a crowd at every corner and sidewalk with signs and noisemakers. Made the first 6 miles fly by!

Rachel enjoyed all the entertainment as well. Two thumbs up for the volunteers! Plenty of water and hydration at every station!
Here we are reaching mile 6, where we were at our fastest. At this point in the race I felt amazing and was enjoying every second!
Woo Hoo! My legs were feeling great and I was on top of the world!
Mile 6- 10:06
Mile 7- 10:27

Then there was the mile 8-9 stretch. During miles 1-7, there were a few rolling hills but they were easy and we got an immediate pay off by having a decline once we reached the top. But miles 8 and 9 was horrible.
Beautiful? Yes. But it was completely up-hill the entire way. I am proud that I did not walk once, and I didn't even let my pace really slow down, but it took a toll on me physically and mentally. I was hurting once I finally made it to the top.

Mile 8- 10:34
Mile 9- 10:26

At this point, I stopped taking pictures. I could only focus on pushing forward and keeping one foot in front of the other. Despite the fact that my pace hadn't yet suffered from that 2mile incline, it was quickly catching up to me. Even though mile 10 was slightly down-hill, I began having a sharp pain in my right hip and knee and my pace began to slow.

Mile 10- 10:46

Rachel was being an amazing cheerleader and I could tell she felt good. At this point I felt I might be able to finish by 2:20 but my knee was only getting worse. Rachel kept saying "We're rocking this. We're totally going to do this!" She said it enough times, I actually started to believe her.

At mile 11, there was another hill. Its funny how I tend to go faster up hill, then slow down once we are going downhill. Each hill slowly picked away at my mentality and I kept thinking to myself "Why in the heck did I not train on more hills?!" It wasn't that the hills were bad, it's just during training I avoid hills at all costs so any incline totally kicks my butt. When will I learn?

Mile 11- 10:34
Mile 12- 10:56

To reach the top of mile 13, we had to climb another small hill (I was cursing in my head at this point- dang those hills!), then it was a decline for the last .1 miles.

Mile 13- 10:23
Mile .2-   1:58 (a 9:34 pace)

Total 13.2 miles- 2:18
(My Garmin read and extra .1 miles, which means I really need to pay more attention to running the tangents!)

Victory is sweet my friends! Thats the smile of a new personal record by more than 10 minutes!
Rachel smashed her PR too, maybe because she is a rock star.
And look who we ran into at the finishline. Good friend and fellow speech pathologist Amber, who rocked her half marathon with a time of 1:54. Yea, she's a rock start too.
Yay for running SLPs!
So that my friends is my fourth half marathon story. Amazing and perfect in every way. Here is the final breakdown, per my Garmin:

Now I have a sub 2:15 goal on the horizon, and a marathon in my future. But that's a whole other post....


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! You are a rockstar too my friend! There is no way I would have even thought of running a half marathon if you hadn't motivated me! Thanks for being awesome! See you on the trail soon;)

  2. Congrats!! I'm so inspired by your running story! I'm definitely not ready for a half marathon but thinking of moving to a 10K soon. Question, what is a tangent? I saw you said your garmin tracked .1 miles more because of that but I'm not sure what it is. My last 5K was tracked by my Nike+ app at .1 miles more too but I thought maybe I just calibrated it wrong.

  3. Wow!!! ROCK IT soul sister! So proud for you! I feel so inspired to run more this week! And yay for running SLP's!