Monday, May 1, 2017

2017 Cap City (not quite) Half Marathon

I've been training really hard since late January for another half marathon.  When I created my training calendar, I hadn't intended to work towards a PR.  I just wanted to have a goal that would help me work off the weight I put back on during the holidays.  But as I moved through each week of the training schedule, I was steadily increasing my pace.  I didn't do anything different this time around other than I was maybe running slightly more miles each week.  But I was starting to see times in the high 10s pretty regularly.  I then started seeing averages in the low 11s and high 10s even for the longer distances.  My current half marathon PR had an average pace of 11:45 and here I was seeing 10:45 a couple times a week.  Even with the consistent training though, I wasn't really thinking much about a PR.  I was signed up for the Cap City 1/2 marathon but since I've done it a couple times before, I know its a difficult course.  There are quite a few uphills in the first 5 miles.  Nothing compared to Adams County but they are still hills and hills aren't as convenient to find here in Columbus when it comes to training.  I always say I'm going to make a better effort to hill train but then never do.  It is what it is.

The week before the race, I caught wind of the forecast.  88 degrees.  WTF?  We haven't acclimated to warm weather running yet here.  A week might as well be like predicting the weather a year from now so I let it go and focused on eating well and getting a couple short shake out runs in.  Then I started hearing rumors that the forecasted temperature was dropping.  Awesome!  But then rain entered the picture.  And not just rain but thunderstorms.  You can race in rain but not lightning.  The night before the race was quite the light show.  There was tons of rain, thunder and lightning.  I laid out my race clothes, along with a poncho and crossed my fingers that it would blow through faster than expected.  Despite this being my 16th half marathon, I hardly slept.  Partially due to the weather and partially due to nerves.  And when I woke up on race morning?  Pouring rain.  I didn't even want to get out of bed.  But when you fork over that much money for a race (plus a $30 parking ticket while picking up my race packet, which I am appealing), you kind of have to show up.  So I got dressed and headed downtown.
Faking a smile because I was dreading going outside!
Luckily it stopped raining for the hour before the race while I was waiting around with my friends.  I was trying to be optimistic but the radar looked awful.  More storms were coming.  Could we run fast enough though?

We had fun waiting for the race to start at least.
The race started and I was soaked with sweat in the first mile.  The humidity was pretty bad.  But I felt ok and tried to remind myself I was going to need to drink more than I had in training due to the humidity.  Around mile 3, it started to sprinkle.  And then rain.  But it didn't last too long.  Miles 4-5 were sort of dry.  Then it started up again as we turned back towards the south and had a good view of downtown.  Ugh.  Normally when I run, I zone out and gaze at the ground about 15 feet in front of me.  I looked up though and couldn't help but notice a giant dark wall of clouds over downtown.  We were running right towards it.  With each step closer to downtown, it started to rain harder.

Somewhere around mile 7, I saw my brother, sister in law and nephew.  I was so surprised!  My mom was at her house watching Megatron.  The Pilot was home sick.  I wasn't expecting any of my family to be out there, especially given the weather!  But there they were.  That helped me get my pace back up (I had been in the 10:30-10:45 range until we turned towards downtown when for some reason, I couldn't seem to stay under 11:15).

Not long after I passed them though, a huge bolt of lightning lit up just south of downtown. Everyone running near me screamed and/or groaned.  We just kept going, not really sure what to do.  I was running with the co-worker of a friend of mine and it was her first 1/2 marathon.  I started to feel bad because I was beginning to wonder if the race was going to be stopped for the lightning.  We made a left turn and all of the sudden, people started shouting, "it's over.  The race is cancelled."  It was so confusing though because none of that was coming from anyone official.  So we just kept running.  And at that point, there was no where else to go.  We were in a part of downtown where there were only parking lots and vacant buildings.  Then a police car drove by and the officer was using his microphone telling people the race was cancelled and to seek shelter immediately.  The problem was there was absolutely no shelter right there. So we kept running.  It was POURING by this point and the wind kicked up.  There was thunder and lightning all over.  The person I was with knew her family was waiting for her to pass by not too far from where we were so we just kept running.  She finally saw them so we stopped.  I gave her a hug and said how sorry I was that today wasn't going to be the day to finish her first 1/2.   She stayed with her family and I started running, but this time up on the sidewalk.  But that was mostly because the street was flooding.  Like up to your ankles flash flooding.  Somehow we had made it far enough back downtown that I knew the starting area (and the gear check where I had left a bag with warm clothes and flip flops) wasn't far away.  Just as I was about to turn off the course and cut over the block back to the gear check, a police car pulled up and angled itself in front of the road, not allowing runners to go any further.

The rain let up a bit as I ran to gear check.  Which was a cluster.  There was only one volunteer that I could see so everyone was just hunting for their own bags.  Luckily I had plastered my bag with neon pink duct tape so it was easy to spot and grab.  As I was walking away from the gear check, they started making announcements telling people that everything was cancelled and to seek shelter immediately.  They lowered all the tents that had been set up for the post race party (pizza, beer, champagne and margaritas were supposed to be there) but people were swiping whole pizzas from under the tents.  I was soaked and starting to get cold so I just left and started making my way to the parking garage.  I ended up on the road where the finish line was.  Which was a mistake.  People were still finishing and getting their medals.  Which was just frustrating.  I could have jumped in and gotten a medal but I didn't want one.  I had only run 8.5 miles after all.  As I passed by, the announcers were repeating over and over, "seek shelter immediately.  There is lightning in the area.  Do NOT touch any of the metal fencing (which was lining both sides of the street/finish chute)."  I was only a 1/2 block from the parking garage so I figured it made the most sense to just keep moving.  Once down in the underground garage, I got my phone out (which I had thankfully put in a ziploc bag in my fuel belt) to text my family that I was safe in my car.

This is what was coming right at us once the race started.  
Getting out of the garage was also an adventure.  Because so many people were leaving at the same time as opposed to spread out over a wide range of finish times and the roads still had barricades for the race, traffic was a mess.  I paid to get out of the garage but sat quite awhile on the exit ramp, which had turned into a river.  It was an underground garage so the ramp sloped down and water was rushing down it.  I just hoped my sub compact car wasn't going to float back down the hill!  Once out of the garage, I realized that the weather had gotten much worse.  It was a monsoon.  It was raining so hard, the wind was blowing, thunder and lightning was everywhere.  There were people running all over the place.  Some just huddled in doorways.  As I finally made my way out of the thick of the traffic, I realized how bad the roads were.  There was flooding everywhere!  It took me a couple blocks to figure out where I was (I just kept driving trying to get away from the race course and the traffic) but luckily I wasn't too far from the highway and was able to hop on and head home.  Once up on the highway, while it was still pouring, there wasn't the flooding going on like there was downtown.

When I walked into the house, I was still soaked all the way through and was starting to shiver.  The Pilot gave me a sad look and I went right upstairs for a looooong, hot shower.  I then spent a couple hours sitting on the couch in sweat pants.  I had made arrangements to have Megatron stay with my mom all day because I was planning on being completely spent from running a PR.  Instead I was just freezing cold and my body was stiff from being so wet and cold for so long.
Soaked and sad.
So half marathon #16 didn't turn out but man, what a story!  We were at the playground the next day with Megatron and someone saw me wearing the race shirt and asked me how far I made it.  I think that will be the question when anyone refers to the 2017 Cap City 1/2 marathon: "How far did you make it?"  I found out later that, with the exception of the people who finished within the first 1:15 or so of the race start, a lot of people ahead of me were diverted and finished with 12-12.5 miles.  I feel better knowing I wasn't *that* close.  Haha.

I think if it had just been an average race and that I wasn't really within striking distance of a PR, I probably would have just shrugged it off as a great story and focused on some shorter races I have lined up for the summer and then another 1/2 marathon in the fall.  But for those 8.5 miles I did run, I was nailing the pace.  And after seeing so many PR times this training cycle, I really want the chance to see what I can do in a race.  So after taking the longest shower ever, I started searching for other 1/2 marathons that I could do.  Flying Pig was out because there's no way I'd PR on a hilly course.  I really really didn't want to do Cleveland because I boycotted that race years ago plus registration was up to $110.  Ummm, no,  There is another local 1/2 but it wasn't until June and I was worried about the heat.  The next option was the Indy Mini in Indianapolis. I would have the option to drop Megatron off with my in-laws on the way there so that was one big hurdle out of the way.  Then the rest fell into place by the end of the afternoon. A friend offered to let me stay with her and I could head down to the race with them.  It was a done deal.

So this Saturday, I'll get a re-do.  Everyone cross your fingers and toes that I can stay healthy this week (The Pilot has been sick for a week) and that the weather cooperates!

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