Thursday, March 18, 2010

Race Report: Snake River Canyon Half Marathon

Here is a race report from a race I did a couple of weeks ago. This year I'm continuing to work on race pacing, keeping good running form, and having a positive attitude always!!

I've been spending a lot of time in Pullman, WA at the Washington State University Vet School there because my dog is going through radiation (which is going well). When we were making plans for our second trip back I just happened to notice that there was a half marathon going on near there Saturday March 6th. That sounds like a fun thing to do while killing time in the Palouse! Plus, I decided not to do the hilly half I had been planning on (because of lack of training), so I was itching to do one. I was determined to go under 2 hours, since I had come close, but not done it at the Seattle Half last year. And look at the elevation profile from the website!

Start |______________________________________________| Turn around

Totally flat. 20 feet of elevation gain. I knew I could make my goal!

Saturday morning I got up nice and late (in the day) because the race didn't start until 10:00 - gotta love that! I did head out early, planning on getting to the race start with plenty of time, like over an hour early. I got in the car and put in Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual" CD, nothing like 80's music to get you going! Blasting "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and feeling relaxed and in a good mood, I left the hotel. Except I headed out the wrong way on the highway and ended up in the next town a half hour away. A quick stop at a gas station, verbal directions and studying of the map, I was on my way BACK to Pullman, past the Pullman turn-off, and made the right turn heading down, down, down the canyon to the Snake River.

I ended up getting there about 20 minutes before the race started - ACK! And of course I was parked about a mile away from the race start. So I walked there quickly as a pre-warm-up, and then stood in the mega line for packet pick-up. Luckily that went quickly, but I still had to go back to my car, use the bathroom, and do a warm-up. So, to multi-task I jogged to the car, peed beside it (somewhat out of view), then jogged back to the race start. That would have to be good enough for my warm-up. That and some jumping in place before the gun went off.

This is a small race. 600 people. No timing chip, but not a lot of hassle either. It was great, you can drop your extra clothing off along the way at a water station and they bring it back to you. They had a sports drink on course designed by students at WSU called Raza. I didn't try it because of nothing new on race day, and because I had the yummy but discontinued LUNA Sport Chocolate Smoothie recovery drink for afterwords.

Race start. It was WINDY! Really windy. Luckily, it was a headwind going out, and a tailwind coming back. But the wind made it cold the first half, so I wore and extra layer. My plan was to do the first mile between a 9:10 and 9:20 pace, as not to commit race suicide (as my boyfriend said). First mile 8:45 - oops! It felt easy and so many people passing me! But I have to remember that even though it feels badly to go slow in the beginning and have everyone passing you, it feels so much better to feel strong at the end and pass so many people!!! So I slowed it down and just watched my heart rate and mile splits and kept a steady pace. By mile 5 I was getting demoralized by the wind. It was relentless. But I just kept tucking behind people and keeping a positive attitude. I could see the turn-around coming up, and I knew it would get so much easier at that point. And it did! It was like I was on a different course after that, wind at my back, nice and warm, beautiful view:

I ditched my long sleeve shirt at the next water stop and picked up my pace. Every mile or so raising my HR a few beats. I knew because of my lack of training (esp. compared to how ready I was for the Seattle Half) I did not have much top end speed, so I saved my all out pace until the last 200 yards. And I really focused on keeping my running form - quick and light on my feet! I tend to really slog when I'm tired, stomping my feet and hunching over. But I've found that running the B-52's song "Rock Lobster" through my head really helps, because I match my cadence to the tempo! With 3 miles to go I was picking off people right and left. The big thrill was passing the man with the M-Dot tattoo on his calf! ;-)

And I crossed the finish line with my new half marathon PR: 1:57:37! Yippeeee!

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