I signed up for the Freakin’ Fast Half Marathon on Christmas Day of 2017. I guess that’s what Jews do while everyone else is celebrating!
I had been looking at ID halfs for a while. Since we’ve done all of New England and a few other east coast states, we’ve also started to work on the ones near WA since Mr. Judy’s mother and sister live there. Unfortunately, nothing is really close to WA!
Mr. Judy has also had a bee in his bonnet about ID — visiting, even living there, for a while. So when some Skirt Sisters wanted to know who would join them in ID — one of whom I’d met briefly when I ran my WA half in 2017 — I pressed “register”.
Packet pickup was the morning of the race. Freakin’ Fast Half is a small local race — less than 300 runners. It was done alphabetically and wouldn’t you know that my line was the longest one there? And time was of the essence.
The weather & dressing
ID has very low humidity, y’all. There were a few days when the dewpoint was 28! Seriously, it was heaven to run in. I wore a Skirt Sports Super Girl top (these are supposed to come back in 2019 and I can’t wait) — even though I didn’t need the extra pockets due to my hydration vest — and Cool It Skirt, one of my absolute favorite skirts from this summer; it really has gotten me through many a hot run – and race! On my feet were Newton Motion VI (the ones Mr. Judy got me off of Ebay — from England!).
However, the race also started at 6:45, right around sunrise, and did I mention it also started at over 5000 ft? I had a throwaway fleece and throwaway gloves, but I didn’t bring the gloves (and didn’t need them), and ended up putting the fleece into my hydration vest, because the race starts at the top of a mountain and there really wasn’t anywhere to throw it. Turns out I didn’t really need it.
My Race Plan
Rachel @ Runningonhappy didn’t ask me if I needed a race plan and I didn’t ask for one. In fact, she kept reminding me that this was a training run. As if. So I didn’t really have a plan. Being that it’s a downhill race and I tend to do well in those, though, I’d targeted it as a PR opportunity. The RD likes to promote it that way.
When the car honked (yes, that was our start and no, it wasn’t a chip timed race — I seemed to miss that point on the Website), I started out down the mountain but quickly realized that I should probably take it somewhat easy. 2500 ft drop over 13.1 miles is steep, y’all.
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 10:52. It’s downhill; yes, it felt relatively easy.
- Mile 2: 10:54. Unlike Wineglass (read about it here), the race thinned out quickly.
- Mile 3: 10:27. No idea why this was one of the fastest miles. Probably because it takes me a couple of miles to warm up.
- Mile 4: 10:54.
- Mile 5: 10:42. I think it was around this mile that the need for a pitstop made itself felt.
- Mile 6: 10:54. At this point I knew I just had to stop at the next aid station.
- Mile 7: 10:44. Finally an aid station . . . and no porta potty.
- Mile 8: 10:49. My mantra became “this too shall pass”. There really was no place to just get off the toad — either a wild jungle or no bushes at all. Not sure I would have done it if there had been a “private” space (guess that’s where privy comes from!).
- Mile 9: 11:05. I’m seriously shocked that my butt wasn’t sore from how hard I was clenching it. I didn’t eat as much as I normally do, because I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the next portapotty.
- Mile 10: 13:11. Pitstop. First ever in a race! I had to wait for one other woman. Hurray for a small race!
- Mile 11: 11:12. That felt so much better. I didn’t mention that the course had been changed just days before so that the first almost 11 miles (it was supposed to be 10 — yeah, no) were on unpaved logging roads — it finally transitioned to paved road here.
- Mile 12: 10:58. I know I was kind of fading here. Most of the shade was gone and the course was flattening out.
- Mile 13: 11:18. Where’s that finish line? Where’s that finish line?
- Last .09: 9:30. Well, I did sprint to the finish line so I guess mile 13 could’ve been faster. Oh well.
2:24:55 — Official Time
(about a 4 minute PR)
11:04 Average Pace
198 our of 276 runners
6 out of 14 in my AG
Was the race well run?
Well, I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the organization of the race. First off there was the fact that just a few days before the race the course was changed, due to road work on the original course.
It was changed from a regular road race to the first 10 miles (according to my Garmin, it was almost the first 11 miles) on an unpaved logging road. From the Website:
If you are a conservative or nervous runner you could consider trail shoes instead of road shoes.
You definitely didn’t need trail shoes, but you did have to watch your feet because of rocks in the road, and there were also portions that were rather sandy (good thing I’ve done a few trail races and trained for them in a place that has lots of sand — although not this year).
The course change actually changed the drop from 3000 ft to 2500 ft — I was pretty sore after this race — thank God I chose to tape for it!
The course wasn’t closed to traffic; there weren’t a lot of cars on the road, but there were some and they kicked up a lot of dust — not a problem for me, but definitely a problem for some people.
There was a bus for the out of towners to the place where there were shuttle buses to take us up the mountain — we stayed on the bus, and more local runners got on. We left from town late, and by the time I got my bib and got on line for the six portapotties, it was already 6:20 — and the race started at 6:45.
Six might seem like enough portapotties for 300 runners, but it wasn’t. And I knew I needed to go. In fact, I needed to do both, if you get my drift. This is when I learned the race wasn’t chip timed! This information is in the Runner FAQ, but it never occurred to me to read the one about how the race is timed, and I don’t remember seeing this fact in the race description (although Mr. Judy thinks he does).
I got into the potty about race time, did one, but not the other (this would end up being a huge problem for me, as you can see from the mile by mile description), partially so I could have a good finish time, partially so that the people behind me would have time. I really have to stop being a nice person.
In the end, they started the race late. And I wish I’d known they were going to, because then I might have had time to do both and my race would probably have been much more enjoyable — and faster.
There were supposed to be 5 aid stations. Because I carry my own water, I don’t stop at aid stations, but I don’t recall seeing that many. I will say the volunteers were very enthusiastic and God bless them. and I know they had more than just water and sports drink at at least some of them.
However, by the time I got to about mile 5 I knew I had to make a pitstop for the first time in my racing career. As I said in the mile by mile recap, there was no potty at mile 7. I started eyeing the side of the road, but there seriously seemed no place to go without being in full view of anyone. It was past mile 9 already by the time I finally got some relief.
After a grueling last couple of miles on relatively flat streets with more sun, I crossed the finish line . . . and no medal. I wasn’t even quite BOTP. The medals are supposed to be mailed to those who didn’t receive them. I am still waiting.
- Race tees are optional, but you do have to pay for them if you want one (I didn’t)
- Enthusiastic volunteers
- Free photos! And they were posted quickly, too
- Race Director responded quickly to emails
- Gravity (the downhill course)
- No turns — although there are lots of switchbacks, so you’re still running tangents, but you don’t have to worry about getting lost
- Hand sanitizer in all portapotties (at least, in the two I used, so I’m assuming in all)
- Locals willing to give out of towners a ride back into town — much appreciated!
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
- Not enough portapotties — not at the start and not on the course
- Started late (although in a sense that was good for me)
- Course change just days before the race
- Not chip timed
- Having to watch your footing on the unpaved road
- Some said the course was short, but my Garmin showed it almost spot on
- Ran out of medals
What I learned
This isn’t what I learned, but it’s what happened — aside from the portapotty issues, I felt okay during the race. And afterwards. But when I got back to the hotel, I didn’t feel that great. I won’t go into the details (TMI), but I think I had a rather mild case of food poisoning. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I had to make that one stop, but I don’t really know. Thankfully I felt okay before, during, and immediately after the race.
I had my post run snack that I’d brought with me, and I felt fine. I felt fine on the ride back into town. I didn’t even make a pitstop once I finished the race and waited for a ride and so on. Aside from the baked potato I ate at dinner, though, that was all I ate after the race.
And that really sucked. Because we were taken out to a very nice restaurant by someone Mr. Judy knew (who was also paying for it) . . . and I couldn’t eat.
I did use a supplement to help with the elevation: Aclimate(Amazon Affiliate link). I bought the grape flavor. Essentially it’s Nuun with some extra ingredients to help with acclimating to elevation — some of which I’d read could be helpful. I wasn’t overly fond f the taste, but it wasn’t horrible (and it didn’t bother Mr. Judy, and yes, I made him drink it too).
I found my pace didn’t suffer at all while I was running at elevation. I’ve had three years where I’ve spent a little time running at elevation — in Sedona a couple of years ago, in UT last year (read about that here), and now in ID. In both Sedona and UT my pace really suffered when I first started running at elevation (although the races went well).
I didn’t suffer from most of the usual elevation woes: no GI upset (ahem, until after the race); my resting heart rate was normal; and my pace was normal in my runs leading up to the race, too. A little trouble sleeping but definitely not as bad as I remember from UT.
Well, I trained for a PR, I hoped for a PR, and I got it — but I definitely had to work for it, even with gravity aided me! State #17 is done, and that is very possibly the only state I’ll add this year (although we’re still in discussions about a possible half later in the year).