Another super challenging week. I actually have hopes that life will get just a little bit better, the reason may seem odd: my Dad is now on Hospice. No, nothing changed, although everything changed. I plan to write more about that next Friday.
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Monday A cold rainy washout of a day. Did a steady state run on the mill. I prefer speedwork on it, but I knew I would most likely be back on it the next day. I actually hopped on the stationary bike and did a short dynamic warm up before running!
Tuesday Snow & sleet overnight & a potential trip to my moms had me back on the mill. Weather while I’m home this week mostly sucks, but I’m glad I can still safely run on the mill.
Friday I didn’t have as much frustration to run off today, but the weather on the weekend wasn’t looking great. I was really tired, it’s been a long couple of weeks, but had a good run and glad I got that out of the way. The bike path is clear again — but not for long, probably — so finally running in a different place felt good.
Favorites of the week
Mr. Judy nailed my Hannukah gift. Normally we don’t even exchange anything anymore, although it’s tradition for me to give him an Ansel Adams calendar. I almost forgot about it in the midst of family drama — Amazon to the rescue!
In the beginning of my YTT the Yoga Teacher Toolbox was mentioned. It’s a binder with laminated cards of many poses with all sorts of information. It’s very comprehensive, and not surprisingly, not cheap. I mentioned it to Mr. Judy, and he kept looking for a deal on Ebay. Eventually I decided I didn’t need it. Guess what I got on the last night of Hannukah?
I did sign up for a half marathon this summer (hoping I get to run it, but one reason I chose it was its generous deferral policy): Revel Mt. Hood (see more info here). I’ve been wanting to try a Revel race a long time, wanting to go to Portland, and you now I love a downhill race. I also look forward to meeting Laurie @ Meditationsinmotion who is also signed up.
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 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)
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).
I guess you could call 2017 the friendly half marathon year, as in I knew someone in every single half marathon I ran this year. And the number of friends running increased with every half! I do not foresee a repeat in 2018, though.
Mr. Judy had been complaining for quite some time that we live in NY and yet I hadn’t “done” NY yet. Now I can cross that off the list. Hold onto your hats cause it’s a long one!
This race came very close to a DNS, though. My Dad was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with what turned out to be a partial bowel obstruction. They weren’t sure if he was going to need surgery. So there I was, trying to finish up packing, not even sure I was going. Thankfully he didn’t need surgery, and in fact they released him from the hospital on Friday, the day I left.
I went through something very similar in 2012 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor literally the day before I left for RnR Montreal. That time he did need surgery, but turned out they wouldn’t operate for another 6 weeks. My Dad is tough (he’s 91, was 86 back then).
Packet Pickup Packet pickup was relatively organized, although it was in with the expo so super crowded. I’d read that the expo was small and not memorable, and I was pleasantly surprised to see while it was small, there were a fair number of vendors — although the only thing I bought was my standard: a new pair of sunglasses.
The swag bag was nothing to write home about, but you do get a small stemless wineglass — I actually like that since I don’t drink, and I use it for my tart cherry juice at night. You also get a small bottle of chamgagne. Now Wineglass happens to be in the middle of the NY finger lakes wine region, so why it isn’t local wine I don’t know, but I don’t drink anyway so it didn’t matter to me.
The quarter zips are to die for. I’d read that the shirts in the past ran way small, but this fit perfectly. A beautiful soft material and thumbholes for the win! They’re too nice to run in!
So funny story: it also happened to be Yom Kippur. Now, I consider myself to be somewhat religious but more spiritual and I was pretty sure that God would forgive me for sharing this weekend with my friends. We never fast the full 24 hours anyway, and the plan was just to break it even earlier, so basically just skipping breakfast.
I brought my bagel and lox with me because we’d be going out to lunch after the expo. So I walked around with a huge bagel and lox in my pocket! But that’s not really the funny part.
As I’m finishing up the expo I came across the Wegman’s booth, and without even thinking about it popped the samples right in because you know how much I love to try stuff! Oopsie.
And then . . . I hadn’t told Coach Rachel about the mini fast. I knew she wouldn’t be pleased by that. But I mentioned it on an IG post (follow me here) and was busted, completely forgetting that she follows me, of course!
The weather & dressing This was not my coldest half marathon, but it’s in the top three. Race day dawned foggy (it would never lift during the race) and in the 30s. Tee, tank, tee, tank . . . I went with the tee and that was the perfect choice for me.
I also had a throwaway sweatshirt, my Skirtsports Bolero, and some throwaway sweatpants I’d bought for $6 at Walmarts the night before. Petite, no less! What I didn’t have and I totally regretted? Throaway gloves. The race started at 35 and only went up to 45 — thankfully no wind — but the fog never lifted. My hands were freezing those first three miles! And of course I’d shared my race checklist which included throwaway gloves, but I really didn’t think my hands would get that cold.
My Race Plan Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, or if I wanted to run by feel. As if. This is the race we’ve been targeting all year long as my goal race — but since I had already technically PR’d every half (if you count my slowest half, aka my first trail half, which you can read about here), I also was okay if that didn’t happen. Of course I still wanted to PR, but the speedwork didn’t necessarily lead me to believe in myself, and then there was all the stress that last week. To say I was tired, stressed, and not feeling well would have been an understatement.
I ran this race “naked”. Yes, I wore clothes and yes, I wore my Garmin and it worked. But I purposely did not have it show elapsed time. It was a calculated risk. I find I run better by pace than by elapsed time, but without Rachel’s plan and keeping an eye on my paces, I could easily have missed my goal — which was simply to get below 2:30.
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan). It’s actually kind of funny that I always want a race plan, because I seem incapable of following one!
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:24 AP/11:37 RP. I have started out a couple of my halfs too slow — I know, no runner says that, right? Well, this one does. So I made sure to keep my eye on my pace.
Mile 2: 11:27 AP/11:27 RP. This was a crowded course and I really never found my own running space. Still, close enough to the plan. There was a slight hill in this mile.
Mile 3: 11:01 AP/11:27 RP. I took my bolero off this mile but apparently it didn’t effect my pace. Was I running too fast here?
Mile 4: 11:17 AP/11:17 RP.
Mile 5: 11:01 AP/11:17 RP. Oddly enough you cross train tracks twice in this mile — so small hills. Although it doesn’t really show up on the elevation chart, I remember them!
Mile 6: 11:22 AP/11:17 RP. The elevation shows a long, slight hill here — in my mind, I remember that at mile 9, but apparently not.
Mile 7: 11:07 AP/11:17 RP. Seriously, I just ping ponged the whole race. Fast, slow, fast, slow. I always get sort of annoyed when I slow down for no reason, which helps me to run faster. What I’d like to run is consistent!
Mile 8: 11:35 AP/11:17 RP. I boarded the struggle bus this mile. I just felt like I ran out of gas. I mean, it usually gets to me around this time but it just seemed worse.
Mile 9: 11:02 AP/11:17 RP. Small, rolling hills with some flats interspersed until the end of the race.
Mile 10: 11:22 AP/11:17 RP. Ping pong.
Mile 11: 11:17 AP/11:07 RP. Ping pong.
Mile 12: 11:39 AP/10:57 RP. Ping pong. I knew the plan called for me to go under an 11 mm — I also knew around mile 9 that that was never going to happen. Did I pysch myself out?
Mile 13: 11:17 AP/10:47 RP. Ping pong. Passed the bank clock that said it was only 45F . . .
Last .19: 10:39 AP/All out sprint RP. Well, I did have enough gas left to sprint a little, but I’m usually faster at the end. I really didn’t know if it was a PR or not at that point.
2:28:50 — Official Time
11:18 Average Pace
Was the race well run? We have some varying opinions on that. The start was really a mess, and I don’t think anyone argues that. Instead of coming in from the back and working your way forward, you come from the start line and try to work your way backwards. Which didn’t work so well. I ended up with the 2:20 pacer, knowing that wasn’t even close to my projected finish time, because I simply couldn’t muscle my way back to the appropriate place without having to walk into the wet corn fields. I’m not sure how this can be fixed, but it needs to be.
The buses were great, the prerace dinner was great. Parking the morning of was difficult for out-of-towners like us and I still felt that there could have been volunteers helping more with that – there were volunteers at the parking garage we ended up at, which had plenty of room, but we had to drive around passing lot after lot that was already full and were getting a bit anxious.
I also found the finisher’s chute confusing. I was looking for the place to check your finish time — I knew they had one, but I couldn’t find it, and asked two separate volunteers and neither knew where it was (although I did finally find it). I also never saw, although I heard, the PR bell. Maybe it’s just me . . . except I know it wasn’t as I was walking up and down with running buddy J trying to find the finish times.
The course itself is relatively flat and fast — although a lot of turns in the beginning and the end, and a few little uphills. It was hard for us to tell if it was really scenic or not; it was just too foggy.
And both running buddy J and I felt crowded the entire race. Darlene did not (read her recap here). Obviously there were more runners in the middle of the pack than in the front.
Awesome pre-race dinner.
Buses to the start very organized.
Plenty of portapotties.
A warm school to hang out in.
A mostly flat course.
Photos aren’t free, but they were up in just a couple of days.
I’m not a bling-whore, but it is a really nice medal.
Sharing this weekend with 9 runner friends.
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
Not enough information/direction for parking (just a small map in the race program)
Completely disorganized start.
I felt very crowded the entire race.
Poor runner etiquette (too many across, not bothering to see who’s behind you when stopping) — I guess it’s just a given these days.
Completely disorganized finisher’s chute.
What I learned Aside from I should definitely have throwaway gloves if it’s in the 30s, I’m not sure I learned a whole lot from this race. It’s better with friends, of course, but that’s a given.
Back in the day I probably would have worn capris for those temperatures, but I knew from both the Mud & Chocolate Half and my Green Mountain Half (read about that here) that I’d be good in a skirt with compression socks — it’s almost like wearing capris! But that heat blanket afterwards was totally awesome.
Do I have a faster half marathon in me? I know I didn’t this day. I didn’t puke or pass out, of course, but I really feel I left it all out on the course. I also know that cold can slow you down just like heat can — although I would take the cold over heat any day.
And 6 halfs (AZ, FL, LA, WA, UT, & NY) in 12 consecutive monts, Oct 2016-Oct 2017 will wear you down. Not that I regret any of them. But it’s definitely time for some rest. Or at least shorter races!
Packet Pickup Packet pickup was simple, even if driving around Provo wasn’t so simple. For a relatively small city — only about 20,000 more than the city I call home at the moment — there was a surprising number of multi-lane, traffic filled roads.
You needed to give the volunteers your bib number, which none of us had received, but there were books to look it up. We were all very pleased with the lightweight 10th anniversary edition jackets. You could also purchase a race tee if you wanted one (I did not).
Packet pickup was at the expo at the Convention Center, by the way. After picking up my bib, I almost immediately ran into Holly @ Hohoruns and her son, who had fallen prey to one of the salesman at a booth. I lost Holly as we walked around the small but well stocked expo. Not long after that I ran into Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice , MB @ Tutusandtennies, and met Zenaida @ and Teresa @ Fitandfabulousatfifty.
We made a reservation with California Pizza Kitchen at the expo for our carb loading dinner.
The weather & dressing Race day was forecast to be pretty perfect race weather (for me). The fly in the ointment? We had to get on buses at 4 am to take us to the start (the race started at 6 am).
And of course I was debating the whole hydration vest or not decision almost until the last minute. Which also meant worrying about underarm chafing.
Basically the decision on which top to wear was taken out of my hands. I thought I had packed a regular bra at the last minute so I could choose to wear a top without a shelf bra, but I couldn’t find it. So Super Girl Tank from Skirtsports it was! Third time was the charm, apparently, there was no chafing and it was the perfect choice (use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off almost anything Skirtsports).
I wore a Sparkleskirt on the bottom — what can I say? I like to sparkle on race day. Newton Motions carried me to the finish line (although I think they’re getting close to retirement).
The big problem was knowing it would be cooler that early, especially as you go up 1000 feet to the race start. And it was — it was a chilly 40 degrees and we had some time to kill. Thankfully I’d brought a throwaway hoodie. Actually, I also brought throwaway sweatpants which I kind of regretted not wearing!
We also met up with Kristy @ Runawaybridalplanner who had quite the tales to tell from her Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim race. And she very sweetly fished out my sunglasses from the pocket in the back of my vest after I’d stupidly hooked everything up already — thank you, Kristy!
My Race Plan Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, and of course I said yes (even if, again, I didn’t exactly follow it). Mainly I worried about going out too fast because of the downhill (spoiler alert: for some reason this was not a problem).
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan).
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:56 AP/11:45 RP. I didn’t notice my time for this mile. No idea why it was so slow; in the end, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have fallen apart if I had started out a little faster.
Mile 2: 11:57 AP/11:40 RP. It was still a good downhill, so again, no real excuse for the slowness. Yes, I was being cautious but obviously overly so. I know it takes me a couple of miles to warm up typically, but I regret starting this slowly.
Mile 3: 11:54 AP/11:40 RP. A somewhat flat mile. Pick it up already Judy!
Mile 4: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Oddly there were some rolling hills this mile. Or maybe that helped me finally get into some kind of groove. I’d been behind the 2:45 pacer for a while; I was thinking to myself it just wasn’t my day and it wasn’t a goal race anyway, even if in the back of my mind I knew there was a good chance of a PR. Why it didn’t occur to me that I was well ahead of a 2:45 pace I don’t know. I can’t do math during a race! But even if I know my time goal (and I didn’t have one, other than a maybe-PR) I still do my best.
Mile 5: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Decent hill, but then I’m used to hills.
Mile 6: 11:08 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill. No real idea why it was almost the fastest mile of the race, other than the middle miles tend to be my best.
Mile 7: 11:27 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill — why the slow down? The one thing I struggled with was a weird pulling sensation on the outer part of my right calf off and on during the race. At times I was being cautious because this wasn’t really my goal race and I didn’t want to injure myself. It was off and on. I kept trying to figure out what might make it go away, but the only thing that really did seem to make it go away were the flatter sections.
Mile 8: 11:25 AP/11:30 RP. More rolling hills & the last big downhill.
Mile 9: 11:16 AP/11:30 RP. You’re still going downhill by this point, but they’re small downhills. To me it felt mostly flat. I like flat..
Mile 10: 11:14 AP/11:30 RP. This was the point where I suddenly realized it could still be a PR. There was a pacer a bit in front of me, but too far away for me to read her sign..
Mile 11: 11:30 AP/11:20 RP. So I’ve just realized I can PR yet I slow down!
Mile 12: 11:23 AP/11:10 RP. Still trying to pick up the pace. I realize it’s the 2:30 pacer ahead of me.
Mile 13: 10:58 AP/11:00 RP. You can see that finish line for a while. I kind of wished I’d looked behind to see the mountains but then again I was chasing down that PR! I think I passed the 2:30 pacer in this mile. Pacing is a hard job and one I would’t want.
Last .19: 9:55 AP/Sprint to finish RP. And with a final sprint I caught it. 2 minute PR, baby!
2:30:30 — Official Time
11:29 Average Pace
Was the race well run? Yes, I was very impressed by the organization of this race. Packet pickup was easy, making a dinner reservation at the expo is genius, loved the 10th anniversary jacket, the buses worked like clockwork. I can’t speak to aid stations as I didn’t use any, although I did note the very long portapotty lines during the race (thankfully I didn’t need them).
My only quibble was that I seemed to miss a lot in the finisher chute, but that may just be me being in my usual post-race fog. I didn’t get my results, I didn’t see (and therefore didn’t get) the massages, and Mr. Judy complained that it wasn’t really spectator friendly (indeed, he totally missed my finish — first time that’s happened).
Small expo but stocked with what you need & some cool stuff, too.
Ability to make a dinner reservation at the expo.
Really nice jacket with thumbholes (although a bit tight around my hips).
It was nice running along the small river in Provo Canyon
Free photos — although I’m waiting on that!
Towards the end of the race, as it was warming up, there were some sprinklers on the side of the road — they were actually in kind of a PVC square you run through — I didn’t use one but it was also pretty genius.
I’m not a bling-whore, but it is a really nice medal.
Meeting old & new blogger friends, including Kerry @ Yogaontherun, who sadly was unable to run the race
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
The elevation (starts at about 5200 ft).
The very early wakeup to catch the bus.
I wasn’t super impressed with the town of Provo which had a surprising amount of traffic.
Very little spectator support until the end of the race.
Long portapotty lines during the race.
What I learned
The hill repeats with the emphasis on downhills that Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappyhad me doing before this race seemed to do their job: no quad problems at all. And I felt fine immediately after the race, and no DOMs, either.
Elevation makes your normal pace feel like you’re actually running much harder.
They say that if you race within your first 24 hours at a new elevation you won’t notice it as much, although I think the fact that we’d been there a week was actually helpful. I know I didn’t sleep well the first few days, probably a combination of elevation plus time change. I’d had mild flu like symptoms in the evening and mornings but felt fine once we got up and moving — also for just those first few days.
I had quite a few good nights sleep before the race, though.
I joked with Rachel @ Runningonhappythat I was following the Everest plan — you know, they acclimate by going up, staying a couple of nights, coming down, going up further, and so on.
I did my last long run the day after we got to UT, at about 5000 ft. Then we moved on to Bryce, which was 8000 ft and I ran one day there, too. Then we went to Zion, which is only 3-4000 ft (although very hot!). And then Provo around 4000 ft.
Final Thoughts Of course we were hiking like crazy people all week long, but we also were cautious to start out with short hikes and slowly lengthen them as the week went on — do too much, too soon, and you can pay the price with altitude sickness. Our last day of hiking was Thursday, 2 days before the race, and we did 2 hikes that day and I also walked around town in search of my UT mug (which I finally found) — to the tune of almost a half.
I wouldn’t recommend someone who is new to running halfs do that, but I do feel as you have a bunch under your belt you can be more active beforehand. Plus it takes your mind off of things. It worked for me in both AZ and UT, anyway!
I was happy to have the opportunity to run this race for free, although I would say that it is well worth the race fee. We both totally enjoyed exploring UT, although we just barely scratched the surface (and you can expect more posts about UT in the future).
I am also glad I had the chance to run a race at elevation. Yes, it was tough. Yes, I think coming out ahead of time is the way to go for me. I’ve eyed races at elevation before, and now I know that I can do it (although elevation can get you at any point!).
Yes, I tackled my first trail race in the Mud & Chocolate Half Marathon. It sucked (mud, that is) but didn’t suck (as in I didn’t hate the race).
I wrote about being a traiblazer for my last half recap just a month ago (read about it here) — well, now I can actually claim that title, because I’m no longer a trail race virgin!
Packet Pickup Packet pickup was simple: day of the race. So I didn’t have to have my SIL drive us around two days in a row, as she was kind enough to get up early on a Sunday and hang around with Mr. Judy while I was running (not at the race; they went out for breakfast) and then had to get up early to drive us to the airport on Tuesday, too.
We got there super early because parking is limited. The upside was that I purchased a sweatshirt which I totally love. I could’ve bought it before the race and had it waiting for me, but I just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger then.
There is no bag and no swag at all, and that’s fine. And if you want a tee, you have to buy it too — and I actually like that. I like that it’s an option, but I have plenty of race tees already.
You got an email with a little scan-thingie, but they just wanted my last name.
There are real bathrooms (but only three). Since it’s a small race, I had time to use them a couple of times and never had to wait for a stall. Because it was raining, most people waited in their cars (us, too). It also gave me a place to get out of my wet clothes immediately after the race (after eating some chocolate, naturally).
My Race Plan Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, since we were treating it as a training run, and I said yes please. Of course, we also didn’t have a course map or elevation chart, and in the end — nope, I didn’t even come close to the plan. Not even for a mile. And that’s okay.
You would think that having done three loops you’d be able to remember what you did, but no — in fact, I think it got even more jumbled than usual and I’m really not quite sure with some of my notes where what happened.
The interesting thing is that the trails I trained on were actually a lot steeper — but they weren’t muddy. The photo I took of the muddy trail? Seriously, that part wasn’t bad. There were puddles that spanned the entire narrow trail, multiple times, sometimes multiple times in a short span.
I had zero problem treating this as a training run in the end. I knew in the last few miles I was tired, and that I’m more likely to trip when I’m tired, and I really didn’t want to so I took it easy and walked a lot. I never came close to falling so I don’t regret that. At all.
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan). I know probably no one but me will read it, but if you’re a real masochist, go for it.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 15:10 AP/14:00 RP. It was raining at the start and you start off with a hill.
Mile 2: 14:09 AP/14:00 RP. You can always tell when I come downhill.
Mile 3: 14:42 AP/14:00 RP. A somewhat flat mile.
Mile 4: 15:31 AP/13:30 RP. Big hill that pretty much goes on the whole mile. I ran/walked. Although it shows up as mile 5 on the splits; weird.
Mile 5: 15:22 AP/13:30 RP. Lots of rocks.
Mile 6: 14:26 AP/13:30 RP. Downhill.
Mile 7: 15:20 AP/13:30 RP. Must’ve been another hill.
Mile 8: 16:21 AP/13:30 RP. Big hill second time. I walked.
Mile 9: 15:49 AP/13:30 RP. This may have been where I had to get off the trail and wait for a couple of horses to go by. Not kidding.
Mile 10: 15:18 AP/13 -14 RP. My “good” knee started to tighten up. WTF? Thankfully I’d taped them both. My guess is I’m always going to tape both knees. I felt perfectly fine after the race.
Mile 11: 15:38 AP/13 -14 RP. By now I’ve realized I will make the time limit (4 hours) without a problem. I took it easy the last few miles — I was tired and didn’t want to trip; it was only a training run, after all!
Mile 12: 16:29 AP/13 -14 RP. Walked up the hill, one last time. So over this hill.
Mile 13: 15:43 AP/13 -14 RP. I’m “running” along when I feel something under my foot. I’m thinking a gaiter fell down or something, but no, the sole came half off of one of my shoes. Again, WTF? I just stopped and said seriously? I was afraid it would catch on something and trip me, but it didn’t — it was just massively annoying.
3:15:22 — Official Time
15:22 Average Pace
The weather & dressing The weather forecasters did their normal thing, which is to say the forecast changed every hour. Trying to decide what to wear to race in was a challenge. I knew there would be lots of shade, and therefore even if it was a dry day it would feel cooler. And it wasn’t dry. At all.
In the end, Mother Nature threw at us weather that is pretty typical for the Seattle area: cold and light rain at the beginning — sometimes harder, sometimes just a drizzle, occasional sun breaks.
Did I mention that the previous days were nice and dry? However, somehow I managed to dress just right.
I wore a Skirtsports Cascade skirt, Liberty teeand a Tough Chick top (use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off anything). New Balance Vazee Summits. Mudgear compression socks — these dried out well between puddles.
I worried I’d be too warm with a short sleeve top under the long sleeve top, but it was just perfect for me. And because the Tough Chick is a quarter zip, I just unzipped it when I got warm. Although it’s not a rain jacket, I never felt as though I was sopping wet despite the fact that it rained for most of the race — it repels water well.
Was the race well run? Yes, absolutely. NRG is completely organized and communicates everything well.
Incredibly well marked race.
Plenty of food even for the very BOTP like me.
Real bathrooms before the start.
Enthusiastic volunteers, despite the cold rain.
Meeting up with two other Skirtsports sisters.
A chocolate medal.
And a Seattle Chocolate Bar!
This was a very well run race — although that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few negatives.
A very hilly course.
A very muddy course.
An open course — I did have to wait for a couple of horses to pass by at one point.
Minuscule spectator support.
Was there any portapotties? No idea; thankfully I didn’t need one, but I’m pretty sure if you needed a pitstop, you’d either have to venture into the dense vegetation or go off course back to the real bathrooms. Maybe there was one by the aid station, but I didn’t notice it.
For some reason the chocolate spread didn’t seem as epic as it’s made out to be on the website — and I don’t know why, since they certainly had a wide variety and everything I had was really good. I would have liked to see some brownies and chocolate covered pretzels, too — but there were mini cupcakes, donuts, mini peanut butter cups, truffles, and cookies. Considering the small size of the race it really was a great spread! Maybe it was just that it was on one small table? Or that no one wanted to hang around in the rain?
Three loops. It wasn’t that scenic.
Was the course short? From the website: We have measured the course with a wheel, as well as other tools, and it truly measures 13.1 miles. Many Garmins, or other GPS watches, lose satellite contact in the woods. When they drop you, they then draw a straight line to where you are from where you were, this makes them come up short. We almost never see two people with the same GPS distance at the end of our races! My Garmin did come in with a short course, obviously, but I also know that I lost signal occasionally. I’ll take their word for it. Which just means my average pace was only very slow instead of glacial.
What I learned
Again I first have to thank Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy for her coaching, her belief in me, and all the encouragement! If you’re looking for a coach, I highly recommend Rachel.
A hydration vest is definitely comfortable for me — at least with a high neck top (which I am unlikely to wear in my next half). I enjoy having my hands free and not having to stop at the aid stations.
I can run a trail race.
Dirty Girl Gaiters rock and so do Mudgear Compression socks.
Garlic cheese sticks are still working for me as a prerace meal.
And Molly Moon’s in Redmond was the perfect place to share a postrace sundae.
Final Thoughts Mud & Chocolate is a very well organized and very small trail race, capped at 100 runners — it did, in fact sell out, but I also signed up just a few weeks before the race. They squeezed in someone after the race closed (she was just in the area on business, apparently).
Most likely it will live up to its name, both in chocolate and mud. The trails are narrow, but being at the very BOTP, I was running by myself most of the time. The trails also aren’t closed, and there was one guy walking them the entire time I was racing. It seemed a little creepy to me, actually, this guy walking the opposite way but also looping three times for three hours????
The race website says that this is a beginner friendly trail race. Keep in mind it’s also the only trail race I’ve ever run. But with the hills, the wet rocks, and the mud, it definitely didn’t feel easy to me. With the exception of one very hot long run, all my long runs were quite a bit faster — but I was also cautious, not wanting an injury taking me out of UT.
I enjoyed the race (if not the weather), and while I wouldn’t actively look for another trail half, if I found one that really called to me I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Of course, first I’ve got to get me some new trail shoes!
Another half, another inaugural race. Just call me a trailblazer.
Packet Pickup I give BDR kudos for being able to switch packet picket on such short notice– and communicate it to the racers — it was the right call. It was supposed to be at Louis Armstrong park, where the race began and ended. But severe thunderstorms were predicted to roll in. So they changed it to a hotel.
I still had to walk there, as we didn’t rent a car. I had to wait a while, because it seemed like every time I decided it was safe enough to venture out, got ready, and stood up, BOOM! A big crack of thunder. Eventually I got there, though, and packet pickup was relatively painless.
The expo only had several booths, none of them tempting. I checked out the sunglasses, which is my typical expo purchase, but they were $40 (unless you wanted ones that weren’t polarized); usually I only pay $20 tops for my sunglasses.
The hype leading up to the race proclaimed “best damn swag” — yeah, not so much. A couple of bars, a couple of ointment samples — seriously nothing to write home about. The race shirt is nice, but not a tech shirt.
I almost got caught in one of the thunderstorms on the way back, but thankfully just got rained on. It was the only day our entire vacation it rained, and it really lowered the temperature. I was hoping the weather app was wrong, and it would help with the race.
My Race Plan It was really nice to have Rachel @ Runningonhappy hand me my race plan and not have to worry about whether or not I was overreaching myself or not pushing hard enough.
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan). I know probably no one but me will read it, but if you’re a real masochist, go for it.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:35 AP/11:42 RP. Okay, not too bad.
Mile 2: 11:51 AP/11:37 RP. That was a little worrisome. Maybe just from running that first mile too fast?
Mile 3: 11:37 AP/11:37 RP. Yeah baby — nailed it!
Mile 4: 11:25 AP/11:27 RP. Nailed it again.
Mile 5: 11:43 AP/11:27 RP. Uh-oh. No idea.
Mile 6: 11:10 AP/11:27 RP. Again no idea. I do tend to get mad when I slow down — overcompensating?
Mile 8: 11:40 AP/11:27 RP. How weird is it that this was the same pace in the same mile as Craft Classic Phoenix?
Mile 9: 11:22 AP/11:27 RP. Beginning to hope I could pull off the plan.
Mile 10: 11:47 AP/11:27 RP. Well, maybe not. We lost the shade and clouds.
Mile 11: 11:43 AP/11:17 RP. Around now I’m thinking at least it will be a PB for a hot race.
Mile 12: 11:32 AP/11:07 RP. Color me surprised.
Mile 13: 11:23 AP/10:57 RP. It dawned on me it could still be a PR.
Last .21: 10:03 AP/All Out Sprint RP. Sprinting to the finish line
2:32:40 — Official Time
11:37 Average Pace
So, not even half the race followed the race plan. No negative splits. And my paces were all over the place — for the most part I couldn’t even tell you why.
The weather & dressing The nice thing about going to New Orleans . . . it was always going to be a tank and skirt. Sure, they can get a cold snap at this time of year, but unless the forecast was seriously wrong that wasn’t going to happen and it didn’t.
Was the race well run?
Yes and no. Not bad for an inaugural race (it’s my fourth inaugural race, and you really never know what you’ll get).
Switching the packet pickup on such short notice.
Your choice between red & purple for the race shirt.
I think there were enough portapotties (I got there early enough I barely had to wait).
At least for me, all aid stations were well stocked.
Most awesome medal.
Pace groups going up to 2:50!
They kept the finish line open longer than they said they would; the announcers were very enthusiastic all the way through, and they announce you by name as you finish.
There was still food available when I finished.
Free drinks (I don’t drink, though, so I didn’t check it out)
And, of course, the chance to register for $10 — that’s what hooked me in the first place — that and the location.
Seeing Jodi @ Mykindoffit during the race (even though I didn’t recognize her) and afterward, and seeing Tricia @ Misssippipiddlin and MB @ Tutusandtennies afterwards — even if it was just to hug each other and take the obligatory post race selfie
A lot of positives, although I still wasn’t super impressed by the Best Damn Race company. I would say the race wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. Room for improvement, and I hope they do (although I don’t plan to be back — the whole one and done thing of trying to run a half in every state).
They posted printed out results immediately after the race — and it stopped at 2:31:00 (and I finished in 2:32:40, so mine weren’t posted and I didn’t find out my official result until later).
Not too many vendors at the expo — if you needed some emergency socks or fuel, there wasn’t much there for you.
Although there were some signs in the park, we still found it very hard to find things. The portapotties weren’t immediately apparent — I asked a pacer and he had no idea. I also had to hunt down the massages.
Jambalaya as post race food. Now, I love me some Jambalaya, but not on a hot, humid day after racing 13.1 miles. There were also brownies (and they were awesome), and bananas. So kind of slim pickins for food.
The free massages were great, but there were only three therapists and I must have waited at least 45 minutes in line for mine. Not that I’m not very grateful for them, but it was a really long wait.
Locals enjoyed running down St. Charles; frankly, I didn’t find much scenic about this race.
The water at aid stations wasn’t cold, it was sometimes served in plastic rather than paper cups — both hard to drink out of on the run and not good for the environment, and most of the time there was maybe a third of a cup of water in there.
While I was so pleased that there were pace groups going up to my pace range, they were all jumbled together. Frankly, once we started I never saw a pace group at all, and I should have been very close to the 2:30 group at some point.
Very little spectator support, although there was one family out with a sprinkler, which was much appreciated.
So more positives than negatives.
What I learned
First and foremost, this is the first half I raced after beginning to work with Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy and it was a resounding success for me and a new PR — after setting a rather large half marathon PR in my previous half.
I can actually have a good race in humidity — I think the cloudiness and shade and flat course were some of the key players in my success with this race; of course you can’t control much of that except for the flatness of the course! Also always carrying water in a hot race is key for me.
One of the other keys was Saltstick Fastchews (Amazon Affiliate link), I think. Unlike Panama City Beach, I had no cramping (at least, not until many hours after the race). I used to use Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, which worked, but they’re capsules and it was hard to take capsules while racing (at least for me). Since you just chew these, I find them easier to take during a race.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown/French Quarter, and that worked quite well for us, allowing us to enjoy the city and be within walking distance of the race (actually, I did my warmup mile running to the race). Rooms have both a microwave and a refrigerator. The hotel was quiet (except for the odd noises the elevators made!).
Garlic cheese sticks are apparently good race fuel for me.
If you enjoy New Orleans, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Best Damn Race New Orleans (as long as you’re good with racing in the humidity). Don’t race it for the spectators or good weather, but do race it for the bling, the flat course, and of course, the chance to visit New Orleans.
When my first two halfs of 2016 (Shipyard Maine and Craft Classic Phoenix) didn’t result in PRs, I was just sure that 2016 wasn’t my year for a half marathon PR. Because I was going to run my last half of the year in FL, and although I was praying for a cold snap, I was positive it would be sunny and humid — conditions I don’t perform well under.
Sometimes prayers are answered.
Fair warning though: this recap is long & photo intensive.
Packet Pickup Packet Pickup was at Dave & Buster’s, a short ride from our host’s Holly @ Hohoruns beach house. You looked up your bib number, then got your “swag” bag (and I’m using that term loosely), bib, and tee. No problems.
Not too much swag: a few coupons, a pencil — really nothing to get excited over. Which is part of why the entrance fees are lower.
The unisex race tees were pretty universally disappointing, but we all knew that going in.
My Race Plan There wasn’t much of a plan. Assuming it would be warm and humid, my plan was simply to go out at about 12:20 mm and hopefully pick up the pace from there. Slower if the conditions seemed to warrant it. Shooting for negative splits . . . maybe.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:40. Oops. A little too fast.
Mile 2: 11:57. Slightly breezy, but nothing too terrible.
Mile 3: 11:56. It still felt easy here; I knew I was on pace to PR.
Mile 4: 11:56.
Mile 5: 11:52. They ran out of cups at the water station. It wasn’t a hot day! But I had my water bottles with me. I think this is where I saw all my blogger friends go by — since they’re speedier than me, I was running looking over to the left.
Mile 6: 11:48.
Mile 7: 11:58.
Mile 8: 11:57. This is normally where I get tired, but I wasn’t. The pace still felt easy. I knew I still was on pace for a PR, and a big one at that, but you never know what 13.1 miles will throw at you.
Mile 9: 11:48.
Mile 10: 11:58. Cramps were threatening. Should I take those saltstick tablets? I hadn’t had time to test them out on a long run. I was afraid they’d upset my stomach and cost me that PR I was headed towards.
Mile 11: 12:14. I was beginning to tire by this point, but I don’t think that’s why it was a slow mile.Those cramps set in with a vengeance in my toes and my calves. I was fishing in my pocket for the saltstick tablets I’d brought, but somewhere along the way they fell out, apparently.
Mile 12: 11:54.
Mile 13: 11:27. If I’m not injured and there’s not an insane hill, this last mile is usually the fastest of the race. Which begs the question am I running too slowly earlier on? I could see Darlene waiting to take my photo, and I had real trouble mustering up a smile because the cramping was so painful.
Last .09: 9:14. Sprinting to the finish line — oddly enough, this was the same pace as the last .1 in my last half!
2:35:17 — Official Time
11:51 Average Pace
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I snagged myself a shiny new PR. By 8 minutes!
Deep down inside of me, for years, I knew that I had a faster half in me. But I have also had a long string of very hilly halfs, unseasonably warm halfs, and one insanely windy and hilly half, and a half afterwards that was even hillier . . . and sunny and hot. Throw in a few minor battles with IT/hips.
My first half was my only flat course, and I really had no idea what to expect from a flat course. Even while I was running, even though I knew I was on pace for a big PR, I never looked at elapsed time or did the math in my head. I find I’m better just concentrating on my pace, and not worrying about finish time or possible PRs.
Of course I knew early on that a PR was quite possible, but my mantra is “run the mile you’re in“.
The weather & dressing The weather was a gift from the running Gods — cloudy, cool (50s), and dry. My prayers for a cold snap were answered! I went back and forth between a tee and a tank, but I’m glad I settled on: a sparkleskirt and a Skirtsports Eclipse Tank (I’m a Skirtsports ambassador — use code CRJ20 for 20% off regularly priced items). My outfit was perfect for the day and the conditions.
A lot of people mentioned the breeze. It wasn’t a factor for me at all. My previous half PR, Green Mountain Half, was insanely windy. I nearly lost my favorite running hat and almost got blown into Lake Champlain. Trust me, this was nothing.
Was the race well run?
Mostly I’d say yes, but running out of water and/or cups — even for the speedier racers? And it wasn’t even a hot day. I giggled at the Floridians in their sweatshirts complaining about how “cold” it was, but I lived in TX for 17 years, so I get how temperature is relative.
The volunteers were enthusiastic, but not always on top of things at the water stops. On the other hand, water stops were plentiful — every mile. Gotta love that!
They did run out of the promised gumbo — so if you weren’t a super speedy marathoner (or half marathoner), no gumbo for you. Chili instead. I don’t drink, so didn’t avail myself of the free beer, but I heard complaints about how little there was in the cups (although you could have as many cups as you wanted).
Spectators and scenery?
Sparse spectator support. If you thrive on people cheering you on and high fiving you, this may not be the half for you. The scenery is nice, but not spectacular. Or maybe that’s just my feeling because it’s the Gulf, and the waves aren’t big — I love to hear the waves crashing on the beach.
Keep in mind that the course is not closed to traffic, either, so you are mainly on shoulders and cars are coming through.
What I learned
My body loves flat and fast. Sure, I got tired around mile 10, but it usually happens much sooner. And I wasn’t the least bit sore afterwards. Those cramps? Still not sure what that was about. It usually only happens when it’s a hot race.
And while it’s always great to have Mr. Judy at the finish line, having an entire group of ladies waiting for me is pretty darn good, too. Sometimes it pays to be the slowest runner out of the group.
Snagging a PR with runner friends who get it? Priceless! Yes, I missed having Mr. Judy there, too, since he’s been with me on this journey from the start.
I am so happy to have finally achieved a time I knew I was capable of. Even better sharing that with friends and seeing others do well, too, although of course, some of my friends struggled with this race.
That’s the way racing is: so many things have to come together to make a race great, and you really just never know when it will happen. And it doesn’t happen all that often. As they say, the hard is what makes it great.
Would I do this race again? Now that is a difficult question. If I were invited along with these ladies again next year, it would be so very difficult to say no. Yet with the exception of Vegas, I’ve never run a half more than once. I loved the ease of the weekend (not so easy for all our hosts and chaffeurs!), the camaraderie, and of course the flat course.
Inaugural races can be tricky, and Craft Classic Phoenix was my third inaugural half marathon. I am happy to say it was also extremely well “run”. And although it was definitely a challenging, warm, hilly race, I felt I ran it well.
Packet Pickup Packet Pickup was at the Road Runner Sports store in Scottsdale. Right next to the cute rescue puppies at Petco, by the way.
Packet Pickup was relatively painless. You got your bib and tank, then your pint glass and your sunglasses. I was expecting a pint glass for beer; it was more like a mason jar, which is kind of cool, actually. Except it just had the beer company name on it and nothing about the race. Boo.
The free sunglasses were a nice touch, but also not really running glasses, although I saw some people sporting them the next day. My running sunglasses get scratched up so quickly, I was really hoping . . . still, as far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many pairs of sunglasses.
They also gave you a $10 off of $40 coupon for any purchase in the store (I think that was the amounts). My rocktape was not adhering on my runs leading up to the race. I think tape not adhering may have something to do with its age; I hadn’t really had to do much taping leading up to the race.
So I bought some Rocktape (which did adhere great). I really prefer nude, but since they didn’t have any, I just went with the pink camo. The announcer actually talked about it as I crossed the finish line — but hey, whatever works, right? A couple of gluten free Honeystinger waffles and a pair of Balega socks (you can never have too many running socks as far as I’m concerned, too) got me to where I needed to be.
Then we headed out for some sushi, my preferred prerace meal.
My Race Plan If you follow me, you know this wasn’t a great training cycle for me, although I did my best. If you don’t follow me, here’s what happened in a nutshell: it started off well. Then I was sick, thankfully briefly, and missed one long run. No biggie; it’s happened before, it’ll happen again.
Then we adopted a rescue dog who turned out to have more issues than advertised, including some separation anxiety, causing me to be unable to run with my group and/or friends for about a month (and barely able to leave the house at times).
Then at the end of August my mom, who is 88, had surgery. The surgery went well, the recovery did not; I spent most of the next 2 1/2 weeks down at her house (90 minutes away), squeezing in runs whenever I could. And there were more trips down later, visitng my inlaws in Seattle a week before this half, then on to Sedona where I did a lot of hiking, running, and some yoga.
I worried a bit about doing too much before the half. You’ll have to finish to find out if I did!
My plan? Don’t go out too fast. Don’t worry about the finish time — hot and hilly? Very unlikely to be a PR.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 12:22. The race started on a downhill. It was still a little dark, and even with my backlight, I couldn’t see my pace.
Mile 2: 12:53. Already with the hills; still running by feel. Still couldn’t see my watch, and I wish I could have — I definitely could have picked up the pace here.
Mile 3: 12:33. Still probably a bit fast, but I was actually holding back.
Mile 4: 12:44. I think the long hill started somewhere in mile 4.
Mile 5: 14:19. The hill that killed my PR. I did my run/walk intervals all the way up it; most people were walking. I also had trouble getting off the caps on my water bottles, and I lost precious minutes getting them refilled with water.
Mile 6: 13:32. Still climbing . . .
Mile 7: 11:47. What goes up, must come down. Very steep — otherwise it would have been an even better pace — I love me a downhill, but I was afraid of a faceplant.
Mile 8: 11:40. Still going down.
Mile 9: 11:47. Still going down!
Mile 10: 11:55. Starting to level off, and the sun was beginning to sap my energy. You can see the difference between this race and Shipyard, though (by this point in Shipyard, I’d slowed down to 13mm, no doubt because of a water station running out of water, and continued a downward spiral from there).
Mile 11: 12:20.
Mile 12: 13:06. Damn you, RD! It was a small hill, but by this point it felt a lot larger. Another point where I just couldn’t dig deep enough and lost that PR. My toes were threatening to cramp up, which is a common problem for me, but thankfully they held off until I’d finished running and then they definitely cramped — but no hamstring cramps post race, or inner thigh cramps — I’ve had those sometimes in hotter races.
Mile 13: 12:31. I rallied coming back downhill.
Last .1: 9:14. Sprinting to the finish line
2:45:12 — Official Time
12:37 Average Pace
My Garmin had me about half a minute faster — even closer to that PR — which is a bit puzzling since it actually had me at 13.1 miles and the event was chip timed.
Deep down, despite the circumstances, I just had a feeling it would be a good race. I had worried about the heat. Turned out what I really needed to worry about was the unrelenting hills.
I am very happy with this race. Could I have dug deep a few times and caught that PR? Probably. But even though it would have been nice, I’m not kicking myself for it. I trained smart, I did my best, and I did much better than I’ve done in a few previous hot, hilly halfs.
The weather & dressing Phoenix in October . . . there was no weather stalking at all; never any question of what I was going to wear: a sparkleskirt and a Skirtsports Take Five Tank. It was going to be hot and sunny, end of story. But thankfully that dry heat makes a lot of difference. Still, Shipyard wasn’t humid and I beat my finish time in that race by a lot.
I went with a sparkleskirt over my beloved Skirtsports because I could fit two small water bottles in one pocket; my phone and ipod in another; my license, a credit card, and some cash in the zippered waist pocket. I needed all that space for this half.
Was the race well run?
I was so impressed with this race — inaugural races are often a bit of a mess, but this race was very well run.
The volunteers were ample, on top of things (except for packet picket — they didn’t know when the race started! Good thing we did ), and enthusiastic.
It looked like there were no long lines for portapotties, but I was able to use my hotel bathroom and didn’t need to use one. Keep in mind there were less than 400 runners.
The course was well marked with cones and tape on the road and course marshals directing you correctly. Which was pretty amazing, as the night before the race you wouldn’t even know something was happening the next day!
I never came across a water stop that had run out of water (or cups). As far as I could tell, they didn’t run out of anything.
When I asked volunteers to refill my water bottles halfway through, they weren’t at all surprised. Unfortunately it took a long time, but that wasn’t completely their fault.
Mile markers were spot on.
Started on time.
Early start — 6:30 am — good for a hot one!
There was plenty of food at the end, which I finished in true BOTP style (323 out of 384).
I was highly impressed with Craft Classic Phoenix and would definitely recommend it. And thank you, Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner, for my free entry!
Hot and hills that go on for days
Rolling hills throughout the entire course
A small hill at the end that seems a lot larger than it really is
Not super scenic
Very little spectator support
What I learned
Carrying my own water was key for this hot race, but stopping to refill my water bottles on the hill killed my pace and probably cost me my PR — the volunteers were great and accommodating, but it still took too long. I had enough water and probably should have just grabbed water at the water stop there. Or finished off my water bottles and then just relied on the water stops.
Some of my best halfs are run mostly by feel, like this one. I noted the pace each mile, but that was about the only time I looked at pace. I do wish I’d been able to see it that second mile — again, if I’d pushed just a little harder there, I might have caught that PR.
I stayed at the Lexington Inn & Suites. The hotel itself was nice, but it had a funky smell. I was willing to overlook that (and you got used to it) for the refrigerator, microwave, and the being able to use a real bathroom and then just simply walk to the start line.
There were also quite a few restaurants that were walking distance from the hotel — once we got there, we didn’t need the car until we left. We ate at the Euro Pizza Cafe the night before the race. It got mixed reviews, but I enjoyed my kale salad and stromboli. The full moon over the fountain wasn’t bad, either. Or the fact we could walk there from the hotel.
If you enjoy a challenging course with great support, you’ll enjoy Craft Classic Phoenix.If you need a lot of spectator support to get motivated, this is not the race for you. If you prefer flat and fast, this is definitely not the race for you.
I can’t speak to the beer after-party. I don’t drink. I especially don’t drink beer. And who wants a beer at 9:30 in the morning? A lot of runners, apparently!
I always thought I would do my half in AZ in Sedona, and while I loved every minute I spent in Sedona, I’m glad I didn’t race there. Sedona almost makes this race look flat and fast, and it’s at altitude. It’s also stunningly beautiful and cooler, of course.
Opportunist: a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans
I have to admit, in general I don’t consider myself to be an opportunist, except, perhaps, when it comes to training plans. I like to experiment, which means while certain elements of my half marathon training remain the same, I’d be bored if I did the same plan every single time.
I’m always looking for that holy grail — the plan that will help me capture that elusive running unicorn — you know, the 20 minute PR? I keep doing the work, but I often feel as though I am spinning my wheels and not advancing (I’m picturing the ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off here).
I don’t need to get “fast”, whatever that might mean. While an Age Group award would be nice, I’m not gonna lie, I can live without that, too. But I’d like to move up from the Back of the Pack to the middle.
I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the as to whether we fulfill our destiny, but our fate is sealed.
By the time you read this, I will (hopefully) have completed state #11 (and my thirteenth half marathon). I can’t control the weather, I can’t control how well stocked the aid stations will be, I can’t control how much the race director lied (just how big is that hill in the middle, anyway?).
About the only thing I can be opportunistic about with this half is trying to draft off another runner if it’s windy. Otherwise, it all comes down to my training (which went well, despite the circumstances) and
I did complete my half marathon. The hills were far worse than I anticipated (1000+ ft elevation gain, anyone?). While there was a slight breeze, no need to draft (not to mention finishing BOTP style means no one near enough to draft off of towards the end!).
One thing I know for sure I’m not much of an opportunist. I like to plan, and I like to be guided by a plan. Signing up for the Best Damn Race in NOLA was rather opportunisitc, though: I was taking advantage of the lower price dangled as a carrot, but it was done rather on a whim, than with a plan.
Tell me in the comments:
Are you a planner, or more of an opportunist?
Ever found yourself being an opportunist during a race?
Do you think being an opportunist can be a good thing?