What a weekend! These past couple of days marked our second annual sisters’ weekend. Last year my sister, Jacquie, and I ran in Fargo and this year we stuck a bit closer to home and met in St. Louis.
The last several years I have done a spring marathon and a fall marathon, but this spring I felt my body needed a break, thus I ran a half marathon instead. My sister and I chose to run in St. Louis primarily because it was closer than last year’s race and it was on a weekend that neither of us had to work. Yes, those were literally the only factors we used to select our race. Overall, it was a great race, but as is true with every race, I learned a lot.
My reflections on the race itself first.
1. Tiny field. Just over 750 runners participated in the 5k and half marathon.
2. There was warning of flooding issues on the course, but race organizers did such a great job repairing the trail that I really didn’t notice.
3. The gentleman at mile 9.5 shouting that we were at mile 10 was my least favorite person on the race course.
4. My favorite sign along the race course: “Run like United is trying to take your seat.” Too soon?
5. Beautiful. The race was quite scenic, well shaded, and through a beautiful wooded park. The downside: lots of horse poop and it smelled like a zoo for much of the time.
6. Small race = little crowd support. I didn’t find this to be a problem, just something of note.
Now for personal race reflections:
1. I normally eat a bagel on race morning, but I was too cheap to pay for bagels at Whole Foods (the closest grocery to our hotel) so I bought pretzel buns instead. Delicious, but oddly more filling. I don’t like feeling that full when starting a race. Oops.
2. I need to start looking at race courses before registering. Unfortunately, the main deciding factor when choosing a race is if I can get the weekend off from work or not. St. Louis, not shockingly, was hilly. Honestly, it wasn’t awful, but I typically try to avoid running hills whenever possible.
3. During the course of the hills, I realized I don’t know how to budget my energy output when there are hills. I know enough now that I can push harder than I usually do on flat courses, but I’m super conservative when on hills. Theoretically, if I studied the course before just running the race, it would help….
4. Most of yesterday’s course was on crushed gravel. While a softer surface, I had to work so much harder. I’m almost a strict road girl (with maybe a trail run tossed in every other month for kicks), so I’m used to the responsiveness of the pavement. The energy return. A gravel path feels as though it’s sucking all of your energy in with every step. Was definitely not prepared for that.
It’s been years since I have run a half marathon, and my heart just wasn’t in the training. My goal when toeing the line Sunday morning was to at least be under 2 hrs, anything over would have been unacceptable. I did break 2 hrs and even placed 4th in my age group. Now that I can live with!