Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parkinson's Half Marathon 2015 Race Report

Saturday was a gorgeous day, as I ran the Parkinson's Half Marathon in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin.  This was my second consecutive year running it and hubby's third.  We love running on the Glacial Drumlin State Trail for our longer training runs.  The route is super flat, scenic and it's easy to get lost mentally while you are pounding out the miles on the crushed gravel trail. 
The packet pick up was made even easier this year, since it was held close to our home, at the Fleet Feet location in Sun Prairie.  We woke up at 6:00 am and left around 7:15 for the 8:00 am start time.   They were once again offering shuttle services, but we were able to park pretty close in the business park.  When we arrived at the start line, we were immediately greeted by many familiar faces.  I just love local races - for this very reason.  I positioned myself in the semi-long port-o-potty line about 20 minutes before the race was supposed to start.  I was able to get to the startline just before the National Anthem was being played.  Soon we were off ....
We jetted down the main drag in Cottage Grove and the first 1.5 miles through neighborhoods.  The route avoids the large hill at the trailhead.  The entire race is pretty flat until you have to jet up that incline at the very end of the race.
I chatted with a friend briefly during the first mile, but then said that I had to break-off and try to catch up to my Hubby.  I was losing sight of him.  Usually he slows down at the end and I speed up - but I never did reach him this time.  He was feeling great on Saturday and I am really proud of him.
My miles were clicking off at or under 9:00 min/miles.  This was much faster than my training pace recently.  I passed some friends that were aiming for a 9:00 min/mile pace and to finish sub 2:00.  I wasn't sure how much longer I'd be able to keep up my pace, but I was going to try.  This out and back route is awesome - especially when you know so many other runners out there.  I saw several faster runners as we approached the seven mile marker to turn around, including my husband.  Lots of high fives and big smiles were exchanged.  On my way back, I passed Jen just after the turnaround and encouraged several friends on the way back to the trailhead. 
I carried my handheld water bottle with me and ran out.  I added a cup from a water station during the second half.  I downed a gel at mile 5 and again at mile 10.  I started with a stick of gum and alternated two more pieces after each gel.  I took Gatorade from the first couple of water stations, but then I found that I asked for Gatorade two more times, and the volunteers still handed me water.  My husband said that he had the same experience over and over - but, he unfortunately carried no water with him and only one gel.  The volunteers and spectators were still great. I guess I just have to be better at communicating and pointing to the volunteers.  We both felt that there weren't enough water stations mid-race.  I didn't time them out myself, because I was carrying water.  But they seemed more sporadic. 
Around mile 10, I was starting to get warm and soon the tree cover opened up and the sun was beating down.  It was warm as heck for mid-April.  After experiencing heat exhaustion on this trail last summer, I was starting to get worried in the back of my mind.  I kept drinking.
I turned on some good tunes and got my footwork and my breathing in a constant rhythm, knowing that the big hill would be approaching in the last 1/2 mile.  I approached the hill, leaned back and shortened my stride.  I passed several runners that were struggling and kicked it into gear as I approached the top.  I knew that the hill came back down and that I could speed into the finish line.  Spectators were cheering as I passed 2, 3, 4, 5 runners at the top of the hill.  With a burst of energy, I raced down the gravel path to the finish line and stopped my watch.
My watch stated 1:58:33, but I had accidentally started it at the first timing mat, not at the start line.  My actually finishing time ended up being 1:58:26.
My typical race during the past three years tends to be 1:57-1:58.  I don't know if I will ever reach my PR of 1:51 again.  I was fifteen pounds lighter after going through my divorce four years ago and I just don't know if that's a manageable weight for me, since I wasn't fueling my body correctly either.

The technical shirts were long sleeve this year.  We were hoping for more short sleeves, but these will do for next fall.  They were nice and light.  The finisher's medals were really unique for 2015 and were engraved wooden medals.  They were a nice addition to our display of race medals.

9:06 min/mile
138/336 overall
12/34 age group (30-34F)
53/185 women

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