Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 Door County Half Marathon Race Report

 During the first weekend of May, I was able to cross another race off of my bucket list.  I ran the 2015 Door County Half Marathon in Peninsula State Park.  I registered for this race last fall and have been anticipating it ever since.  We booked a room at Bay Breeze Resort in Ephraim last fall as well.  The room was about $80 and the rooms were super adorable, spacious and comfortable.  The hotel was located right outside of the Ephraim entrance to the state park.  There would be a shuttle in the morning from the hotel as well.  It ended up being perfect.

We checked into the hotel and drove to the library in Ephraim, where packet pick up was being held.  It was super quick and easy.  There was a very small race expo.  We were hoping to walk next door to Wilson's to grab some infamous ice cream.  But they were still closed for the season.  I thought that they would have least opened up for the 2,500 runners and spectators, but they hadn't.   We actually found out that most of the businesses are still technically closed for the season in Door County during the early parts of May.  Many of the restaurants and stores did open for Friday-Sunday for the race and would be closing up again until Memorial Day weekend.  We drove around the Lake Michigan coast, checking out Fish Creek and Egg Harbor on Friday evening.  We did some shopping in Fish Creek and enjoyed some sights down by the pier in Fish Creek.  We drove to Egg Harbor and had a nice plate of fettuccine alfredo and carb loaded with a basket of bread and stuffed shrimp.  Diner was great. 
We hadn't planned ahead for breakfast and there were only going to be breakfast burritos, muffins and potato pancakes available for purchase at the race.  So, we drop to Sister Bay to a Shopko Express to load up on bread, peanut butter, jelly - and mini donuts!  I wish we had planned better. 

We caught the 8:00 am bus from our hotel to the start line.  It worked out great.  They offered this service to many host hotels in the area.  Or runners could park and ride from the outdoor movie theater as well.  The race didn't start  until 10:00 am, so we were a little annoyed that we had to get their so early and sit around - especially since our hotel was right outside of the park.  But we figured that they must be getting the runners in their for some sort of logistical reason.  Everything was very well organized - I was amazed.  The bus drop off/loading zone was market very well by the different cities/resorts and buses would be running continuously after the race as well.
We walked to the beach and found a spot to enjoy our breakfast and chat.  It was an absolutely beautiful day an much warmer than they are use to that time of year in northern Wisconsin.  Apparently there were still ice caps on the lake at last year's event and runners were chilly.  We were able to sit around comfortably and enjoy the scenery pre-race. 
I made my usually 3-4 stops to the port-o-potty.  There were virtually no lines and they even had lines formed by orange cones.  Again, super organized and they were well prepared.
We sat around and got to know other runners.  It's always fun talking about races you've done, your training, chatting about Madison, Milwaukee, destination races.  Runners can go on forever.  I then was approached by Rebecca and her husband, who were running the half.  Rebecca was actually the woman that hired me for my very first couch to 5K coaching gig.  Soon, we were able to locate my friends Kerri and Leanne.  Leanne would be running and Kerri would be spectating.  They were both in one of my couch to 5K programs previously.  We also met up with our friends Brian and Leslie, who are making this an annual weekend getaway with friends.  They were running the 5K.
We walked a short jaunt down the path to the start line.  There were a lot of runners doing both events.  It was pretty astounding in such a quaint place.  Soon, we were off.
We were forewarned that cell phones and Garmins may not work in the park.  I couldn't locate a signal, so I didn't have my GPS turned on for the race.  I simply went on my time and the mile markers.

I was comfortable in short sleeves and the sun was breaking through the tree covered road.  The sites were breath taking.  We headed out on the road and I tried to set into a comfortable pace.  I was clocking well under 9 minute miles, but the 2:00 pace group continued to by right on my heels.  It was driving me absolutely crazy.  Finally, between miles 4-5 I let them pass me.  It was better for me mentally.  I swore they were going way faster than pace.  After they passed me, they were gone, and I never saw them again.  It was a little bit deflating.  But I was totally  uncomfortable and wasn't enjoying myself.  And that just isn't fun.  I'd rather feel good and enjoy the run, the race and this sport.  It just isn't worth it to me to try and keep up with the pace group.

I took a sleeve of Shot Blocks before the race and then a Honey Stingers energy gel at mile 5 and again at mile 10.  I carried my handheld water bottle and refilled it once late in the race.  I also took a cup of sports drink at every aid station.  The water stations were every mile to mile and a half.  I couldn't believe how much support was out on the course.  It was very comforting to see volunteers and water and sports drink soft often. 

I knew that the course would be hilly, but I was really concerned about all the inclines up.  It was the downhills that did me in.  I would fly down them and then when I had to run on a flat surface or up hill (around mile five especially) it was super difficult and my legs were sore.  I was feeling really sluggish from miles 4-8.  My husband had been way ahead of me.  We didn't even start together.  But, while I was drinking my sports drink at mile 8, he was standing there waiting for me.  I was astounded.  After asking him what he was doing, he just told me that it wasn't this day and he wasn't feeling it.  He had done some walking.  It was hotter than we were use to running in lately and that also was slowing us down.  We ran together for about a mile or so and then I got in a nice comfortable pace and trotted on.  I pushed forward as we zigzagged back to the startline. 

The entire course was on road or wide, paved path.  I found it very difficult to know where I was for this race.  Since everything was in the forest or along the lake, there wasn't much for landmarks.  I just kept looking at my watch and mile markers to know how much to push myself.  My pace increased considerably the last few miles.  There was wonderful crowd support down a drastic downhill throughout all of mile ten.  It was great and super motivating.  I could hear the startline, but couldn't see it as I rounded around the bend of the lake.  And there it was.  The clock read 2:02 and I knew I had sped up a lot those past few miles, and actually didn't finish far behind that 2:00 pace group that deflated my run earlier on.  I was still about 3-4 minutes off of my typical half marathon pace.  Hubby finished about 15-17 minutes off of his typical pace.  It was a tough race filled with beautiful scenery and was one of the best organized events I've participated in.

2:01:22 Finish
9:16 min/mile
10K  at 56:41
513/1540 finishers
43/179 age group
217/933 women

After finding friends - and each other - we walked over to the finisher's tent for some cookies, chocolate milk and fresh fruit.  We then took the shuttle back to our hotel, cleaned up and headed to Egg Harbor to enjoy some Mexican Food outdoors. 

We ended up staying in Door County from Friday-Sunday and had plenty to do and really enjoyed some down time relaxing and catching up with each other and with friends.  On our drive home Sunday, we stopped in Green Bay to do a tour of Lambeau Field.  It was a memorable way to end a fantastic weekend.

1 comment: