Welcome to the inaugural post of the Tryna Run blog! What better way to kick off this whole shebang then with a good, old-fashioned race recap? Let’s dive into my most recent race, the 2019 Get In Gear Half Marathon.
The race was held on April 27 at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, MN — conveniently located about five minutes from my house. I registered just about a month before the event. I wasn’t planning on running another half before Grandma’s because I had just run one in February (the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando. It was *literally* magical, but that’s for another post). But I was super sick the week before the Princess Half and humidity that day was at 90%, so my best friend and I walk-ran most of the race. I knew our final time of 3:32:35 was not at all a reflection of how fast I could race, so I wanted to get another half — one where I was actually racing — under my belt before Grandma’s. Here’s how it went:
The day before: I worked a full, busy day the Friday before the race and then went out to dinner, where I filled up on a delicious turkey burger and fries. I headed over to Minnehaha Park around 7 pm for packet pick-up, which was open until 8. (Side note to any race directors who may be reading: Having a late packet pick-up is so helpful and very appreciated!) The pick-up process was super smooth and quick. The bibs and t-shirts were located in different areas of the park and I didn’t totally understand why, but it worked out fine. I then headed home and pretty much went straight to bed; I was pretty emotionally exhausted from an intense week at work and wanted to get as much rest as possible before the race.
The morning of: Like I mentioned earlier, the course was located super close to my house so I slept in a bit longer than I usually would the morning of a race. I got up at 6:45 am, with the race starting at 9. I ate a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and drank a glass of water/small cup of coffee. I had been going back-and-forth all week on what I was going to wear for the race. The forecast a few days out said it was going to be in the 30s with 100% chance of rain and even some snow mixed in. But by morning-of, it had changed to a temp of about 45 with only a 30% change of rain. Ultimately, I decided to wear my Saucony spandex shorts, Under Armour v-neck tee, New Balance lightweight rain jacket (can’t find the exact link, but this is close), and a free running hat I got at a race last summer. I also wore some cheap waterproof Nike warm-up pants that I got at GoodWill as throw-away gear when it was looking like it would rain a ton. After applying lots of Body Glide and getting dressed, I drank a big glass of water mixed with UCAN Performance Energy Powder (orange flavor) and then headed out around 8:15 am.
Bag Check + OMG I GOTTA PEE: I parked about a quarter of a mile away from the start line, so I arrived at the pre-race area by 8:30. It was pretty chilly out and I was regretting that I hadn’t brought gloves. I also sent my husband some nervous texts when I realized that very few people were wearing shorts and most had on a lot more layers than I did — he assured me that I had run in every type of Minnesota weather and he was confident I made the right decision in my gear (#ThanksRich). He ended up being right — tons of people took off outer layers once the race was about to start. I waited in line for a bit to use the indoor bathrooms, which gave me the chance to stay out of the cold and keep warm. Afterwards, I reluctantly took off my warm-up pants and checked my bag. This was at about 8:50 am. I was starting to walk to the corral when my bladder urgently informed me it had magically re-filled in the 10 minutes since I last went. Super fun. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have had so much liquid in such a short amount of time before the race. Next time, I’ll wake up earlier so I have more time to pee at home.
Anyways — back to the race. I jogged over to the Port-o-Potties and got in a long line. I finally got into one at about 8:58 and then ran over to the corrals. I usually like to get to my corral 10-15 minutes before the race starts, so this was cutting it super close for me and my anxiety was high. I took a few deep breaths and tried to calm myself. Within 30 seconds of arriving to the corral, the start gun went off and we were officially off!
The Course – Part 1: The first third of the course was either flat or downhill. I was feeling great during these early miles. Coming down the huge hills, I started feeling anxious about the fact that I was going to have to go back *up* them in just a short while. But instead of focusing on that worry, I tried to instead just cheer on the super fast runners who had already passed the turnaround point. Seriously, the other runners near me must have been so annoyed by my constant shouts of “WAY TO GO” and “LOOKIN’ GOOD” every time someone passed me in the opposite direction. But I couldn’t help it, I was in cheerleader mode.
Splits for miles 1-4: 11:03, 11:18, 11:27, 11:29
The Course – Part 2: This is where things got rough, just like I knew it would. Tackling these big hills was not fun, but I thought a lot about what my Insta friend Katherine (@katherun26.2) had posted about the day before: “Prepare for the race to hurt. Visualize your race ending how you have been training for it to with your goal time on the clock, but also visualize the hurt that comes with racing and yourself working out of a rough patch (like how you have in a workout before and ended up still hitting your splits!).” Such great advice, right? Going up those hills, I just kept saying to myself “you knew it was going to be hard, this is where it counts.” Katherine also recommended coming up with a mantra to help you get through those hard miles. My mantra for this race, and particularly for those hills, was “head up, heart up, keep moving.” This helped me keep my form in check and, before I knew it, the worst of the hills were behind me. During this part of the race, I also fueled a good bit — I ate half of my Honey Stinger fruit smoothie energy chews at mile 6 and the other half at mile 9.
Splits for miles 5-9: 11:11, 11:33, 11:39, 12:00, 11:26
The Course – Part 3: Part two of the course was hard physically. Part three was hard mentally. By mile 11, I just felt ready to be done. I found myself taking a few small walk breaks. I could feel my mental energy draining. So I decided to focus on picking off the runners in front of me. One at a time, I focused on reeling them in and passing them by. With one mile left, I really started pushing, just wanting to get to that finish so badly. I was super happy to see that my last mile was my fastest of the whole race. I crossed the finish line in 2:31:36 with an average mile time of 11:34 and a huge smile.
Splits for miles 10-13.1: 11:24, 11:35, 11:15, 10:57
Recovery: The smile, unfortunately, didn’t last long. Very shortly after I stopped running (like before I had even collected my medal), it felt like all the muscles in both legs started seizing up and cramping. I limp-walked to a grassy area and tried to stretch out a bit. I managed to smile for some post-race pictures but was still hurting pretty bad. After grabbing my bag from gear check, I headed to the refreshment tent and grabbed two chocolate milks, two bananas and some Great Harvest Bakery rolls (always a favorite post-race treat). Then came the hardest part of the day: the walk back to my car. I hobbled the quarter mile, trying to hold back tears from the pain in my legs. I seriously considered calling my husband and asking him to come get me. But just like with the end of the race, I tried to focus on keeping myself moving. A few times, I felt really nauseous and thought I was going to throw up, so I’d crouch down in preparation. Luckily, nothing came up and I made it to my car, albeit slowly and painfully. In retrospect, I’m not sure if I should have gone to the medical tent and gotten some help?
As soon as I got home, I got in the hottest bath of my life (with some Epson salts and bubble bath) and my leg muscles almost immediately started relaxing and the pain decreased greatly. Once out of the tub, I rubbed some muscle rub all over my legs, pulled on my leg compression sleeves and got in my PJs. I finished my chocolate milks and ate one of the bananas while some white rice cooked in the rice cooker. After eating a big bowl of white rice with soy sauce (one of my favorite post-race meals), I posted my race time on Instagram and took a 2-hour nap with a heating pad. When I woke up, my legs were tired but I felt pretty good in general and started to get ready for a work party at my boss’ house.
Overall, this was a great race and I had a blast. I had hoped to break 2:30 and even though I was 90 seconds late, I’m really proud of how hard I pushed. I’m feeling much more confident in my fitness and readiness for Grandma’s, which is really what this experience was all about. I would definitely run this race again and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good spring half in Minnesota!