A few weeks ago, when I ran the Get in Gear half marathon, the weather forecast was looking pretty rough for race day — rain, snow, wind, cold temps, the whole sha-bang. I wasn’t looking forward to racing in those conditions, but at the same time, I knew it would be good to experience a long run in that kind of weather before Grandma’s. So I did my best to put on a smile and went out to buy a poncho. Turns out, I wouldn’t end up needing it — it was chilly and cloudy, but no rain or snow. I was relieved but still thought to myself, “I hope I can experience running in wet conditions before the marathon.”
Well friends, the universe listened. And boy did she deliver.
Fast forward to yesterday, the day of my first 20-miler and the Women Run the Cities 10-mile race. Once again, the forecast was looking grim: 100% chance of rain, high of 45 degrees, 25 mph winds. But this time, the storm didn’t blow over — it was here to stay. And I would finally get my super wet racing experience.
I decided to run Women Run the Cities even though I had a 20-miler scheduled for that weekend because it’s, quite simply, my favorite race of the year and I couldn’t imagine missing it. There’s just something about being in a huge crowd of women, cheering each other on, celebrating every step. It’s magical. So I decided to include the race in my 20-miler. I planned to run 10 on my own early in the morning before the race started and then 10 later in the morning.
I knew the weather was going to be rough, so I planned ahead Saturday night to help make things smoother on Sunday. I laid out two different complete running outfits, one for the first 10 and one for the race, since I knew I’d want to change into dry clothes in between. I also had everything packed for the race, so I could dash out the door quickly after changing.
I woke up at 4 am on Sunday — the earliest I’ve ever gotten up for a long run! I drank a big glass of water with a UCan Berry Hydrate Electrolyte Packet mixed in, ate a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and piled on my rain/cold weather gear — my normal running clothes, plus a waterproof jacket, brimmed hat and gloves. By 5 am, I was out the door.
It was still dark out when I started and I don’t really ever run in the dark, so part of me was a bit on edge for the first few miles. But once the sun started to come up, I really relaxed and enjoyed listening to all the birds waking up around me. I ran past the set-up for Women Run the Cities — it was super cool to see it early in the morning when they were just putting everything together, and then again later on when set-up was all complete. Those staff and volunteers work HARD to get the whole race set up in just a few hours!
It was pouring rain and I was totally soaked, but it really didn’t bother me too much. My feet got cold towards the end because of all the puddles I ran through, but other than that, I wasn’t that uncomfortable. I brought a pack of Honey Stinger energy chews and ate half at mile 3 and the other half at mile 6.
I finished my first 10-miles with an average pace of 12:06, which is pretty good for me on a long run. I was home for about 30 minutes to change into dry clothes, re-hydrate with some Gatorade and feed my pets breakfast. Before I knew it, I was heading back out, this time with a poncho and some throw-away waterproof pants.
It was really pouring by the time I got to the race (which is luckily about 5 minutes from my house, so I didn’t have to drive far). I checked my bag and then took refuge under a pavilion with all the other runners while we waited for the start time (8:30 am). I was feeling really stiff and cold at this point — my legs were starting to ache from the earlier run and I wasn’t feeling super excited to do it all over again.
I stayed in this negative head space for the first two miles or so of the race. I was running with the 12-minute-per-mile pace group and had a goal of sticking with them the whole time. But the pace felt super fast early on and I had doubts that I could hang with them for the remainder of the race. Luckily, once my muscles warmed back up and my body relaxed, the pace started to feel much easier and I was comfortably running with the pack. It also definitely helped that the rain let up a bit around mile 4 of 5; instead of pouring, it was now more of a heavy mist.
I brought another pack of Honey Stinger chews for the race; this time I took one-third at mile 2, one-third at mile 5 and one-third at mile 7. I really felt great for the last 7 or 8 miles of the race — the pace felt easy, my breathing was relaxed and even the two big hills we covered weren’t too difficult. Before I knew it, the finish line was there. I honestly felt like I could have kept going, which is something I *rarely* experience after a long run.
I finished the second 10 miles faster than the first, with an average mile pace of 11:58. My combined 20-mile run time clocked in at 4 hours, 44 seconds, for an average overall mile time of 12 min/mile even. I was super happy with my time!
I got my medal and some finish line snacks (half a banana, a bag of chips, a bottle of water and a small bottle of chocolate milk). I then grabbed my bag from back-check and changed into the warm rain jacket that I had packed for after the race (I was super happy that I thought to do that!). But even with the warm jacket, I still got cold really fast. I headed over to the post-race brunch (yep, you read that right) to re-fuel. They had mini quiches, fruit cups, bagels and donuts. I grabbed two huge (and delicious) glazed donuts, mostly because they were easy to carry and I already had a lot of stuff in my arms.
Then I grabbed a mimosa (yep, you read that right again), which was so delicious and totally hit the spot. I also got a sample of the 26.2 Brew beer (and a free koozie!) but they were making runners finish the whole drink in the brunch area and my teeth were starting to seriously chatter at this point, so I only had a few sips before I threw it out. I felt really guilty for not drinking more of it, but I was just so cold, I knew I needed to get out of those wet clothes (this is also why I don’t have any post-race pics — sorry!). I happily ate my donuts on the short walk back to my car and was a bit alarmed when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that my lips were turning blue. Again, I luckily live right around the corner, so I was home and in a hot shower in just 5 minutes.
After getting into my PJs and compression calf sleeves, I had an avocado sandwich and the chips from the race, plus the chocolate milk and another Gatorade. I happily climbed into bed for a 2-hour nap with my dogs. When I woke up, I felt a bit stiff, but overall really great — I definitely did not feel like I had run 20 miles earlier in the day! I did a lot of meal prep for the upcoming week, watched A Star Is Born (again) and was back in bed at 8 pm for a good night’s sleep.
Despite the wet conditions, Sunday was a great experience and it gave me a lot of confidence for the last 5 weeks of training. I know running 20 miles with a break in between will feel different (and probably easier) than running that distance consecutively. My second 20-miler (which I’ll run in one go) will be in two weeks and I’m legitimately excited to see how I do.
It wasn’t lost on me yesterday that the next time I put a bib on, it will be for my first marathon. I’m so excited for Grandma’s and feeling so grateful that so far (knock on wood) my body is healthy and ready for 26.2!