Saint Louis Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

I’m still processing the race yesterday — and going through all the thoughts and things that came up during the 13.1

I am going to save my post half thoughts for another day (soon), but today I want to recap the actual event 🙂

The Night Before

I was a bundle of nerves Saturday night.  Let’s be honest.  It’s how I always get the night before a race — and this one was no exception.  I felt a little unprepared, detailed wise, as to logistics of getting there, getting started, etc, but was hopeful that there would be no issues (and there weren’t).

For dinner, I had pad thai, which actually set well in my stomach that night and the next morning.  I had no stomach issues pre race, and think the pad thai was a descent choice.

The Cardinal’s game was on — so I stayed up watching it with my parents until about 9:30, when I went upstairs, prepared my gear, and laid down.  I intentionally decided to turn off the game, in hopes that I would be able to sleep — but no such luck.  I tossed and turned until about 11 PM, when I got up to finally just use the restroom and check on the game.

Unfortunately the game was tied at that point, so I watched it until the end, when the Cardinals took it on an “obstruction” call (weirdest end to a game ever), and after that I actually fell asleep without problem.  I guess I just needed a distraction.

Morning Of:

I had an alarm set for 445 AM.  The race packet said to be there by 530, because roads closed around 6 and I took them seriously.  I slept in my gear (that’s right.  Well sports bra and shorts) to speed up the morning.  I started tossing and turning a little before 430, so by my alarm I was ready to get up.  I got on the rest of my gear, and was ready to go by 5.

Saint Louis traffic isn’t bad at 5 AM — and we were over the river and near the race start by 530.  Gear check was super simple, and there was no line for the porta potties so I jumped in right away.

Unfortunately, this left me at 545 AM.  An hour and 15 minutes to FREEZE in the dark, 30 degree temps.  Thankfully I did chat with some nice people to distract me.  At about 615 my parents found me and stook it out with me near my coral until about 5 til 7.  They were even nice enough to give me their coats, and help me take off my throw away pants without shivering my tail right off.

They left me to head to watch the start, and I got to the front of my Corral, which was 5.

The start was staggered, so about 10-12 minutes after the gun went off, corral 5 was released.  Thankfully, this was all VERY organized and I still felt that surge of excitement from the countdown, even though we weren’t released by the gun.

I saw my parents and just like that, we were off.

The Race

It was still fairly dark at the start, so we headed towards the arch for the first half mile or so before making our first turn.  At this point I felt really strong and was moving at a good clip.  I was cold, but still in my throw away jacket, gloves and hat, so not too cold.

I saw my parents at about 1.5, a turn around, which gave me a little extra boost to keep moving.  My mind always plays tricks early in long runs, probably because I’m anxious at how much there is left to go.

After that point, I started to feel sweat a bit in my chest so decided to ditch the jacket.  My reasoning was that I didn’t want to sweat, then find miles and miles of shade and just freeze.  While I think that may have been true, I am not sure how smart my clothes for the day were overall.

By the 5k mark, I officially starting doubting myself.  I knew I’d see my parents at mile 6, and thought about just telling them today wasn’t my day.  The cold was REALLY getting to me.  Even though I wasn’t necessarily cold through my body, my lungs weren’t used to the air.

For whatever reason, I ditched my gloves about mile 4 <—biggest mistake of the day.   I think I regretted this automatically.  For the rest of the race, my hands were FROZEN, and literally cramping around my Ipod.

At mile 4 I also remembered to start taking in fuel, so started eating my Larabar.  While this had worked in the previous week, I was NOT excited about eating it on this race.  I kind of wished that I had brought something else, like Gu’s or chomps that would run through me right away — but again this could have been mental, who knows.

I saw my parents between 5 and 6 and thankfully that pulled me through to beyond the 10k point.  I had noticed about mile 5 that my garmin and the race course were about .2 miles off, so I just kept pace according to the Garmin, figuring the race was just a little long (it was, .12 miles I believe) — and knowing that I could pace by minute, mile, half mile, etc, regularly by my watch.

I think mile 5ish was also the first time I walked.  This is BY FAR the earliest I have ever walked in a race, but I knew I was struggling and I was facing a HUGE hill.  I decided to take 30 seconds at the hills steepest point to speed walk it up, then pick it back up on the downhill.  I honestly think this mentality saved me, as I saved what energy I DID have and never actually fully bonked the entire race thanks to conserving.

I hit the 10k point and that is when the relay broke off from us.  That actually gave me a bit of a mental distraction.  I kept chuckling to myself, thinking how nice it would have been to be DONE by this point, and watching everyone take off so strongly.  I wasn’t really envious, but it did give me a chance to not think about my own race, which was helpful.

After mile 7, I started giving myself 30-60 seconds of walking at the beginning of each mile.  This was mentally what I needed to push through.  I didn’t USE it every mile, but I was giving myself the OK, which made the 6 miles I had left seem much less overwhelming.

By the grace of race gods, the second half of the course had BEAUTIFULLY placed downhill portions and I got-to-moving. There were .5 mile stretches straight of downhill with beautiful park scenery, and that honestly is what pushed me through 8-10.

I don’t believe I walked more than a minute between those miles, because of the fact that the downhills miraculously showed up every time I needed them. Thank you God!

When I hit mile 10, I started realizing that while a sub 2:00 half wasn’t in me, a PR still definitely was.  Unfortunately there were some hills, but I took the same strategy of walking a minute, then killing it on the downhill, and I kept my pace well under 10 minute miles, which was all I cared about at that point.

Mile 11 I believe was fairly hilly, and I did stop TWICE to walk a minute, thanks to the hills.  But again, my pace never dropped, and mile 11 was actually a speedier one thanks to a major downhill in the second half of the mile.

By mile 12 it started hitting me how close I was to the end, and I began to get excited and emotional.  Right when I got ready to walk, we turned the corner to another long stretch of gradual downhill, and I just coasted in.

According to Garmin, we made the final left turn at 12.9, straight uphill, until about 13.1, when we coasted a BEAUTIFUL downhill straight to the finish line, right about 13.22.

You could see the finish line for about .2 miles, which was AMAZING.  I also ran into some AMAZING friends who came out (shout out to Laura and Nick, AND JP!), who I didn’t expect to see, then my family, which gave me an ULTRA boost to the finish.

I can’t wait to see finish line pictures, because I was SO happy.  But the one and only picture I have at this point was me heading on that FINAL stretch to the finish past my Mom.

photo

I was in pain, and EXHAUSTED physically and mentally by this point…but that finish line was in front of me and I had amazing fans cheering me on — I HAD THIS.

And 206:50 minutes after I started, I had finished my 3rd half marathon.

I was in pain like I don’t remember being after my first two.  I think the cold air really hurt my lungs and chest having not trained in temperatures below 40. AND my sleeves rubbed some really nice chafe marks on the inside of my arms, but I didn’t care.   I did it!   A race that I was convinced by mile 3.1 that I wouldn’t finished, I not ONLY defeated, but managed a PR.  Thank you perseverance.

The finishers shoot was long, and from what I saw had lots of water, Gatorade, fruits, pretzels, power bars, etc for the taking.  I took a Powerbar and water, then headed straight to gear check and the Miller Light tent.

I have never wanted a beer after a race, but today I did.  While I only drank maybe 1/5 of the beer, it was the best tasting thing I’ve had in a long time.

Unfortunately I had a flight to catch, as did my parents, so we weren’t able to hang out long, but I was A-OK with that because it was still VERY cold and my mylar blanket was only going to do so much for me by that point ;).

Course:

BEAUTIFUL course.  I highly recommend this course.  While it does have rolling hills, some fairly large, it isn’t anything unmanagable and you have enough downhill to make up for the ups.

While it was FREEZING, it was the PERFECT time of year in Saint Louis to be running this course, foilage wise.  I have never seem such beautiful trees, leaves, and fall colors on a race in my life.

There wasn’t nearly as much fan support as there was for my Chicago RnR, but there was TONS more than at Steamboat.  I never felt overwhelmed by fans, and actually thought it was a nice balance of spectators.  I didn’t notice as many funny race signs as I thought I would, but that could be because I was so focused.

Management

I actually thought the race was very well organized and I noticed not a single huge hiccup worth mentioning.  There were plenty of porta potties, water/sports drink stops, and the finish, while crowded, was well organized.  It was easy to reunite with my friends and family and I had no issues with gear.  I expected more security, but there wasn’t any real issue at all.  You better believe I’d run this one again, without a second thought.  But I’d train in the freaking tundra…

OK — so this is by far my longest post ever :).  I’ll shut up now!  I’ll be back later in the week with thoughts POST race, as I have MANY of them and would love to share and get YOUR thoughts on them as well.

Please respond with any reactions/thoughts you have to the recap!  I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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57 thoughts on “Saint Louis Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

  1. Congratulations again! I don’t know how you remembered all of the details well enough to do such a good recap. I always wish I could record what goes on in my head during a race – the highs and lows would be pretty funny! You did an awesome job keeping it together even though the start of the race was tough and you were uncomfortable. You could have really let your race fall apart but instead you walked away with a PR!

  2. Nicely done! This time of the year should be perfect to run in STL, but I when I heard they had a cold snap on Saturday I immediately thought of you. Great job pushing through and not quitting mentally, as I know you know you more than had this race physically. 🙂

  3. Congrats!! I have previously done three myself. To see the finish line approaching has always been a great sense of accomplishment. I cannot remember the details you are describing though. You are a great motivator. I truly love your blog.

  4. The previous commenter is right, you are a great motivator! As a beginner runner I love your blog 🙂
    Also, when I read your first post race post, I saw 30 degrees and thought degrees C which would be crazy hot, when I worked out you meant F I am even more impressed!

  5. Way to push through! I winced when I read you threw your gloves away – sometimes I see elite runners in cold conditions only wearing short shorts and tanks, but with gloves on! Taking walking breaks on the up hills is smart. If I need to walk, I try to do it at a water stop so I can walk and drink. Way to PR!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! I felt like I was right there with you cheering you on! You did such an amazing job, regardless of all your obstacles! You’re such a little beast!

    Things I learned from this post:
    -Never throw away gloves. Ever.
    -Anti-chafe stick. Use it. Liberally.
    -Gels are probably better for races when you’re already nervous and won’t want to chew on things.
    -It’s okay to walk a little if you have to. Twin did it and she got a PR.
    -Grab free fuel, then head straight to beer.

    SO FREAKING PROUD OF YOU!!!

  7. Great recap of your experience! I totally understand about the cold. That is the main thing I am worried about for my upcoming marathon. I, too, always toss my gloves away too soon and regret it. My hands are the first thing to freeze and the last thing to warm-up. Congrats again on a great race!

  8. I wore a long sleeve shirt with thumbholes and that was good enough for me after I tossed my gloves. I can understand why you were cold! Great race, I agree it was beautiful. Love St. Louis this time of year.

  9. So proud of you! You’re amazing! Last yeR the finishing temp for this race was in the high 60s, Zach actually complained about it being too warm for a fall race. When I woke up Sunday morning and saw temps in the 30s I instantly started worrying about you… But alas, you are strong and you nailed it!
    Also, gloves are the most underrated running tool ever! You don’t realize how exposed your poor hands are until they’re chapped and frozen.

    • You’re the best BFF 🙂 What a difference a year makes for race day, dang it. I would have probably done better in 60, but it is warm no doubt.
      And I will never race without gloves again. Ever. Summer, Winter, Spring of Fall. My poor little hands.

  10. Wow! good for you, getting a PR even on a tough run. It takes so much more effort when you can’t get in a running groove, clearly you made up for it in mental toughness =)

  11. Such a great recap! I had to look up what PR meant though, lol. Maybe try fingerless gloves, or the mittens/fingerless combo (this has been on my mind too). Great job! Can’t wait to hear how you do even better next time!

  12. I literally read every word. I really enjoyed reading about your experience and I think we both have already agreed that running is really so much more mental than physical (though, don’t get me wrong, the physical element is intense too 🙂 ) You did it!! Whoo-hoo!!

    Also, it’s funny that you say you hadn’t remembered being in that much pain after the first two. I felt the same way and actually didn’t head back to the gym until this past Saturday. I was far too sore all week- definitely different from the last ones!!

    Congrats again!

  13. Girls, I can’t believe you were running in shorts and a tank top. You are definitely brave. I don’t even like wearing shorts when it’s warm out. 🙂 Glad you made it through though. Plus, you got a tough race out of the way. Going from there you now know pitfalls and can form some new strategies, so in your coming races, which I’m sure you’ll do, you’ll be able to hit that sub 2hours no problem!

  14. Sounds like it was a great race!! I am running a Turkey Trot in Oklahoma in November and being from So Cal, I am not even close to used to running in cold, so any tips are super appreciated. Congrats on the PR and can’t wait to see pics!

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