This weekend I ran the Outlaw Half Marathon in Luckenbach, Texas, and I finished! Yeah!! While I didn’t hit my stretch goal of finishing in under 2 hrs, I still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it, and I think I may have found a new hobby. Even as recently as last December I hadn’t broken the 5 mile mark with my running, but since I’ve written about that already, you can catch up here if you missed it. This post will focus more about the race day, feelings going into it, and random thoughts during and after the race.
Just so I’m not wasting anyone’s time, there’s no financial stuff in this post, but if you want to read more about the half marathon journey, continue onward!
I’d been scanning the weather forecast because I knew that my training temps and race day were probably going to be 2 different things. I usually go running at night, in the dark, when it’s generally cooler (you know not quite 80’s) and the race was daytime, in Hill Country, and there would be sun. Gah, sun!!! I know from my experience running on the weekends that I am a tad slower when it’s hotter, more humid, and sunny, just because I’m sweating more and it can feel like you’re running with a thick, warm, wet blanket wrapped around your chest and lungs. Fortunately, it was supposed to be cloudy, 50’s and a chance of rain – perfect!!
I’d been training for this for about 8 weeks and I felt really good about it. I knew I could run the distance, but I wanted the stretch goal of completing it in under 2 hours. That didn’t happen, but I don’t feel badly about it. I finished in 2:12 mainly because I’d severely underestimated the hills on this course.
Yes, I know it’s in “Hill Country” and that there would be hills, and even though I’d committed the course and climbs to memory, I still sold myself short on how much energy hills take. I also severely overestimated the amount of elevation gain I had gotten on my training runs. I knew my runs weren’t close to that 465’ of elevation gain and I knew it would be harder, but man…
This was confirmed in the first mile or so of the course, when we started out and gained about 80’ right off the bat, and my inner voice was telling me, “Well, you’re hosed, because you didn’t train for this…” I kept a good attitude, however, I knew if that little blip on the elevation profile was “this” then the rest of the course was going to be tough. I chugged along, focusing on my pace, remembering to breathe, and even enjoying the scenery. Everything was green, the deer were active (I saw a couple of herds in the fields we ran past), there was a lightning storm off in the distance that was pretty spectacular, and we were running along a stream for various sections, so overall it was really pretty.
The first 4 miles flew by and then we really started climbing. I pulled up the elevation profile in my head and then I realized where I was on it and thought, “Ohhhh, fuuuudge….” Then I came over the top of the little hill to see the big climb laid out before me like the Golden Staircase at Chilkoot Pass. I know it wasn’t that extreme but it literally made me laugh out loud when I saw it.
No worries though, I knew this was the big climb, so I just started up. Down the backside, there was another climb before the turn around, and this was when I knew I was still doing well. I hit halfway in an hour even with the hills and now just had the big hill to do again, and then all the rest of them, but I was still feeling fine. After I’d gotten over the big hill again I started clocking miles versus time to see if I would hit 2 hrs. I hit 9 miles with ~40 minutes left so I thought I’d really be able to make it. I knew the profile showed this was almost all back downhill with just a few climbs, but then I started running out of energy. I’d even eaten an energy pouch before the last big hill and it helped, but I was gassed. The little climbs on the way back were just draining me and at the 10 mile mark I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up even a 10 minute mile pace for the last ½ hr.
At that point though something happened. I quit focusing on time and went back to focusing on the present and the other lightning storm that we were running towards, and the cool breeze, and the stream again, and it was like a load was lifted. I just enjoyed the last 3 miles even though I knew my stretch goal was out of reach that day.
Like I said, I finished in 2 hrs and 12 minutes, and I was pretty proud of myself. I had fun, enjoyed myself, and I got a cool medal/belt buckle out of the deal! The next day, except for morning when my outer left knee screamed at me while going down stairs, everything else muscle-wise felt like normal. Wait, my toe beside my big toe on my right foot felt like someone pounded it with a hammer, so the down hills must have slammed it in the shoe more than I realized. D’oh! Otherwise everything else felt great, and even the knee felt fine later in the day, so all the training did pay off in that regard.
There’s another half marathon in Mandeville, LA in October that I might run with a friend and I feel I can definitely break 2 hrs then. It’s run along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, so there’s no real elevation change. Maybe by then I could try to break 1hr 50 minutes!!
Did you have anything you didn’t think you could do, but you worked at it and succeeded? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it!