Sunday, March 24th, 2013 was the NC Half Marathon and my first half marathon.
Despite my best efforts and the worse weather, I finished (and not last!). There’s proof there to the left. The medal lights up and the shirt is a quality tech-T.
My finish of 3:07:20 was short of my original goal (2:44:59) and my set-the-night-before goal (2:59:59). I did meet my set-the-second-before goal of finishing and not last.
I was pretty disappointed with the expo. Maybe we missed the good stuff because we arrived later in the day Saturday or maybe I had unreal expectations, but I really expected more than a stand of overpriced brightly colored t-shirts and running belts and shoes and a table of Gu. The packet pickup was brilliant. In and out in minutes. But the expo was kind of sad…More like a bad running flea market with no real selection.
It started raining pretty darned early on race day. I think it was maybe 3 or 4 am when it started. It wasn’t too cold (about 44 degrees) and the rain wasn’t pouring, so I was okay with it. We made an early Wal-Mart stop for granola bars, a cheap rain jacket and a poncho.
Once we got to to the Charlotte Motor Speedway the rain got harder. And it got colder. So we walked to the staging area around 6am and hung out there until race time. A couple of trips to the bathroom and some chatting with a friend from Jacksonville later, it was time to head to the start.
While we waited for the green light, the rain and wind died down and it became a pretty comfortable morning. I found the 12-minute/mile pace group (the last pace group) and got in the group to run.
Race 1st Half:
Once the race started, everything was great. The pace was right on, the weather was crisp and gray. We ran a full lap of the race track, then moved into the curvy road course at the infield. We followed the road course out of the Speedway and down around the dirt track and towards the drag strip. At about mile 6 1/2 to 7, just before the drag strip miles, the rain and wind came back. With wet and gusty vengeance.
Race 2nd Half:
And thus began the second half…Cold and wet. And my energy began to slip away. The pace group slipped away and I started walking more and more. The were much bigger ascents on the back end of the course than I expected. By far the worst was only a few hundred feet, but was nearly straight up to a pedestrian crossing over a street back to the Speedway. These inclines were demoralizing. Physically, I was pretty ok, even with the rain and wind. I had no feet, knee or other pain, except for relatively minor back pain. But mentally, these hills (that didn’t have much of a down-hill!) really wore me down.
Once we got to the Speedway, we did a bit of a lap around the outside of the facility and then finally made it into the track. It was a bit reverse from the beginning in that we followed the road course back to a bit of a lap along the track. But the race traffic mingled with spectator traffic between the two and it was a bit confusing.
I wanted to make a valiant effort to finish
running jogging but every time I tried to pick up the pace faster than a walk, I got a very weird cramp sensation in my left leg. It was like the foot would start to cramp and stop, then the lower calf would start and stop, then the upper calf would start and stop. It was disconcerting and creepy feeling. Almost like something was moving around in there!
Eventually, though, I made it to the end and got my medal and photo finish. The post-race support was pretty great. And they had the best chicken broth ever!
The NC Half Marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway was alright. The course was hillier than I thought and the weather was horrible for the back half of the race. It was okay, though, because, really: How often do you get to run on the same space that race cars get to speed down?
I had zero injuries and felt great after the race. I was a bit sore on Monday, but pretty back to normal by Tuesday.
Will I race it again next year? I don’t know. Will I run another half marathon? Definitely, but I’m not sure the NC Half will be on the list. Of course, now that I know what to expect, I can prepare better…