Friday, November 01, 2013

2013 - Rock n Roll St Louis - Half Marathon Recap

Well it's all over. I've taken my time writing this post for a couple of reasons. It really does signify that my first major race is in the books, I'm heading into the next couple months of maintenance work and have to make a decision about my next race.

Well it was quite a week at our house last week. Elijah, my 4th son (8) who just had his tonsils out, spent Thursday the 24th in the hospital, the same day that my mom and step-dad came into town to see the race. Some flight delays put them here just in time to grab a quick bite to eat before we headed to see Noah (14) and Ethan (13) march in the Vandalia, Illinois halloween parade. So that was fun.

Friday, my folks and I headed into St Louis to the Health and Fitness Expo held at the America's Center. I got my race packet and swag bag and we cruised the booths getting some freebies and drooling over some Garmin watches, 'The Stick', and more training gear than you can shake a stick at. I was a little disappointed at the expo as I had hoped some of the local stores that showed up there would have had some better pricing on items. I didn't feel like there was anything there I couldn't pick up on Amazon for either the same price or cheaper, and don't get me started on the 'Official Merch' prices. I about wet myself looking at those price tags. I guess I better get used to that being the way these expo's go.

Saturday night we got to bed early and got up at 4:00 Sunday morning to head into St Louis. The race packet suggested being there 90 minutes before the race. So at exactly 5:30am I stepped into the fenced off area. It was in the mid to upper 30s at that point and I was a bit chilly. I think I was one of only about 100 people milling around at that point. At around 6:00 I dropped off my gear bag and headed to find the brave souls who ventured into STL with me, my mom, step-dad and 3rd son Justin (10).  We chatted while trying to stay warm until about 6:45 when the crowd really started to thicken. I downed a couple packs of Hammer Gel and I headed to my corral.

The race started at 7:00 and my corral crossed the starting line at 7:07. What a rush. I blinked and it seemed like we were already a mile into the race. The pace was decent. I'm not used to running in a group like that, so just keeping up put my first mile was at a 9 minute mile pace. Pretty much right where I wanted to be to start. Then I kept the rest of the race under 8:45 the rest of the way. Here I am at mile 1.5 where my family saw me last before the finish line. I really felt great, like there was barely any effort for at least the first 5-6 miles. Then after that it was a little more work to keep my pace. Part of that I think is because that is where the crowd started to really thin out and I had to drive my own pace and I had passed the pacer for the 2:00:00 half marathon and so it was harder to gauge at any given moment if I was gaining or losing time of my desired pace.

The trek through St Louis really was nice. It really showed off the variety of landmarks and scenery in the downtown area. At mile 5 I took 1/2 of my nutrition bottle and then the rest at 9 miles. I had packed an extra single serve Hammer Gel which I took at mile 11 to give me a final boost through the end. I did find myself a little disappointed as I came up on mile 11.5 or so that I had not trained for the full marathon. I knew that I was only about 15 minutes out from finishing and I was not ready for this very cool experience to end.

But all good things must end eventually and so as I turned east onto Market and then on to Chestnut, the finish line approached and I gave it my all. An extra cool boost was that Chrissy had made it down in time with the rest of the crew and I saw them on my final approach. That really gave me a boost for that last tenth of a mile or so. So this pic was taken by my Mom, Step-Dad and Justin, while I was waving to my wife Chrissy, Noah, Ethan, Elijah, Isaiah, Miley and Judah.

The finish line area was well stocked with fruit, Powerbars, drinks (Gatorade, chocolate milk, water, etc), space blankets, and the coveted finisher medals. I had my finisher photo taken and left the 'secure area' to meet up with my family.

Official time was 1:52:25. I am very pleased. I had originally set out to have a sub 2 hour time, even if it was 1:59:59, but beating that by almost 8 minutes really was great.

We caught some lunch at the Hard Rock St Louis and made it back to the stage to hear our hometown favorites The Madison Letter play the finish line stage.

So Rock n Roll Marathon Series, total winner in my book. The event staff was friendly, the event was organized well, I'm hooked. I've not decided 100% to do a full or half marathon for my next event, or if I should head up to the Illinois Marathon or the Nashville Rock n Roll Marathon. They are on the same weekend in April 2014. Either way, I look forward to it.

So that's it. For now I'm focused on some weight training and maintaining some decent weekly mileage until the next training cycle starts in January.