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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Race Recap: ORRRC Half Marathon

The ORRRC Half Marathon took place Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 8:30am in Xenia, Ohio. You can see my pre-race goals here. I was waiting for the free race photos, but they're taking too long!

Packet Pickup
Alex and I made the hour drive Saturday afternoon, checked into our cute hotel, then went to packet pickup at the YMCA. After pickup, we drove around Xenia (not much to see), got Chipotle, and went back to the hotel to binge-watch HGTV. Later, we went out for milkshakes (and Cheetos), met some locals, and retreated for the night to watch a movie while I organized my race crap. I overpacked, but I'm glad I had options.

Pre Race + Friends
When we arrived, parking was filling up so Alex dropped me off and I headed to the porta potties. Alex gave me his winter coat so I was nice and toasty as I visited the bathroom 2 or 3 times (hey, I get nervous). We went inside the YMCA for a bit, but I knew I needed to get used to the cold sooner or later. It was 30 degrees at the start with a "feels like" of 20. The wind was blowing, but I was layered and ready.

About 5 minutes before 8:30 the DJ told us to head to the start. I said goodbye to Alex and miraculously saw the only two people I knew at the race: Lisa and Jeff! Lisa is one of my running group coaches and Jeff is her fiancé and also in my 10:45 pace group.

After the national anthem (which I could barely hear), the race began. It was a stop-start situation, but I turned on my Garmin as soon as I crossed the timing strip, so I knew my time would be fairly accurate. I also turned on my podcast (BBC's The Archers). I don't listen to music or podcasts during races anymore, but I knew I'd need a distraction, and since I had a Buff over my ears I knew the headphones wouldn't slip out or bug me.

The Race
Overall elevation gain of 261 ft, but it could have been worse. 

Mile 1-3
Lisa stuck with me at the beginning. She was chatty and full of energy. I told her my plan: go slower for the first few miles (hills), then speed up for the rest. She knew I was trying for sub-2 and was super supportive. Throughout the race she kept saying she knew I'd do it. I have to admit, during mile 1 I was afraid she'd want to talk the whole time. Yes, it would be a nice distraction, but I cannot talk and run at a decent speed.

Mile 1 was slow, but mainly because I was trying not to dodge and weave. Some toes on my right foot were numb which is kind of an ongoing problem I should probably get checked out. Before mile 2 we circled back by the start line and I saw Alex. He hollered and I waved.

We left town and ran alongside a few farms and there was an emu hopping along beside us. That was pretty cool. A mile later we ran past some cows and miniature ponies that were showing off. Miles 2 and 3 included the bigger hills. The hills slowed me down, but I think they made the course interesting. I choo-choo'd up the hills and tried to make up speed on the downhills. I was already tired, but I never thought of stopping to walk because I always had a hill to concentrate on and they were never so steep I felt defeated. Just before mile 4 there was an old guy volunteer who said, "Just 22 miles to go!" I've never been so thankful to run a half!

Lisa didn't carry water so she would stop at the water stops and I'd keep running. She'd always catch back up. I enjoyed her company, but I also felt bad because I didn't want to talk. She had so much energy! It was hard for me to believe she doesn't always sub-2! (Side note: she's training for a half Ironman and after the race there was a general consensus that IM training suits her!)
Splits: 9:18, 8:58, 9:16

Miles 4-6
Just after mile 4 we got onto the bike path to begin the out and back portion. I don't remember as much from this race as I normally do. Maybe it was the repetitive nature of the bike path from mile 4 to 12 (which I like), perhaps I was really enjoying listening to The Archers (probably)... who knows. I know Lisa was there for part of it and she seemed to know everyone... I know I passed more people than normal... I know it always felt like we were going uphill... and I never considered walking.

I do remember a few random things: There were mile markers along the path, but I only noticed them for the return miles. I saw Mile 11 (around the 4.5 mile mark) and when I realized I wouldn't see that marker again for another 7 miles my mind was blown. "That's so far!" Ha! I also remember seeing a clock at mile 6. My time read 54:xx which was in line with my sub-2 goal. What a relief.
Splits: 8:59, 9:08, 9:07

Miles 7-9
There was a water stop just after mile 7. The fulls went straight and the halves turned left to do a short out and back. This was a tough section due to the wind. We no longer had trees as a buffer and the strong breeze kicked my butt. I took off my gloves somewhere around mile 4, but I had to put them back on and pull my sleeves down. I think the race got colder as we progressed.

I saw two Oiselle ladies on their way back from the turnaround (not sure who because we didn't meet after) and one yelled, "Yeah, BIRD!" It was really nice to see teammates, especially when I was starting to get tired. At this point I began to segment the rest of the race into chunks: get to the turnaround, get back to the main bike path, turn to the finish, etc. I saw Lisa when I turned around and a little later I saw Jeff. Somehow Lisa caught up with me around mile 9. She said she ran mile 8 at an 8 minute pace. She was on fire! I told her I was starting to get tired and eventually she started to pull away. I kept her in my sights for a while, but lost her near mile 10. In a perfect world I would have kept up, but my legs felt heavy.
Splits:  8:52, 8:47, 8:59

Miles 10-end
Finish line. (Look! I match the potties!)
I crossed mile 10 and the course clock read 1:29 or 1:30; right in line with my goal. I wasn't crushing it, which kind of bummed me out, but at least I wasn't too far from it. I knew if I ran the last 5k in 30 minutes I'd achieve my goal. Knowing this helped so much. I didn't feel defeated. I didn't have to make up any time. I just needed to keep a steady pace. Yes, I wanted to run the last three miles sub-9, but my legs were so tired. The elevation doesn't look crazy, but as I mentioned, it always felt like we were running uphill. I read a recap last week that said even the last three miles of downhill somehow feel uphill and I agree.

During miles 11 and 12 I tried to think about running the mile I was in, my old mantra "just keep running," and all that mumbo jumbo. I was tired and would have walked in a heartbeat if I didn't have the sub-2 within reach. I knew I was close. If I walked, I'd lose it. A few people passed me. I passed a few people. For the most part, I stuck with the same 5-10 folks. The last water stop was at 12.5, just before we turned off the trail and headed to the finish. It was weird being so close to the end, yet not being able to see nor hear the finish line.

We ran through a bit of grass and then it was a straight shot for the last .5. Uphill. It was only a 20ft incline, but it felt tough. My legs were shot. I looked down at my watch around 12.5 and saw 1:54. I knew I wouldn't finish before 1:56, but I knew sub-2 was going to happen. When I imagined this moment over the past few weeks I imagined tears of happiness and tons of emotion, but when the actual moment arrived I was just tired. I spotted Alex cheering, other spectators were yelling words of encouragement, and I finally saw the clock. I crossed the line at 1:58:xx and was so happy to be finished that I didn't even remember I was supposed to grab a medal.
Splits: 9:01, 9:05, 9:03, 8:53, 8:27 (final .1)

Jeff, Lisa, and me. A great day for all!
Post Race 
As soon as I finished Alex and Lisa came over (Lisa finished in 1:56; just shy of her PR. Oh, how I wish I could have stayed with her!). My mouth was dry, my lips were covered in a film, and I had to pee so bad. Lisa and I got a photo and I went over to the porta potties. (Luckily it had a mirror so I was able to make myself presentable.) When I came out, Jeff was coming across the line with a big PR. We got a photo, then Alex and I headed inside.

The ORRRC Half is apparently famous for their selection of 20+ sodas (along with water). I got a Dr. Pepper and it was fantastic...for a bit. We stood in line for the post-race food, which included three hot soups (veggie stew, tomato bisque, and cheesy potato), salad, bread, apples, bananas, and a variety of fresh baked cookies. It was a great spread and much appreciated. Afterwards I was pretty beat, but I was happy I achieved my goal.

After I had a chance to catch my breath
Stats and Thoughts
The field was full of legit runners and I feel like I held my own.

Time: 1:58:16 (9:01/mi) 
Overall: 306/911 (34%)
Gender: 119/515 (23%)
Age Group: 15/53 (28%)
Splits: 9:18, 8:58, 9:16, 8:59, 9:08, 9:07, 8:52, 8:47, 8:59, 9:01, 9:05, 9:03, 8:53

In addition to breaking sub-2 I also ran my fastest 10k (by 1 second-ha!) and 10 miler. For some reason, I'm not as happy as I expected and didn't celebrate afterwards. Alex, my family, friends, and online friends have all been great -- thank you! I was ecstatic about my 2:02 last fall because it was such a surprise. For some reason, I'm kind of ho-hum about this. I think I'm (stupidly) bummed my planned slow miles kept me from an overall pace with an 8 in front. (I didn't realize I'd be so close.)

Regardless, I've come a long way in 5 months. If you would have told me I'd be sub-2 a little less than two years after my first half marathon (or after my terrible second half) I wouldn't have believed you. Plus, now I've run three strong halves without walking and that's a huge confidence booster! For the time being, I'm going to enjoy being sub-2 and take advantage of the next few months of downtime before I set my next goal. ;)

Sunday munchies: Post race meal, chicken parm at lunch, and pancakes for dinner. A weird, but tasty food day.

Up Next: Alex signed us up for a glow run this Friday. My next big race is RnR Nashville on April 30, but I'm running it for fun so I don't have to worry about breaking any records. 


  1. Congrats on your PR(s)!! I think you ran a wonderful race - nice and steady. And I love that the race served hot soup and cookies at the finish line :)

    That being said I understand the post-race feelings. I think sometimes it's just a matter of training for something for so many weeks and then ... it's over. That's when I know it's time to find another race and then set the bar a bit higher!

    1. Thanks, Sun! I think it is time to set the bar higher. That really feels like the next step. :)

  2. Congratulations on your sub-2!!! That's a great accomplishment and such a cool barrier to break. You ran such a well-executed race, too, with even splits. Nice! I chased that sub-2 goal a few years ago and finished in 2:01:00. Ouch. But in the process I ran my fastest 10 mile time... I've never counted it as my 10 mile PR, though. Maybe I should?

    I hope you have fun at your glow race. Those look really neat! And if RnR Nashville used to be called Country Music Half then that was my very first race when I was 18! :)

    1. Thank you! Oh, man 1 minute away! But that is pretty awesome that you ran your fastest 10 miler. I never know if I'm "allowed" to count mid-race PRs or not, but deep down I say do it.

      RnR was the Country Music Half. I'm going with a bunch of ladies and trying not to worry too much about the hills and potential heat. I'm impressed you ran it at 18! I was so lazy when I was 18 ('til I was about 28, really...).

  3. Congrats ! and have fun at your up coming races. Sometimes its nice to run for fun and not time. And BTW it looks really cold. I would have been bundled up much more !

    1. Thank you!! :) It was so cold! This weekend was crazy hot, so I might have gotten lucky. I definitely run better in cold weather.


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