Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon

   Have you ever come across a deal that was so good, that you couldn't really pass it up? Even if it wasn't particularly something you needed or, in my case, needed to do? That's basically how I ended up running the Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon this past weekend.


   Not that Frostbite Half wasn't a great race. It was. However, with me just coming off the Mississippi Blues Half a few weeks ago, I wasn't really prepared to race this. Sure, I could complete the distance, but I knew going into it that I probably wouldn't be at my peak performance. But the race was only $8, so I signed up. That's right -$8!! That's insane for a half marathon! I wanted to sign up just so I could say that I raced a half marathon for $8! Unfortunately, I blew that particular great deal by choosing the option to get a race shirt. But even with the shirt, I only paid $20. $20!! Considering most half marathons are over $100, that's an amazing deal.
   Kathy, one of my favorite training buddies, was also racing, so we met up on Saturday at the very civilized time of 9:00 am to drive the 45 minutes to Lebanon. Oh, how I love Winter races and their late start times! This one didn't start until 11:00! It was fantastic. Once we got to the race site, we were easily able to find friends and our FTP Teammates and hung out a bit. It's funny because during peak training, I would see these people several times a week. But we all started to do our own thing after IMCHOO. It was really good to see everyone again.

Me and Kathy.

Racing buddies.

   Coach Andrew said that if I woke up feeling fantastic, I could go ahead and actually "race." And that was what I was planning on doing. Kathy is training to qualify for Boston and was using this race as a warm-up. My original plan was to try to stay with her for the race. She'd drop me for sure, but I wanted to see how long I could hang with her. It would be a good workout for me.
   Unfortunately, when I woke up race morning, I knew this plan wasn't meant to be. While I didn't feel horrible, I didn't feel great. I was really sluggish and had a sore throat. By the time I met up with Kathy, the sore throat had gone away, but I was still REALLY tired. Even right up to the race start, I was joking that I couldn't believe I was going to run 13.1 miles in a few minutes. Even though I have raced that distance 24 times previously, the idea of running that far that morning didn't seem possible.  If there had been the opportunity to switch to a shorter distance that morning, I absolutely would have done it. 
   Alas, that option wasn't available, so at 11:00 off I went. With no real game plan, I just ran to be comfortable. This was good because I really had to pay attention to where I was going. This course ran through the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, which was beautiful, but had a lot of uneven surfaces. The asphalt was pretty torn up with a lot of potholes and had some sketchy metal bridges.  Then we had to run off-road for a while, which had gravel and puddles. I twisted my left ankle (my weak one) three times within the first five miles. Not badly, obviously, but enough that I was a bit more careful running than I usually am.  
   The race itself was pretty uneventful. It was a beautiful day, especially considering it was early February. But the race was small, so there weren't any crowds lining the course with funny signs.  Well, OK - I think is did see two signs. Anyway, it was hillier than I had been told, but looking back, it was stupid of me to not have expected hills considering the location. Tennessee state parks are hilly.         
   The only issue that I really had with the race was that I didn't see any race-designated bathrooms on the entire course. Not one. I've been fortunate recently, and haven't need to use one in any of my recent races. However, I did need one during this race. It got so bad that I had to stop running a few times because it's pretty much impossible to run if you have to use the rest room.  TMI - I know, but runners know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I was about to make a dash into the trees when in the distance I saw a construction site. It was like the clouds had parted and angels started singing because do you know what every construction site has? A port-a-john. It was a little off-course, but I didn't care. It was the most beautiful thing I saw the entire race. (Sidebar - before I started running, I would NEVER use a port-a-john. NEVER. Funny how things change.)
    I finished the race in about 2:06. No where near my PR of a few weeks ago, but an OK race for what I had going on that day. I feel even better about it considering I went home and took a nap and really didn't get back up until Monday afternoon. Turns out, I wasn't just sluggish on race day - I was sick. Nothing big fortunately, just a head cold, but it wiped me out for a few days. Tonight (Wednesday) was actually the first night I was able to do any kind of exercise since the race.
   I'm not really sure what I have coming up next. My next official race is Chattanooga 70.3 in May, but I'll probably try to get another half marathon or two before then. We'll see. One of the fun things about not doing an Ironman this season is that I can be a little more flexible about my races. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!