Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon Race Recap

   Saturday, Dudley and I ran the inaugural Team Magic Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon.

Hipster Santa is watching you! 

   Based on my recent seasonal funk, I really had a hard time getting pumped for this race. Seriously - I've never been more "meh" about a race, especially a half marathon. I think part of it had to do with the weather. It was cloudy and rainy for the past week, and that morning was more of the same. Plus, my recent traveling has gotten my training all out of whack. I just didn't feel prepared, either mentally or physically. But I had a lot of friends doing the race, and I didn't want to be lame and bail, so I sucked it up and went.
    The good news was that the race had a late start (10:45), so we didn't have to get up crazy early like most races. Though, as much as I liked sleeping in, the later start kind of threw me off. I wasn't sure when to eat or how much caffeine to have. I have a definite routine on race days that starts the minute I wake up. Saturday, I woke up and just kind of hung out. It was weird.
   Anyway, we finally headed down to the race around 9:00. Mt. Juliet is about a half-hour away, so I figured this was more than enough time to get there, pick up our stuff and get ready to race. And it was, though barely. I don't know what Mt. Juliet traffic is like generally, but it was CRAZY on race day.

East Nasty pre-race (Photo courtesy of The Blonde Mule)

   After checking in and making the rounds to find my friends, it was time to race. My goal for 2015 is to finally break 2:00 in a half marathon. I'm pretty close - 2:06, but that's actually a lot of time to shed. Since this race was supposed to be basically flat with only one big hill, my plan was to stick with the 2:00 pacer for as long as I could and see how it all worked out.
   And it worked great - until we hit the big hill at mile 2.5. And it was a big hill. One of those that you see in the distance and curse because you know it's going to hurt. A lot. There was a water station right before the hill, and when I grabbed the water - I lost the pacer. So much for my plan.
   But I kept trudging along. The whole thing about the race being flat was a big, fat LIE. The course was pretty hilly and a lot harder than anyone expected. It was also CRAZY windy. Like the "turn a corner and it feels like someone is smacking you in the face" kind of wind. So, rather than time, I mainly focused on my form. As someone who doesn't come from a running background, I'm always amazed at how small changes in form can make a huge difference in speed and energy. Surprisingly, the miles ticked by pretty quickly. I hit a dark place around miles 6, 10 and 12, but with the exception of mile 12 (which was the longest mile EVER), they passed pretty quickly. Just 2:04 later, I crossed the line with a new PR.

PR on a hilly course? I'll take it! 

Hipster Santa Finisher's medal (Photo courtesy of Team Magic)

   Overall, this was a fun race. I could have done without the wind and hills, but those can't really be helped. Plus, Dudley and I both PRed, which makes the pain a little more bearable. We had to run a little too close to auto traffic at times, but there was a good police presence and I don't think there were any incidents between cars and runners. Team Magic knows what they're doing and puts on a great race. If you have a chance to do one, you should.
   And I'm looking for a New Year's Day Race! If you all have any suggestions, let me know!

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