Monster Dash Half Marathon – Race Recap

I did it! My third half marathon in less than 60 days! And that isn’t even nearly as amazing as it sounds because not only did I get that third half marathon done, but I PR’d it, as well!

No one is more surprised than I am at this feat. I was physically and mentally exhausted from the running I had already done this month. Not to mention I had some kind of weird thing in my right calf that started up after I tripped over one of my dogs eariler this week. I thought I was doomed to walking this half marathon after I attempted to run on it Thursday, and rather unsuccessfully at that. After seeking out some advice on my Facebook page, and discovering a calf stretch Friday morning during P90X, I was able to thwart the possible calamity.

Both Thursday night and Friday I applied moist heat, did some foam rolling, found some lemongrass massage oil, and did the calf stretches for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours. Friday, I did not attempt a run or walk, although I did get out to do some errands. And finally, Friday evening, as my husband and I watched the ballgame, I had one last chance to apply heat, massage, stretch, and hope for the best.

In fact, as I sit here composing this blog post, I’ve got the InfraRed deep healing device on my calves and shins, taking preventive measures…just in case.

No one was more delighted than I was to awaken with an almost perfect calf muscle again. I did my pre-run doorway stretches and some donkey kicks to fire up the glutes, made some last minute clothing decisions, since it was milder than I expected, made my bullet proof coffee, packed up my Energybits and my bag, and was out the door at 6:30am.

This morning, I was meeting up with some ladies from a local neighborhood. I live in the boonies, see, so I don’t have a bevelful of neighborhood friends to hang with. It’s kind of sad…

But I’m so grateful I found these ladies. We range in age from 38-58 and we all love to run! It’s always a real treat to get to meet up with them for a run.

Since it was the Monster Dash, it was decided we would don costumes. Super Heroes ended up being the popular choice. It’s a good thing, because these days they are pretty plentiful. I had just worn my Super Girl shirt for my marathon a few weeks ago, so I looked for something different for this run. Believe it or not, I sweated the entire costume that I ended up choosing because it was cotton…and you are always taught NOT to run in cotton. But, I figured it would be just the perfect temperature and I shouldn’t be sweating that much. Maybe in the end, the cotton would be just fine.

Final costume choice, thanks to my readers!

Final costume choice, thanks to my readers!

I also found a cute, sparkly, tule skirt in the girls section at Walmart. I’m always grateful I still fit in girls size 14-16 clothing. It comes in handy, especially around Halloween! I figured I’d just wear my shorts under the skirt and if it got extremely difficult to run in it, I could just ditch it.

I was going to wear a dry fit shirt under the cotton top, but in the end, I didn’t. The temperatures were too worrysome, and I’d rather be too cold than too hot while I’m running. I did, however, grab an old pair of my husband’s black socks, cut the toes off, and used them as arm warmers. This way, if I needed to ditch those during the run, I could.

So, at 7am, we picked up the last of our group and headed north to St. Paul for the run.

18,000 were expected at this one. There were three runs occurring simultaneously. A family 5K fun run, the 10-miler, and the Half Marathon. I was the only one doing the half marathon. The others opted for the 10-miler. Most of the crowd was expected to run the 5K.

The best looking Super Heroes in town!

The best looking Super Heroes in town!

After the obligatory bathroom stop and getting our group picture taken, I took my bits, and we were off to the start line. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I opted to head to the start of the line, ahead of all the crowds. The rest of the ladies hung back a little. While I was up there, I got to know the 1:35:00 pacer, even though at the time I didn’t expect to run that pace whatsoever.

There was quite the costumes even at the very front of the line, and the sun on the State Capitol building was stunning. It really was an amazing day for a run!

State Capitol

State Capitol

The 10-miler and Half Marathon started at the same place and same time and just ended 3 miles further down the road. I remembered the run well, especially since just three weeks previously, I ran exactly the same route…but in reverse! And this direction was easier than it was for the marathon.

The super fast pacer at the race.

The super fast pacer at the race.

We were off and running before I knew it.

Start Line #selfie

Start Line #Selfie

And I also knew that I had gone out way too fast. I did try to keep up with the 1:35:00 pacer, despite the fact that my guts told me to go out slow. But the first part of this run is downhill…so I thought I’d just take advantage of it.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear my runmeter telling me I was pulling out a pace in the low 7’s. And I felt amazingly OK. My calf didn’t hurt either. So, I made the early decision to go for the PR. I felt with the downhill component, I might be able to whip that 1:38:29 that I had gotten two weeks previously at the hilly Belle Plaine Scenic Byway Half Marathon.

This race is always fun because of all the crazy costumes. I was surprised to see a guy, in a full chicken costume, pass me at mile 4. He was zooming past, and was already sweating bullets. I couldn’t imagine how he was going to keep up that pace for the entire run! And I always knew he was near because I could hear the kids in the crowd yelling “Go CHICKEN, GO!” It was pretty comical!

The Chicken Guy

The Chicken Guy

I ran sans music and podcasts again, and I’m quite convinced now that I run races better without them. I can really concentrate on my pace and my form and my run.

The time flew by, and I kept thinking about it in chunks. After mile 3, I imagined I was just getting started and running the 10-miler. After mile 6, I realized it was half way, and I just had to do my typical 7-mile run that I do at home. I also considered shedding my sock arm warmers here because I was instantly uncomfortably warm, but something told me to hold on to them a little longer.

Once I passed the 10-mile finish line, I thought I was home free…but I wasn’t.

Here’s the thing. I remember last year riding the bus from the 10 mile finish to the Half Marathon finish and thinking “OMG, why didn’t I run the half? It’s 3 more miles, and I already had a great 10-mile time!” Somehow, I don’t remember the last three miles being so damn hilly. The funny thing is, it is the SAME DAMN DREADED HILL that I run at the end of the Women Rock Half Marathon, not to mention the Get Lucky Half Marathon that I ran in March. It SUCKS and it happens between mile 11 and mile 12…just where you DON’T want it.

As I passed the 10-mile finish line, and began those last three miles, I started wishing that I had just opted for the 10-miler! Funny how your brain works. But, in an instant, I was reminded of that Belle Plaine run I had just completed and how that was the ultimate hilly run…and I survived that. I could survive this.

And I was glad I kept the arm warmers because I swear the temperatures dropped since we started running. Either that, or the wind picked up out of the north…and the humidity dropped to make it feel much colder.

It was here that I completely changed my mindset, and I fixed my cadence so I was taking shorter strides, but at a faster pace. I started to think of “staccato” music. I looked around me and saw the runners starting to do just the opposite. They were lengthening their strides in the hopes of gaining some ground. And I knew…KNEW…that was the wrong thing to do. I was completely aware of everything going on around me…and in that light, once again, I was so grateful for my new low carb/high fat lifestyle and how it has given me clarity every stinkin’ mile of my run. And as I passed maybe a dozen runners in the final few miles, I knew I had the edge. Yeah, I started way to strong, and I was finishing way too strong. But I knew I had a PR on the horizon, and I knew it was going to be a big one since I had passed the 1:35:00 pacer somewhere mid run, and had not seen him since.

I started to wonder if the girls I had come with had reached the end of their race yet, and hoped we’d still be able to find each other at the end. I was just a mile from the end, when I heard my sister, the Petite Pacer, on my runmeter say, “You’re going to have a substantial new record for the half!”

And I knew it, too.

I poured it on, with what I had left, when I heard the announcer in the distance. And I crossed, by myself, at under 1:35:00. I heard my name, I waved to the photographers…and I smiled. I just PR’d by 4 freakin’ minutes.

I was a little out of breath at the end, but it cleared quickly. Quickly enough, in fact, that I was able to help a guy in a banana suit struggling to get out of the finish chute and to some medical peeps. I was also able to ask where the coffee was and remembered this wasn’t a small, hometown, run…so there wouldn’t be any free coffee.

So, I gathered my banana and my treat bag (of which I wouldn’t eat) and had at that instant wished I had my jacket and Quest bar because suddenly I was freezing…and hungry. I texted the girls because I was so worried they had already finished and were looking for me, but it turns out they had trouble finding each other. I did get my finish line #selfie taken, and I did now start to regret the cotton…which was wet with sweat, smelly, and damn cold at this time. I took the time to stretch out my calves by walking to what I thought was the shuttle drop off area, just to find out I was off that mark by a mile, and had to head back in the direction I had just come. Oh well, a little brisk walk wouldn’t hurt after the run, anyway. I ended up back at the finish line and just texted the girls my location. There I continued to stretch out the calves and shins…both of them, in fact, because for some odd reason, the left one was a little sore and it was the right one I struggled with all week.

Monster Dash Finish Line #Selfie

Monster Dash Finish Line #Selfie

Finally, the girls arrived and we congratulated each other, caught up on our separate running adventures, and headed back to the car to get our celebratory coffee. And I couldn’t have been more grateful to get my jacket on!

What an amazing morning! Another glorious day for a run, not to mention a PR, and my shoe in to the Half Fanatics. I couldn’t wait to see my final time on the race and see how I placed, knowing there were at least 4000 in this run.

In the end, I finished 5/770 in my age group. And 181 out of 5641 total runners. This was by far my best finish in a run of this size.

MTEC Race Stats

MTEC Race Stats

So, THIS was the epic end to an amazing racing month, as unexpected as it was, I’m damn impressed that I pulled all of this off, despite the injury earlier this year. I’m so looking forward to the 2015 race season, and what, if anything, I can do to get even faster!

Thanks again, to EVERYONE, from here to my Facebook page, who help to keep me accountable and motivated. I owe it all to YOU!

Tell me about YOUR best PR run this year! I want to hear all about it!

2 Responses to Monster Dash Half Marathon – Race Recap

  1. I am just so impressed and amazed at your ever increasing speed! I”m hoping to bring more speed to my runs next year too, but I’m happy to run in the 8s! You are amazing, my friend! Batman’s got nothing on you!

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