New Prague Half Marathon #RunNewPrague – Race Recap

Editor’s Note: After a few days of changes on the timing website, the final results say I won my age group! WoOt wOoT!

Running is for extremists.

It is for people who like to feel one way one minute, and then completely different the next.

Running is mentally exhausting yet it is mentally stimulating.

Running is liberating. Running is binding.

Running makes you. Running breaks you.

Running is for the fearless. Running is for the fearful.

Running makes you cry. Running makes you laugh.

Running makes you realize what you are made of. It also makes you aware of what you aren’t.

Running an event can be the most agonizing, painful, pitiful, and grueling few hours you’ll spend this month, or it can be the BEST agonizing, painful, pitiful, and grueling few hours you’ll spend this month.

Yep. This is running.

And for all the hemming and hawing that I do about my running, even in my worst moments, I’m so grateful in the end that I gave it my all. I’m glad I took the first step and, at the very least, toed the start line. I’m glad I didn’t say “I can’t”.

Because just like that, it’s done. And just like that, I’m so glad I did.

The New Prague Half Marathon almost slinked by me a second year in a row. It was bad enough I had to miss last year coming off the famed Boston stress reaction (fracture). Having to miss this year might have put me over the edge.

I was already slated to volunteer at the packet pick-up the afternoon preceding the race. And I was going to work it come hell or high-water. Wouldn’t you know that after suffering a few weeks from the self-inflicted blues, I just so happened to re-emerge from them on Friday morning. That is until a tragedy occurred. Two of my daughters’ pet goats were attacked and killed by our dogs. It was heartbreaking to say the least, me having witnessed the event, and it affected me to the point that I got violently ill as soon as I arrived at Memorial Park to work my shift. I’m glad I got there early enough to regain my composure. Still, it was difficult to take my mind off the fact that in just a few hours my husband was going to have to break the news to them as he picked them up from school. Refocusing on this run was making me feel guilty, to say the least, and even as the day wore on, I questioned my reasons for running it at all.

My husband decided that evening he wouldn’t attend the run with me, instead, he’d spend the morning with the girls. I then offered to do the same.

“No,” he said. “Go run. I got this.”

The weather looked to be amazing yet again, so I prepped for a half marathon that I wasn’t in the least prepped for.

Probably the best thing that happened all week was seeing my Physical Therapist on Thursday. Although she didn’t “treat” me this visit, her concerns and understanding alone was enough assurance for me to believe that I’d be OK if I ran. As I left the office, her assistant said to me, “Don’t sweat this, Theresa. Jill will have you running pain free again in no time.”

I had something to take with me.

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

I got a terrible night’s sleep. But I awoke with little discomfort in my leg. I took the time to massage it out in the morning, warm it up, and slip on some compression socks before I left. I gave myself plenty of free time in the morning by doing most of the prepping and packing the night before. It was a huge game changer. My only oversight was not double checking the connection of my little phone to it’s charger…the one I use while running. Upon inspection in the morning, it was down to less than 50% power, and I knew running with it while listening to my podcasts would be dicey. And despite getting a little bit of charge time in the morning, it ended up crapping out on my at mile 8.

But I had my Garmin for backup.

The only thing I did different for this race was eat a little something. I had been thinking that my running has been lacking in the “finish line energy” department recently, so I thought a few bites of a UCan Snack bar might help pre-race. I had a few nibbles with my Bulletproof coffee on the way there and saved the last half until after the race.

I arrived early enough to sit in my car a bit, and stay warm, relatively speaking. Temperatures were in the 40s, and I planned to run in a tank top and shorts. I had no one there to toss my jacket to, and although I brought a throw away blanket, I decided to save it for a time when I really needed it.

I left my car around 7:35 am after taking my energy bits and a final swig of coffee, and headed for the porta-potties.

No lines, no waiting. I went in and took my sweet old time. By the time I had emerged, a line had formed, and I felt a little guilty spending as much time in there as I did, just avoiding the chilly breeze outside.

Start Line #selfie

Start Line #selfie

I headed to the start line, remembering I’d have to snap a pre-race #selfie, since I had no race photographer with me. It was chilly in the shade, so I sought out the sunshine and waited with the rest of the hyped up racers. Looking around, I was one of the modestly dressed ones in the corral. I started to second guess my apparel. I am pretty sure that I always do that, regardless. But by mile 5, I was certain I had made the right decision. I didn’t have to shed any layers, and my ponytail was drenched in sweat before I even reached the half way point.

My strategy was decided last minute. There were pacers, and I eyed the 1:35 and 1:40 pacers. But, I questioned my ability to keep up with them for the full 13 miles. So, I decided to run with the 1:45 pacer…and if all was going well after mile 3 or so, I’d start to increase speed gradually with the hopes of catching up to the 1:40 pacer. It kind of worked…but it kind of didn’t. Heading out, I was flooded with memories about how difficult this course really is. I used to think it was relatively flat. But it is not. There are gradual, potent, uphill grades that are drawn out. If you don’t do them right, you will exhaust yourself in the first third of the run. I paced behind the 1:45 pacer, falling behind as we went uphill, but catching up as we descended. I played this game with her until about mile 5, when we made the turn west, and I could see far ahead of me along the southern edge of the course. It was time to make a move.

I passed her up here, and never looked back. Somewhere after, I heard Runmeter say “Half way achieved”, my phone crapped out. Damn. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk. I’d just use my Garmin. But as it turns out, I used my wits…and the way I felt…and had an amazingly great second half. I could hear that pacer behind me for a few miles, as she urged her followers along, giving them instructions up the steeper hills. But at the downhills, her voice floated further and further behind, until at about mile 9, I lost her completely.

Yeah, I had leg pain. But it was nothing like it was when I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K. And I was able to get out of my head about it. If it came up, I dismissed it and cleared my brain. I had nothing to listen to at this point, except the few dedicated fans and volunteers on the course.

I’d eye a runner ahead of me, and give myself so much time to get passed them. I turned it into a game, and it really paid off because I think if I finished any slower than I did, I’d have been disappointed that I hadn’t pushed harder.

As I eluded to earlier, the weather was perfect, and getting a few “shade” breaks along the course was lifesaving. I also took care to better hydrate this run, taking sips from my electrolyte formula every 3-4 miles. I took my second dose of energy bits right at the 8-mile mark, or at about an hour into the run. It worked out perfect. I swear, I could feel it working and I was glad I didn’t wait longer or it may not have had the desired effects.

I passed a LOT of people. Probably 15 in all before I made my final turn for the finish. One terrific fan, who cheered me on about every 4 miles (she was movin’ and groovin’ to get to those check points), told me a wee bit early that I had less than a mile to go. I believed her. But then realized I may have turned up the gas a little too early. Still, the course had flattened out, and all I had to do was keep my wits about me as I finished up the run.

When I saw the 1:42 and change on my Garmin as I crossed, I was more than pleased. I knew I had fallen somewhere in between the two times I had run the course in previous years, despite the fact that I was sorely under prepared for this run. I had no right to complain.

I immediately headed out to my car to exchange phones since this one was dead as a door nail. I wanted to get my race results as they were promised to us immediately via e-mail. I also wanted to text my husband.

Finish Line #selfie

Finish Line #selfie

I headed back to the race area, took my finish line #selfies, texted the hubster, and mulled around for at least a half hour, not really sure what to do with myself. I still couldn’t access any race results, so I headed back to the finish line to see if I could learn anything. By this time, the kids fun run was wrapping up, and nothing was being said about the half marathon results…so I doubled back again, preparing to go to the volunteer tent to see if there was anything I could do to help. At this time, I caught up with a few other runners awaiting the race results as well. Before I knew it, we were all engaged in conversation about anything and everything running. And I came around the fence to sit with them in the bleachers.

Oh, there is nothing a runner loves more than to discuss running…with other runners. Yes, I missed my husband and wished he were there, but I know that if he were, I wouldn’t take the time to talk to anyone, unless they approached me first.

I hung out chatting with some of the top male finishers, all older than me…and all in magnificent shape. We talked about the course, about Boston, about injuries, about New Prague, about sneakers, and about spouses. And in all that time, they handed out the 5K awards and the 10K awards…but alas, stopped at the half marathon awards as there was a timing snafu. Shoot. Already, it was 11am, and the event had to wrap up. So, it was a few quick goodbyes to my new running compadres, and then back to the car to get going home. I was hungry, after all. And there was nothing at that race for a low carber to eat.

I noticed then, that I had no residual leg pain. It could have been the Advil…or perhaps something I did during the run stretched out the calf muscle. Or maybe it was going to hit later. At the time, I didn’t care. I was just happy it didn’t hurt.

It took a few more hours before the race results appeared, and to the best of my knowledge, I finished second in my age group and 43rd out of 209. Again, no complaints.

Garmin Results

Garmin Results

But I’m most impressed with my second half run and the number of people I passed up. A few even came to acknowledge that they saw me pass late in the game and tried to keep up behind me, but couldn’t. It made me goose-pimply and so grateful that I ran that morning. To think I even considered a DNS.

Run New Prague is always a great event, despite the timing issues they have had the past 2 years. But I think that is to be expected when you add more timed races. They’ll iron it out, I’m sure. It won’t keep me from running it again and again.

Have you ever DNS or DNF a run or event? What happened?

2 Responses to New Prague Half Marathon #RunNewPrague – Race Recap

  1. Gina Hanzel says:

    Fantastic job! I am sooo sorry about your daughters goats!! That is awful! Congrats
    On pulling it together! You’re a speed demon!

  2. I had to DNS a half last spring when I broke my foot, and another this spring (I deferred) after my son had some “issues” and I couldn’t leave town to run. I hope that never happens again (both the DNS and the issues)!

    Great job on the race!

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