2016 RussVegas Half Marathon
For those of you who've already read about my race goal, the short version is that I didn't make it; my official time on Saturday was 2:12:53, so quite a bit slower than I'd hoped. If you want the rest of the story, you'll have to keep reading!
Many local racing/running/walking friends have shared their positive experiences at the RussVegas Half Marathon; it's still relatively new, but you'd never be able to tell if you didn't already know it. I've participated/volunteered in the Little Rock Marathon and Half Marathon for over ten years and, after Saturday's experience, I would choose RussVegas over Little Rock any day.
Thanks to a "Black Friday" Facebook special, I was able to register for this event for $50.35 (includes an online registration fee, I think); I was given the opportunity to choose a packet pickup destination, since there is no race day packet pickup, and there was one available at a local running shop, Go! Running, in my neighborhood.
Packet pickup was a bit of a disaster, since most of us waited nearly an hour (some waited longer), but I was thankful for the opportunity to pick up my packet locally; plus, isn't hanging out with running friends always fun anyway? We received a short-sleeved cotton t-shirt and a long-sleeved tech pullover, as well as a notification that we would be able to access free race photos - for $50? And what about that medal? Wow!
Saturday morning, Jonathan and I left Little Rock at around 5:45 am; we were shooting for 5:30 but, as usual, I was still running around the house. I had my oatmeal, my Kindle (it was also Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon day!), a change of clothes, water bottle, gel, earbuds, etc.
We arrived in Russellville just before 7:00 and had no trouble finding a place to park near the start line; I was able to do some dynamic stretching/warm up, run for a few minutes, nervous pee and get into the corral by 7:15. I'd noted during registration that I expected to finish in under two hours which put me in corral A; this may be the only race where I'm ever assigned to corral A, which is why it'll be worth doing again.
The race started right on time, at 7:30, and I felt great from the very beginning; I was able to get into a pretty comfortable pace, there were people cheering EVERYWHERE (such great crowd support throughout the entire race), lots of live music and I felt like I was off to a strong start.
During about miles 3-4, I ended up around a couple of women who seemed to be running about the same pace and I hung with them for a little while; I have a tendency to obsess over trying to maintain a consistent pace, especially when I'm in an area where my Garmin drops out occasionally, but I tried to stick with the effort and I had no trouble maintaining a consistent goal pace.
And then, just before the mile 8 mark, I started feeling a little differently; my level of effort felt the same, if not stronger, yet my pace started to drop off pretty drastically. I also noticed that my heart was racing and I couldn't catch my breath; up to this point, I hadn't even been breathing hard.
I decided to slow down just a bit and immediately felt some dizziness and some cold chills; not good. I had a fellow running club teammate who was completing her 50th half marathon in honor of a promise she'd made to her fiance; he died during a marathon in November 2014, so I don't take these things lightly.
As soon as I'd feel a little better and start running, the same thing would happen again. I just kept thinking, "C'mon now, you can do this; it's not too late. You can get something going again and make this happen. If you can just get these legs going again, you can make it!" I couldn't do it, though; my legs just wouldn't go and I was giving everything I had.
I started feeling pretty defeated; I was alternating between walking and running and then, all of a sudden, I looked up and saw the most amazing sight: that teammate I just mentioned? There she was, along with her entourage; they'd taken the early start, since they were doing walk/run intervals, and I'd caught up with them.
Thanks to my Hot Legs Run for Fun teammates, I was able to get some rock salt (does that stuff always taste so good?), enjoy a nice walk break and see some smiles. I walked with them for about a mile and then I saw Jonathan; I'd already texted him to let him know what was going on.
He walked with us for about half a mile and then I decided that I'd try to run again; this was around 11.5 miles into the race. I felt like I was flying through that last bit; I even made it up the "big hill" (an overpass)! As it turns out, it was about a 10 minute pace.
For me, every race is a learning experience; I'm not upset by the outcome and I know that I'll be able to reach my goal. I've been training consistently and making gradual gains in my level of fitness, and I'll just keep going. Interestingly, my running is the one thing that I'm not critical of; don't get me started on race photos, though.
I had a similar experience last year when I ran the half in Tupelo (you can read about it here); the lesson is that I'm just not great at running distances over about 6 miles in warm temperatures and little shade, especially when I'm not used to it. From now on, there will be no half marathon PR-seeking from mid-March until at least mid-October; it's just not realistic, for me.
Based on my results over the past couple of years, I've got some summer races lined up that I feel pretty confident I'll be able to do well in and could even have a good shot at some PRs; the difference is that I'll have had more time to get acclimated to the warmer temperatures and the longest one of those races is an 8K. Had Saturday's race been a 15K (or less), I think I'd have been in much better shape.
Acknowledging limitations stings sometimes and I've certainly wondered whether I could have done more to reach my goal; however, I'm proud for having the ability to recognize when I need to take care of myself and grateful for the opportunity to finish with a smile. On to the next!
RussVegas is a fantastic event; I would highly recommend it and I have no doubt that I will return...with a little more insight and a different goal. Huge thanks to all of the folks who make this race possible including organizers, pacers, volunteers, cheering squads, and sign-makers (there were some good ones!); it truly is a party on the pavement!