My 10th half marathon was wet, cold, and preceded an additional four miles I did on my own to get to 17 miles for marathon training, and it was great.
The race started at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Shreveport, and I had originally planned to go out there at 6 a.m. and do 4 miles on my own ahead of time. The downtown area is next to the a 5-mile riverfront path, so it was going to be easy for me to park near the race, hop on the riverfront path and do my 4 miles, then get back to the race start for 13.1 more.
Well, when I somehow thought about checking the weather forecast for the first time Saturday evening, I was very dismayed to see it was supposed to be raining all morning long. I know from past experience the forecast can change drastically over a matter of hours, so I went to bed that night hoping and praying it would somehow magically not be rainy when I woke up.
Backtracking a bit, earlier in the day I picked up my race packet and also stopped by Dick’s, where I bought a gorgeous long-sleeved Under Armour Pullover, some headbands and Body Glide. My race shirt was a Men’s Small, a very nice technical T-shirt that I’m sure my husband will enjoy wearing because it’s way too big for me. We also got a hat.
So back to Sunday morning, when my alarm went off at 5:30, I could hear the rain hitting the roof pretty steadily. I prolonged getting up for about 30 more minutes as it continued raining, then decided that maybe I’d better get dressed and get over to the race start on the very small chance that maybe downtown it was just drizzling or not raining at all.
My sympathetic and half-asleep husband wished me good luck, and I headed downtown where I found several other runners had already arrived and parked, even though the race was almost an hour away. I had brought an extra long-sleeved top, a poncho, towels, extra socks, but I didn’t want to get soaking wet by trying to run on my own before the race, so I ended up deciding to stay in the car until about 7:15. If it was somehow bearable, I would try to run my extra 4 miles afterwards. In my head I was already starting to think that I would just run the half marathon and run 17 next week – after all, my plan called for a long run of only 13 miles next weekend, so I could just switch them out, as much as I didn’t want to do that.
I was honestly surprised about how many people showed up for the race despite the horrible weather. As tempting as the thought was of just going home, I couldn’t make myself do that when I saw how many other people were there braving the cold and wetness.
At 7:15 I begrudgingly got out of my warm car and walked to the starting area, where I picked up my timing chip, one of those non-disposable ones you zip-tie to your shoe.
The half marathon crowd was a pretty decent size after we separated from the 5Kers for our start line, and as we stood there waiting for the race person to say, “Go!”, I realized it wasn’t raining anymore. We started running through downtown Shreveport, then through some neighborhoods, and it really wasn’t so bad. I started out kind of faster than I’d planned, with a goal to stay around 10-minute miles. My first three were all 9:45 or lower, and by mile 4 I was starting to feel tired already. I’m sure running the 10K the day before contributed to that. I purposefully made myself slow down more and the race pack started thinning out.
Maybe around miles 5-6 a windy mist started hitting us in the face, and that lasted about 20 minutes, but it never started raining full force, which was a blessing. The only reason my shoes got wet was because I missed a puddle at one point and accidentally stepped in it.
At one point we ran past a playground that had a short path around it. I remembered back to Christmastime in 2010, my husband had been playing ultimate frisbee with some other guys at that playground, and while they played, I ran around that short path over and over and over again. I was training for my very first half marathon at the time. It was a nice feeling to see that path for the first time in almost four years, running my 10th half marathon when I had at the time been training for my 1st. Full circle, I guess.
At mile 8.5 we got on the riverfront path that would take us all the way back to downtown Shreveport. This was a little bit of a challenge mentally because the scenery wasn’t very exciting, and I’ve run the path several times so I recognized all of the landmarks and knew just how much longer it was going to be. I do have to say, the volunteers working the aid stations were wonderful and very encouraging as we passed, and I know it couldn’t have been their #1 choice to be out there in the freezing cold and wetness. There were only a few spectators on the course, but I don’t really get a boost from spectators so that didn’t bother me.
We got back to downtown and left the riverfront path, heading back up a hill to the finish line. I had felt some pressure to stay under 10-minute miles and not let people pass me during the race, which was stupid considering it was just part of a training run for me. But I was very happy to see my finishing time of 2:07:XX, and felt very good about being able to do my remaining four miles at a very slow pace with no feelings of pressure or awareness about anyone else around me.
My hands started freezing almost immediately after I stopped running, so I took a few photos, looked around, then headed back to my car to get some gloves and take off my bib and medal before heading back out to do four more miles. It was still dreary but clear and free of rain, so I went back to the riverfront which I had just come from and did 2 miles, then turned around and headed 2 miles back to my car.
Unfortunately, when I checked the race results today, I was not listed on there. I don’t know if my chip wasn’t activated or was the wrong one for my bib or what, but I definitely had the chip on the whole time – they stopped me at the finish line and cut it off my shoe and everything. I emailed the race organizers to see if they could find out my information, but if the chip didn’t work I don’t see what they can do. My Garmin said 2:07:23, but there was no starting mat and I don’t remember exactly what the finish line clock said – something between 2:07:25 and 2:07:29 – so I don’t know what my chip time would be. Oh well. It doesn’t really matter. Based on the results I would have been like 9th in my age group. No big deal.
Edited to add: I never received a response from the email I sent, but I checked the results again a few days later and I was listed this time! Chip time = 2:07:27. My halves were almost identical!
Also, there was a short little article in the local newspaper about the race – I guess I can officially classify myself as “hard core” now!