Swamp Stomp Half Marathon Race Recap

IMG_7991Half marathon #11 was also only a portion of my total mileage for the day, scheduled for the same day as my planned 20-miler. I checked out the race area last weekend to see where and how I could get in 7 extra miles, and the Lake Charles lakefront/downtown area was perfect. The race started and finished near the Civic Center where there was ample parking and a perfect segue from race to personal training run. (Just learned that the word is spelled segue and not segway… who knew).

The biggest downfall of the race was its distance from my house, an hour’s drive. With a 7 a.m. race start, I was up at 5 and out the door at 5:20 a.m. this past Saturday. I had picked up my “race packet” the day before in LC, the packet consisted of my bib and T-shirt. I thought maybe we had to pick up a chip the morning of the race, one of those non-disposable ones, so I was concerned about making it there with plenty of time to spare.

The drive there was uneventful and when I got to the race start, I parked easily and found where packet pickup was. I asked if we had to pick up chips and someone told me no, the timing would be done “manually.”  I didn’t know how this would be done, but I had already torn off the perforated bottom part of my bib that usually is never used in races. No one had said to make sure and keep it on, so I wasn’t sure if that was a mistake or not (it was).

It was still dark when I arrived, so area Christmas lights were still on at the time.

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Since I had gotten there so early, already had my bib on and nothing else to do for 30 minutes, I decided to get some running in before start time. This was great, I didn’t have to venture far from where the start was and I got 1.5 miles in before the race even began.

Not sure how many people were in this race because I am really bad at guesstimating numbers, but definitely a small race, less than 200 I would guess.

The weather was weird, it was in the 50s at start time but it really wasn’t that cold. I wore light running tights and a short-sleeved shirt, and I felt fine though I ended up sweating heavily. It was rather humid. Other people were wearing much heavier clothing and I imagine they got warm very fast.

The race started and it was pretty uneventful for me. Having only gotten like 4.5  hours of sleep the night before, I was tired, but I took one of those “2x caffeine” energy gels beforehand and just focused on taking it one mile at a time. It was really good having the race in the midst of a 20-miler, because instead of focusing on the daunting task of running 20 miles, I was more just focusing on finishing the race first. That was a mental milestone that was actually real rather than just a mind trick I would try to play on myself in a normal training run.

I learned my lesson before the 18-miler two weeks ago and had a bagel and PB for breakfast, plus took advantage of every single water stop on the race course. They were about every 2 miles, and since the weather wasn’t super cold and the humidity was high, I knew I’d need to stay very hydrated to make it 20 miles without falling apart. The bagel kind of sat heavy in my stomach at first, but it was well worth the fuel it provided me.

The race went through the garden district and along the lakefront where all the rich people homes are, through some other neighborhoods and then through downtown back to the lake. They had warned us beforehand that there weren’t many bathrooms on the course, and of course I had to go a few miles into the race. When I finally saw an empty porta-potty around mile 7 or 8, I made a stop which maybe cost me 2 minutes. I had no clue what my final time would be because I was 1.5 miles ahead of the race on my Garmin and hadn’t paid attention to how much time that had taken.

I did see from the way the mile markers were falling that either my Garmin was messed up or the course was a little short. I should have been at least 1.5 miles ahead of the mile markers each time, but that distance was getting less and less.

I found that it was good to have the half marathon in the middle of my training run, because while on a training run I might have more trouble mentally staying in the run and I might end up stopping more and wanting to quit, there is no doing that in a race for me. I am too competitive (and in a race this small, afraid of totally losing the crowd and getting lost on the course) to stop too much in a timed event, and I would never ever quit unless there was something medically wrong.

So I kept chugging along waiting for the finish line, at which point I’d only have about 5.5 miles more to go and could do the rest at my own slow pace with as many Gatorade breaks as I wanted (and bathroom stops, since there were at least two real bathrooms at the lakefront area that I knew of and would be close to).

When I approached the finish line, the clock was ticking away at 2:09:57, so I sprinted and crossed right as it hit 2:10:00. Guess what, they were taking people’s tearaway parts of their bib, and I didn’t have mine. So I won’t be on the results list, though I’m not sure how they would know people’s exact times with that method, just the order of finish. Oh well. I got my medal and chatted to some people I know for a minute, took a photo, then grabbed two water bottles and headed back to my car to put up my bib, medal, bottles and take another energy gel for the remainder of my run.

race picOverall this was a good race that I would do again. Good course and the lakefront area is not only very convenient with plenty of parking but beautiful. Water stops every two miles (Only saw Gatorade at one), but not many bathrooms. Didn’t look to see what food if any was at the finish. Good volunteers and a nice long-sleeve shirt and medal. Next time I would leave my tearaway part of my bib on, though chips whether disposable or non-disposable would be a huge upgrade next year.

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