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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Soaking in Saint Louis: Race Report

Finishing the Go! St. Louis half-marathon

Race: Go! St. Louis half-marathon
Date: 4-19-09
Place: St. Louis, MO
Finish: 02:06:51 (PR 01:59:22)

Well, I'm finally dry after spending the weekend in beautiful Saint Louis, MO for my 2nd race of the year and my 3rd half-marathon. This one was chock full of new adventures and challenges I've never experienced in my life. I was extremely happy to make it through and am on my way to another great racing season.

I know these can get long, so I did my best to break it down to 10 points.

For those who care, my official Garmin stats are near the end.

1. I would rather drive than fly.

The drive down to St. Louis from the burbs of Chicago was fairly uneventful. I very much prefer to drive when I travel. You can just see so much more and I can stop to stretch whenever I like. This would be my 2nd out-of-state race. The nice thing about driving to races, is that I can pack ALL of my running gear instead of cramming it in on one measly carry on bag. I think the toughest part of a race isn't just finishing, but what to wear! More on that in the next bullet...

2. What to wear?

It's raining here. Lots and lots of rain. Fortunately, the temps are holding near 60F and the wind isn't that strong. Sadly, I have zero experience in running a race in full-on rain, but I'm about to get it. I decided to wear shorts and my Under Armour long-sleeve thermal under my singlet. My decision to wear thicker running socks was a good one, since I think they protected my feet from blisters. My Brooks Defyance shoes performed wonderfully and kept the water from pooling at my feet, I think. A hat was also important to keep the rain out of my eyes. I was spot on with my clothing choice. I was comfortable the whole time, if not completely soaked.

3. The rain, why won't it stop?

I did my best to stay as dry as possible before the start. Fortunately, I had a disposable parka in my truck, so I wore it. It rained, and rained, and rained. Still, there were A LOT of runners around and the race was going to be huge. The rain stopped near miles 10 and 12, but it kept up again until the finish.

4. The starting line.

The race was very well organized considering the number of runners participating. My only complaint with the start was that I didn't see any indication of WHERE the actual start line was- no banner or anything. Next thing I knew, I was crossing over the timing mats and had to quickly hit the start on my Garmin. Yikes! That was close.

5. I'm not a run/walker.

Due to my ongoing recovery from my knee troubles, I decided to do an 8x2 run/walk the first 9 miles, and then run through what was left if my knee gave me the go. I can tell you right now, at least in races, I am NOT a run/walker. I'm a patient guy, but I did not like to walk and see so may people pass me by. I clued into a couple of people who passed me and made it a point to catch up to them when my two minutes were up. The strategy worked, and I ended up with a nice time just seven minutes beyond my half-marathon PR.

6. The hills.

Long and sloping hills were the talk of the day. Big ones too. I'm no stranger to long, sloping climbs because there are many where I train near home. I don't notice them until I start to labor in my breathing, and then I know I'm on a sloping hill. I managed to run all of them, but gently as to not put too much strain on the knee. No sweat.

7. Mile 9: Hello, knee? You still with me?

Mile 9 came up, and I had already reached the turnaround in the route that leads back to the finish. The knee was doing wonderfully, and I put it in high gear and stayed there. My shoes felt heavy when I walked, but once I started running, I was doing sub-nine minute miles. I was all smiles until the end!

8. All systems go.

Miles 10 through 13 felt effortless, and the rain was more annoying than anything else. The last, big hill nearing the finish line looked daunting, but I put my head down and plowed forward. The knee was feeling great, and I cranked to the finish.

9. The finish.

Official time was 02:06:51. Not too shabby for a run/walker! They funneled the finishing runners through narrow gates that really caused a backlog of soaking humanity, but the full, grocery size bags of pretzels and chocolate chip cookies for the runners made up for it :)

10. Wrap up.

I loved this race. Despite the soaking rain, it was the most fun I've had, and the support from the crowds was wonderful. Saint Louis knows how to put on a race. I just wish I could have seen more of that skyline if it wasn't for all of the low clouds. My only other regret is that I wish I could have done the full marathon that I originally signed up for, but I think I played my cards right, and can safely say that my knee is 100% healed!!

Lastly, I was glad to see my friend Lindsay near the finish of her 2nd full marathon! Congrats on the PR Lindsay! I got so excited to see her, that I forgot to take a picture. I'm sure she'll have her report up soon, so hop on over there to see it when it's up.

Seeing other people doing amazing things at these distances is so inspiring, it's why I love to be a part of it.

Go! St. Louis half-marathon stats 4-19-09
Garmin stats for Saint Louis half-marathon

And now to concentrate on Chicago this fall, but in the meantime, I'll have to lineup more races in between!

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Blogger Lindsay said...

What a great race recap! Unfortunately, mine won't be in 10 points! I've started it and trying to make it less text heavy but it's not going too well. :-)

I was so excited to see you too! And the fact that you saw me first. I waved and waved at you!! I had a smile on my face for a long time after that! :-D Thanks for sticking around!!

2:14 PM


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