So! My half marathon was last weekend! I may or may not have given myself a stress fracture in my femur (again) but my limp is fading so we’ll all be able to laugh about it soon.
This was my second half marathon ever, and the first one that I trained for completely outside, using no indoor track or treadmill. I think it made a huge difference for the entire weekend – before, during and after the race. Since I only have one other half marathon to compare this one with, some of my credibility might be lost when I say that this was the funnest race I have run. It was, though.
It was the Tyranena Beer Run, with a “1/2 barrel” (half marathon) or “1/6 barrel” (about 4.4 miles) race. The run took place in Lake Mills, WI which is a tiny town with not a lot in it. My first half was in Chicago, along Lakeshore Drive. That route was straightforward, a little repetitive, but nice and flat. I would rather do this Tyranena route any day though, complete with two substantial hills and a section of the race on loose gravel.
I PR’d and felt exponentially better during and after this half marathon, like I mentioned before. The whole atmosphere was a little more chaotic than the Chicago race, but in a way that made it more exciting. We started and finished right outside the brewery, and there was a huge heated tent set up and already serving beers when check-in started at 9 a.m. There was also a DJ who played ‘Shake It Off,’ so they were obviously legit.
The forecast said snow, so it was a relief when race day turned out to be around 41 degrees. I could have done without the wind during the run, but it mostly ended up being refreshing to counter the strong sun, even when it felt like it made the run a little harder. The route took runners through a residential area with locals sitting in their driveways holding signs of… encouragement? Motivation? (My favorite was one that read “Run now, poop later: never trust a fart!”
Runners were then sent to a portion on the shoulder of a highway, right up against a farm. Said farm smelled so terrible, I thought I might die. So much manure. But there were cows right there on the other side of the fence, so it’s not like I could embarrass them and hold my nose or anything. This knowledge and act of deference to the cows helped me through. From here, we started on the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, which was absolutely beautiful. It seemed to vary between packed dirt, pavement, and a heavy layer of leaves, so it was a nice break for the feet and legs.
This is the worst race recap ever because I’m being very scattered, but another thing that made a difference in this run was my music. During the Chicago half, I haphazardly prepared a playlist and tried to listen the whole race. Sometimes during my longer runs in this round of training, I felt like I needed music because I would get bored. Other times, and more often than not, I felt the music was throwing me off and disrupting a steady pace.
I trusted my gut for this race and ran the beginning sans iPod, and I think it paid off. I felt like I started out stronger than I would have had I been pacing according to whatever Kendrick song I would have chosen.
I also had that crazy, could-only-happen-during-a-race experience of meaningful conversation with a random stranger around mile 3 or 4. I was working my way up a hill and preparing to pass a couple runners when I heard one say “at least we’re done with the hills!” or something, which made me excited. I decided to ask her to clarify, she asked if I’d ever done this race before, etc. Turns out she has been doing the Beer Run since it started, 9 years ago in 2005. She told me that three weeks before her first race, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She ran the first ever beer run, set her own personal record, and the following week went in for a double mastectomy. She said she runs this half marathon every year ever since, it’s a special one for her.
Yeah. It was a little heavy for being 1/4 of the way done with a half marathon, but it was an amazing, three-minute encounter that I probably won’t ever forget. I’m being cheesy, but how are you supposed to half-ass any of the rest of your run with that story in the back of your mind? It was awesome, she was awesome, I don’t know her name and I didn’t see her again during the race or afterwards, but shout out to that lady. Congratulations on being a survivor and an inspiration.
Also shout out to my friend Amanda from high school, who’s in this picture at the bottom of this post. This was her first half marathon, and she killed it. Especially considering she only started getting into running this past summer. GET IT, AMANDA.
So overall the race was a success. There was great craft beer after the race, and an amazing (and huge) serving of lasagna with these under cooked, buttery garlic bread sticks sent from God, Himself. I kept burping up that bread stick taste for the rest of the night, and it was heaven. I realize this is gross, but really. The training, the soreness, the cold temperatures, they were all worth it for these beautiful pillows of carbohydrates. I’m drooling thinking about them. I wish now that I had taken a photo, that would be a better representation of the race.
Too far with the bread sticks.
It was a great race and weekend. I finished at 2:04:11, meaning that I absolutely have to at least do one more half marathon, because I swear that I will finish in under two hours. Until then, I’m going to nurse my self-diagnosed injury, dream of Tyranena, and stick to the bikes for a bit. ◊