In honor of this Thanksgiving season, I’d like to tell you guys just how much I appreciated the entire experience of preparing for and participating in the Shiner Beer half marathon last week. I’ve gained an incredible friendship and a new running buddy, a new sense of my personal abilities (even if they didn’t pan out the way I had hoped on race day), a deeper appreciation and love for Girls On the Run, a crazy love-hate relationship for ice baths and my rolling stick, and an incredible heart of gratitude for all of those who supported me during this journey!
A super BIG THANKS to all of YOU!!!
To show you my appreciation, I thought I’d share my experience with you. First, let me warn you that I loved this race, but am working hard to find what I loved about my performance. Please be forewarned that this race recap will include discussion on some gross things including bodily fluids. If you choose to keep reading, you have been warned.
We headed out to the corral area about 10 minutes prior to race start and decided we would stay closer to the front of the pack. Anticipation and excitement growing, I think Minka, my beloved training partner from More than Running, and I agreed to up the anty with a marathon in the near future. Thinking back it was all sort of a blur between the start line selfie, marathon discussion, National Anthem, 5K vs half course instructions, and ready, set, go!
Mile 1 – As most races go, it was crowded and relatively slow. The beginning of the course went directly through the historic town of Shiner and heading out to a residential area.
Mile 2- Moving into a more rural community and heading out to the country roads. Feeling good and beginning to pick up the pace as the crowd thinned out. 5K participants were on an out and back course and turned at the 1.5 mile point. My head congestion that I had been battling all week started loosening up and before too long. Good thing I stuffed a couple of tissues in my pocket before I left.
Mile 3- Moving faster and feeling strong. In fact, I started to think that I might be going too fast and that I needed to reign that in so I didn’t burn out. Those 2 tissues stood no chance for the amount of snot coming out of my nose. They were history half-way through this mile. As I neared the 4 mile market, I started to feel like there was a brick in my belly. Not cramps or pain but a heaviness that was unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Mile 4- Pushing pretty fast with my mind set on the next water stop and port a let. Lost time in the port a let and made a speedy get away without direct contact of anyone that was standing in the line that formed outside while I was inside. We won’t ponder this one any longer.
Mile 5- Feeling better, but still unsure of my stomach. Recovered my pace during this mile, which was just under a 10 minute pace.
Mile 6- Headed out country roads with beautiful farm houses on one side and pipeline construction on the other. I was fighting some negative thoughts at this point that were mostly rooted in lots of reasons why I wasn’t going to finish this run today. The weather was crummy, my nose was snotty, my stomach was ill, my legs felt heavy, I was too tired.
Mile 7- Enough of all that crap. As I began to remind myself of exactly why I chose to get out here and do this race and what my intention was, I began to think of the tools used in Girls On the Run that teach girls just how to get out of exactly that kind of thinking. And just like that, I was able to re-focus and get back on track. It was also here that we hit manure mile. With the rain, this was no joke and this part of the course felt harder than I expected. Running in tacky mud, single file slowed the pace down a bit, but I was appreciating the steadiness else risk an injury slipping and sliding in the mud.
Mile 8- More of the same. Came around a bend where I spied a horse galloping out and back on a field at the bend in the road. He moved so easily and beautifully right up to the fence edge where he was stop and just stare at the runners as they pass. Without notice he would pivot and head straight back out to center field where he was stop and stare again. Repeating his run back and forth as if encouraging the runners as they passed (or teasing – depends on your individual perspective at this point).
Mile 9- The horizon was dark and heavy. The fields were spotted with hay bails and it was almost as beautiful as painting at this moment. I started to have a hint of cramps in my calves and though “it’s too early for that. Oh no!”
Mile 10- Rain. Cramps. My “Oh no!” became expletives and the battle with negative thoughts reared up again.
Mile 11- Rain. Cramps. Crying. More cramps.
Mile 12- Rain. Cramps. More crying. Relentless cramps. Pep talk to get the crying under control because my inefficient breathing was making the problem worse.
Mile 13- Rain. Rain. Rain. Sucked up the crying and had fewer cramps. Slowly and most graciously crossed the finish line.
With 4 half marathons now under my belt, I have never felt anything quite like the cramping in those last 3 miles. It started in just one of my calves and by the last mile was both calves and both quads were shivering, shriveled and . I was logging over 12 minute miles starting at mile 11 because of the many times I stopped and walked. On the bright side, I have never been so elated to cross the finish line! This was the slowest time I’ve logged on a half so far and came in around 2:25. While I feel like I trained harder than I have for any of the other races and was expecting to possibly PR, I have learned that sometimes you run well and sometimes you run not as well. But, you still accomplish a ton.
Those Shiner Beer Run planners and the great local volunteers in Shiner sure know how to throw a party. After the run we got to enjoy a Texas sized party including live music, brewery tours, smoked sausage and brats and ice cold beer. For the most part I loved this course. There was one part of the course around mile 10-11 that we circled through a park that wasn’t my favorite. Especially the unexpected hill climb toward the end of the park. Other than that, I would definitely participate in this race again. It may be in the race schedule next November, unless I didn’t dream up that marathon discussion and we find ourselves in New York for the TCS New York marathon.