My half marathon debut on Sunday was sort of successful, so I guess that’s gotta count for something!
Back in February, I chose the Back to the Beach Half Marathon on May 20 as a great spring race for me. It’s hard to believe now that it’s done.
The race went decently for me. It was an absolutely beautiful, rolling course in Stony Creek Metropark in Macomb and Oakland counties. That’s a place where I’ve spent a lot of time running and thought it’d be a fun and nostalgic place to return. The course started and finished by Eastwood Beach, wound around the Trolley Trails, followed tree-lined dirt roads with some of Oakland County’s finest homes, skipped out onto the paved path around the lake before heading back to the beach.
A lot of the course was in the shade, which proved very nice on the hot day.
Going into the race, I didn’t have the fitness I had originally wanted thanks to a rough April. I had just hoped I’d have a good enough day to finish faster than 2 hours. I was pretty nervous before the race just because I was so sick of running unfit and/or injured. In the end, I lined up at the end of the 8-minute pace folks figuring I might as well go for it.
My first mile felt pretty slow, so it was a pleasant surprise when I saw 8:39 on my watch. Considering a lot of my runs lately have probably been 9:30 or 10-minute pace, that felt really nice.
Throughout the race, I was conscious not to speed up much and die before the end. My focus was just on each mile and getting through it. I never felt great, but I felt better throughout the race. I could definitely feel the lack of fitness in the last few miles. The heat was getting to me, but I just didn’t feel very strong to push much faster after mile 10.
One thing that I enjoyed was passing people on the uphills! There’s a nice little ego booster.
The volunteers were awesome — so cheerful. They worked so hard long before and after the runners were off the course to put on a great event. At the first water stop, I grabbed a cup and heard “Go, Lindsay!” To my surprise, an old friend from high school was one of the volunteers. That was a nice lift! So were the ice cold cloths volunteers gave out during the race. It was a real relief to cool off my face.
It seemed like many of the Oakland County sheriff’s deputies who were monitoring traffic also enjoyed themselves. A few were joking around with and cheering for runners as they passed, and another kind deputy saluted all the runners as they passed. It was a real, sober salute! I really appreciated that.
I also learned a little more about nutrition during the race. When volunteers had packets of Gu for us, I decided to take one despite the fact that I hadn’t used any in months. The strawberry flavor did give me a little GI distress during the race, but nothing terrible. My decision with those is just to leave them alone from now on. I’ll stick to Gatorade and water. All that sugar just hits my stomach like a rock.
After worrying so much about running sub-two hours, I ended up running 1:55. That’s 8:51 pace. Not too shabby since I’ve hardly done any workouts, few long runs and the course was a bit hilly.
It turned out to be a great day, and I definitely hope to be back for the race again. The race director and volunteers did a wonderful job hosting the race. It might have to compete with Bayshore next year.
Another thing, Keith and Kevin Hanson were out at the race and handed out the awards. These guys support running so much. As coaches of an Olympic athlete and many elite runners, they clearly have a lot to do. It’s really great to see them out in the community helping to build the running scene as they have done for many years.
And I finally got to meet Matt from Faster than a Turtle! It was nice to meet someone in person that I’ve known through twitter and chat about running after the race.
To conclude, a good, fun race. Now it’s time for a little recovery (sore quads after that effort!) and to get cranking on some speed work again. I have a 10K in July and I’d like to run a strong race. It’ll be a nice change to do some shorter but faster miles before the grind of marathon training this summer.
Great things to come!