Mississippi River Half Marathon

I ran the Mississippi River Half Marathon today! I’m very satisfied with how I did, but also…

I’m trying to smile here, but it’s hard because I am concerned about hypothermia.

I did not anticipate how cold it would be – I was expecting high 40’s, given the weather forecast. I brought tights to Greenville just in case, but I really don’t like to run in tights – I much prefer shorts. While I was on the bus and waiting for the race to start, I was wearing a fleece jacket on top of what I’m wearing above, and I considered keeping it on, instead of dropping my bag off to get at the finish line. I’m glad I took it off, though – my upper body wasn’t that cold once I got moving, it was mostly my face, feet, and legs.

While I was on the bridge over the Mississippi River, I regretted not wearing leggings – it was incredibly cold and windy. I briefly thought about getting out my phone to google “symptoms of frostbite” because I couldn’t feel 80% of each foot, and my legs were bright pink. It got a bit better later on, once I was off the bridge and there were trees to shield me from the wind.

Mile One – I barely noticed this mile passing, it was nice and easy. I was way more focused on how cold it was. This was tied for my second-fastest mile at 11:31.

Mile Two – This is where I was really struggling with the cold – I couldn’t feel my toes, or the balls of my feet, and my legs were incredibly cold. I was very glad to have worn gloves at this point.

Mile Three – This was tied with mile one for my second-fastest mile and I was off the bridge, so that was good. At this point, I was feeling pretty good and thinking that I might finish the race in under 2:30.

Mile Four – I was still feeling great here, and I was pretty amazed that I was a third of the way through the race and not feeling tired or sore at all. I stopped at the beginning of mile four to have my first Gu and drink some water.

Miles Five to Eight – I was feeling pretty good throughout this. I was taking short breaks to walk, but otherwise feeling pretty strong. Towards the end of mile seven, right around 1:30, I had another Gu.

Mile Nine – I got a snack from the aid station (peanut butter on cracker sandwiches) and stopped to use the restroom. Right here, I told myself “It’s only four more miles. You can run four miles without walking.” and I did not stick to that, but the thought was nice.

Mile Ten – This is where I started to feel more tired – I checked my watch, debated my pacing and time goals, and I stopped and started running a lot.

Mile Eleven and Twelve – This is where it became physically painful. My right glute was in pretty significant pain and I pushed through, still running most of this.

Mile Thirteen – I was in downtown Greenville now, and I had a sense of how close I was to the finish line. I ran the entire mile, and picked up the pace. My mindset here was very centered on passing people – I would pick the closest person ahead of me, then tell myself that I could beat them. I passed two or three people with that thought, and I picked up the pace in the last .1 to the finish line.

My time last year was 2:57:34, so this year’s time, 2:38:12 is a nineteen-minute improvement, which I am incredibly proud of. Last year I set a goal of running this race in under two hours, but in retrospect that was totally unrealistic – I didn’t have any concept of how much training my body would need to get that fast. In training, I did my long runs at a pace slower than 12:00/mile, somewhere around 12:40 or even 13:00 for most of them.

I trained a lot more for this race than I did last year, which is the number one thing that made a difference. All those sweaty, it’s-so-humid-I-can’t-breathe runs from June and July felt very worth it today. Two other factors that really helped were hydration and nutrition. Last year, I didn’t even eat breakfast before the race, and I didn’t drink water that morning – I wasn’t that thirsty and I didn’t want to have to stop and use the bathroom. This year, I drank a liter of water before the race, and ate a bowl of cereal and a muffin. I also had my Camelbak and Gu while I was running, which I had trained with, so I knew how to use it effectively and not feel like it was sitting in my stomach. I think there is also a mindset piece – this year I knew I could do it going into it, so there was no question of finishing, just a question of how fast I could finish.