Go! Saint Louis Half Marathon and Training Updates

Two Sundays ago I got to race again! Go! Saint Louis was going to put on a modified race weekend, which included a full and half marathon, to say I was excited was an understatement. This year they split the half-marathon to be on Saturday and Sunday and the full on Sunday, both with reduced field sizes and in groups of 50 going off every 10 minutes. They also changed the course to accommodate the two day and longer than usual length of event, so it was going to be a little different than previous years, but still exciting.

I had ‘raced’ a half marathon at the end of January as part of the Frostbite Series and my legs didn’t show up. I was disappointed with my time and also wondering if my 1:41:06 from last year’s race was a fluke. So I signed up for this race with the expectations that I would prove the 1:41 was a legit time I was capable of. No pressure! As the day approached the weather looked not conducive to a PR, Saturday’s forecast was 60’s and rain (humidity, ugh) and Sunday’s was clear, in the 40’s but windy. I was running Sunday, but almost preferring the wet and slightly warmer conditions to the 13+mph winds predicted.

The race course was a point to point, with shuttles taking the participants from the finish to the start. Most of the course was a pedestrian/bike path along the Mississippi river, so I was looking forward to a flat-ish course. When we were dropped off at the start I realized I was totally underdressed. I had a throwaway hoodie I was wearing, but perhaps shorts and a short sleeved shirt were a poor choice with how cold the wind was making things. I also really regretted not wearing a pair of cheap throwaway gloves. My hands were freezing and having Raynaud’s, I usually wear them even if it will only be slightly cold because once they get cold, they don’t function well. Ugh. I huddled with a few other runners in the back of an empty loading truck to stay out of the wind, and about 10 minutes before my wave lined up, I left to attempt some sort of warmup, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

After a short warmup and some strides/drills, I headed to my wave and prepared to freeze when I took off my hoodie. For a while I contemplated just racing in it, but I figured if I needed to take it off it would be a huge pain with my handheld, and also I’d have to time it right at an aid station so it wasn’t considered littering…so, I just took it off. Off we went, I tried to get into a groove and realized I wasn’t hearing anything from my headphones. I pushed the play button on my headphones again but nothing. Grr… I had picked which playlist to play but accidentally turned it off instead of turning the screen off, so I fumbled to get it out of my short while ‘racing’, turn it on, push play, and stuff it back in my shorts. Meanwhile the wind was insane, I actually began leaning forward so the wind wasn’t pushing me back, and the path was also flooded in some spots from the heavy rain the day before, so I was also weaving around in the grass trying to avoid super muddy shoes. My first mile split popped up at 8:08. Sh#t. My plan was 7:50 for the first few miles, then settle in 7:45 and then the last couple see what was left. My iPod fiasco cost me some time. I was so mad I picked up the pace (in the dang headwind) and added some pep into my step. I made sure to not go too crazy since I still had most of the race to go, but I didn’t want to get my legs settled into a slow pace for too long or it would be harder to pick it up as the miles go on.

My next few mile splits were much better (and probably a little too fast, but that first mile split really got to me) Mile 2 7:42, Mile 3 7:37, Mile 4, 7:41, Mile 5 7:36. I took my gel around mile 5 and since my hands were frozen, I struggled to even open the gel, only got it halfway open and then tried to just squeeze/bite the gel out which resulted it some of it going down the wrong pipe. So then I was choking, just like Go! 2018 at mile 12 with the gel when I thought I was going to pass out, so I just thought ‘NOT AGAIN’, drank water, kept clearing my throat and was able to not pass out, lol. Mile 6 7:41, Mile 7 7:41, this is where the wheels feel off during the half in January and I was still feeling good, so that gave me an extra boost knowing that my legs were still in the game. Mile 8 7:40, Mile 9 7:49 (short but very steep hill), Mile 10, 7:47… I was started to feel like I was running low on energy and took my second gel with no incidents, hooray. Mile 11 7:48, Mile 12 7:51 (reallllly really big long ass hill, I was surprised I didn’t go into the 8’s), Mile 13, 7:35 (thrilled to have gone up the hill and be on my way to the finish, and the last bit I was hauling ass at 6:43. 1:41:26

Believe it or not, this was the ‘best’ photo. I was making some very angry finish line faces.

So I finished strong! No PR but very close and I do think the Frostbite course was a little short. I also was really happy that I was able to truck up that hill at mile 12 and still able to add some speed in at the end. It also proved I’m getting closer to breaking 1:41 and the half last year wasn’t a fluke. So I walked away happy (and skipped my cooldown which I regretted the next day having sore legs) and vowed to not sign up for another race anytime soon to try and beat that PR, I had IM training to do!

Training the week after the Go! Half was a recovery week, so I did some easy swim/bike/run, but nothing too crazy. This week is the first of two big training blocks before IMCDA, which will hopefully include long rides outside as I’m still on the trainer due to it *still* not being warm enough on the weekends to ride. We’ve have some nice weekdays but the timing hasn’t worked out for a Saturday morning when I have to get my rides done as I don’t usually have enough time on Sundays. I’m ready though, I’ve ridden the CDA 70.3 bike course on Rouvy quite a few times (an app that simulates bike courses) and I can’t fake my way through 112 miles on that course…well let’s be honest, not matter the course, I can’t do that and then run 26.2 after!

I am also once again switching up my bike/run nutrition, in 2018 after IM Chattanooga I decided I was done with Infinit on the bike, I just couldn’t take the sugary drink again for another 112 mile race, so I set out to switch to something different. Last year I was trying Nuun Endurance combined with Honeystinger Chew/Clif Block’s/Skratch Lab Bars, to try to stick with liquid for hydration and solid food for nutrition. However I discovered Skratch bars were really hard to eat while riding at a decent effort (too much crunchy chewing) and Clif Block’s upset my stomach on the run (probably due to the maltodextrin), but races never happened so I didn’t end up with a new game plan.

This winter I saw Skratch Labs came out with a new drink mix called Superfuel that has 400 calories a serving, is super light tasting and per their site “contains a carbohydrate that digests steadily, like real food does: Cluster Dextrin”. This sounded like it could be my solution, so I ordered two packages and crossed my fingers. So far I have only tried it once while riding 3h on the trainer, it was strange because it does hardly have any flavor, however my stomach seemed ok and energy levels were good, but I will see how it does when actually doing longer rides outside combined with runs off the bike.

Other than those updates, that’s about it, I’m just going to keep my head down for three weeks and get in some serious training, take a breather for a week, head down for three more and then taper, easy enough, right? 🙂

Happy Monday!

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