I headed down by myself on Friday night to Springfield and went straight to packet pick up. While there was a big improvement from previous years "expo", it was still very much on the small side. As in, not much there in terms of merchandise, etc. Considering it's not a big dollar race I'd say it's about what to expect. I was able to pick up some jelly beans, a new bondi band and some car stickers. All in all it took me about 15 minutes from the time I walked in the door to leaving.
Race shirt: (will picture below), in previous years they had always done a unisex tech shirt. And I always ordered a medium then wishing I had gotten a small. Somehow I missed that they were gender specific shirts and I finally remembered to order a small. I was skeptical if it would fit properly. Later in the hotel I tried it on. Good news....it fits! Unless I'm looking to hit the bars with a bunch of young, single guys it's not the look I'm wanting though. Lesson learned.....pay attention when ordering your shirt!!!! (Someone did give me their size medium that they said they would never wear so I still have a shirt that is fit to wear in public.)
I headed to my hotel where I met up with my ever wonderful friends from the Muscatine Running Club and we chatted into the evening & was sound asleep by 10 p.m.
Saturday morning started pretty chilly. We all checked our weather apps and pondered what to wear. I feel I'm pretty scared from this cold, brutal winter and tend to overdress. While I'd rather over than under dress I talked myself into a happy medium between the two. Although I must admit I committed a big racing no-no and wore a pair of tights that were brand new! I was afraid it was too cold for shorts and a pair of my fab socks, but didn't want to wear plain running tights so I went out looking for something fun & festive to wear on my legs.
(Here we are ready to leave the hotel)
I arrived at the race with plenty of time to spare. I took my time going to the restroom and meeting up with Jess (Run With Jess) before picking a spot near the front of the pack to start. The sun was coming up and the temperature felt very comfortable. Abe & Mary Lincoln were on site and gave a few speeches. It was such a fun, festive moment right before the start. Someone sang the National Anthem and when they flubbed the words everyone started to sing along. There was a slight breeze and I about broke down crying because despite our flawed nation we still live in a pretty great place full of freedoms. You had to be there & in the moment to fully appreciate hearing all the voices singing and that small peaceful moment before the race started.
Once the gun went off I just ran. I do run with my phone that has Nike+ on it tracking my pace, time, etc., but I always stick that in my belt & leave it be, not paying attention to what it says. I started out at a good pace, but almost immediately my leg hurt. Not bad, searing pain, but just enough undertone of my hamstring screaming "what are you doing?!?!?!" and fighting back. So, of course, I do what almost any runner would...I kept on going. After mile 2 the 1:30 pacer passed me and I knew right then that my hopes of a 1:30 were gone. I was going at a good speed, but I knew there was no way I could make myself go any faster. I settled into a grove and just kept running. I had a few moments of really feeling good, but they tended not to last. What I was putting out was taking all that I did have and even then I silently hoped that nothing was going to go wrong.
It would have been easy to slip back into an easier pace, but I did force myself to push. I had to be very mindful of doing this. Even if I wasn't getting a 1:30, I WANTED a faster time and that wasn't going to just happen unless I tried.
I crossed the 10k mark in 45 minutes flat. Not bad considering how much I was struggling. On this course though, almost all the hills are in the last half. And those killed me. I already knew I had little to no half marathon training, but hill training.....ZERO! It was right at the bottom of a hill (right after the GU station) that the 1:35 pace group passed me. I seriously wanted to give up right there and cry. My leg had been screaming most of the race thus far, at the bottom of the hill I felt like I'd never get up it and then here comes another nail in my coffin of having a 1:30ish time. Even though I struggled through the hills (there is like 4 within the last half of the course), once I got up them I felt ok and forced myself to pick my pace back up & push!
Once I hit the 10 mile mark I knew I was going to be ok and at least finish. I hadn't seen the 1:40 pace group so I still had hope of getting a PR, but for all I knew they could have been right on my heels. As much as I could I still kept pushing myself to set a good pace and not give in to a jog or any kind of easy feeling tempo. Over and over I kept telling myself I WANT THIS!
They had changed the course from previous years so I wasn't 100% sure where the finish line was. I took off in a sprint when I saw the 13 mile sign, but still had to round a corner and run the block. I saw my time and was ok with what I saw. My official time was 1:37:34 which is 3:14 minutes off my time last year and a new PR! For as bad as I felt (specifically my legs) I'll take it and not complain! I'm still convinced I can run it faster, so I'll just have to try again next year!!
Of course, after I finished I went over to get my annual pic with Abe & Mary:
Then, much to my surprise, I had a second chance at a picture with them when I placed 3rd in my age group:
Mary is holding my award. A closer picture of my award is below.
Here are my final stats:
Time: 1:37:34 (overall pace of 7:27)
Overall: 102/2000+ (they didn't say exactly how many finishers there were. Typically this race has about 1,500 so they were blown over when they went over 2000 participants!!)
Division: F 35-39: 3/209
I love running this race and I'm sure I'll go back & do it again next year. One of these years I'd like to go and just have fun. They have several people who run dressed as Lincoln. I think it would be fun to run dressed as Mary.
On the right, my age group award. In that picture Abe has 16 on his headband. On the left is the shirt, his headband says LPHM on it. They are certainly a different spin on President Lincoln. I'm a little up in the air about if I like it or not or if it's disrespectful. Although I doubt that is what they were intending. I won't create a fuss, I just embrace it for what it is. And, of course, my big ole finishers medal. It's as big (I think bigger) than a dollar bill and it's a thick heavy metal. Sometimes those things are cheap plastic, this one is the real deal!!