RR: Thunder Road Half Marathon

Pre Race:
I had been stalking the weather in Charlotte all week. After the miserable Reindeer Romp in the rain, the last thing I wanted to was to do a half marathon in the cold, wet stuff. As of Tuesday, most sites were predicting a 60% chance of rain/freezing rain/wintry mix on Saturday morning. Luckily the chance of rain subsided as the week went on but man, was it going to be cold! I drove to Charlotte straight from work to make sure I could get to the expo to pick up my packet on time. The Expo was actually open until 9 pm, which was excellent for people coming in from out of town (The VA Beach packet pick up closed at 6 and my boy almost missed it due to traffic, and there was no race day pick up). I was in and out fairly quickly, and headed over to my friends’ apt in the fourth ward. I stayed at their place for the Dowd YMCA half the month before, even though they were out of town. I love having awesome friends!
It was about 25º when I woke up. I was nervous because it was about 10º-15º colder than anything I’d ever ran in….but at least it was dry. My friends live about a mile from the start but i opted to drive and pay for parking at the Westin, which is right across the street from the convention center. It was nice to use real bathrooms instead of a port-o-potty and to stay warm before the start. I realized I forgot my second granola bar (I typically eat 2 granola bars and a banana) but figured they’d have bagels around the start so I kept walking. No such luck. I figured I’d be ok. People started to leave the convention center and funnel outside. The start chute was completely blocked by rails, and spectators clogged my view so I couldnt see where there was an opening. Most people around me appeared confused too. The marathon and hte half marathon started at the same time and I saw signs for the marathon pace groups. I decided to get behind the 4:30 marathon pace group, since they’d be going about my desiered pace. We’d run with the marathoners until mile 12 so it seemed logical.
Thunder Road is supposed to be NASCAR themed, so the announcer asked us to “start our engines,” which proved to be the only NASCAR reference of the whole race. My goal time was between 2:10-2:15 and I was hoping to stick to 10 min miles for as long as possible. I did a decent job of hitting that 10:00, 10:20, 9:40 for the first 3 miles, which seemed to fit with the elevation changes. I hit the 10k split at 1:02:30, which was about where I was hoping.The course was pretty much the same as the Dowd YMCA half I did 11/7 and I had barely noticed the hills. This time around, I dont know if it was the cold or the fact that I stupidly had a race every weekend since, but I definitely felt them this time. There was a lot more crowd support this time around and I wish I had a camera to take pics of things like, 3 guys dressed like buddy the elf, an 80 year old man standing on the side of the road with a paddle that said “Smile if you need a spanking” and two cute older ladies with shirts that said “To do list: Marathon, Cocktails, Tattoo”
I felt good at the half way point but I was starting to feel heavy so I opted to eat a few chomps. I took off my left glove to get them out of my pocket but my fingers were more numb than I thought and I had trouble getting them out and opening the package. but the time i managed to get a few out, I realized I had dropped my glove and it seemed too late and time consuming to turn around to see if I could find it. I was wearing an Under Armour Cold Gear compression shirt with a fleece vest over it. I wish I had worn another long sleeved shirt over it. I kept trying to hide my exposed hand in my shirt and I think all it did was cause me to tense up my arm. When I tried to raise my arm up to stretch, I realized my upper arm and shoulder were numb as well and, while I could move my arms from side to side….lifting them wasnt going to happen. I hit 10 miles at 1:43. I knew I was slowing but I figured if I stayed strong I could still make it. At the Dowd Y run, I never felt tired. In fact, I felt amazing the whole race (see pic taken at mile 12 below – I was giddy and happy)
I kept telling myself to suck it up but I was running out of gas. I wish I had eaten that second granola bar. I wished I had worn another shirt. I didnt have enough engery to fully run at the end…but I did pick it up when I saw the finish, crossing in 2:17:05.
Post Race:
I beat my Dowd Y time, so it’s a PR but I didn’t feel as good about this one. I didn’t feel like I could have ran anymore and I’m starting to doubt whether or not I can do a full marathon. After Dowd…I though I could have ran the whole thing again. It was frustrating to feel so weak after a race and I hurt after this race, unlike the last two when I was up and walking without any discomfort right away. Due to the cold, they gave us these shiny plastic blankets, which was pretty much a life saver! I got my medal, and then got my double medal for completing both halfs. I’ve decided to do another half in January, which is on a much flatter course and I’m hoping to grab that 2:10-2:15 that I know is in me.
After my shower it was lunch at an all you can eat sushi buffet and some much needed and deserved day drinking in Charlotte!

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