The day before the race, I learned this particular course already has a reputation.
I had a doctor’s appointment that day, and it turns out the nurse was a runner too, so of course we got to talking about running! 😉 I had mentioned that I was doing a half marathon the next day, and she told me she’s run 16 halves and wanted to know which one I was doing. After I told her that I’d be doing Longview for the second year in a row she asked my why I’d want to do this particular race twice because “I’ve heard that course is absolutely brutal!”
I think it’s kinda neat that after only 3 years this race is already known for being brutal. That reputation is rightly earned though, this particular course is quite challenging. I mean, I don’t exactly have anything to compare it to, since this is the only half marathon I’ve done at this point, but I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to make. Especially since there is a king and queen of the mountain award for the man and woman who make it up the big ass hill at mile two the fastest.
The race website doesn’t even have a course description, but after doing this event two year in a row, I think I can describe it pretty well; Mile 2 is one big ass hill, followed by some more hills because there are literally no flat sections on this course. Around mile 7 is where the rolling hills start but don’t worry, they only get worse with some crazy downhills. Miles 9 and 11 take you across Longview dam, where you will encounter amazing views from the lake and killer cross winds. Followed by another pretty gnarly up/down hill at miles 10/11. After that everything feels like a slight uphill, because it kinda is until you get near the finish line. Your final sprint is going downhill, because it’s not like you’re quads are completely trashed at this point or anything. 😉
I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself here, so let’s back track to the night before race day, shall we? 🙂
The night night before the race I did a lot of Netflix watching, water drinking, and eating. Pretty much all of last week involved a lot of food, I don’t think I’ve ever been more hungry in my entire life haha! I also checked my gear and made sure I had everything one more time. By the time I went to bed I knew I was ready to go!
I didn’t exactly sleep well, but does anyone ever sleep well the night before a race? I’m pretty sure that’s almost impossible. I woke up a few times frantically checking my watch because I thought I had slept through my alarm haha. Luckily whenever my alarm finally did go off, I woke up right away and got up and moving so that my not so great night of sleep didn’t start to make me start feeling tired and sluggish. It never did, so that was good. Probably because I made a point to get some extra sleep through out the entire week before hand.
At this point last year I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat. I choked down half a banana and that was all that I could manage. Luckily this year I wasn’t feeling nervous at all! I was more excited and ready to get going! So this time around I was actually able to eat a little something for breakfast, and I think that really ended up helping me during the race. It wasn’t an exciting breakfast or anything though, just a bowl of frosted flakes and coffee with soy milk and honey. My stomach never seems to want to cooperate before longer runs, so I can never eat as much as I would like to.
After I ate I woke Luke up and listed to him complain about being awake at 5:45 in the morning while I got dressed and checked the weather. I made a last minute decision to wear my tank top and a throwaway jacket instead of the long sleeved shirt, and that ended up being a really good decision! It was really chilly to start, but the sun really started to heat things things up out on the race course! Anyway, we left the house around 6:20 and made it to the starting line around 7:10.
One of the nice things about this race is that the starting line is also the finish line. So you don’t have to walk or take a shuttle back to your car afterwards. We both wanted to make sure we got there early enough to get a decent parking spot though, and we did! The walk back to the car wasn’t bad at all! Unfortunately the ground was frosty that morning and we were parked in a field, so my shoes and feet got kinda wet during the walk to the porta potties. They dried out before the race started, but my feet were freezing cold and kinda numb and that really sucked.
Since we got there almost an hour early the lines to the porta potties were super short, so that was nice. They were also the nicest porta potties I’ve ever used! Haha I guess that’s a weird thing to make note of, but whatever.
After I peed Luke and I walked around to stay warm, pointed out every dog we saw to each other, and I drank a bottle of water. I was kinda worried that I’d have to pee again, but I didn’t which was a good thing. About 30 minutes before start time the lines to the porta potties got super long and I never saw them get any shorter.
I was freezing balls cold and only wearing a light jacket, so Luke was kind enough to lend me his carhartt before the race started. 🙂
About 20 minutes before starting time my stomach started growling, but I was prepared for that! I had a honey stinger waffle saved for that very reason. Luckily that was enough to satisfy me though, because I didn’t have anything else for before hand.
When it was finally time to line up I squeezed in kinda between the 2:45 and 2:50 pacers. At that point I assumed that was just wishful thinking on my part and that I wouldn’t be able to hang with either of those pace groups, but I ended up surprising myself.
Anyway, Luke hung out by the barrier with me while we waited to get going. The national anthem was played, we counted down, and then we were off!
Mile 1 was crowded, but otherwise uneventful. Mile 2 is where the real fun begins! First there is an aid station where I got rid of my jacket (I’m so glad I didn’t wear the long sleeved shirt), then like I mentioned before it’s pretty much all up hill. Good times. I ended up walking up most of that hill. I knew what was in store during the later miles of this race, so I wanted to make sure I saved energy going up this hill. I started running again near the top, because there is a race photographer and an announcer at the top of the hill calling everyone’s name, so I wanted to be running for that. Unfortunately I was making the world’s most unattractive face, but oh well.
Once I got over the big hill it was actually pretty smooth sailing for me over the next 5 ish miles. I ended up going back and forth with one of the 2:50 pace groups. They were doing different run/walk intervals than I was, so that’s why we kept passing each other, otherwise I probably would have ended up running with them for the most part.
I started getting kinda hot around mile 6. That’s when the sun really started beating down on us, and there really wasn’t any shade along the whole course. There were aid stations every two miles though, and they somehow managed to keep the water and Gatorade pretty cool, even for us back of the packers, so that really helped!
Luke met me about half way through mile 7 with a water bottle. I told him to walk with me while I drank a little bit then poured most of the bottle on my head. He told me I was looking good, he was surprised to see me with the 2:50 pace group, and if I kept this up I was going to PR by a lot!
He also took some interesting photos of me.
After drinking some more Gatorade at the mile 8 aid station I finally finished off my first pack of Honey Stinger energy chews (I had brought two with me). I had started it at about mile 6, but they were kinda making my stomach hurt. Not sure why, they never have before, but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point. I didn’t end up eating the second pack and I feel like that may have been why I ended up getting really really tired during the last few miles, but I’ll get to that in a second.
Mile 9 is when the run across the dam started. The sun was really intense here since there is water on both sides of you, and you get to deal with some really fun cross winds. Looking back, I think this is really when my energy started to fade, I just hadn’t realized it then. I was still running with the 2:5o pace group though! Well, I was actually a little behind them. The pacer was doing a phenomenal job of being super upbeat and supportive, but at that point in time I was feeling kinda surly and wanted to revel in my misery a little bit. Haha I suppose that sounds a bit over dramatic, but that’s what I was thinking at the time. 😉
At the mile 10 aid station they had gummy bears, cake balls, and beer. If my stomach had felt a little better I may have taken some gummy bears, but I decided to forgo them this time. I just thought that was kinda neat.
Mile 11 was over the dam again. Last year this was where they had a race photographer, so I was looking for one, but for whatever reason they moved them closer to mile 12. Not sure why they did that, the view at the beginning of mile 11 is better, but whatever.
Same pose as last year! 🙂
Seriously though, mile 11 was the longest mile of my life. I kept telling myself that the mile 12 marker had to be just around this curve, or at the top of this hill, but it never was. I have finally given up hope that I’d ever make it to mile 12 and I was going to be doomed to be stuck at 11 miles forever, when I finally heard the music coming from the last aid station. Seeing the 12 mile mark definitely wasn’t as exciting as crossing the finish line, but when I finally saw it I might have told you that it was the best feeling in the world.
Mile 11 was also when I started falling behind the 2:50 pace group. At that point I didn’t care though, at that point I could have probably walked the rest of the way and I would have still PR’d and that’s all I cared about.
I didn’t walk the rest of the way though. I kept up with my run walk intervals and some how the last mile flew the fuck by. Like one minute I was at the aid station and the next I was making the final turn to the finish line!
Unfortunately crossing the finish line ended up being a bit disappointing. I had turned off my music so I would hear them call my name as I crossed the finish line, but the announcer wasn’t even there! Luke said he kept getting up, walking around, and talking to people instead of calling out the names of the finishers. So that sucked. And then I only have one decent picture of my crossing the finish line because the girl in the white shirt jumped out of the crowd and had the other girl wheelbarrow her across the finish line. I don’t even think white shirt girl ran the race, but the photographer ended up focusing on them and taking 8 billion photos of them instead, which is kinda bullshit, because like I said, I’m 90% sure white shirt girl didn’t run, and even if she did, I don’t think it was fair of her to cross the finish line twice. Oh well…
I couldn’t be too disappointed though, I just finished my second half marathon at 2:52:42!! My goal was to run it in under 3 hours because last year it took me 3:09:42, so I ended up CRUSHING my goal! I also PR’d my 10k time by running it in 1:20:00, which was one of my goals for this year!
Luke was waiting for me at the finish line looking pissy because he couldn’t get a decent photo of me thanks to the wheelbarrow girls, but he was still super excited for me and my PR! I got my medal, a bagel, chocolate milk, a granola bar, (they had chili too, but I definitely wasn’t feeling chili after that) and my finisher’s receipt, and then we headed back home.
Once we got home the first thing I did was take an ice bath. That was the very last thing I wanted to do, but I’m glad I did. My legs were crazy sore the next day, so I can only imagine how shitty I would have felt if I didn’t.
While I was sitting in a tub full of ice, Luke ran to the store to get stuff to make ribs. Later that night we had a few neighbors come over, so I spent my evening recovering around a bonfire, eating ribs, and listening to Luke brag to everyone about how well I did during my race. I’m pretty sure he talked about it more than I did, actually! 🙂
I know this post is super long, and I’m almost done I swear!
On Sunday Luke and I literally sat around all day watching Netflix and playing video games. Haha I didn’t want to do much else, my legs were completely trashed from all of those hills! They are still a bit sore today, but nowhere near as bad!
I’m super duper proud of myself, I can’t believe I PR’d by as much time as I did, and I’m already thinking about training for my next half! But I’m going to take some time off from running first. I think I’ve earned a little break (read that as, I don’t really want to take time off from running, but I know I should so I’m going to pretend like that’s exactly what I want to do 😉 .