Sunday, April 19, 2015

GO! St. Louis Half Marathon race recap

It has been one week since the GO! St. Louis Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend.  Saturday morning was the Read, Write, and Run children's fun run, the Mature Mile, and the 5K all in Forest Park.  I spent Saturday morning working one of the t-shirt pick-up tables at the expo.  It was a four hour shift but because we were so busy, the time just flew by.  Not only do you get a free t-shirt for volunteering but as I mentioned before, your volunteer hours also accumulate and can earn you free GO! St. Louis apparel or free races!

After my volunteer shift, I met my co-worker/training buddy so that we could pick up our packets and walk through the expo.  We then decided to eat on The Hill, which is St. Louis' famous Italian area.  She chose Favazza's, and the weather was perfect for sitting out on the patio.

Favazza's on The Hill
I was excited about this race, but also nervous.  I didn't make it to as many training runs or run as much as the training schedule indicated.  The longest training runs were rough and my legs just felt tight, but I was still excited to be part of the Fleet Feet group and was glad that I didn't train on my own this winter.

The Fleet Feet Training group - Full and Half Marathoners of various paces
This was the 3rd time I have run this particular race but this year's course was different and in my opinion, more interesting since we ran over the Mississippi River into Illinois and back.  I was only able to snap a few pictures at the beginning of the course since I was running with my training group for part of the course and it started sprinkling within the first five miles.

Our 10:1 pace group

Our group started together running 10 minutes and walking one minute before repeating the process again.  I was able to stay with my group until we were crossing back into Missouri.  This is where two of us fell behind and I saw the group slowly disappear in the mass of runners.  At first I wanted to fight to keep up, but I have run most of my races solo so I was OK with finishing on my own.  The great thing about being part of a large training group was that I never felt alone because I kept seeing other Fleet Feet runners and we would yell words of encouragement to each other.  While I was on my own, I wasn't sticking to the 10:1 pace.  I just ran and walked when I felt like it.  Then just past the halfway point, my pace coach appeared out of nowhere. She was at the base of a hill that I had every intention of walking up, but she wouldn't let me walk it.  We started back on the 10:1 pace, but by that point I was pretty exhausted.  Luckily, she is a talker so we kept talking (I was mostly listening) and that helped the miles pass.  There were so many times that I wanted to walk, but she wouldn't let me.  The hills seemed so steep, but she wouldn't let me walk and kept encouraging me.  Her energy and determination to keep me moving was amazing.

Once we were finally making our way to the finish, we ran by the Fleet Feet tent and everyone screamed.  This was a great spot for them because you see the finish line, loop around the block, and then head uphill to the finish and I really needed that last boost before the uphill to the finish.

My coach stayed with me all the way until the finish, and then she went back to find the other woman in our group who fell behind on that bridge.  I don't think I have ever been that happy to be done with a race.  I was just exhausted and so thirsty!  Although my 2:42 time was nowhere near the time I had hoped for, I knew that I wouldn't have even gotten that time had my coach not been there.  I thanked her for being there for me on race day, but I get a little emotional when I think about how great it was to have her there.

The Fleet Feet training experience was a great one, so I am already thinking about joining their fall training group, which starts in July.  I had another half marathon lined up in May in Indianapolis but my parent's kitchen renovations had some unexpected delays and I am moving into St. Louis County next weekend, so this spring is just too hectic for all of us to go out of town.  I was incredibly sore for several days after this race, so I think I may start all over with my training, literally ground zero with a couch to 5K program until the half marathon training program starts again.  I also know that I am not going to get any faster until I can drop some of this extra weight, so I am going to spend more time at the gym and try to eat better too.  So although my time wasn't what I had hoped and the race was literally painful, I learned a lot about myself and have many new goals going forward.

Have a great week!!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Giving Back

Over the past several weeks I have been giving back to the running community by volunteering at races and packet stuffing events and I had a blast at each event!  It all started with the locally-famous St. Patrick's Day Parade Run in downtown St. Louis.  My cousin is the course director and I have both run the race and volunteered in the past.  This year I managed to get the boyfriend up VERY early to volunteer with me.  He ended up enjoying it because he had the megaphone and was yelling words of encouragement as well as letting them know that the water stop was on the right.  He loved the power his volunteer assignment gave him!

The next weekend I volunteered at a water stop for the Run for 21K half marathon and half marathon relay.  We had a large group of volunteers and we even had a pom pom group!

The Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after the Run for 21K water stop were filled with packet stuffing for the GO! Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend.  GO! St. Louis rewards their volunteers by letting them accumulate their hours towards free merchandise and most importantly, FREE RACES!  So after the two nights of packet stuffing, all of my volunteering in 2014, and my upcoming volunteer shift at the race expo, I will have 19.5 volunteering hours and you get a free half marathon with 20 hours.  Only one more shift, most likely at the GO! relay this summer, and I can run the half marathon next year for FREE!  So not only is it fun to give back to the running community, but you usually end up with at least free shirt and snacks and sometimes a free race entry in the process.  Give back when you can, you won't regret it!