Race Recap: Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon (aka The Day After The Day The Shit Hit The Fan)

well… I typically like to write a sorta race preview the week or day before a race. I guess it helps calm my nerves. I figure I research and think of all this stuff anyways, so I should just share it, right? I had actually started one and was planning on finishing and posting it Friday when I got home from work…then, shortly after lunch, the shit hit the fan at work…


…and the rest of my goals for the day drifted away. I spent the rest of Friday in a daze…staring at the wall… trying to sort out my life. On top of everything, I get one of the worst possible side affects to stress.  I cant eat…an-ney-thing. I know, some of you would think this would be awesome, but the night before a half marathon, not a very good situation. But on the flip side, life goes on.  I’ve been training for this bitch since July 1 aaaaand spent $50 in race registration. I was determined to not let one particular selfish person (how do you sleep at night?) ruin my race day I’d worked so hard for.  I figured, even if I got cramps, vomity or whatever and had to DNF, at least I tried, right? Plus, on top of that, this was supposed to be my year to complete the Tri 2-B Tough Challenge, which is where you complete all 3 half marathons in the fall: Jacksonville Marine Corps, Subaru Distance Classic, and the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon.

If I missed this race, I would definitely be out the Tri-2B Tough Challenge entirely.  So I spent Friday night staring at a half club on wheat from Subway, sleeping for barely a few hours, and just utterly stressed out.  Woke up late Saturday morning.  We were supposed to get up at 5:30 but we both ended up hitting snooze until 6am. I quickly made my pre-run oatmeal.  I take 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, pour it in a bowl, mix in 1/4 cup Almond Milk and microwave for 1 minute. When it beeps, I take it out, mix in one teaspoon-like scoop of peanut butter, Nutella, or Biscoff (my favorite lately!).  Super duper simple, easy, and quick. Unfortunately that morning, I STILL was unable to consume food.  I resorted to desperate measures.  One small scoop of oats in my mouth, one large gulp of water. Repeat.  Soon enough my oatmeal was gone. I knew I needed that energy or I’d be in even worse shape come start time. Packed everything up and headed out to the race site.  Had barely enough time to warm up with a 1/2 mile run and stretch, then the race started.

Was my training enough?

For my training, I ran 3x a week.  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and a long run on the weekends.  I started off on July 1 training in this crazy Florida heat.  I did a lot of the initial runs inside on the dreadmill because it was just TOO HOOOT outside. For the first month and a half, my Tuesday/Thursday runs were just 3 miles.  I would try to run faster on Tuesdays, and then run a normal pace on Thursdays. For the long runs, most of them were completed on Saturday mornings.  We started out at 3 miles and proceeded to add a half a mile each week to our long run until we reached 10 miles for our longest long run which was the weekend before the race. Typically long runs increase weekly in one mile increments.

There were several reasons I setup our training to start early and to increase in half mile increments. First off, Adam and I were both suffering from shin splints when we started in July.  For our runs, we initially started completely on the dreadmill running just 3 miles at a time.  Then I slowly split our workouts so we would run 75% inside on the dreadmill, then we would run the rest outside on the sidewalk.  As our shins adjusted, I added more outside runs (weather permitting) and decreased the indoor runs.  This seriously worked for us.  We were able to get our mileage in regardless of shin splints.   I’m obviously not a doctor or in the medical field at all, but I personally believe a lot of times shin splints are caused by doing too much, too hard, too soon, too fast, too quickly.  So I extended our workouts and it worked for us.  Now if I could only get my legs to adapt to the hard fields that we play Ultimate Frisbee on.  My goal for 2012!

Second, I knew there would be a few weeks life would get in the way and we wouldn’t complete our long run.  By increasing in half mile increments, this enabled us to easily stay on track if we missed a weekend.  The following long run we would just increase by one mile.  In August, Adam went to Vietnam for work for a week, and I actually think the week off gave us both a break and we came back even stronger.

Weather on race day?

So the weekend we scheduled our longest training run of 10 miles, we ended up stuck in 90 degree temperatures.  We both had the WORST run of the whole session.  My camelbak ran out of water. You name it.  We were terrified. I remember seeing Adam mid-run and he said “I can’t do it. I can’t race next weekend. There’s no way.” I knew that look in his eyes. I knew what he was thinking.  I’d been there just weeks before my first half marathon and told myself the same thing.  I quickly reassured him by telling him we’ll just see how we feel next week.  Deep down I knew if the weather was as hot on race day as it was on our 10 mile run day, we were both screwed. Luckily, a cold front came through and scared the heat and humidity away.  It couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

I mean, 60 degrees on race day??? I’m not sure I even know what that would feel like??? 0% precipitation? Excuse me while I run a few circles around the room in excitement!!! Needless to say, I wore my usual I Wear Your Shirt t-shirt w/ my long sleeve ‘Pursuit of Happiness” shirt.  I expected to take the long sleeve off about a mile into the race and tie it around my waist, but that never happened.  In fact, I didn’t take it off until about 1/2 mile before the finish line and purely just for selfish reasons. Since I expected to take off my long sleeve, I’d pinned my race number to my t-shirt below.  So close to the finish line, I took off the long sleep so that all the race photographers could identify me in my amazing finish line photos! Coincidentally, my finish line photos are AWFUL and a total fail. hahahahaha serves me right!

Race Course? 

The race started at EverBank Field and wound its way thru Riverside etc.  Beautiful area.  It WAS slightly hilly, but really nothing I couldn’t handle.  It was definitely manageable.  Its such a pretty area to see all the houses and there were tons of non-racers out walking their dogs, getting coffee, pushing strollers, so it was definitely cute.

But before I even ran the race…I took a look at the race route that was provided on the events website. (which really sucked and wasn’t really helpful…)

First thing I noticed was there are TWO bridges.  I had no idea when I signed up this race had two bridges.  The Main Street Bridge and the Acosta.  Yikes.  While the Gate River Run does include bridges in the race, the Jax Bank Half Marathon does not.

Then I read the race reviews….

  • Tri Madness – Jacksonville Marine Corps 1/2 Mary
    • This was the first recap I found.  Not huge, but had some good, helpful info.
    • Expect a cannon boom start, not a race gun (these always make me jump)
    • Mentioned seeing the ‘winner’ running early on.  This was funny because I definitely saw this too.  About 4-5 miles in, I started getting passed by the soon to be winner!  Crazy!  That means he was at 10 miles when I was at 4!!
    • Mentioned decorated pint glass.  awesome, had no idea we also got a pint glass!
  •   Aimless Runner – Jacksonville Marine Corps 1/2 Marathon Recap
    • This recap was the most eye opening to read before the race.  Why, you ask?  because this was where I learned about what is referred to as “Mile 12: AKA Mile of HELL”  Another bridge? What? Yup, thats right.  For this race, you end up switching and running on the waterfront over by the Riverside Arts Market, YMCA, Florida Times Union, and ANOTHER BRIDGE!!!  And that super annoying spiraly thing. ugh.  This did not make.me.happy. At least I had a warning.. that would have SUCKED to come across that not expecting it on raceday!
  • There was a third site, but it wasn’t working when I pulled it up again today. oh well.  😦

Race packet review?

Ahhh the good ol’ race packet.  I know I can’t be the only person that gets so gosh darn excited to pick up my race packet.  I usually go the first day packets can be picked up and rarely wait.  I never pick them up the day of the race unless it’s required for some reason.  Then you have to walk all that stuff back to your car.  Plus you run the risk of them running out of something like shirts, and not getting one!  Eeeek!

Anyways you can see the race packet below.  It contained:

  • Race shirt, camo – eh, this was ok.  I loved that it was camo, but really didn’t like the actual shirt material.  I never wear the race shirts though, so I can’t really complain.  They’re either icky material or too short!
  • Sweat towel – I have no idea what to do with this. Does anyone have a suggestion?
  • Race number – yah!
  • Lanyard – pretty bright and colorful. Not sure what to use it for..
  • Flashlight – this will come in handy. Already stashed in my car. Came w/ batteries too!
  • Blinky – give that we’re entering fall season, I’m sure I’ll use this for night running soon.
  • Chip – My last chip from the Gate River Run stayed on my shoe over 6 months!!  Hopefully this one’s only on there for two, maybe less!

Post Race Party:

I cannot give enough thankyou’s to Firehouse Subs and Chocolate Milk for being on site.  Having barely eaten since Noon the day before, this was GREATLY needed.  Plus I really think Chocolate Milk is the best post race drink out there.  See the last pic at the waaaay bottom, i’m chowin down on a yummy sub.

If you disagree and happen to do marketing/pr for some sort of race drink/post race fuel, feel free to send me a sample, I’ll totally try it!! (*hint hint, was that too bold???)

How did I do last time & goals for this race? What are my next race?

Well the last time I ran a half marathon was two years ago.  My training was spotty.  I got in almost all the long runs back then, but completely missed almost all the mid-week runs which are just as important as the long runs!  This time I completed all the runs, long and short, aside from maybe a handful.  I definitely felt more prepared.  Only problem I do have is I weigh about 20lbs more now than I did back then.  This definitely affected my race time.  Hopefully by December that won’t really be a factor anymore.  We’ll just have to see!

2009 Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon – 2 hours 38 minutes 45 seconds

2011 Marine Corp Half Marathon – 2 hours 52 minutes 23 seconds.

oy.  This year I was about 14 minutes slower. ugh.  but considering the conditions I was under, not too bad.  I seriously think that at the Subaru Distance Classic Half Marathon on Thanksgiving, I should be able to beat my 2009 time!  Fingers crossed!!!

Whew, well with this race behind me, the next thing to do is start focusing on my next race.  The immediate next race I have is the Evergreen Pumpkin Run.

It is a 10 mile course through the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville the day before Halloween! Aside from this race, there were TONS of races I wanted to do especially in November, but unfortunately I have to keep things low key until I secure employment.  Scary stuff, eh? I know for sure I am continuing the Tri 2B Tough.  The next race for that is the Subaru Distance Classic Half Marathon on Thanksgiving!!  What a more perfect way to start out a holiday centered entirely around food!

After that, the last race of the Tri 2B Tough is the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathonon December 18.  Great way to keep motivated and on track during the holidays!

Did this guy dislocate his arm or something?

More pictures from the race:

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