Monday, July 15, 2013

April Sorenson Memorial Half Marathon - Sometimes it Rains, Sometimes it Rains Ridiculously!

The April Sorenson Memorial Half Marathon took place this past weekend in Albert Lea, MN.  I ran the race for the first time last year and found it to be a good training opportunity:  it requires relatively little travel, and doesn't conflict with any other big races, so I opted to return again this year.

The race was meant to be a training run. I ran 113 miles in the week leading up to it (highest mileage I've done in quite some time), so there was obviously no taper in effect here. And the plan for the race was to run a cut-down/progressive race. What this meant is that I was to start out at goal marathon pace (6:00-6:05/mile) to learn how to run controlled/restrained, and then then every 3 miles or so, cut a little pace (to practice finishing strong). Oh and do 5 miles on my cool-down to make the day my long run for the week.

So that was the plan.

Saturday morning rolls around and I wake up at 3am to house-shaking thunder, lightning, and a spooked dog sitting on my head. I figure my alarm will sound in 30 minutes or so anyway so I drag myself out of bed and get ready to go (I was driving to Albert Lea that morning - packet pick up is at 6am, race is at 7:30am). It's pouring rain outside, so I do my pre-race ritual 10 min/1 mile jog on the treadmill. I have a little LUNA breakfast, pack up my things, and hit the road. It is wash-out conditions in the metro area. We are talking sheets of rain! I think to myself, "this race is going to get cancelled," but keep trucking along.

I arrive in Albert Lea and it's dry. Maybe I lucked out and the storms will stay to the north. Maybe not. By 7:20am it's pouring, lightning, thundering, and the race gets postponed by 30 minutes. I had warmed-up in the rain expecting a 7:30am start though so I'm soaked and cold. I go to my car to wait out the rain delay. At 8am, they decide to get the show on the road. The race begins and it proceeds to storm, blow wind, and dump buckets (not drops) of rain on us runners for the entirety of the race. Worst weather conditions I've ever competed in...for anything. It was a boring, grind-it-out kind of race, so I won't get into it much. The cut-down was mostly executed and effective, but I didn't shave off hardly any time on each of the cut-downs. I had one 5:38 at mile 11, but all other miles were pretty pedestrian. I finished third overall (there were two speedy dudes who ran 1:10-1:11ish) and was the first female (1:17:15).  Six minutes slower than at the Half Marathon Championships!  Yuck.  But considering the conditions and the circumstances, I will take it.

No race photos because no one was crazy enough to be outside, but this is what I imagine I looked like on rained heavily non-stop!

The bad part of the day was that I woke up that morning with a sore throat (I think I exhausted myself last week with the high mileage and not enough sleep - I'm averaging about 6 hours per night, which some people can do, but is not enough for me to get rested/recovered). Running in the cold rain for 90 minutes, "cooling down" for an additional 5 miles after (while shivering), and then standing around in the rain for another 90 minutes in nothing but my wet race clothes (no drop bags and had to be present for awards) did not help the situation. As I write this (Monday), I definitely feel I have a little sick bug.  And at this point in my life/running career, I know I need to aggressively rest to nip this in the bud.  I will likely take the next two days or so off from running (except maybe exercising my pup Lexi) and focus on getting healthy/rested up.

Side note from the race: THANK GOD for Scott Erlandson's (my adventure racing teammate) mom, Sue. She lives in Albert Lea and volunteered to come out and watch me run/give me a ride back to Albert Lea post-race (race starts in Albert Lea and finishes in nearby Hayward). She had no idea the weather was going to be this crappy when she volunteered, but she showed up anyway. And she waited for me to get my award, AND she brought me a dry towel so at least I had that to try and stay warm with. I would have been hypothermic without her. She gets the super-star award for the day, for sure!

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