Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Syracuse Half Marathon Recap

The nice thing about local races as compared to Disney races is that you don't have to get up before dawn to get to the race. Last year, I left my house a mere one hour before this race started and got to the start line with plenty of time for a bathroom break beforehand. That was not the case this year.

I should have left my house earlier. I was thinking that as I was getting the kids' breakfast ready (if only they had slept in on a Sunday!!). The reason I thought I should was because there were 2,000 more runners registered this year than last. The sport of running has gotten quite popular and lots more people wanted to Run the 'Cuse so the race director opened up more spots after registration filled up quickly. 3,600 runners were registered to run.

I finally left my house at 6:55. It's about a 20 minute drive to get downtown. The race started at 8:00. I got to the start line at 8:00! I was freaking out. I sat in traffic for 45 minutes. I was about 2 miles from the parking garage where the race advertised everyone could park for free. Everyone else was also headed that way and coming from all directions into one entrance. I had told my husband to come later with the kids so he didn't have to worry about waiting long for me to finish. Boy did I wish I had not said that. I watched runners jumping out of cars along the off-ramp, making their way to the start. I wish I was one of them! Instead, I watched the clock tick closer to 8:00 and I hoped there would still be a spot in the garage when I got there.

I finally parked a couple minutes before 8:00 and went to find my friend to hand off the Gu I had brought for her. I learned that the race was pushed back 15 minutes due to the traffic. Whew!! I found my friend and started texting my husband to tell him the race was starting late and that he would probably need to find a different place to park. I took off my gloves while I was doing this because it was hard to text with my gloves that were supposedly phone friendly.

I neglected to mention the temperature at the start was 16 degrees and with the windchill it felt like 2. Yeah. It was bitter cold. And having my gloves off was not a good idea just standing around. Remember those 3,600 runners? Only 2,700 ran the race. I don't know that all of them were people who would rather not run in the frigid temps, but it had to be a good number.

So the race started at 8:15 and I was off. It was a little slippery, but thankfully the roads weren't too snow covered. The race crew had salted the course the night before. I only caught myself a couple times on black ice. I had a few oh no moments when my race flashed before my eyes but thankfully I didn't fall. 

There's a big gradual hill after the first mile that I remember being torture last year. Well this year, I am happy to report it wasn't as bad. The only problem I had was figuring out if I was going to lose my fingers to frostbite! Remember the texting I did without my gloves. I had two fingers that were numb and it was really worrying me as I ran. I could not feel the tips. I took off my glove and tried to massage them a bit. Thankfully the feeling came back and I was fine from there on out. In fact, I took my gloves off a few times because my hands were so warm. The wind was in our face on some portions of the course so I put them back on for those parts.

This course had a fair number of hills. For someone who does not train on hills (my neighborhood is flat as a pancake), I was doing well for myself. I think the DVDs I have been doing for strength training have helped. I felt really strong for the first 5 miles. Better than I have felt in other races in recent memory and those races didn't have hills. I slowed to have Gu at mile 5 and it was tough to get back in my groove again but I finally found it.

I was cruising along and kept looking at my watch to see what my pace was. I really enjoyed one extended downhill section around mile 9. I was running at a 9:20 pace which never ever happens for me. I felt speedy!

The last couple miles were tougher only because I had just trained up to 11 miles before the race. So my pace slowed a bit. I kept doing the math to make sure I kept my pace above 12 minutes per mile because I really wanted a PR.

I crossed the finish line with a 2 minute PR!!! I had a time of 2:25:33. I was so proud of myself. I teared up at the finish. It was nothing like marathon. I was just proud that I pushed myself the whole race and it paid off so I got a little choked up. My kids and husband were just past the finish line. My friend who had just run her first half was also there, she rocked it! I was proud of her too.

2 minute PR!
An extra .1 miles due to me trying to avoid all the puddles.

The finish line is right next to the big event center downtown so we went right in for food and to warm up. My husband was able to buy bibs for him and the kids for $5 and they ate while they waited for me to finish. There was pizza, pancakes, sausage, bacon, bagels, cookies, bananas, yogurt, chocolate milk, and more. It was a great spread and lots of tables for people to sit.

All in all, it was another great race experience at the Syracuse Half. I have run this race all three years since it started.
Legacy runner
I will put a request in for better weather next year though!

Ever had your sneakers caked in salt at the end of  race?