Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rock the Night Away Half Marathon RR

What: Rock the Night Away Half Marathon
Where: Lake Perry, KS
When: 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, 2013
Weather: 86F with a heat index of 91F
Finish Time: 2:42

Race Week:
My running this week had not been going so well. I think it's mostly due to the humidity we had been experiencing, but am not sure. I did a short 2.8 mile easy paced trail run on Thursday night and could not get my breathing down. My legs were fresh, my HR was OK (high end of easy pace), but it just felt like I couldn't breathe.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m., packed my tent, beer, water, and food in the car and made it to work by 5:30. I was hoping to leave a bit earlier, but I ended up leaving work around 4:15, drove home, changed, loaded forgotten items, and drove to the race location.

I arrived at the location around 6:00 and relaxed for a bit. I finally decided to set up my tent around 7:00. I mingled with other runners including a trio who were running a 12 hour race starting at 7:00 in Omaha, NE on Saturday morning. Since my tent was near the starting line, I lined up when we had close to 5 minutes to go.

Facing the front of the line.

Facing behind me.

At 8:30, we were off. We start running down a dirt road and then turn into the trails. Once in the trails, passing was at a premium since it is mostly rocky, technical singletrack.

Unfortunately, I can not give a mile by mile break down, but I'll still provide details when I can.

The first mile I was having fun and felt good, but I knew I went out too fast when the first mile came in at 9:42. This, coupled with the humidity would lead to my disastrous first half, or at least that's what I thought.

Shortly after entering the trails. Yep, I'm happy at this point. (Photo courtesy of Rick/Kristi Mayo)

First photo I took while running. It was taken early in te first mile.

Miles 2-4 were mostly a blur as I alternated between feeling OK and feeling crappy all the time. I walked the hills and ran the flat/downhill sections. I was fighting with my hydration pack the whole time and was getting very frustrated with it. Plus, it seemed to increase how bad the humidity made me feel. I decided that I would ditch the pack at the staffed aid station before heading out for the 2nd loop. I won't lie though, thoughts of dropping to the 10K did cross my mind.

Early in Mile 2.

Around the beginning of Mile 3.

Early into Mile 3.

You can tell I was feeling crappy by the lack of photos during that section. I was just focusing on moving forward that taking photos never really occurred to me. The following photo should give an indication of how I was feeling, it was taken at around the halfway point as I was coming to the staffed aid station. We pass this station a total of 4 times as it is situated between the main trails and a 2 mile loop section. The photo was taken as I was exiting the 2 mile loop.

Photo courtesy of Rick/Kristi Mayo.

I spent quite a bit of time at the aid station. The volunteers were awesome and very much appreciated. Amber refilled one of my bottles and stored my pack as I mentioned that I didn't want to take it for the next loop. Shawn gave me watermelon and asked me multiple times if I was OK. After I recovered a bit, I took an S!CAP, drank some heed, and went back on the trail. Luke and another volunteer provided encouragement as I headed out for the 2nd loop.

Taken shortly after starting the 2nd loop during Mile 7.

I started off feeling better the 2nd loop and had renewed motivation, until I hit what I like to call the motivation killer. I was running along feeling good then BLAM, my left foot caught a root that was sticking up about a foot of the ground. It was about the diameter of a dime and just looked like a weed going across the trail. I stumbled forward, quickened my steps, and somehow managed not to take a spectacular faceplant. When I went back and saw the root, I could tell that others have tripped over it. I took out some of my frustration by ripping it from the ground to the point that it split in half. It would no longer be able to trip anyone else.

After the confrontation with the root, I walked a bit to make sure my ankle was fine as I have had issues with my left ankle in the past. I then started to notice some soreness on the left side of my upper leg. I took note of it and gave myself permission to walk if it ever worsened. At that point, I started running again. When I ran, I felt good and it felt like I was flying. Unfortunately, my mindset switched from trying to finish before 2:30 to just ensuring I finished. I say unfortunately, because I know I left a good 8-10 minutes on the trail, all during the 2nd half. I felt like I was running faster, but when I cam up to people walking, I gave myself permission to walk. Now I don't mean walking the hills, that was planned, these walk breaks were on the flat/downhill sections. I would eventually snap myself back to reality and pass them. This went on until I made it to the staffed aid station and began the last 2 miles of trails before heading back up the dirt road to the finish.

a dry creek crossing on the main loop, taken during Mile 7.

About halfway through Mile 8.

The next three photos were taken within close proximity to each other during Mile 8.

Near the end of Mile 8.

Near the beginning of Mile 9.


On the other side of the curve from the previous picture. I turned around to snap a photo of the log.

About halfway through Mile 9.

Somewhere in Mile 9, I passed a group of 4 or 5 young guys while they were on a walk break. Shortly after I passed them, they caught up and passed me. I would catch up to them again probably about 4-5 minutes before reaching the staffed aid station.

I approached the staffed aid station for the 3rd time and was actually feeling good so I just ran through to the encouragement of my friends who volunteered.

A little more than halfway through Mile 10 after starting the 2 mile loop section.

A little more than halfway through Mile 10 after starting the 2 mile loop section.

Taken along the 2 mile loop section of trail during Mile 12.

About two minutes after entering the 2 mile loop, I passed another runner. He tagged along for a bit and we chatted, but I eventually pulled ahead and didn't hear his foot steps.

I came upon one of my friends, Danny, and walked for bit as it was a much needed break. I then heard foot steps approaching and started running again. Shortly after I started running I came to a hill and walked. During this point, two of the group of young guys that I had passed before the staffed aid station, passed me by as words of encouragement were shared.

I came down the last hill and passed by the aid station while thanking them for their help. They cheered me along and I was soon walking up the last hill. About halfway through the hill I started running again. I finished the hill, turned and headed toward the finish line.

The following pics were taken by Rick/Kristi Mayo, as usual, they did a great job taking photos!

Yes, my eyes are closing. I am relieved to be done!

I am clenching a driver's license that I found shortly after starting the 2nd loop.  Thankfully, I found the person who lost it as they didn't even realize it was missing.

Exhausted and receiving the finisher's medal from the race director, Bad Ben Holmes.

Although I did not achieve my original goal, I am still pleased with the race. I struggled mentally during the 2nd half, but would eventually snap myself out of it and continue on. In the past, I would have just walked the remainder of the race. Heck, I would have stopped and dropped down to the 10K. So to me, just pushing through to the finish is an accomplishment. I celebrated that accomplishment with some well earned beer!

Thanks to Ben and the stellar volunteers for putting on another great race! Now it's time to hit the trails as I try and train for my first 50K in October.


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