Sunday, May 31, 2015

Race Review: Medina Half Marathon

Or "How I Didn't Run Like a Dumbass this Time"

And there you go.  Thanks for reading--see you next week!

Ok, I know that wasn't enough.  You probably remember my recap of the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon two weeks ago.  In a nutshell, I ran like a. . .well, a nut.  I didn't take the humidity into consideration, I didn't have goals, yadda yadda yadda.  As a result, I crashed and burned after the first 10k.  I was determined to rectify these errors for the Medina Half Marathon, especially since the weather was worse than it was in Cleveland.  88% humidity and high temps, anyone?  No takers?

Knowing that my biggest problems are the Voices in my head (sorry, Voices, you know I still love you), I came up with some strategies to run safely in this race.

1.  DO NOT even think about a PR.  Just don't.

2.  Set goals.  My secret goal was 2:05.  The goal I told everyone was 2:10 or less.  The time I would take without complaining too much was 2:11, as long as it wasn't because I was a zombie at the end.

3.  Take all water stops.  One cup down the throat and one over the head.

4.  HOLD BACK.  I was determined to keep my pace consistently between 9:30 and 9:45.

5.  Enjoy the moment.  Touch the power station signs.  High-five little kids.  Thank the volunteers.  Wave to friends in the crowd.

The Medina Half is a special race for me because I teach at Medina High School.  I love to look at the crowds and see students, former students, and colleagues cheering on the runners.  This year was even more special because two of my friends chose Medina for their first half marathon.  You always remember your first!

TORN represents!

Shannon is running her first half!
Heather, Lauren, and I all run for wine!
One of the many things I like about the Medina Half Marathon is that the race is capped at 1,000 half marathon runners.  This means that there is plenty of free parking and bathrooms, two factors I always consider in races as they make me very nervous.  This also means that I didn't have to get there super early.  As Joy and I lined up in the corral, I tried to get my mind in the right place.

Joy and I are ready to go!  
When we started, I was very tempted to try to catch Joy (who is a freaking rabbit), but my mantra was "Run smart.  Don't run like a dumbass," so I deliberately dialed it back in the first few miles.  I didn't dial it back as much as I should have (9:30-9:45), but I did manage to keep it at 9:20-ish for the first three miles or so.  As I am not a good negative split runner, I'm not convinced that running even more slowly at the start would have given me a better time at the end.  My legs felt fine this time (not like in Cleveland); it was just the heat and humidity that were killing me.

The course has changed again this year, and I really liked it.  I'm not the best person to ask because I'm not always aware of my surroundings, but I feel like most of the hills were gone from the back part of the race, which I really appreciated.  The biggest hill didn't change; that was on route 18, where I saw the TORN Superfans and they took pictures of us suffering the hill.

Yes!  This hill is my bitch!
It felt like there were fewer spectators this year, but I didn't mind because the tradeoff was that there were fewer dangerous drivers ignoring course marshals and weaving around runners.  This was my biggest complaint in previous years and my main concern this year: too many dangerous and inconsiderate drivers and not enough police to keep them under control.  I am happy to say that the Race Directors took this seriously.  My colleagues who live in the areas of the course had told me that there had been lots of notice, even a door-to-door campaign to make the residents aware of what would be happening that morning.  I noticed many more police at intersections, and I am grateful because this is the first year I felt safe on the course.  Thank you, Medina police and volunteers, for giving your time for us.  Thank you, Race Directors, for being committed to our safety.

Also, I didn't mind fewer spectators because the road-chalk messages more than made up for the lack of people.  I LOVED all the messages spread out on the course!  Thank you to all the people who put them there!

The heat and humidity definitely took their toll on runners; I saw a runner being loaded into an ambulance around mile 10, and I saw another runner buckle just before the finish line.  Two runners picked her up under the elbows and brought her across.  Again, I repeated my mantra and adjusted my expectations.  I thought I might hit my secret goal, but I definitely got slower after mile 10, and the 2:10 pacers passed me around mile 11, so I realized I had to kick it in gear.  Unfortunately, I was running on bricks for about half of mile 12, and I was worried about falling or twisting a foot, so that slowed me down considerably.  When I got off the bricks, I could see and hear the crowd at the finish, so I was able to pick up the pace, even though I was running uphill a bit.  I could hear my friends in the crowd calling my name, and I was able to sprint to the finish, something I couldn't do in Cleveland.
This was just before my final kick.  No, I was not sprinting here.
The food for this race was awesome: Subway sandwiches, fruit, rice chips, chocolate milk, water.  The race entry included a ticket to the after party hosted by Stand up for Downs, where we drank REAL beer (IPA!) and ate Romeo's Pizza.  I had intended to meet my peeps elsewhere for a post-race lunch, but it was really nice to sit at the after party, so we stayed there for a while.
TORN Peeps drink beer.  Look at Erin after her first half marathon!
All in all, despite the weather, I really enjoyed the Medina Half Marathon this year.  Thank you to the Race Directors for taking runners' comments into consideration and planning a quality event for a great price.  In fact, I bought my race entry for next year at the expo because I had faith that this year would be a good one.  I believe in Medina, and I believe in this event, so I think it will continue to improve every year.

Do you want to get in on this, Peeps?  I bought my entry for 30 bucks at the expo, but if you missed that chance, you can buy yours online for only 35 bucks until midnight tonight (May 31) and for only 45 bucks until November 1.  Not bad, eh?

Look at this sweet medal!

Nice tech tee, too!

Thanks to the TORN Superfans for lifting my spirits in this oppressive humidity.  Thanks to the Dargan clan for cheering for me, and thanks to Jess Toocheck who was at the hill before the finish.  You are all amazing!  Medina, I will see you next year!

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