It all started the same way it has for the previous 5 years: packing, a road trip, and a stop at the expo to pick up bibs and timing chips. The only real variation on the theme was adding cold weather running clothes to my bag since the expected temperature at the start was in the low 30's - usually it's in the low to mid 50's!
|Sun and Blue Skies One Minute|
|Random Rainstorm The Next|
|6 Years...And Still Under Construction!|
After we picked up our stuff from the expo, we checked into our hotel, went out to dinner, and spent the rest of the night laying around our room watching bad tv.
Like always, the 4:30am alarm came too soon and I pulled on my race clothes (tights, long sleeved shirt, jacket, ear band, and gloves) and we headed for the start line shuttles. I've never seen so many adults so eager to climb onto a school bus, but hey...it had heat! A short ride later we arrived at the UW-Fox Valley campus and the starting line. Most of the runners had taken shelter from the frigid temperatures inside a building, so we joined them; scoping out a little floor space to stretch, get iPods set properly, and commiserate about the weather.
Before long it was time to venture outside and into the starting corrals. Someone sang an off-key rendition of the National Anthem and the gun went off. It took about 3 minutes for me to get across the starting line.
As I said, I went into this race woefully under-trained, thus I had no delusions of running a PR race. In fact, my only real goal was to make sure I didn't set a new PW (personal worst), so I started off at a slow, comfortable pace and let the miles flow by - and flow they did. Before I knew it, I was coming up on Mile 3, then Mile 6, then Mile 9. I found myself really enjoying the race. This is the sixth time I've raced this course in six years, so I've really come to know it well. I knew where all 3 hills/bridges were, when to anticipate water stations, and what landmarks to look for. It's not the most scenic course out there, but I've come to love it anyway.
Unlike previous Fox Cities races, I found the two bridges late in the race to be only mildly annoying rather than super difficult. There was no walking involved. I ran both of them - something that's never happened before.
I know I mentioned in last year's race recap that I find the final mile of this particular course to be very challenging from a psychological standpoint. Runners have to run past the finish line and down a very pretty, but very long avenue before turning for home. I have, without fail, walked a good chunk of that avenue every year for the last five years. Not this time. I ran that thing like it was my job!
Overall, I'm very pleased with my performance at this year's Fox Cities race for a number of reasons:
- The only time I walked was through water stations. (That's a definite first for me.)
- It was my 2nd fastest Fox Cities race and third fastest half marathon ever.
- The bridges didn't faze me in the least.
- I was comfortable and happy, both mentally and physically the whole race.
- I ran a negative split! (Ran the second half faster than the first half)