Cheesehead Half Marathon Race recap

Last year’s Cheesehead Marathon was a tough one (last years race details can be found here).  After the brutal sun last year, I could only hope for better weather this year.  
I wish I could say that this year was better.  There may not have been beating sun in a cloudless sky like last year, but the heat and humidity was enough to nearly kill me!  Regardless, I was determined to get out there and finish!  This was the first of 4 half marathons, over 36 days as I qualify to join the ranks of the Half Fanatics, joining the asylum and landing on Saturn.  
We were spending the weekend camping with friends again this year so, once again, we only had a 15-20 minute drive to get to the start line.  We made it to the start line early, so I had time to walk around, stretch out and mentally try and wrap myself around what I might be dealing with out there today.  Matt was running the relay with another friend of his, so he had time to relax in the car before he had to hop on the bus to head off to the relay exchange point.

 There was no sun to be seen on this warm, HUMID morning.  20 minutes before race time, my phone showed 80% hhumidity  I didn’t believe it tho – it was so humid and sticky that I was already feeling like I could melt.

This was, by far the toughest run I have ever done.  The first half of the race was tough but I met a few awesome people on the course that helped me get through it!  One of these awesome runners that I met was another Half Fanatic!  Tracie was in the middle of a stretch of half marathons every weekend for like 9 weeks… and here I was worried about making in through 4 in 6 weeks!  We would run together for a while, pushing and encouraging each other to keep going!  We agreed, this was a walk/run type race and as long as we made it to the end upright and moving forward, we were successful!  I hit 6 miles at just over an hour, right on track for the pace I was shooting for at this point in the game. At the halfway point/relay exchange, I saw another friend of mine, who told me that Matt just left a few minutes ago.  No worries, I had no intention of trying to catch up to him!  He was running on fresh legs… mine had been moving for over an hour already!

I actually did see Matt out of the course tho!  At one point, just after the relay exchange point, we had to make a quick out and back down one of the streets and as I was heading out to the water station/turn around, I passed him on his was back.  This would be the only time I would see him until I finished!

The second half of this race was beyond brutal.  Tracie and I kept a fairly consistent pace over the next few miles but I lost her just past the 9 mile marker when I had to stop to get a pebble out of my shoe (the joys of running on an unpaved trail).  These back 6.5 miles of the course were partially on the trail, then finishing out by retracing the first 3 miles of the course… with no shade and rolling hills.

I knew that these last miles were going to take more than just my legs to get me through, and I was right.  It was a mental game!  I felt like I walked more than I ran (my pedometer app on my phone later told me differently) but that finish line was the only thing on my mind.  The biggest thing that I  kept thinking while I was running was that I needed to keep myself properly fueled.  Normally, when I carry fluids with me, I usually skip grabbing anything at the water stations.  This time, I grabbed water and each and every water station that I past. Overall, every 2 miles (after mile 4), I made sure I was getting fuel of some sort.  I have noted my full fueling for this race at the end of this post.

 Overall, I finished with a respectable 2:37:26 time, only a few minutes slower that my time for the Cellcom Half earlier this year and only 2 minutes slower than last year. Finish temp 72 with 100% humidity!  The race was done, but now it was time to switch to recovery mode.   Recovery from this race was rough.  Once I got a little food from the cheesy buffet and get to the car to get my calf sleeves on, my legs did start feeling a little better.

After we got back to the camper, it was foam roller and shower time before we headed out for some lunch.  I actually felt really good, managed to get some food into me as well as a few bottles of my Red Raspberry Recovery and more water.  Unfortunately, after we got back to the camper, I opted to stretch out in one of the lawn chairs to relax.  I should have headed inside the camper, where it was cooler, for my relaxing.

I dosed off for a little while and when I woke up, I actually felt worse than before I went to sleep.  Apparently, the heat and humidity took more out of me than I thought.  With the amount of water and Recovery I was drinking, I figured that I was doing ok. However, I was actually more dehydrated than I thought.  My body was not happy with me.

I ended up spending most of the rest of the evening inside the camper, relaxing, napping and sucking down more fluids, all while enjoying a nice bag of ice on my head!  WOW!  Not how I wanted to spend the evening, but it was what I needed to do!  Dinner ended up consisting of a pile of fruit salad and water… food didn’t even sound good!

Thankfully by morning, I felt better and my appetite returned.  My body appeared to be heading back to normal!

When it comes to race fueling and preparing for each race, everyone needs to figure out what works best for them.  This is a constant learning process for me.  This was the first time that I actually set everything that I need for a race out in one place.  The above picture is everything that I had with me for this race, from my clothing to my fuel.  I never actually realized how much I needed until I saw it all in once place!
Today’s fueling consisted of:
“Breakfast” while I was getting ready
       1 banana
       LARA bar
       Bottle of Spark (whb 10oz water)
       02 Gold
15 minutes pre race – 1 serving EnergyBits
Mile 4 – 1/2 of Chocolate Honey Stingers wafer cookie and a few Sharkies
Mile 6 – second serving of EnergyBits
Mile 8 – Recovery Gel
Mile 10 – rest of my pack of Sharkies
Overall, my fuel seemed to do well for me today!  It was just the humidity that pulled more out of me than I could have imagined

Will I run this race again?  That is a tough one… It is nice that it is close to home, but 2 years in a row with brutal weather conditions?    Not sure what next year will bring.

What is the toughest race that you have done?  What did you learn from that experience that has helped you grow as a runner?

Next week – Marquette Michigan for Half Marathon #2 in this crazy adventure of 4 in 36 days!

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