Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kennebec River Rail Trail Half Marathon {Race Recap}

So the half marathon I've been training for for the last four months came and went on Sunday morning. I'll just start with saying I was not in the right frame of mind going into Sunday which disappoints me. I was trying not to get nervous about the race. I put in a fairly decent training cycle, not perfect, but I felt pretty strong. I knew I could not control the weather, but it concerned me since I am a terrible summer racer. I had to just go in and do the best I could with what I was given. But I wasn't excited. The night before Ian even commented that I didn't seem very excited about it. I just felt...indifferent.

I woke up early on Sunday and headed up to Augusta solo to pick up my bib and race shirt.

Green logo on white...soft and good for summer running.

I saw a few people I knew (Andy, Harold, Louise, Sarah) and just hung out until the start. The temperature was in the low 60s, but the sun had started to warm things up quickly. Right before the start Jen and Jill arrived. Jen decided to do the 5K instead since she was just recovering from a bout of bronchitis, but the rockstar she is still killed it and came in second female

I wasn't ready to embrace the discomfort of running for nearly two hours. I wasn't looking forward to the heat. Anyway, I tried to get my head in the game as the race started. 

At the first turn (Photo courtesy Running With The Girls)

I started off comfortable (a tad fast) and it didn't take long to find a good stride. Sarah blasted past me and I had to tell myself to run my own race. Andy snuck up on me within the first mile and we stayed side by side for the first four miles. {Miles 1-4 ~ 7:59, 8:09, 7:57, 8:04} I was running at the pace I had trained for, but by mile five I was feeling the effects of the heat. Andy and I had reeled in Sarah, but I was thinking I would have to slow down to make it to the end. 

I stopped at the next water stop and dumped one cup on my head and drank some while I walked for a few seconds to slow down my heart rate. {Mile 5 ~ 8:33} Andy pulled ahead while Sarah and I stuck together for a few miles. 

Me and Sarah

I saw my parents on the side of the road which was a nice pick-me-up. And it meant that we weren't far from the turnaround point. {Mile 6 ~ 8:40} Seeing this split was a bummer since it was slower than my half PR pace, but I had banked some time in the first few miles I was still thinking I had a chance (even though it would be tough). We hit the turnaround point and the race clock said 55:xx. I'd have to run back (albeit a shorter distance) in the same time to get my A goal. I knew a sub-1:50 was not going to happen today. They weather was just too warm. 

On to goal B: better than 1:52:03, 8:33 average pace (current half PR)

I had to keep reminding myself to just run the mile I was in. I was thankful for running with Sarah, even though no words were exchanged between us, I was nice knowing someone else was there with you. {Miles 7 and 8 ~ 8:31, 8:54} At each water stop I would walk through grabbing two cups and sipping from one while dumping the other on my head. Sarah dropped off at mile eight and I just focused on getting to the point where my parents were spectating (which was right after the mile 8 marker on the way back). 

At least I can still manage a smile!

Immediately after seeing my parents I heard Jen's voice. SPONGES! The sponges were near! 

She handed me one that was ripped in two as well as a small bottle of water, I yelled "I love you!" and carried on. I tucked the wonderfully ice cold sponges on my shoulders while I walked for a moment and drank. I had only eaten one Shot Blok at mile five, but my tummy was feeling a tad sloshy which in turn was making me nauseous. I decided to wait until the next water stop at mile 10 to eat another. {Miles 9 and 10 ~ 9:04, 8:57}

I had come down the big hill into Hallowell and through town and knew that I would be able to make it to the end, but by this point my average pace was right around my PR pace. I didn't feel like I could run any faster. My legs were dead and I was so hot. I had hit the wall. Thankfully Jen was waiting right before I got on the trail again and I switched out my sponges for a cold one and promptly stuffed it down my shirt. 

My average pace was now above my PR pace and I felt like I was barely surviving at this point. Now I was just trying to hold onto my C goal, PR the course (faster than 1:55:05, 8:47 average pace).

{Mile 11 ~ 8:53} All I could think about was getting to the finish line. I thought about if I saw the boys at the finish I'd slow down and get them to run across the line with me. Usually I'm all about racing to the finish. But even if it meant missing my time goal, I'd still choose to run with them. Thinking of those two were what got me through the last two miles. 

I didn't care anymore about the time on the clock and as a result posted my slowest mile of the day (Mile 12 ~ 10:06} While my watch was beeping the miles just before reaching the posts along the course in the beginning, I was now reaching the mile markers prior to my watch reaching the split. Once the finish line came in view and saw that it was a lot closer than in years prior, I knew the course was going to be short. I scanned the sidelines for Ian and the boys, but didn't see them. I crossed the finish just as my watch beeped 13 miles {9:02}. The race clock and my watch read the same number 1:52:50. A course PR...though it was short. 

Not quite a half.

Andy's watch read nearly a tenth of a mile short too. The final results added on 16 seconds to my finish time, so they must have been adjusted to take the short course into account. 

And with that, my third half marathon was over. Not what I wanted the outcome to be, but given the weather and the fact my head wasn't in it, I'm happy with the number I got. I will get that sub-1:50, I know that I just have to put in more work to get there.

Official stats:
1:53:06, 8:38 average pace (course PR by 1:59)
77 out of 195 overall
32 out of 114 females
15 out of 43 in age group (30-39)

Final thoughts on the KRRT Half Marathon:

Pros - 
  • best course support from volunteers I've experienced in the last three years of doing this event (half in 2012, 5K in 2013)
  • nicer looking race shirts with softer technical fabric
  • they gave out medals for the first time this year (though not fancy)
  • it is on a paved trail I have run on a lot and am familiar with
  • quite a few shaded areas and it runs along the pretty Kennebec River
Cons - 
  • the race fee is pretty high ($45 for pre-registration) for what you get. It is run on a trail and there is only one road crossing, so there isn't much needed for police presence. While I don't run for the shirt or a medal, there is nothing special about either. Registration fees go toward the upkeep of the trail, however it is unusable in the winter months. One reason for the higher fee might be that because the race is capped at 250 participants due to the trail width.
Overall, I'm happy to do this race even though it's always a tad warm. Other than one significant hill, it's very flat. It's nice to be able to run a race that is within an hour drive and I know I'll always be coming back. Maybe next year I'll go back to the 5K and defend my age group title. 


  1. Congrats on completing your 3rd half and on achieving a course PR! A good race shirt is important - one of my favorite parts of doing a race. It's great that you like yours.

  2. Carrie - you done good, the conditions during the second part of the half were tough and you still got a course record out of it. I am sorry we didn't get a chance to talk too much - next time. I agree with your observations.

  3. You ran a great race in tough conditions- you should be proud! Did the race hand out the sponges, or was that just your awesome friends?

  4. Awesome job!!!! I was so excited to be there and cheer/support.

  5. Running in the heat is so rough, great job pulling through and finishing. It is so good to learn the run your own race thing isn't it. I used to go out way too fast and want to keep up with everyone else going out way too fast. I am over that!

  6. Congrats on getting a course PR! Racing in the heat is very difficult, but way to stick with it and get it done!


Thanks for your comments!