When I registered for the New Year’s Double, I had a lot of doubt that I would actually be able to complete it. My friend Lisa over at WhiskyBaker was planning a trip to Dallas from Toronto to run it, and she asked me if I would mind picking up her race packet for her. I decided that since I was going to go to packet pick-up anyway, I should run one of the days. While I was trying to decide which day to run, I saw the bling:
(stolen from the New Year’s Double FB page, again)
My mind was made up: I’d run the double. That is, two half marathons in two days, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. There was also an option for double FULL marathons, but I’m not that crazy (yet). I approached the training mostly as though I was running a single half marathon, hoping for a PR on New Year’s Eve, and intended to mostly walk on New Year’s Day, although I did do a couple of back-to-back long runs during my training. I also decided to stay in a hotel near the race site so I wouldn’t have to drive an hour each way two days in a row.
The whole experience (well, except maybe for the looped course, lol) was amazing. From the beginning, the communications from the race organizer were outstanding. A few weeks before the race, we had a major ice storm in Dallas that is still causing shipping delays. Libby immediately emailed out that she might not get the last shipment of NYE half marathon medals and warned us that the last 40 or so finishers on NYE might have to wait for their medals to be mailed. In my opinion, this was really going above and beyond, and was so crucial to making sure no one was disappointed on race day (as it happened, the medals arrived in time, but the heads-up was great!)
(screen shot of the email Libby sent out)
On Saturday, December 28, I headed out to packet pick-up. This was, perhaps, the most organized packet pick-up I’ve ever attended. First of all, the volunteers were AMAZING. Everyone was happy and friendly and helpful. Second, it was very well organized. We were asked to know our bib numbers when we got there, so I had looked up mine (& Lisa’s), and I made sure I printed the email from Lisa giving me permission to pick up her stuff. Once I had the bibs, I headed over to the shirt table. On the back of each bib was a label with our names and the shirt size we’d selected at registration. This is genius, really. I’ve attended a number of races where they were already out of my requested size at packet pick-up because either people don’t remember what they’ve chosen or they decide they really need a different size. I greatly appreciated this small detail, especially since I was also picking up Lisa’s.
Packing to go to the hotel was probably the hardest part for me. The weather conditions were unpredictable (in the 20s-30s to start, up to the 40s+ by the time I expected to finish) and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear, or which shoes I wanted to run in. So I made a list.
I actually packed a few things in addition to the list, too (namely full-length running tights) but forgot one really important item: my foam roller! It would have been so nice to have after day 1!
We headed to the hotel after picking the boy up from daycare on Monday, December 30. Once Lisa & her husband arrived from the airport, I took her race bibs & shirts to her, and then we all went out for dinner (tried for pizza, but the wait time was too long, so we headed to a great Tex-Mex place) and then went back to the hotel for an early night.
My alarm went off at 6:15 (perhaps my favorite thing about these races was the 8:40am start time, so I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn!) and I quickly (and as quietly as possible) got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast.
(NYE flat runner)
I had my normal pre-race breakfast of toast with peanut butter & honey, and waited in the lobby until Lisa was ready. She wanted to get to the race site a bit early to make sure she was in the Half Fanatics pre-race picture at 8:20, so we left the hotel about 7:45. We missed a turn because we were talking (oops) but it only set us back about a minute. We got parked in plenty of time. Here’s a picture Lisa took of me right after we parked the car.
Notice the gloves & the ear warmer – it was about 28 degrees at start time!
Lisa headed over to the picture meet-up spot, and I took care of my final pre-race preparations and took some pictures.
(walking towards the starting line)
I was in corral D for the NYE race, with an anticipated finish time of 2:15. The “corrals” weren’t really marked, so I lined up behind a bunch of people who had a “C” on their bibs and waited for the announcement that it was time for corral D to go. I started my music & Nike+ app when corral C started, and started the Garmin as I crossed the timing mat at the start.
I started off a lot faster than I intended, in the 9.5 minute/mile range, but I felt good. I decided to keep that pace for as long as I could once I couldn’t force myself to slow down. The course was mostly flat, except for a tunnel that went under a major road, and was all sidewalk & paved trail, so there were no cars to dodge or worry about. Out on the course, the volunteers were still amazing. The water stops were a lot of fun (one was manned by the Frisco Running Club and one by the Allen HS girls Lacrosse team), and there were some great spectators on the course both days, too. The personalized race bibs were great, because the spectators could cheer for us by name, which I found really motivating.
The BEST spectators on the course were from an online Facebook running group I’m part of – the Runner’s Corner. Zane was out with his camera both days getting pictures. Here’s one he got of me on my 2nd loop (around mile 10 probably) on NYE.
The first loop of the course was great. By the second loop, I was starting to get bored. I felt really bad for the people running the full marathon who had to make 4 loops of the course – there’s just no way I could have powered through that. 🙂 According to the Garmin, I was maintaining about a 9:45 min/mile pace all the way through the end.
For the first time ever, my Garmin time matched my official time nearly exactly! (2:11:02 compared to 2:11:03). I finished 17th in my age group (out of 36) and was the 107th woman (out of 417) and 217th runner overall (out of 633). Not only was it a 9+ minute PR, it was my best race finish ever.
After the race, I went back to the hotel for an ice bath followed by a hot shower, then we went to lunch (pizza at Grimaldi’s!) with Lisa and her husband. Lisa also ran a PR race by about 6 minutes.
We called it an early night on NYE. With the whole family in one hotel room, we didn’t have much choice, so we were all in bed by 8:30. Around 12:15, I got woken up when the girl threw up all over me. We got her cleaned up, I took a quick shower, and thankfully she was back to sleep quickly. I managed to get about 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep until my alarm went off again at 6:15. Again, I got dressed quickly and quietly, then headed downstairs.
(NYD flat runner)
Again, I had my standard race day breakfast and waited in the lobby for Lisa. While I was waiting, I met two members of the Runner’s Corner FB group (Lee Ann & Mia) in person for the first time. Lisa & I left the hotel at about the same time this morning as yesterday, and got to the race site with no mishaps on day 2. 🙂
I was in a much slower start corral for NYD, having predicted a finish time of around 2:45. I didn’t think much of it as I was waiting, but once we started, I regretted that decision. I should have put down a faster anticipated finish time for Day 2. Not because I thought I’d be faster (although I was) but because most of that start corral started out at a 13-14 min/mile pace. While there was a time, not that long ago, where that was my comfortable pace, now it seems PAINFULLY slow, and on the narrow course, it was really difficult to get around the slower runners and into a group running a similar pace to me.
I intended to run intervals on day 2, but felt better than expected at the start, so I decided to run as much as I could before starting the intervals (this messed up my Garmin stats, since it was set to run intervals, but isn’t really a huge deal). I made it a little over 3 miles before walking my first interval. I made sure I was running every time I passed Zane and his camera, but although I was sure he got some pictures of me on day 2, there are none to be had.
Around the 4 mile mark, I was starting to feel defeated. My legs were feeling tired, and I was nearly positive I wasn’t going to be able to finish the run. Then I saw Junior, another runner from Runner’s Corner. He was on his 2nd FULL marathon in 2 days, after celebrating the New Year until the wee hours of the morning.
(This is Junior. He ran 13 miles in the coconut bra, apparently)
He was a bit ahead of me, hard to miss, and then he stopped for some video. I ended up right next to him and I believe I called him crazy. We began to chat, and he basically paced me for the next 2-2.5 miles, where my average pace increased by nearly a full minute/mile. Without that short distance at the faster pace, which got me through the halfway point and into the start of the 2nd loop, I’m not sure I would have kept running. (I still would have finished, but I would have walked the rest of the way)
The Runner’s Corner folks were still the best spectators – they had a makeshift aid station with candy, cookies, and MIMOSAS!!! on the course. As I passed them for the final time on loop 2, about 2.5 miles from the end, I grabbed a mimosa and walked a bit so I could drink it without spilling. 🙂
Again on NYD, my Garmin time was only off by 1/100 of a second!
A bit slower than NYE, but still my 3rd fastest half marathon ever. I was 37th in my age group (out of 65), the 177th woman (out of 395), and the 305th finisher overall (out of 610). Overall, still a good finish.
(post run on NYD, the sun created a lot of glare, sorry about that)
The BLING, all assembled:
Although I could barely move after finishing the NYD race – man, was I sore! – I would do this race again in a heartbeat. The loops were annoying, but the volunteers and spectators were so awesome, it was worth it. I think next year, I’ll try for the double-double (that’s a 5K each morning BEFORE the half, too).
It was an awesome way to ring out 2013 and ring in 2014 on the right foot.