Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get in Gear 2017 - Half Marathon - Race Recap

I signed up for Get in Gear Half to continue my tradition and also for some usual goals up ahead, inspite of being in a self-doubt phase. At the end of it this was a meh experience. The way this ended was a first time for me.

Race start was 9am. Till the previous day, it felt like too late in the day and a total waste of morning daylight. Anyway, carried on my usual morning ritual and left home by 7:30 ish. Aiming to park at VAMC for the shuttle to start-line, I got off on Highway 55 at 8am and boom what do I see ? Snarl traffic, just standstill cars. We crawled that last mile to VAMC for the next 50 minutes.I looked at the Metro rail so longingly, each time it passed ahead, kicking myself for not parking at MOA and taking the train. Distance-wise its seems illogical, but turns out ground reality of an event day is different.

After parking, I rushed to the shuttle bus line. Did not bother to grab my phone, hence no pictures. And since time was so short, I decided against any bag drop. Hence I had to take my car key in water bottle pouch.

Shuffling in the line for shuttle bus, I could not decide if it was cold for 1 shirt or will warm up later. So I stuck to my outfit of 2 technical shirts. Btw it's amazing, there is never any panic or hustle in queues in MN. Its less than 10 minutes to start-line and you would not guess it from the calm around. And just when I was wondering, "Why don't they have 2 lines for different buses ?", I overhear bus volunteer speak on phone, "No, the driver says can't fill 2 buses at a time". Wonder why they didn't decide to board the runners on priority and let families come by different bus later ?

After getting off the bus close to Minnehaha Falls, everyone broke into a run to the start-line. Great, I got my warm-up run ! But what I did not get is the lounging around the various promotion tents, no coffee, no peaceful mediation to compose my mind at the start-line.

Boom Race start. The first few miles were beautiful. Bumped into 3 folks I knew. Soon was running  on my own. By the halfway turnaround, crowd was very very sparse, as usual. These few miles to & from turnaround, this was a new addition. It was in construction for as long as I have run in these parts. So then I proceed well, running alone. I tried to chat with my closest lady neighbor. It was all jolly well, but I was not feeling IT.

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After the turnaround and a hop around the bridge, I reached the 10 mile marker. Now here I sprinted to shave seconds off my 10 mile time (ha) and after that a  volunteer stopped me. I was like, "what now?" And he informed me that the 10 mile cutoff bugle (imaginary) went off 10 minutes back, so I have the option to run on the side trail and not road coz roads will be opened and so on. He was a sweet old guy, so to my surprise, my brain perfectly agreed with him. My second brain did not question me. There was ample time for the over-all time limit. But frankly I was so bored, I was like, screw the medal I don't need one. Yes frankly this is usual perk of being a slow runner - being interrupted with all the cutoff talk. It has happened to me so so many times and I have fought it and run to finish so many times, I decided to try the other option this time. The option of riding to the finish line. Yes, let me see how it goes.

So I hung around the water stop volunteers there, waiting for that magnificent swag vehicle to take me back, chit-chatting with those volunteers, overhearing their Sunday plan of Tour de Tonka Ironman. Soon it was clear, that they did not expect anyone to take their offer of being dropped ! I had even asked them, "Will the ride be arranged in next 15 minutes coz if it's gonna take 40 minutes, I can as well run the remaining 3 miles haha". I saw them open the roads and allow cars to go on. More runners were stopped similarly and they ran further on the side-trails. Just then two magnificent Harley-Davidson bikes came along, and I kidded, "Thanks for arranging those for my ride !" The guy said some soothing stuff, in case I was devastated by refusing to finish - that "its better to quit than to be injured, there more races to run, some are going to be bad ones, so what?" True stuff. Amazingly I did not doubt my decision at all. I thanked him & others for volunteering, coz undoubtedly, the water-stops were perfectly placed and with the much needed water & Gatorade glasses. Volunteers in each of them were all cheerful and encouraging. So in 10-15 minutes, I was guided to Eric's car. He was a volunteer and going towards finish-line and ready to drop me.

Once at the Minnehaha Falls park area, I tossed between going straight for shuttle stop or hanging around. I was not hungry but decided to get some food. Actually I did not want to miss their Raisin Bun. Those are my favorite every year.

But I guess it's time to break my tradition. And not sign for GiG anymore. And its only because of the parking hassle and the long drive from home. I am done with that for now. Plus I have run this route enough times.When I say I was not demolished by this dropping off, I am not making it up. It just was not working for me. I could blame myself that I jinxed it by claiming last year's was perfect. I did prepare for this Half. Even ran 10 and 6 miles the previous 2 weekends apart from the weeknight runs. Then it's the cut-off interruptions that did it for me.

Given the self-doubt I have been in the last few months, concerned about my weight being in a plateau and its impact on my speed, and then dropping out of this one, my "what next" thought process was on hyper speed. Added to that I felt mild plantar fasciitis pain in both my feet, for the next 2-3 days. Even a massage did not relive it. I have been looking for ways to cancel and refund my next 2 race registrations.

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