Sunday, January 21, 2018

First Light Half Marathon (WW # 129)





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First Light Half Marathon
January 14, 2018
Mobile, AL
Half Marathon # 50


I've run this half marathon before in 2014 and 2015.  It stays on my list of favorites.  This time, I road-tripped with two friends who were pacing the 2:15 group and who needed to arrive at 6 a.m.  Our 3:30 departure went smoothly and with our yacking, the trip went quickly.  The forecast of feels like 17 at race start was spot on.   Thankfully, we could stay inside the packet pickup location at the Mobile Government Plaza atrium for warmth.   The start line was about a block away. 

My goal for this race was to shave a little more off my recent half marathon finish time; paced at a 9:51.  Rome wasn't built in a day [or you can just insert any old saying about patience here].  With it being my 50th half marathon -- I vowed to enjoy it.  If I couldn't, I shouldn't be there.


Kaye, myself and Laurie. 
Bundled up and ready to go!

I ran into Katie at the start line but didn't take a picture as my phone was tucked deep into layers to keep it from dying in the cold temperature.  It was then I realized my stomach was growling.  I had not factored in the extra awake time (since 2:30 a.m.) and although I waited closer to race time to eat -- I had not eaten enough.  I knew it would slow me down, but I decided to drink Gatorade for calories at each stop.  I typically skip at least half of the stops in cold weather.
 
The course is mostly flat.  I won't go into detail, but it's a very pretty antebellum homes, mossy oaks, French Quarter route (you can read an older recap HERE).    I stuck with my decision to stop for calories.  I'm very appreciative of the people encouraging us from their porches and front yards in the frigid air.  A special thanks to the dude blaring Sweet Home Alabama.  I cruised along and enjoyed the course.

Even with Gatorade at every stop and the 2 GU I had on me, the last few miles were still a struggle.  I felt nauseated from hunger and we were running directly into that cold wind.  My buddies tell me there were oranges and bananas at one stop but I completely missed that!   I put my head down (figuratively) and concentrating on my footfalls I kept pushing.  I'd count to 100 and start over.  All things considered, I ran a pretty evenly paced race.



A decent picture...
except for the usual missing teeth.


My gun time finish was 2:08:19.  Sadly, due to technical difficulties I will not get an official chip time.  My Garmin reports a 9:45 pace so I would guess it's right around 2:08 or even a hair under (shallowly, a 2:07:xx would have been very sweet!).   So yes, a little faster than my previous race. With my extra stopping, I'll take it
.

My feeble attempt to commemorate #50
with the lovely Azalea Trail Maids.

My buddies arrived ahead of their 2:15 target and we retrieved our jackets, blankets, scarves, and hats from the car and returned to the after party in Bienville Square.  The meal of red beans and rice with cornbread was fantastic!  Topping that with two chocolate chip cookies, I felt much better. As we were sitting in a patch of sunshine enjoying the band and our post race beverages, they began giving out awards.  I was shocked to hear my name called for 3rd Grand Master (they award 5 deep in all master categories) as this was my worst finish time at this race.


Post race in beautiful Bienville Square


This race benefits L'Arche Mobile.  Their residents are very much involved in this event, making the finisher medals (and awards) and handing them out at the finish line.  One of L'Arche's missions is to "...make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities..."  They put a bio of one of their residents on the back of each award plaque.  It's such a nice, unique and personal touch. 


Hand crafted wooden medals and award plaques.


So, my first half marathon of 2018 is in the books.  I'm still chipping away, which may just become my phrase for the year.  Hopefully, you'll get to hear it often.   It was a great lesson about pushing through to the end -- because you never know -- it might just be enough for an award.  

And that's a wrap!


What is your trick for getting through those last few miles?

Have you gotten up at 2:30 for a race?

Do you like red beans and rice?  Cornbread?


80 comments:

  1. That's an early start to the day! Sounds like a tough race but you gave it your all. Congrats on #50 and the award!

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    1. Thanks very much. It was an early wake-up call, but we survived. It really wasn't bad at all.

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  2. Hey, when in the south--yep, I'd eat red beans and rice! Especially with Sweet Home Alabama in the background!

    Yep, those Disney races always have an early wake up call.

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    1. Sweet Home was blaring from the corner of a turn late in the race. Of course I thought of you and our Door County experience! Disney is the only race I could think of that requires that crazy early alarm.

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  3. I think my earliest race morning wake-up has been around 4:00 (for a 4:45 departure). Red beans, hmmmm....I love them in chili (with all the other chili fixins), not sure how they'd taste with rice. But, I'd be willing to give them a chance ;-) Congrats on that great finish...those were tough conditions (the temps anyways) and the lack of food in your tummy.

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    1. Thanks. I guess we can still learn something at races (like put enough fuel in the tank). The red bean concoction (some add sausage too) is served over rice. It's quite tasty.

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  4. Wow, I don't think I've ever raced a race in temps that cold before. Congrats on placing! Now that you mention about the people making those wards, I do remember you racing this race before. Seems like a special race and a great one to make your 50th!

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    1. Thanks! To be as southern as I am, I've been in quite a few frigid races. I like them, actually. Just not the before and after part. Yes, I'm sure I've mentioned it in the past. It's a favorite race and cause.

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  5. Nope. Never that early.

    Good for you on being able to chip away. Congrats on your award.

    I know how it feels to be under fueled. That happened to me in Vegas.

    So what’s 51?

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    1. Thanks! It's disconcerting when your stomach is growling and you haven't taken a step. At least I learned my lesson. Well, there is a half next weekend...

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  6. I've done a 5k in below freezing temps before but I don't think it was quite that cold and a very cold 1/2 marathon but it was above freezing. The waiting around before hand was the worst part of that 1/2. I love southern food and come from a Cajun family but I've never really liked Red Beans and Rice - jambalaya and gumbo are always favorites though!

    Great job on your race in spite of the difficulties and fun to get an unexpected award!

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    1. Thanks Judy. I agree that the before and after part is the worst thing about a cold race. I run a race each year that serves gumbo afterwards. It really hits the spot too!

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  7. I love that the residents make the awards for this event! How sweet is that. I wish that I had a trick for the final miles. In anything under a half, I can just push through. Last time I PR'd the half I had hubs in front of me to chase after until I got my second wind. So maybe just start picking people right in front of you and try to keep pace?

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    1. This race really touches my heart. I did my best to keep up with a young guy ahead of me who seemed to have the smoothest form. That helped too. I may have passed him at the end, but my foggy brain can't recall. LOL

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  8. Omigoodness, I would totally have not survived a 0230 wake up call for a race. I don't know how you did it! Especially without food. I would have just stopped. YOU. ARE. A. BEAST!

    And I am not from the south but I am a huge red beans and rice fan. And cornbread? Yes, please!! :)

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    1. Awww...thanks! I went to bed at 8:00! I've tried making red beans and rice myself but haven't hit on a good (and easy) recipe. I am from the south, so you have to crumble that cornbread into the red beans for the perfect meal. Ha!

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  9. I love the handcrafted medals and plaques - such an awesome touch to a race.
    I'm sorry that you didn't feel well for the last few miles but you still did amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I'm glad I didn't toss my cookies and was able to eat a few later! LOL.

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  10. Congrats Holly! Remember such cold temps compromise your speed because the body is trying to warm itself. I think 2:08 is quite respectable, especially in those conditions. 3:30 is the earliest I've had to rise for race. Yikes! Yes to rice, beans and cornbread, although I rarely if ever make them. Ha!

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    1. Very true, Marcia. It's just so much easier to breathe in cold air that I don't consider the other things going on with my body. I rarely make Red Beans and Rice either, but it sure is tasty.

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  11. Congrats on your 50th Half! And the AG award! And I love those trail sisters! A 2:30 am alarm? Now, that's crazy!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad I received a little something extra for my 50th. And being completely surprised is always nice too!

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  12. I use the count method to get through sometimes too! It is amazing how a little distraction like that can help. Running under-fueled is tough. Great job getting that finish on a basically empty stomach!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that! It does give you something to focus on other than how bad you feel or how long it seems to the finish line.

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  13. 50th half marathon, very cool! And it sounds like a really great race, I love the costumed azalea girls. And the finish line party sounds awesome. Congrats on your age group win too!

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    1. Thanks, Jessie! The Azalea Trail maids are always such a bright addition to the finish line and a nod to days gone by. We made a few pictures with them.

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  14. I've never gotten up at 2:30 for a race. I would have to go to bed by 7:30 to make that wake up call! Congratulations on your 50th half. That's way too cool!

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    1. Thank you, Jessica! I did go to bed at 8:00. If I can sleep 6 hours before a race, I'm happy.

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  15. Congratulations again on an awesome race and your award! I wish we could have taken a picture too! I enjoyed the race but wish I had gotten a shirt. I use shirts more than the medals!

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    1. Thanks, Katie. It was good to see you. We definitely needed a pic! They only had XL when I picked up my packet too. However it looked so small when they held it up, I took it. It's actually fine for me and my broad shoulders.

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  16. I'm not sure red beans & rice would tempt me post race but cornbread sure would! It's hard enough for us to race in such cold tempos & we're used to it! Great job & congrats!

    I think 3 am is about the earliest I've had to get up for a half so far. And you were at that one.

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    1. Thanks, Judy. I think I have an iron stomach. I can eat after a race -- and do! And I'm not too picky about what it is. Did we get up that early for Utah? I don't even remember that!

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  17. Nice job, Holly! Congrats on placing in the overall masters division. I've started my legs at all hours for my five Ragnars, but I don't think I've gotten up before 3:30'ish for a regular race.

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. I bet those start times are crazy for Ragnar, and I'm guessing you probably really never go to sleep. One of those races is on my bucket list!

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  18. Red beans and rice with cornbread sounds so good right now! Great job on your race and getting such a neat award!

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    1. To have handcrafted medals and awards by members of the charity is such a great idea!

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  19. Wow, 2:30 am is DEDICATION! congrats on your first half of the year. Not sure if I've ever done one in January - it's so cold here! Though we finally had a little thaw and it was upper 30s for my run this weekend!

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    1. As long as I can get about 6 hours of sleep, I'm OK. January is my favorite month to race in here.

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  20. Congrats on #50 and the Masters award! I've had a few of those 2:30 wake up calls for races, I always wonder how I can jump right out of bed for those.

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    1. I think we are sleeping with one eye open anyway the night before a race. LOL.

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  21. Sorry to hear you were hungry during the race but you still did awesome! Congrats on the AG award and it being half #50!

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    1. I remember being very hungry during a marathon too that had a crazy early wake up call. I hope not to make that mistake again!

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  22. Nice job on #50! What a great way to kick off the year. Here's to more chipping away for 2018.

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    1. Chipping away would be very nice! But as long as I can still enjoy running, it doesn't really matter what the time is on the clock.

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  23. Great job getting on the podium even with a hungry stomach! and congrats on number 50 that is awesome, I have no idea how many I have done but it isn't 50! Sounds like a great cause that the race supports and good food afterwards!

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    1. You should count them up. They do add up pretty quickly!

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  24. Congrats on running a strong race, especially after a 2:30 a.m. wake up call! What a great way to celebrate your 50th half marathon!

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad I chose this event for #50. The charity touches my heart.

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  25. Congrats on #50! That's an early wakeup call - I have never been up that early for a race!

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    1. Thanks! I've had quite a few of those early ones, especially when you have to take a shuttle to the start line for a point to point race. Those seem extra early.

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  26. 2:30am sounds like starting the day for a Disney race. Glad it went well, despite you being hungry.

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    1. That's exactly what I told myself. If I can get up at Disney (which is an hour ahead of my real time) I can get up for this race!

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  27. Okay, 2:30 is too freaking early!! I probably just wouldn't have gone to bed Lol
    Yes! to red beans and rice and cornbread ...that sounds like perfect post race food for a cold run such as that one! Congratulations again on your AG award and for braving that early morning and frigid temps!! You rock!

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    1. I thought the red beans and rice were just about the best thing I'd ever put in my mouth. But I was freakin' hungry!! A pile of saw dust may have done the trick.

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  28. The only races I've gotten up that early for are Disney races! Still too early! If I have to travel for a race, I'll weigh the advantages of staying at a hotel closer if it means more sleep time! Red beans, rice and cornbread sound DELICIOUS after a race! A half marathon I did in 2016 had tomato soup that everyone raves about! It was pretty good and would be awesome after a colder race!

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    1. We thought about going down the night before. But with three gals in one room, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have slept at all. Soup after a cold race sounds delicious!

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  29. This sounds like a beautiful course! It really is tough to figure out how to fuel properly for early wake up calls like that.

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    1. It is a really nice course. I've done these early starts before and fueled much better but this time I just forgot.

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  30. Nice work! Those last few miles are always tough, especially when feeling a bit underfueled. And in the cold, I find my body needs more fuel than usual too. Great work shaving some time off your last race!

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    1. I was glad I didn't spend much time shivering outside though. I think waiting inside until the last minute helped to not use up ever more energy.

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  31. I get much hungrier during cold weather runs, so I can only imagine your poor tummy, having been up for so long coupled with the cold temps! Love those special medals and awards - that's a sweet race.

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    1. Drinking the Gatorade helped. I'm glad this wasn't one of those races where they only give out water!

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  32. Congratulations on a great race!

    I've gotten up at 2:30 for some Disney races, so I know that feeling of trying to eat enough for all the extra awake time. It can definitely be heard to fuel.

    I prefer black beans to red beans, but I'm sure it tasted wonderful on a freezing morning.

    I love your tip of counting to 100. I have to try that for the future.

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    1. Yes, I've done a few of those early Disney wake-up calls. But, I also remember eating more. I just didn't think about it this time.

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  33. It stinks you didn’t get an official chip time but why not round down to 2:07 😉 Congrats on #50 and on the Masters award! I would love some beans, rice and cornbread right now!

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    1. If you think it's OK to round down, I will! LOL.

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  34. Good job on your time and award too! But sorry about the technical difficulties :-( It's a bummer it isn't in the "record" books.

    One time I had a technical difficulty with a 5K zombie run and was disappointed because it was a dark trail run around halloween and my fear of things jumping out at me from the woods gave me wings on my feet that night.

    Food during a race is a tough thing too - I'm still trying to figure it out between liquid nutrition and "real food" (oranges, peanut butter and cliff shotblocks) I'm still experimenting!

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    1. At least they had their backup timing system in place where they pull your bib tab (when you come through a narrow chute) to get the order of finish correct. So few races do that these days. I've never eaten real food during races except for marathons -- and that was bananas.

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  35. Congrats on your 50th half marathon and the award! That's fantastic! I've definitely gotten up at 2:30 for races in the past (Disney and Kiawah), and I'd do it again. Runners be crazy like that. :-)

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    1. It's definitely crazy...I don't think twice about doing it! I never sleep well that well the night before a race anyway.

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  36. Way to push through that race! Congrats on your award! I've done similar things to get through my race...counting has been one of them as well.

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    1. I'm sort of a natural counter anyway. I count lots of things so I find myself counting steps without really thinking about it. LOL.

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  37. Congrats on your 50th half marathon along with your AG award! 2:30am is definitely an early wake up. Way to go!

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    1. Thank you! Luckily, I don't do very many that require an alarm like that!

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  38. Congrats on a great race and your award!

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    1. Thanks. These awards are such a special touch.

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  39. Congratulations on #50! I am sad you had a chip malfunction, has that ever happened to you before?! anyway your gun time is great, perfect way to celebrate 50.
    That is a crazy early wake up call, I think Disney may have been the closest thing to that early lol
    Your finish pic looks great :) Keep chipping away! It is working.

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    1. Many of us did not get a chip time. But they had their secondary pull tab system in place so they knew the exact order of finish. It's rare you see that at races any more.

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  40. Great performance! I'm like you -- I vow to enjoy races; for me, it's usually because I'm not *completely* prepared for it. *eep* I love the medal! Gorgeous pictures, too.:)

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    1. I'm usually not as prepared as I set out to be either. But, the experience is fun anyway. When it stops being fun, I've got a problem.

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