If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that my immediate post-race emoticon reaction looked something like “meh plus side-eye”. But in slightly-more-objective hindsight, I think my race went about 90% as planned. Summary version for anyone not interested in the play-by-play: I was on track to easily beat my goal time until the last half mile, when I got side stitches in both sides and ended up finishing 3 seconds over my goal. For everyone else, here’s the long version of my Run to the Pub recap.
The race didn’t start until 9:45 and buses left for the start from 8:30-9, so I got to sleep in compared to your average race and got up shortly before 7. Ate breakfast, got ready, drove to the start and was on a bus shortly after getting in line. The line for the buses was more of a blob, but it didn’t really matter as there were plenty of buses and a bus would fill and leave every minute or so.
The race start was several miles outside of town, and the starting area was a big field with portapotties and an announcer’s stand. I warmed up while standing in the portapotty line…then ditched the line when I was still standing there 5 minutes before start time and used the nearby thicket of bushes (as did many other people). I’d say they need more portapotties, but let’s be honest, the bushes are probably more sanitary.
The start was just a horn and everyone taking off. I thought there might be some congestion at first, but the race size (~1200 runners) turned out to be about perfect – I didn’t feel crowded at the start, but I was also near lots of runners for the duration of the race, so no “racing all alone” feeling. The first 2 miles were the roughest; uphill and into the wind. At the first mile marker I heard someone say “that was only a mile?” Agreed, that person.
I had an hour-long playlist on my phone that I planned to turn on for the last half of the race, but I caved somewhere during the second mile and put my earphones in. Hearing something other than the wind makes it feel not quite so strong. The first aid station was at a corner around mile 2.5. When I got there a large group of runners was standing there drinking their water and blocking almost the entire aid station. Etiquette tip: don’t be those runners. I got some water, turned the corner, and was no longer heading into the wind. Woo hoo!
The mostly-downhill part of the course started around mile 4. I say mostly for a reason, which comes during the next section….but for now, running downhill and not against the wind felt like flying compared to the first section of the course. On the negative side, it was sunny and hot – well, hot for Bozeman in March – and I was starting to feel it.
I ate half a pack of Honey Stinger chews and came to the second aid station shortly before mile 5. After heading out of the aid station and making another turn, the clouds finally moved over the sun. The rest of this section was downhill, cooler, and blissfully free of the sun trying to fry my face off. I felt good enough that at the next aid station I tried to drink while running. I got some water in me, but probably more on me. Back to walking through aid stations.
Ohhh this section. On the course map it looks pretty flat-to-downhill. I think it’s probably more accurately described as rolling hills. Starting at mile 8, I could see the course all the way through the end of mile 10, and you could definitely see the hills. What I forgot, though, was that after the aid station around 8.5 (when I also ate the rest of my chews) there’s a little loop around a neighborhood off the main road. There was a little uphill-downhill through the neighborhood, but I don’t think it was as bad as the main road looked.
After we came out of the neighborhood and turned back to the main road, there was a short, steep, definitely not on the elevation chart hill near the end of mile 10. Maybe it was because it was near the end of the race and I was tired, but this felt like the steepest uphill by far. I felt my breathing start to get ragged and slowed to a walk for 30 seconds or so on this hill.
Most of this section was whoo! downhill! whoo! almost done! Then at mile 12.55 (I know the exact mile because I checked my watch to see how much time I had left to hit my goal), I got hit with the side stitches. I tried to walk and massage them out twice, still thinking at this point I could squeak in under my goal. The stitches became stabby and painful again almost as soon as I started running, and were seriously impacting my ability to breathe. I ended up coming to a dead stop twice so I could suck in some air.
Directly after the race I thought I should have kept going through the side stitches, but I really don’t know if that was actually possible. My breathing was short and shallow and I couldn’t work out the side stitches while I was moving. I’ve never had side stitches that bad, and I’m not sure what caused them.
Anyway, I walked-ran-stopped-ran and finally made it to the finish line in 2:10:03. I grabbed an orange and a water bottle that I added a Nuun tablet to. Then I found the table where they had free Irish car bomb cupcakes for runners, and ate that first because priorities. I found my husband and we walked down Main Street a little ways so I could buy myself a delicious Brazilian burrito bowl (at 5 on Black, if you’re ever in Bozeman), then came back for the awards to find out that I did not win one of the 4 trips to the Dublin marathon that the race gives away. Biggest disappointment of the day, obviously.
I am still a bit bummed that I trained consistently, stuck to my training plan, and didn’t get the result I knew I was prepared for. But logically, I know I hit the paces I planned for 85% of the race and sometimes stuff happens when you run 13.1 miles.
As for the race itself, I’ll definitely be back! It’s a pretty big race for a small town – in addition to the half, there’s also a 10K with close to 3,000 participants – and everything ran smoothly and on time. The biggest negative for me was having no electrolyte beverage at aid stations. It’s probably not something you typically need in March here, but for last weekend’s weather I felt like I could have used some! The course is beautiful – you’ll have to take my word for it, I can’t take pictures while running – and fun if you like downhills, because despite my complaints about the uphills, it’s still mostly down.
To wrap up my Run to the Pub recap: I just missed my goal, but I did beat the time from my first half marathon by over 20 minutes. (2:32:32 – I don’t think I even recorded this anywhere, but the internet remembers everything.) I had no idea what I was doing the first time, and it’s amazing what proper training will do for you! It’s also pretty tiring when you actually race a half. Going to sleep and sleep some more this week.