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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Syracuse Half Marathon Recap. "I can't feel my face"

Soooooooo, remember a few weeks ago when I decided to defer my entry into the NYC half? It was maybe going to snow and maybe going to have 17mph winds...it ended up being pretty perfect conditions.  So, here I was, 2 weeks later, at the start of the Syracuse half Marathon......
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Every one of us were checking the weather every day hour leading up to the race.  It was almost comical that the weather predictions were worse.  There was always that chance things could turn around like they had for NYC.  But they didn't.  And the day before the race, I was sure of one thing.... it was going to be kinda windy. 
SUPER

I got in 4 mile shakeout run before the Hubs and I headed to Syracuse. It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive and it was already pretty windy and cold.  We hit a dark rainstorm on our way there and he just looked at me and asked if I really wanted to go (ehhhh no not really/but yeah mainly I do) I'm not one to back out of races, so backing out of NYC was a really tough decision, and there was no way I was going to back out of this race.  At this point I just wanted to get it over with!  When we got to 'Cuse, we headed straight to Fleet Feet so I could pick up my bib and then we grabbed some lunch. 

After we checked into our hotel and relaxed we headed out to dinner with a bunch of my NRS teammates who were also running.  We had so much fun and it was so great to get another chance to go over all our race strategies with our coach since he came out to run too. Mat (my coach) and I both decided I should still go for a PR (current PR is 1:37:30), but by how much we were unsure.  At that point the weather was really only calling for wind.  I felt confident I could come in around a 1:36:30 and we planned to just go out around a 7:24 from the start.  I had a bowl of Minestrone soup and small salad for dinner.  We stopped at Wegmans  before heading back to our hotel cuz I'm weirdly obsessed with popular supermarkets and picked up some watermelon, pretzels and Imodium. Got flat Erin all ready and passed out. 

ANNNNNNNNNNNND when I woke up at 4:50....................

I think I texted everyone saying IS THIS REAL LIFE?! It was. 
I made a cup of coffee, had a plain bagel and some Nuun and suited up.  I had no doubts or negative thoughts in my head at any time.  I never thought I wouldn't try for a PR since the weather was crappy.  We headed out the door and very slowly made our way to the convention center.  We passed some accidents, the roads were terrible and when we finally made it the convention center area, the traffic was so bad.  
Finally I just had Tyler drop me off at the front of the building so I could use the bathroom, find my teammates and warmup.  I really liked how this race was organized.  There were tons of tables and chairs set up, waters and juices set out, bag drop and a fleet feet tent selling extra fuel in case you needed it.  It was nice to have a warm place to stay before we headed out.  I ran into a Oiselle Bird (Hi Marybeth!!)  who I knew from Instagram and it was so nice to finally meet  IRL! 

The whole team gathered for some pre-race pics and we headed out for our warmup. 

We only had time for a 1 mile warmup before we had to line up at the start. 
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Miles 1-5 (7:32, 7:27, 7:20, 7:13, 7:23)
At the start it was only slightly snowing.  The streets were wet, but mostly plowed.  We hit the bottom of the James St hill and made the mile climb up it.  I actually thought maybe I was overdressed and that I probably could've worn shorts.  I was feeling good and Rachel and I were staying right with each other.  We actually were having full on conversations.  At mile 5 Mat told us to shut up.  I took a Honey Stinger gel and water around 5.5.  

Miles 6-10 (7,40, 7:37, 7:30, 6:59, 7:30)
Right after I took my gel, we rounded a corner and out of nowhere a mother-effing BLIZZARD hit.  Sleet was pelting us from the front and the right side.  It was white out conditions.  You legit COULD NOT see.  My eyes started stinging immediately. There was no relief.  Rachel and I were still pretty much stride for stride still.  I would lose her for a few on any down hills because I have  special gift during racing where any caution goes out the window.  Most people were afraid of falling on their ass and breaking their face on the icy and snowy downhills but I tired to use them for what they're for.  I think I took water once during this time and it was icy.  After every mile Rach and I would look towards each other and couldn't believe how consistent we were still being. At mile 9 ( I think??) the wind/sleet/snow was just constantly beating us at the ride side and the right side of my face was burning.  My neck warmer was just frozen around my neck so I couldn't pull it up to protect it.  I had just watched the movie Everest and the only thought in my head was "this is it, I'm going to loose my cheek to frostbite". Good news is, I was able to keep my cheek. 
Rach and I running side by side
Miles 11-13 (7:15, 7:19, 7:35)
The last miles seemed to be the worst for me.  The snow just kept piling up and the roads were becoming more and more difficult to run on.  When we rounded the corner for the final mile it was a full on headwind and I felt like I was moving backwards.  I was trying to push, but my legs were tired and I couldn't make them move any faster.  The hubs was waiting at a coffee shop around mile 11 and saw me run by.  At the final .10 I heard "WOO YAY BABE! GO BABE" and was so happy and surprised to see Tyler there at the end. 

Finish: 1:38:16 
3rd/381 AG
22nd/ 2,441 Females
129th/3729 Overall runners
5k split: 23:14 (7:29pace) 10k split: 46:44 (7:32 pace) 15k split: 1:09:37 (7:29 pace)


Rach and I post race
I had some cool down miles to run, but I was done after I crossed the finish line.  Soaked, cold, tired---we headed inside to get warm.  Rach and I ran together for the whole race and I honestly couldn't have pushed forward without her.  We kept each other going, forged ahead and looked out for each other on the course.  I loved running with her.  She is such a strong runner and is about to have amazing racing year!!! 


We didn't stick around very long since we still had to get back to the hotel and drive home and we were a little worried about the weather.  When we got back to the hotel the power was out, so I just changed and we headed home.  Even though I missed a PR, I couldn't have asked for a better race.  Better weather, yes, but this race made me feel really confident in my running and the training plan Mat put together for me.   I feel really confident in his knowledge and he knows how I run and race and trust everything he puts together for me.  Having a coach has made all the difference in my running and I can't believe how much I've grown and improved as runner because of it. (( If you want any info on Mat, check out the website!! He offers online coaching too!! ))

I will definitely be back next year to run this race.  It was so well done and despite the terrible weather, the volunteers were amazing and the crowd support that was out there were incredible.  I appreciated and thanked as many volunteers and supporters as possible because without them, it would've been a little more difficult.  The post-race at the convention center was awesome.  There was pizza, pancakes, yogurt, bagels, juice, chocolate milk, water, cookies, granola bars, etc.  I was so proud of every single teammate out there.  Everyone gave it their ALL and never gave up.  They pushed and pushed and the satisfaction of even crossing that finish line was a huge huge accomplishment.  They all inspire me. 

The next day, Runners World was talking about the race...so kind of a big deal :) Rach and I even made the tail end of the video that's in that story.

Syracuse Half- Still Running, Still Crazy