Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Bunny Ears and Peeps: The Scottsboro Half Marathon Race Report

See race website here

Pre-Race--the Week Before
We don't have many local half marathons, so when nearby Scottsboro opened up a new one this year, many local runners, including me, took note. 

Even though I had already registered a couple of weeks ago, I actually only decided to do this race for sure on Friday, March 29.  I knew that I was going to be able to run it, and I assumed that I could keep around a 7:00 pace given my recent marathon time (3:16 --7:30 average but first half was under 7:15 pace).  Plus I knew that McKay Hollow Madness (25K trail run last weekend) was a good training run.  But I hadn't trained specifically for the half at all.  I figured I could hope for a time somewhere around 1:32 or so. 

Last week was our Spring Break, so I opted to sleep in and run/workout later in the day.  I ran twice in the neighborhood (Wednesday and Friday) while the kids stayed at the house.  They are just getting old enough so that I can do this.  Wednesday's 7-miler (7:00 pace) was one of the days.  It was my first run since McKay Hollow, and I felt very good during and after the run. 

Rick picked up my packet for me on Friday.  It included a sports bottle, chapstick, and gum.  Pretty nice!  Finally, I decided---I would run it!  I was glad that the race was an hour away and that I would have some time to myself (after being at home with the kids all week through lots of cold days spent inside the house!).

Saturday, March 30, 2013
I arrived at the race start after 7:30 a.m. with less then 30 minutes to spare.  Once inside, I saw a huge line for the girls' bathroom but a much shorter line for the guys'.  When some girls suggested heading into the guys' bathroom, I agreed to go too.  We made a separate line for the stalls (and avoided looking in the direction of the urinals) and took care of our business quickly.  I don't think the men minded too much (most seemed amused), and I am glad we did it because I would not have gotten to go otherwise.   

The Race
Before the race started, I looked around for familiar faces in the front.  I noticed several Fleet Feet teammates since some were leading pace groups today.  I also spotted the newest teammate, my friend, Julia!  We both noticed a girl in the front that looked pretty fast.  I know I could have just talked to her, but instead I checked out the pace bracelet that she had attached to her arm.  I made out the first mile--6:51.  "That's going to be first place," I predicted to Julia.  

Then the race started, and I took off.  That girl was indeed in the front.  My first mile was 6:50.  I really had no agenda as far as pace--just to try to stay under 7:00 as long as I could.  I wasn't wearing a Garmin since ours is having trouble charging, so I had to rely only on the mile markers.  In Mile 2, I was approaching the first place girl and thought I would surge to see if she stayed with me or not.  I did, and she did not follow.  Mile 2 was a 6:24---too fast!  I'm not even sure where that came from, because I haven't run a mile that fast in training in a long time!  That is why competition is good for me.

I stayed in the front for the rest of the race, although that girl was very close behind me at times.  It helped a lot that another runner was right around my pace and we kept going back and forth.  The race was not too well marked, and there were a few places where it helped having someone else there to verify we were going the right way.  After not seeing the mile marker for Mile 11, I shouted back to that guy, "Are we going the right way?  Where was the mile marker?"  He assured me that we were and that we just missed it. 

Several spots on the course were places where we "doubled back" on the course, so we could see/cheer for other runners as we ran in the opposite direction.  I loved cheering for many of my friends and hearing them cheer for me.  It was a good distraction.

This course had many rolling hills that only slightly affected me.  As I said before, my concentration was thrown off a little by my having to think carefully about the course.  I think it could have been better marked.  The aid stations were fine, though, and I took water at each one and 3 packets of gel during the race (I had brought 2 but took 1 that was offered also). 

I had a complete "Katie" moment as I rounded the corner for the finish line.  I started sprinting for the finish (nice because I never feel like doing this in a full!), and I didn't see where we were supposed to turn, so I cut a corner short!  I went into a handicapped spot that was right before the corner we were supposed to turn at.  I instantly turned around and retraced my steps so that I could run the course.  But the little episode cost me a few seconds and happened with all of the crowd watching!  I managed to finish with two seconds off of my PR!  I was 11th overall and first female.

Post Race 
I wasn't planning to stay long after the race so that I could get back home to my family.  But then I ran into several friends and also stayed to see others finish.  All of the pacers ran in bunny ears, and I laughed as my pacer friend skipped into the finish while holding hands with another pacer!  Julia finished in 1:37 and was 3rd overall.  Many of my church friends had run today, and we all chatted for awhile and took a picture. 

Willowbrook friends
Picture by Jay Maher
At the awards ceremony, I talked with my friends, Jane and Julia. And I enjoyed eating many Peeps---a post-race snack offered at this race! I was surprised to be given a plate, free shoes, and $100 cash as a first place prize!  I imagine there will be more competition next year since they have a cash prize like that!

On the way up, I had joked with Rick about not having enough money for gas (I was driving his car, which was low on gas, and I had only brought $4).  After I texted him about my win, he remarked back as a joke, "Good! Gas $!"   Even though I was on empty, I really didn't want to use my new bill, so I bought $4 in gas and coasted home on that!

Ending Thoughts
I wasn't even planning to run this race, so winning the race and also PRing was a big accomplishment for me.  As I have said before, I really do wish I could train specifically for a half, but I just prefer the full.  And I really do want a break from the long distances now.  I enjoyed the drive today, the company at the race, and even the race itself.  I felt great at the finish (probably happens when you are more used to marathons!).  There were a few things I noticed today at the race that I hope they correct for next year, but all-in-all I think it was a great inaugural event.  I enjoyed the rest of my day getting ready for Easter (including shopping for a couple of hours in the rain for my Easter dress!). 

My prizes for first place

Easter 2013

Happy Easter!
Mile 1-6:50
Mile 2-6:24
Mile 3-6:56
Mile 4-6:49
Mile 5-6:55
Mile 6-6:54
Mile 7-7:04
Mile 8-6:59
Mile 9-7:01
Mile 10-7:05
Mile 11 and 12-14:10 (7:05 average)
Mile 13-6:55

Gun Time: 1:30:52
Chip Time: 1:30:51
Overall Place: 11
Gender Place: 1
Pace: 6:56


  1. What a great race! And all consistent splits too- gotta love that mile 2! ;-) Congrats on the win AND the nice cold hard cash!! I love running in closer races too and it sounds like a good one although maybe they could mark the course a little better in the future so runners know they are going the right way!

    Happy Easter Katie! Beautiful family picture!

    1. Hey Tia, I remembered you during the part when I was "lost" on the course. It seems like I have a really hard time finding my way on the course when I am focused on the effort of running. I don't know if others feel the same. I think I remember the same thing happened to you in a half. And I think you said one of the lead men got hit by a car and then kept running?!?

      Thank you for saying that about my family. I loved your Easter pics too.

  2. Congratulations! Enjoyed your race report! May have to do that one next year.

    1. Thank you, Shannon! I recommend it. I forgot to mention the scenery along the course. It was beautiful. There were some pretty houses and lake views. So pretty!