Tuesday, May 5, 2015

RACE RECAP: Festival Foods Granddad Half Marathon

FINISH TIME:  1:59:00
Last Saturday, May 2nd was my second half marathon!  IT WAS AWESOME! 
Now, not all of it was awesome.  It certainly got tough in spots, but here's my recap! 
I was excited to run this race as it took place in my hometown of La Crosse, WI.  The start of the race starts on top of the bluff.  My dad used to take me here when I was a little girl.  I haven't been to the top in years!!  It's hard to see the view, but above is a picture of me at the overlook.  

Another great addition to my race morning was meeting my new running friend Lindsey!   She goes by Glitter Girl on the Run on Facebook and her blog is http://lbarnes94.wordpress.com/
Give her a shout-out if you can! Right from the start I could tell we were going to get along great!  The bus ride to the top was so fun getting to know her!  She is amazing!  It was her 37th half marathon and her 5th year in a ROW doing this particular race!
Me and Lindsey at the lookout!
Saturday, really couldn't have started out more perfect!  The temperature was 58 degrees at the start and the breeze was just right.  I had the typical race nerves as always.  Thankfully, I had eaten a small pre-race snack so at least I didn't feel like I was going to lose my stomach.  There were ample porta-potties.... which as runners..... we all know we need.  ME?  You ask?  I only had to visit 4 times before the race - and in true "Gina" fashion each and every time it felt like I was going to pee my pants.  I'm not sure why I need to visit the incredibly smelly porta-potties so many times before a race.  But, I've learned to just embrace them; stink and all!
The starting line at the top of the bluff
Truth be told, I was nervous about the 2 mile downhill.  I kept hearing my running friend's voice in my head.  "Negative splits Gina!  Negative splits!"  The run down was surprisingly easy.  The descent was gradual until the last .2 miles and that's really when the hill went on a steep decline.  Unfortunately, I didn't do well maintaining my splits.  My first two miles were 8:34 and 8:10 - much faster than I had hoped I would go out.  At the bottom of the hill we leveled out and my third mile was 8:17.  Still the voice in my head was saying " Negative splits... negative splits."  I was able to slow my pace to 9:07 for the 4th mile.  This was a bit more my speed.  I knew that if I could keep that pace or just a bit faster I would PR with my goal of sub-2:00:00.  

I had fun during the race running through all of the streets I was so familiar with.  But I was very excited to come up on mile 7.5 to see my family. The race ran right past my parents home so my boys, my parents and some other family were their waiting for me!   My boys ran out and gave me big hugs!  It was a great sight because it gave me that boost to go a bit further!
At mile 8 I met up with another girl running, we chatted a bit and it was a welcome chat.  She gave me the extra motivation to keep going because she took my mind off the fatigue that was starting to set in.  As I came up on mile 10, the mental game started.  I knew that I had "just" a 5K to go.  I knew that I could do it, but I was cutting it close on time and had to maintain 9 minutes miles at the end to finish below 2 hours.  I gave it all that I had left and just ran! 

Mile 11.5 was fantastic. The local hockey rink had made a huge snow pile at the edge of the street and were lobbing snowballs our way. I grabbed two and smashed them over my head and onto my arms.  Hallelujah!  How cool was that and it gave me a great boost of energy.  Mile 12 was the hardest.  I could see the finish line, I could hear the music.  I ran under the iconic blue bridge and seriously dug deep!  I HAD to finish. I mile left and my Garmin said 1:49:48. It was this mile where I actually threw up a bit. Yup - in my mouth.  Lovely isn't it?  But, hey the things runners do! 

The finish chute was amazing.  I was a complete blur.  I threw my hands in the air and even did a fist pump. I was there!  My PR was seconds away!  I didn't see my family... but I knew they were there.  The announcer called my name and I sprinted across the finish! 
In an earlier blog post I talked about the finish line.  Few things in life give you that rush.  I was mentally and physically exhausted.  I earned that finish line. I earned that medal.  I can't wait to earn my next one! 
The Mississippi behind me!


  1. Congrats on your awesome PR! What a beautiful place to run. And you got to meet Lindsay--I love meeting other bloggers!

    I didn't know you grew up in LaCrosse! One of my college friends was from LaCrosse. I went to Marquette. Do you still live in Wisconsin?

    1. I now live in Minnesota - but go back to La Crosse about once a month. Such a small world isn't it? Since you're not TOO far away, maybe you could meet up your college friends for a weekend in La Crosse and do this half next year. :)

  2. I love this, such a happy post :) Congrats on a great finish and hitting your goal! It looks really pretty where you are and how cool the course ran right by your parents house. The kids coming to hug you - too cute!

    1. La Crosse was a great place to grow up. I spent all my time on the river. My kids always ask me... mommy are you running today? I guess they know I love it.

  3. Congrats on the race! Kids are the best supporters and cheerleaders :)


    1. Thanks! It was a great race. My kids were super excited to see me running by! And, they of course love the race food. I hardly ever get any bites afterwards! :)