If I learned anything from the Skidaway Half, it was to listen to my body and realize I'm not fast(ish) or hitting PRs in the humidity. In fact, actually racing a half marathon in the humidity isn't really a thing for me. I thought in Nashville I'd get away from it since it's usually a bit cooler there this time of year, but nope! Despite having perfect running weather days all week with morning temps in the 40s, race day was hot and humid. Awesome. I brought the hideous humidity with me from Charleston.
And so based on the weather, I knew I had to give up all thoughts of racing in Nashville and just focus on having a good (and very easy) long run that didn't end in a slog to the finish. Not only was I afraid my asthma would act up, but I had also been dealing with some kind of upper respiratory illness and a horrible burning, barky, phlegm-filled cough for a few days. (I still have it, but it seems to be improving. Finally.)
On race morning, I lined up in my corral and decided that a time somewhere between 2:00 and 2:05 should keep my asthma under control. I figured I'd start with that goal in mind and pick up speed if I could, and walk if I had to. I kept the first 5K in that zone and then was actually able to speed up just a little in the second 5K. But then in mile 7, I could feel my asthma creeping up on me. So I stopped and walked immediately. Whatever happened, I wanted to avoid the pain of Skidaway.
I walked for a good amount of mile 7, then picked it back up again at an easy pace. I stayed there for the rest of the race and stopped to walk once more in mile 11. I ended up coming in at 2:03:55, so right where I set out to be at the start, and I did a good job of pacing myself and listening to my body during this race.
The course was extremely hilly, even more hilly than the courses I've run in Charlotte (and confirmed by my Charlotte friends who were also in town to run Nashville). In general, there were lots of complaints about humidity and hills, and I've never seen so many people walking in a race. There were only a few flat spots on the entire course and for the rest, the good times just rolled. And rolled. And rolled some more. But really, I was much less bothered by the hills than I thought I'd be and without the humidity, I think I probably could have PR'd. Hills keep it interesting.
I had run the day before in Nashville just to remind my body what hills felt like and it was a great run, with an 8:00 minute pace feeling easy and like the race, there were hardly any flat stretches. Of course, the temps were in the low 40s with no humidity. I really am amazed (and completely frustrated) by how much my lungs hate humidity.
It's frustrating and I'd really like to figure out how to make it better. I'm hoping by just running in it more, that will help, but since moving to the South (and specifically Charleston), my asthma has been absolutely nuts in the spring and summer, and pregnancy really didn't do me any favors with it, either. I almost want to run a hilly course in the fall to see how I do. But we'll see. Most of fall is already set.
But enough about the hills, humidity, and my asthma complaints.
Despite all that, this race was so fun! It was the first Rock 'n Roll series race I've run and everything about it was just bigger and more extravagant. The crowd support was non-stop on the entire course; the water stations were close together (in fact, the next Rock 'n Roll race I do, I won't even carry my own water because I won't need to); the on-course entertainment made the miles fly by; and the expo was insane!
The expo was headlined by Brooks as a the top sponsor, so of course, there was a ton of Brooks gear and Brooks' Run Happy Island. D and I entered their raffle and won a t-shirt and a visor - the t-shirt is cute, the visor is sort of questionable. And I may have (may have) bought enough Brooks gear to get the VIP bathroom ticket. Hey, I needed new shoes and I wanted to have the luxury of peeing at least 10 times, if necessary, before the race in order to avoid the Skidaway issues. (I did avoid them, but still dealt with the feeling of having to pee for almost the entire race - post-baby running is so fun sometimes, ya'll.)
The course took runners through some beautiful (and famous) parts of Nashville, including Music Row. Somewhere around mile 8, there was a water sprayer thing turned on at the side of the road. As tempting as it was to stand under it for several minutes, I just slowed down and ran under it while I soaked in all of that refreshing goodness.
Mile 9(ish) had some volunteers handing out beer and if I hadn't been all the way over on the other side of the road, I would have had some. This was a crowded race that never really thinned out, so I didn't want to be the jerk that went careening across the road and cut people off just so I could have a beer. There was only one spot around mile 10 where we went through a little bit of a construction zone and that wasn't so nice, but otherwise, this race is a great way to see Nashville. And it has a downhill finish! I love me some downhill finishes, especially after the entire course felt like it was uphill.
Overall, I had a good time at this race, saw a bunch of Nashville, both on the course and off, and got to hang out with friends from Charlotte who I haven't seen in a while, so it was time well spent. While I don't think I'll run it again because there are just too many other races on my list, I'll definitely be back for more Rock 'n Roll series races. I've got Savannah on my list for fall, and I'd love to hit up New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Diego, too. Maybe I'll even go international with Dublin. Races: a great excuse to travel (or is it, "Travel: a great excuse for races?" Or both?).
So anyway. With that, my spring half marathon training season ends. It's certainly not the season I wanted to have. I know my race times are nowhere near an accurate reflection of my current fitness level, and I've had some hideously unfortunate luck with health and weather for both of my big races. But the good thing is, I've laid a good base (and will continue to do so through summer) for fall half marathons and a winter marathon (should I decide to run one). And when the humidity finally breaks, I will fly.
Onward to summer Beat the Heat track training with Fleet Feet Mount Pleasant and shorter races (with no PR expectations until fall). And on a related note, I battled down the RunDisney website yesterday (which was crazy) and managed to get into the Walt Disney Half in January 2016. Little B is also registered for the baby dash - so cute! I'm heading there with a friend from back home in PA and we'll be running it together. Can't wait! But first, summer.