Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Clemson's Easter Bunny 1/2 (Race Report)

State 10/50 (1/5 way done- woo)
Weather mid 60s-low 70s

Originally when we were picking out drivable states, we had chosen an April 16th race in Columbia, SC. Few months back I came across the Clemson Easter 1/2 and thought an 'easter' race could be fun, it was super cheap, and as an added bonus, it was about 2 hours closer to us than Columbia- triple score!

B was doing her first double header weekend, racing  in Talladega, AL ( I completed Huntsville, AL  back in Nov) on Sunday, so we decided to drive separate so I could leave after race back to Nashville. Met her and M (her boyfriend) early in the morning, and the idea was I would just follow them to our hotel.

All went to plan until about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta; I have a tendency to daydream while driving long distances, and unfortunately it makes paying attention to details such as making sure you follow the same car, become more difficult. Somewhere along the way I had passed B without realizing it, and upon checking my rear mirror, I noticed she was quite a distance behind me. I tried slowing down, but as luck would have it, she actually got off at an exit- CRAP! Maybe that wasn't her, because surely she would have called??
I tried reaching her on her cell- voicemail- eek!  Thank goodness my phone has GPS- plugged in the hotel and it told me exactly where to go. A few minutes later B calls and apologizes bc M was on a business call so she couldn't answer her phone- her GPS was taking her a back way, but both of ours said we'd arrive at the hotel in about 2 hours.
2 hours later I arrive at the hotel, call B, shes 30-45 minutes away. To pass the time, I  decide to go exploring and come across one of my favorite stores- a thrift store!!! I literally could spend hours in thrift stores using my imagination to turn someone's junk into my very own treasure. The highlight of my trip:
so its a pig hat that says 'party animal'- I know this seems silly, but it is absolutely PERFECT for the Flying Pig 1/2 we have scheduled for May 1st. If I can make it at least a few miles with it on, my parents will be around to catch it as I throw it to them. 

Venture back to hotel, check in, then make our way to Clemson's campus and surrounding areas to kill some time. Although I didn't really take many pictures of the campus, I will say that it was gorgeous! I managed to score an awesome parking spot so we could walk around their 'downtown.'

All 3 of us were greek back in college, so we went to their greek store, and I was elated to see my sorority there, so I had to be dorky and do some photo oppty.
I was laughing at how excited I was

thoroughly impressed w/ how much Zeta merchandise they had

Finally we decided to get some food in our bellies- I'm pretty sure I went a little overboard on the 'carb loading' this time around- but since I normally don't eat this way I won't feel too bad.
6 slices of garlic bread, bacon burger, fries, and of course beer :)
3 bags of gummy bears (yes i ate them by myself- 1360 calories of wax and sugar) 

After our dinner, B and I were wiped. We drove part of the course and then headed back to the hotel and just laid in bed watching TV. M secretly asked B if we were just going to stare at eachother all night (it was 7pm) and she told him, this is what we do the night before. He went to the bar next door, and her and I put on "The Yes Man" and were both asleep by 8:30. 

We had to do race day pick up so even though the race didn't start till 8, we wanted to leave hotel by 6:30 so we can get our packet around 7 and still have time to stretch and such. Woke up at 5:30, did my race day ritual (its a secret), rolled out my quads, then left for the race.
I've noticed that we generally match in an opposite way- my top and her skirt, her top and my skirt- ONE of these days we'll be identical 
We make our way to the Clemson Botanical Gardens where the race start/finish is located and also where we need to get our bib and shirt, however, there is NOTHING marking where we are supposed to go once we get into the park. We drove around for 15 or so minutes until we stumbled upon an extremely small sign pointing us in the right direction. 

The race was put on by the Clemson Running Club, so everything was on a smaller scale. Our race shirt was cotton (cotton is rotton), the only thing in our 'goody bag' was 3 flyers for other races, we had to wait until someone came with the key to unlock the bathrooms (which was 4 stalls), there was no chip timing, and there would be a grand total of 193 runners for the half marathon!
This is take #7- showing off our shirts w/ our bunny ears... which were a big hit by the way.

Although it was supposed to be 70 degrees for the finish, it was still a little chilly at the start, so I put on some tunes and started dancing / stretching / warming up, all while singing. I think I embarrassed M a little bit, but I told him its not like I'll see anybody here ever again.
Near the start line we saw 'Sprinkles'- the Dunkin Doughnut's doughnut....
Needless to say, she was a huge hit! They made an announcement of how the race was going to start and end, as well as telling us about little cardboard 'eggs' you may find along the course and can redeem for a prize- only 1 egg per person to make it fair.

I throw my coat to M, go to turn on my ipod, and its dead- seriously? It has been charging on my lap top for at least 5 days, how is it not working at all?!?! This very same thing happened to me while I was waiting in my corral at the New Orleans 1/2- at least both then and now I have my phone as a back up. I throw my ipod to M and connect headphones to my phone and store in my spi belt- catastrophe diverted! 

The police sirens go off, initiating our race start...
The first 1/4 mile was downhill and flat, thus causing me to go out too fast- I'm still learning pacing, but I generally like to do between 8:20-8:30 first mile, that is what is comfortable and I'm able to maintain around there for the first half of my race. A few minutes into the race I was breathing really hard and looked down at my garmin- 8:00min mile pace- TOO FAST. I know this sounds crazy, but literally the first 5 minutes of my race can make or break me- even if I hold back just a little bit, I will naturally pick up the speed and just run a faster race- although I do know this about myself, its so hard to keep that in mind when you're at the race start with all the adrenaline pumping. I drastically slowed down so I can hit an 8:30 min first mile, which I did, but it didn't help much for my breathing. 

I knew where the first mile marker was on the course due to driving part of it the night before, so when my garmin told me it was mile 1, I was a little thrown off because I didn't hit the race mile 1 marker for another 2 minutes. Great.... one of THOSE races where it isn't marked properly. My bunny ears fell off, and coincidently that is when I started to fall apart- 1.5 miles into the race.
My knee held up great up until 1.5 miles, then the pain set in. I think that, in combination with all the hills, smaller pool of runners, and the fact that the course was so off in terms of distance, I just decided I didn't care. 
Miles 2-5ish
Nothing too exciting here. We run throughout dorms / neighborhoods- KILLER hills here. At this point I said screw it and decided to run for 5, walk for 1 combo- it seemed to be working pretty good for my knee, so I kept that up. 

Miles 5-7
Right around mile 5, ran into 'super fan', an older man wearing a black fleece and orange hat. I call him super fan because other than him, the crowd support was non existent. 193 runners total meant that the only people alongside the course were family of runners here and there. SF asked me where did my bunny ears go- I managed to tell him I got rid of them a few miles back- was touched he remembered me! Miles 6 and 7 were spent alongside the river
Although its gorgeous, the grass / dirt were not kind to my knees and ankles. That in combination with having to run on some trails, I.WAS.EXHAUSTED. By the time I hit mile 7, SF spotted me and told me I was falling behind- gee thanks MR. (although he did say it in positive way.) After that I looked down at my garmin and I saw a 10 min pace which was disheartening so I decided to not pay attention to that and switched my screen to total time vs. split time so I wouldn't get too preoccupied with exactly how slow I was going. It was starting to get super hot, and unfortunately water stations were sparse. I tried to take my gu at the water station right before mile 7, however I didn't have enough water to wash down my Cliff mocha w/ caffeine so I only did a tiny bit. 

Mile 8 - somewhere here there happened to be another water station so I asked for 2 cups so I could take my gu and also hydrate. Water had never tasted so good before. Majority of this mile was spent running by Clemson University,  which was relatively flat! I wanted to take some pictures, but it is such a hassle to try to get my phone out of my spibelt, take the photo, then put it back in, so I took mental photos instead :) 

Miles 9 & 10 I got a 2nd wind- part of it may have been my gu kicking in, or that pretty much all of mile 9 was spent either downhill or flat.  I'm pretty sure that only allowing myself to run for 5 minutes at a time was becoming too easy, but either way I sped up and passed a few people finally

Miles 11 & 12 Of course leading up to mile 11 marker it was all uphill, which meant more walking. I did speed up to catch up to this older gentleman who I noticed was wearing a Garmin. I asked him if his Garmin was off-  he informed me his watch said 10.5 miles (we were about 20 feet in front of mile 11) wow this is a HUGE difference. How is it possible to be THAT far off your distance?!?! I know they used map my run to measure, which according to them was 13.2 miles, however you have to zoom in as much as you can when using this website to make sure you are infact marking all the right turns on roads and such. Guess I could be a race director if these people can do it. Around 11.5 miles I spotted SF- I chuckled and shouted "you're everywhere!!" to which he replied "since this is a small race I want to help you guys out as much as I can"- thought that was awesome of him. I didn't realize how much spectator support really does motivate me. Aside from almost getting hit by a car (it came within one foot of me despite the other lane in the road being open) nothing else eventful happened. I stopped at the what I assumed would be the last water station and grabbed two more cups of water- why am I so thirsty?!?!

Mile 13- Generally when I pass the 12 mile marker, I do try to speed up for the last mile. Considering I had NO IDEA where I was in relation to the finish line + not knowing if it was truly going to be 1 mile left, I just kept on trucking along at my semi slow pace. We entered the same wooded paved trail that was the first mile, so I knew we were getting close, however could hear NO cheering which would be expected at a finish line, so again I didn't speed up. After several minutes I figured I had to be close, I opened my stride, past 2 guys, got hawked by some girl out of NO WHERE, and finally saw ONE, yes ONE spectator that said the finish line was around the upcoming turn. Hallelujah!!! Go into turbo mode, almost catch the girl, and cross the line. 

I grab a few orange slices, a banana, and few cups of water, and get the car keys from M so I can quickly get on my flip flops before B crosses the line. I literally just came  from the car back to where M was standing and I could see B's bright magenta skirt coming into view- cheered her on and then met her by water station where she was discussing with another guy about the short course. We all had 12.75 miles via our garmin, WOW! All I have to say is thank goodness it was short because I was so done after crossing that line, I don't know how much more my knees / feet could take. 

Afterward M asked us what we thought of the race- here is our reaction
If i wasn't holding other stuff in my left hand, it would have received 2 thumbs down.
Not wanting to end on a bad note, we did take a better after race photo- obviously you now know these smiles are super fake, but at least we're happy its over. 
Normally I would post a photo of the medal with my stats underneath- the medal is nothing worth showing a close up of, basically a cheap medal with a sticker of the same 'bunny photo' from the top of this post just stuck to the medal. At this point, I expected something along those lines. As a side note, B and I never saw a single cardboard egg, so no prizes for us!

Immediately following this picture we headed back to hotel, showered, then her and M headed to Talladega for her next 1/2, and I made the trek back to Nashville where I would be meeting up with my parents for the rest of the weekend. 

State #10- done. Would I recommend this to anyone else??? Unless you live in the Clemson area, absolutely not.
Time 2:03:16 (keep in mind it was only 12:75 miles, so time would have been that much slower)


  1. I was super thirsty at my race too!!
    I wish you would have had a better experience for SC, but at least it's over. :)
    Great job!

  2. Well dang! That sucks that all that effort and travel and you gave it a two thumbs down review. I always hope for the best from races. Fortunately for me the least organized race was my first. I can't imagine doing 13.1 with NO support at all. Thank goodness for SF!

    Congrats on giving it your all and finishing ... and on finding that awesome pig hat!