Monday, April 11, 2011

Go! St Louis 1/2 (race recap)

Go! St Louis 1/2- 4/10/11
State- 11/50
Temps- low 90s, sunny, and humid
One of my high school friends / cc teammates, Heidi, lives in St. Louis, so it was a no brainer for B and I to choose this race since we had a place to stay for free with our own tour guide!

Lately B and I have been trying to get to our destination cities early so we have time to explore, this was no exception. B came to pick me up around 6:15, on the road by 6:30, no real traffic or hold ups and we arrived at Heidi's around 11:30am .

Knowing that this race was 17,000+ runners, we head to the expo immediately as to HOPEFULLY avoid the large crowds.

 Welcome to the Expo
B, Heidi, and myself 

For packet pickup I got lucky and  my lady who gave me my bib must have known that this was not my first rodeo and go into the whole time chip spiel or how to put on a bib etc. (I hate that)  so it was a breeze! We turn the corner to check out the expo and get our bags and shirts and this is what we see:
Reminds me of how congested Disney's Princess expo was, so I told myself to just take a quick peak. I got a few Lara Bar samples (my favorite go to pre race food), talked to a representative from the Geist 1/2 marathon since I'm running that in May, and then met back up with Heidi and B to leave (one of the shortest times spend at an expo) We did get a neat recyclable black race tote (not pictured) as well as these BRIGHT GREEN race shirts (first garment of clothing I own to be this color)

After leaving expo we decide to take a tour of the Schafly Brewery and have lunch.
Upon going inside, we find out that this is just the restaurant for Schafly, the touring plant is in a different part of town, darn. Still decide to eat lunch there, and the German inside of me got super excited by sauerkraut and brats- POOR POOR POOR decision on my part, and I will pay for it race day

Finish up lunch, head to the actual tour plant....

When we get there a man tells us there are only 2 spots left for the next tour (there are 3 of us), AND that you cannot wear open toed shoes on the tour- crazy because I've been on SEVERAL tours and have never heard of that rule. Since we are all wearing flip flops, we leave and decide to instead check out Annheiser-Bush. 

Entrance to Annheiser-Busch

This place is HUGE- they have a whole 'campus' of different buildings, even have their own credit union across the street just for all the employees. I was super excited because this tour actually takes you outside and through all the grounds of the plant. (plus i hear you get to see some Clydesdale horses)
Once we get inside we find out that ALL tours for the rest of the day are filled up. We just can't win today apparently. We are at least able to look at a few things inside, so we take a look around, and I actually learned quite a bit on information. 

Next week B and I have a race in Kansas, and since we have to drive through St. Louis to get there, we decided that we would make a stop overnight in St. Louis after the race and come back and actually do a tour. 

Naturally the next touristy place to visit is the infamous St. Louis Arch!

I look so tiny in comparison!!
Had to touch the arch. 

Of course with all the luck we were having previously in the day, it would only make sense that when we were  trying to get a tour inside the arch, that all time slots were sold out for the entire day (ARGH!!) One more thing to add to the list for accomplishing next weekend when there are not all the out of town racers. 

We decide to walk around the surrounding park, and head to the old Riverfront to grab some water and a beer (its unbearably hot)

We go inside the bar / restaurant (name escapes me) and I have the best beer I have ever tasted. It was their own brand winter lager and the bartender described it as: butternut squash, pumpkin vienna, amber- it had slight cinnamon and nutmeg undertones and tasted like thanksgiving or christmas (couldn't decide which) Of course they didn't sell any bottles for me to take home, but I was informed I could buy a growler at their other location (which I'm contemplating doing next weekend) 

Head back to Heidis to relax for a few hours before going back out for dinner. I wish I would have taken photos, but her neighborhood can only be described as everything I would look for if I were to live in the city. Within 2 blocks are rows of different restaurants with outdoor patios, bars, boutiques, antique shops, coffee places and gorgeous neighborhoods to walk through.

I'm still full from my large late lunch, so dinner is small salad with chicken and a side of pomme frittes. At this point I'm ABSOLUTELY exhausted and we head back to her place to lay out our gear for the morning and get our bed ready. B and I were nervous because we had to share a pull out couch- I told her I don't cuddle before races... I could see the look of disappointment on her face haha.  Lights out around 10:00 in hopes to be re-energized for race morning. 


The race starts @ 7am, we have the half fanatic / MM/ 50 stater photo @ 6:25, so we figured as long as we got on the 6am metrolink near the start line, we'd make the photo.
Made it to the metro link with a few minutes to spare...
Obviously we were NOT the only ones to think of this brilliant idea. Of course there were quite a bit of others waiting along with us, but when the cars pulled up, it was already packed from the previous stop. Somehow everyone managed to cram in there, I was just thankful that this was before the race so no one was sweaty and stinky yet
this picture doesn't do it justice. 

Once we unload we are trying to make our way to the photo meetup spot, however Heidi realized she wasn't sure where the soldier memorial was, so we had to wait to find someone who looked like they were from there to point us in the right direction. When we get there Dave greeted me by name and gave me a hug, which was awesome considering how popular he is in the running world. He introduced us to another fanactic (i'm so bad bc i forgot her name) and we chatted while waiting for more people to arrive. 

Everyone is accounted for and the joys of lining everyone up begins, large group this time around
I really need to invest in a shirt!

 Dave had just the fanatics take a photo- we're such a smaller group!!

Afterward we start walking toward the start line- B and H were ready to go to their corrals, since they weren't in my same letter I decided to let them go on ahead so I could stretch more. Before the Little Rock 1/2 I had stretched pretty throughly, and coincidently enough, I had virtual no knee pain, so I thought hoped there was a correlation. In my process of stretching I witnessed the Bud Light marathon from above photo, I HAD to have a photo with her
no idea how she was able to run in that. 

After a few more minutes of stretching I decide to make my way to corral B to mentally prepare for the race. I was nervous because it was getting hot, there were some long hills, my stomach wasn't feeling the best, and as always, wanted my knee to hold up. 
slow moving crow toward start line

all the pacers (men & women) wore the sparkly hearts skirts w/ their pacing shirt- hilarious
view of start line / arch from my starting position. 

Once the announcer says "go go go" to designate the start (which was quite annoying) it takes a few minutes to actually cross the start line. After the hills on last weeks race, my game plan was to go out super easy so I didn't get tired too quickly.

The first mile I was feeling great, I was at a comfortable pace, my knee didn't bother me at all, and it flew by rather quickly. Mile 1 was 8:34- just goes to show that whether I go out fast, or go out slow, my body just likes an 8:30 mile pace. Somewhere between mile 1 and 2 it felt as though someone had turned on a sauna! I was dripping with sweat, which worried me since it was so early in the race. There was a gatorade and water station right before 2 mile mark and I actually stopped to get some. Normally I wait until 2nd station around mile 4 before I hydrate, but today it was definitely a need.

Shortly after mile 2, my stomach went into full rebellion mode- for those of you who have experienced this in a race, you can imagine how uncomfortable I was feeling, especially with the added heat. I saw a row of porta potties (hallelujah) a little after mile 3, and I HAD to stop. After losing over 3 minutes waiting for a bathroom in my Women's 1/2 in September, I've never stopped at a porta potty due to not wanting to lose so much time. Today, it was a necessity. I wish I could say I felt better afterward, but I didn't, infact I think it put me on 'slow mode'- I noticed my stride seemed to be shorter and I was getting sooooooo tired. My face moisturizer was now mixed in with my sweat, thus burning my eyes, one more frustration to add to my mind. 

Around mile 4 we passed the Cardinals stadium, I stopped to take a photo and felt so much better for a few minutes that I decided this might be one of my run/walk races

After those 'few minutes' were up, I started feeling like crap again. Is it the heat? Am I dehydrated? Did I get food poisoning? All these thoughts were racing through my head. I wasn't sure what exactly was going on, but I made sure that at every aide station I had 2 gatorades and 2 waters. 

Miles 5-8 seemed like it was all uphill- in actuality, probably only 2 of those miles really were. I had read there was going to be a station around mile 6, so when I knew we were nearing close, I picked up my pace so I could get some water and take my gu. The 6 mile marker came and went, no water station :( We finally got to the top of the hill, turned right, had a straight flat part for 100 yds, then had to make a left for another hill- still no aide station. FINALLY at mile 6.5 we reach it and I have never been so desperate to suck down a gu during a race. Due to extreme heat it was pure liquid vs. a gel- different texture, but still go the job done. Normally a gu takes about 15 minutes for me to feel its effects- today was not one of those days, because I never felt better. 

I hate admitting this, but it got to the point where I felt so bad, I literally was unable to run more than 2 minutes.... 2 minutes??!!!?? Apparently I wasn't the only one because I had never seen so many people walking, which in turn encouraged me to do more walking. Me and this other girl kept leap frogging eachother so I didn't feel so bad. The sun was taking its toll on me- I could feel the sunburn developing on my face and triceps- one more thing to add to my discomfort. 

Mile 8.5 came, grabbed another gu, and took it along with dumping 2 glasses of water on my head- whew much better. Around this point I start to see more and more EMS people carrying people off the course and giving people fluids- well at least I'm not that bad off. Literally a minute or so after thinking that, my stomach decided it needed to remind me it still wasn't feeling well.I'm only a little into mile 9 and there are no bathrooms in sight, crap!

My favorite running song- "Through the fire and flames" by dragon force came on, since its a 7min 30 sec song I make a promise to myself that if I can run the whole thing, no walk breaks, that will get me to the 10th mile, and hopefully bathrooms because its near the turnaround. Sure enough it does take me to the 10th mile, and a little after that, there was a line of porta potties- I'm pretty sure I sprinted faster in their direction than I did the entire race. If luck would have it, I think that made matters worse. I was able to get another round of water and gatorade, but to no avail it didn't help. 

I'm not sure if the gatorade upset my stomach, or its just the heat with very little breeze and absolute no shade, but at mile 11.5 I keeled over and vomitted. AWESOME. An EMS person came over on his scooter and asked if I was okay, gave me some water, and I said I was still going to finish. Why am I so stubborn?

I've heard the last part of your race is supposed to be run with heart, I would say that this particular race definitely qualified. Its 90+ degrees, I'm soaked from sweat and pouring water over myself, I've already had 2 bathroom bouts, I've vomitted and feel that there may be more to come, my legs are tired from the hills- I have nothing left to keep me going except the sheer satisfaction that I pushed through it. 

Mile 12 came- under normal circumstances I'll either pick up the pace, OR at least tell myself no walking since I have one mile left- neither of these were the case. We hit a final turn and then it was a straightaway to the finish line in the distance. Having both the luxury of a garmin to tell me my expected time (7 more minutes)+ knowledge from previous races that the finish line is farther than it appears, I don't bother picking up my pace. With 5 minutes left I decide that instead of going faster, I'll just open my stride (which obviously will make me go faster) I don't know which is worse, not knowing where the finish line is located, or seeing it in the distance for a long time as a constant tease. 

No idea how I was able to pass people, but I did. I immediately walked over to the waters and grabbed 3 bottles- 1 to dump on my head which I did immediately, 1 to drink for now, 1 for later. I got my medal and then my after race refreshment bag (such a smart idea vs. having a ton of stuff to carry in your arms). Me, B, & H had decided to meet back up at the family meet up letter G, so I went over there. I gorged on my 3 bananas ( i knew i needed it) then stretched and waited for B. 

As soon as she arrived I told her I had to use the bathroom one last time, and FINALLY it made me feel better. We laughed at how ridiculous the race was and she let me use her phone so I could call my folks while we wait for H to finish. Mom told me she was tracking me online and saw how much I slowed down in between the check in points and was worried so she had called me (normally I do run with my phone, but today I decided to take my camera) I guess one positive is that I finished 1 minute faster than my predicted time based on my 11th mile check in time. Woo. 

H finds us, we take an 'after' photo, then head to the metrolink so we can head back to her place to shower

We found out later that the course officials actually closed down the marathon at around the 9 mile mark due to extreme heat and not enough EMS officials to tend to all the people needing medical attention. All marathoners had to finish up the half marathon at that point- talk about a major bummer.

On the upside of things, once I cooled down and got more liquids in me, I felt fine. I wasn't sore at all, and I had zero knee pain!

B and I showered, grabbed some star bucks, then hit the road back home. 

State # 11 completed- St. Louis definitely conquered me vs. the other way arround
Official time 2:12:21
Place not up yet


  1. Wow, crazy race but congrats on sticking through it and getting it done! I had a few friends run this and I've heard other cray stories too. Nice job pushing through it!

  2. Yowsers. Tough one, Lisa!