Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Air Force 1/2 marathon (race report)

Half marathon #21
Repeat State (Ohio)
temps: cool start, 70s and sunny finish

** this is longer than anticipated, so I put in lots of pictures to look at!  **
Originally I wasn't going to run this race. I had my eye on the Bismark 1/2 in North Dakota  (there aren't a lot of races there), BUT my friend who lived in Minot got transferred to Germany about 1 month ago, so it was a  no go. 

If you missed my earlier post HERE, the reason I ran this race was to pace my brother Eric to his first 1/2 marathon finish. Last year he ran the 5k and decided to step it up this time around. Aside from helping him, I thought it would be neat to race in my hometown and on the Wright Patterson Air Force Base where I spent a lot of my time growing up. 

The race start was staggered time- something I haven't experienced before. 7:30 am would be the marathon AND 10k start, while the half marathon started at 8:30 am- not used to such a late start! We figured there would be TONS of traffic since there are only 3 entrances to get on base near the Air Force Museum (where start / finish was)  so the plan was to leave the house at 6am. 

Eric came to pick me up, naturally we needed a brother / sister photo. 

At 6am it was 50 degrees, which to me is IDEAL for running, however its not ideal for standing around for 2 hours, thus I decided to try out my new Moeben arm sleeves I won from Jill @ Life...as I see it. If you haven't read her blog yet, she has a lot of tips for recipes, running, and best of all, every Friday she hosts a "Fitness Blog Hop" which is how I met so many wonderful bloggers :) I was in luck that they matched my outfit so perfectly. In addition to the sleeves I also had a fleece and long sleeve shirt, but they covered up my rockin' outfit thus not pictured.

The base is less than 10 minutes from my parents house, so the commute time + single file line to get in and park didn't take us more than 30 min, HOWEVER, for those that may be planning to do this race, it is recommended to leave 1.5 - 2 hours before your race start, just in case. Once parked as we're gathering our items to take in, I realized I forgot my headphones- awesome. My folks were planning on cheering us on somewhere near mile 5, so I called to ask them if they would PLEASE bring my headphones so I could listen to music- whew crisis averted.
Since we arrived around 6:30 or so and our race didn't start till 8:30, we had  had A LOT of time to kill- stretch, bathroom breaks, explore. In my boredom I worked on being a better blogger and actually took some photos of the surroundings...
In highschool I developed a fascination with cows- long story but it does involve athletics. My brother cut off the Chick a fil A cow, but you get the idea. 

walking into the running area- surrounded by different planes

Sun rising

Random set up / information about the planes around the fields 

This would be the 'final stretch' for finish

We both had to pee pretty bad, but the lines were riduclously long- I assured him there are always port o potties near the start area and to hold off.... sure enough.... heaven

Have you EVER seen a more glorious site at a race before?!?!

Since I'm always on the 'running side' of races, I can't remember the last time I watched a race start- Eric and I decided to go on the spectator side of the start line to see the marathon / 10k start. They had a B1 bomber  kick off the start, followed by a large cannon. 

This picture doesn't do it justice by any means. Growing up near a military base all my life, planes fly by CONSTANTLY, so I'm not easily impressed, however this.was.awesome. By the time I caught it on camera, it was higher in the sky, and not as cool looking (trust me) 

We cheered on all the 10k / marathon runners (saw a few people I grew up with) and then when all the runners crossed our paths, we decided it was finally time to stretch / warm up. (still have a full hour till we start mind you)
Jump roping to wake up his legs

I promise you, I did stretch, but no photos to document. Instead you get the following:
This was a group of guys and gals with viking cow hats on and 'more cowbell' shirts with an actual cowbell around their neck. They had a cheer section along the course, as well as worked on of the water stations. 

Taking advantage of the 'after race' backdrop, before the race... FOR FREE!!! we are such rebels!!

sidenote* During the stretching they announced the winner of the 10k- Josh Cox in 31:09- not only is that impressive but he turned around to run the half marathon afterward. His goal was to break the course record for the 10k (which he did) and the half marathon. Funny story (or maybe not so funny) he ended up in 2nd place for the half marathon with a time of 1:12:57, 2 sec shy of the first place guy 1:12:55. Now here is the SICK PART. He was winning the WHOLE RACE and at some point the lead patrolman guiding him through the course took a wrong turn, thus he ran 1.2 miles OVER. WOW. 

Eventually the sun breaks which means the warmth comes out so we ditch our layers and drop off our bags and make way to the start line. 
Yay sun!
This is my gangsta face. (or sun in my face causing me to squint face- both work) 

This is Eric's race, not mine- I'm just along to be the pacer. His goal was to run between a 2:05-2:10, so we lined up next to the expected finish 2:10 sign. 

To kick off our race start: we had 2 f-15s fly overhead for us, as well as someone singing the 'air force theme song' as a guy came  parachuting  out of a place down toward  the start line holding a HUGE (maybe 50 or 75 wide) American Flag waving in the breeze. Talk about impressive. Unfortunately we were staring directly into the sun, so I only caught the last 5 sec before the parachuter touched ground- if I would have saw it sooner you better believe the photo would be graced on this page!

Eventually the cannon went off initiating our start. Eric and I didn't discuss in detail what his pace would be- I had suggested the day prior that a 9:30 would be good to prevent him from going out too fast, but 'the gameplan' was never finalized so I figured I'd just 'go with the flow' and try to adjust from there. 

Miles 1-5.5
  • First mile was a little congested. Ive never ran with someone from the beginning of a race, so I was surprised at just how hard it is to run next to your 'partner' among a large crowd. I kept looking at my watch to make sure we were going at a decent pace, but what I found out was we were going too fast. Eric informed me he can go sub 9 when he runs 6 or 7 miles, but wasn't sure about 13, so I thought keeping it a little over 9 to begin with would do- nope, clocked in at  a 8:50 first mile.
  • Unfortunately for me, Eric wore headphones with the music blaring, so everytime I tried to point out that we should take it a little more easy, he couldn't hear me, so I gave up in trying and just stuck next to him, actually enjoying the whole 'no music' concept. 
  • Shortly into first mile I heard my name- it was Dave, one of my bf from college's husband. He said that Kim (his wife) had showed him my facebook photo from the night before of my race outfit, so he was keeping an eye out for me. We chatted for a few minutes about how hes been and what his goals were.  I wished him luck and turned back around to focus on Eric (he was oblivious that a few minute conversation took place)
  • 2nd mile clocked in at 8:45- I felt GREAT, however I was getting frustrated with our pace. Its not that I don't have confidence in my brother, its more of he already informed me he hasn't run past 7 miles at this pace so I was thinking long term. I decided to see what mile 3 would bring before attempting to slow him down. 
  • 3rd mile... 8:35- seriously?!?! I snapped to get his attention to tell him we needed to hold off a bit, it didn't really work so I decided to go slightly behind him instead. Even though I told him it was HIS race , not mine, I got the feeling by running next to him he was trying to 'keep up with me', so if I'm behind he doesn't have that urge- it worked and the 4th mile we slowed down to an 8:58. 
  • At this point I'm getting hot. I ended up taking off the arm sleeves and decided to throw them to my parents when I saw them along the course. For those who are debating on arm sleeves I have 2 pieces of advice 
    • 1. go down a measurement. I have small arms- when I measured I was on the low end of what they called a medium. I know I want the sleeves to be tight, but I couldn't fathom buying a small. Since I've been 5'10 since the age of 13, the word "small" isn't really in my vocabulary. So needless to say, a majority of before the race and during I had to pull them up every so often since they kept falling down. 
    • 2. If you get hot easily and are able to brave it out, forgo the sleeves and keep for really cold races. The weather said it would be warming up to 70, but before the race it was 50. Within the first mile I was BURNING up! I will definitely try them in the winter, but with a smaller size- since as we get colder are muscles have a tendency to get smaller, thus what little muscle I do have in my arm will shrink.
  • Shortly before mile 5 we pass by my old pediatrician's building and the very first Church we went to when we first moved to Ohio- exciting I know, but I haven't really been on base since I graduated college (ID expires at that point) so its been awhile since I've seen everything. 

  • We go through my absolute FAVORITE part of the base- officer housing neighborhoods- I'm OBSESSED with Bavarian style architecture, and the houses are all built that way- below is the 4star Generals house.... love it

  • Mile 5 we're holding steady and we decided to take our first gu - this is the one thing we did discuss prior to the race- gu would be at the water stop closest to mile 5, and mile 9. First 5 miles we averaged an 8:48 pace- yikes! Much faster than I had planned for us going, and worried how he'll be doing coming mile 10- we shall see. 
Miles 5.5-10
  • Both my parents + Tracie and Joseph were anxiously awaiting for our arrival around the 5.5 mile mark. To avoid traffic, they too left early and got bit with the boredom bug and had a mini photo shoot, pics were too cute of Joseph not to share. 
Tracie, Joseph, Dad (Grandpa) 

Joseph clapping for the runners

Tracie, Joseph, Mom (grandma) 
  •  I was texting my mom where they were located and she informed me 'past the hospital along the golf course'- umm have you seen a golf course.. they're HUGE!  Luckily, my dad is 6'4, thus easy to spot, so Eric and I had planned to stop where they were, pick up my headphones, drop off my arm sleeves, and chat for a minute. 
I like how we have similar form
 All smiles at this point... Eric's face says otherwise :)
Pulling off to say hi to the folks. 
All smiles here- despite Eric's face
Yay got the headphones from mom

Saying "HI" to Joseph

Telling Eric we have to go! 

and we're off!

  • I think that break is just what Eric needed, as soon as we left the fam, it appeared that we were running faster, and despite stopping for a full minute to  visit, our 6th mile was 9:44. 
  • Now that I had music, I felt that I might be going faster, thus causing Eric to go faster... I had a HARD time trying to pace- for me, I can sabotage my race, bc if I want it bad enough, I'll push through. With Eric... its a whole different story, I can't afford to tire him out too quickly since this is his first rodeo. I again had to resort to running slightly behind him, letting him go at whats comfortable for him.
  • Nothing spectacular around miles 7 & 8, few rolling hills here and there. 
  • Shortly before mile 9 I noticed Eric starting to slow down. We had a large interstate ramp to run up- it wasn't necessarily steep, but it was L O N G- good thing was he didn't walk, bad thing was, it wiped him out. A little after we reached the top, we got a nice downhill, but his legs weren't up for stretching it out. Several times I tried to tell him that opening his stride and using the downhill to his advantage would feel good + we'd gain some time... didn't work. 
  • Once we had our 2nd gu, things were slightly better- had a series of rolling hills. Eric started complaining about his legs starting to feel heavy. I mentioned that if he strides it out for a few yards that might help loosen him up, but he was at a pace that was comfortable and that is all that matters. 
  • Mile 10 hits, we talk about how its only a 5k left and I start to feel around how he's feeling in terms of when he wants to pick it up. I told him as LONG as we kept our pace, we would actually break 2 hours, which although wasn't his original gameplan, he did mention to me he would be EXTACTIC if that happened. 
Mile 10.5-Finish
  • As we're approaching another slight hill, we see our 'cheerleaders' again on the side of the highway, it was an unexpected surprise, and I was thrilled because I think my mom's obnoxious screaming gave Eric a little pep in his step. At one point he said "gosh who is that lady yelling at" and a runner next to him said "you" lol
  • We hit mile 11 (this is where I'm used to telling myself 2 miles left, at most 20 minutes to go)- that way of thinking didn't work with Eric. Despite another downhill, he was unable to utilize his legs to his full potential and finally said he was fading and I could go on without him. 
  • I can't tell you how many times I had to say "this is your race, not mine, therefore I'm running WITH YOU"
  • He did manage to pick up the 11th mile by 30 sec in comparison to mile 10, mile 12 was another 30 sec faster- informed him if he could pick it up just a little bit, then we would go sub 2. 
  • Although I didn't want to admit it I felt like that last mile Eric was toast- he pushed himself to keep going, but he truly did leave it all out there. The bad part of the finish is that you can see the finish line for a LONG time- thus unless you have a Garmin its hard to know the distance. 
So the finish line is probably a football fields length away to the right. you run down this straight away, turn right, then run up a similar straightaway to this one- pure torture to be able to see it. 

  • I started my time count down- 5 minutes to go (in relation to sub 2) 4...3...2... no response as to going faster. Finally I put on my hardass tone and told him that "regardless of going slow or fast he's going to hurt- no matter what he ran a good race and far surpassed his original time, BUT if you're this close to going sub 2 and miss it, you WILL be mad about it later"- whether its' my imagination or not, I feel he did pick it up. 
  • We turn the corner and are in the final stretch "We have 1 minute to cross that line" to which he replies "I'm not going to make it, go ahead"- spectators must have enjoyed our dramatic conversation because I yelled back (i was slightly ahead of him hoping he would want to keep up) "I'm not leaving you, this is YOUR race, not mine" hehe cheesey I know. 
the final stretch
  • So we do get to the finish line, final result ....... not sure yet.
  • As expected he was thrilled to be done, we got our medals, food, and quickly scarfed down our food before going over to the results tent where they print you out your final time......

  • Final time 2:00:32- so.freaking.close. 

Despite not reaching it, lets not overshadow that this was his FIRST half marathon and he doesn't go sub 9 too often in his training runs. I was 100% proud of him for his speediness throughout, and when he did break down, he never complained and only told me how he felt when I asked. He also never walked- something I do far too often. It was neat being on the other end of a race- not really RACING it and actually enjoying the scenery. This was BY FAR my favorite race- weather was pristine, no pain with tons of energy, great support from my family, familiar views to look at that were filled with positive memories, and most of all, helping motivate  my older brother to reach his goal :) 

All in all, a race I would gladly do again if my schedule allows for the future (for those who are interested, it sells out every year, so hop on it!)

Rest of recap is splits + photos!
Official Time: 2:00:32
Mile 1: 8:50
Mile 2: 8:45
Mile 3: 8:35
Mile 4: 8:58
Mile 5: 8:54
Mile 6: 9:44
Mile 7: 8:52
Mile 8: 9:24
Mile 9: 9:37
Mile 10: 9:54
Mile 11: 9:29
Mile 12: 9:05
Mile 13: 8:58
no idea what .1 was bc I forgot to stop my watch. 
 Now the photo madness!

after the race

We did it!!! 
oh you know, just chillin by a tank

Sun in my eyes give me that 'sexy' look, dontcha think?

check out my sweet new ride

He was excited to finally put this on his car! Well earned. 

Happy family 

check out that bling!

 There he is... the face of a half marathoner

Now that Eric has finished his first 1/2, I think he may have gotten the racing bug. His goal is to do another one so he can break 2 hours- so close. I found one in Dayton again October 9 for him (I will not be joining) so he's going to let me know soon if he decides to get another one under his belt. 

If you're still reading this, I apologize for it being so long!


  1. congrats to both of you! He was so close. He'll break 2 next time for sure!

  2. Way to go to your brother on his first half. The story about he guy who raced both and ran OVER by 1.2 miles--are you kidding me? I would have been so angry!

  3. LOVE this!!!! so fun that you ran with your brother!!! he did amazing! love all the pics! this seriously made me so excited to run with my brother and sis next april :)

  4. awesome race for both of you! how fun to run it together! and great job for him too on his time for his first race. love your outfit :)

  5. what an awesome race! ya'll look great out there!!!! love the arm sleeves... and holy crap that is crazy about that poor guy! he must have been super pissed at that patrolman.. and that patrolman must have felt like shit!

  6. Great recap! I love your comment about the porta-potty situation. I have never experienced no waits before, that was amazing!

  7. Great recap! Your brother ROCKS! All sub 10s in a first half? ROCK STAR! And you were so sweet to stick with him to the bitter end. Love it!

  8. Great recap. Can't wait to run it this year! Yeah!

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