On Saturday, Rebecca, Eby and I drove up to Seeley Lake for the annual Snow Joke Half Marathon. This is one of the area races that allows dogs. Buddy would have loved the chaos, but 13.1 miles would have been too much for him.
The course is 13.1 miles of paved roads around the lake. I've heard that in the past, the roads have been snow packed and icy. Due to the recent warm temperatures though, the roads were mostly clear. The forecast had called for rain, but the day brought dry conditions and temps in the upper 30's. Upon arrival, we were surprised to see a line of people out into the parking lot waiting to register. The start of the race was delayed almost 30 minutes to accomodate the volume of people who showed up. It was nice to use that time to meet and greet friends from both Kalispell and Helena. Below you can see Eby and Bug readying themselves for the race.
As I've mentioned before, I don't race much. I've done two half marathons in my lifetime, one as part of a weekend excursion with friends while living in DC (2005 Virginia Beach Rock n' Roll Half in 2:25:09) and Bozeman's Lewis and Clark Half, but I can't remember which year or my time. I didn't really know what to expect for this one, since I've only been running with consistency since November, and since my long runs have been quite slow. My primary goal was to beat the known 2:25. My other goal was to run the entire thing with zero walk breaks.
Once we set off, I let Rebecca and Eby go, assuming Eby would want to catch up to other dogs. I settled into a groove, choosing to run by feel rather than by my watch. When I glanced at my Garmin at the halfway point I was shocked to be averaging a 9:50 pace. For the most part, I felt great. The course is beautiful, and I was once again grateful to be just running without injury or pain. I took a GU every 4 miles and drank often from my bottle of Tri-Berry Nuun.
At mile 11, I started to feel some mild cramping in my right shin. I hadn't brought extra electrolytes because of the Nuun, but I think I could have used some. Instead I took the much avoided walk break to take my last GU and chug down the rest of the Nuun, hoping to avoid a major cramp crash. With two miles to go, I just tried to keep a pace that didn't lead to further cramping. On the home stretch, I lost a few seconds trying to untie my extra top around my waist that held my race number. Not sure what my official finishing time will be, but according to my Garmin it was 2:11. Someday, I'd like to do better, but after the last year of pain, I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!
Eby ran the whole thing with Rebecca and they finished right ahead of me.
Snow Joke is my kind of no frills race. Registration was 10 bucks and you could visit with other people in a warm gym while waiting for the start. There were a couple of aid stations serving Heed and water. A really nice course not too far from home. I'd definitely run it again.
Also, Martin, if you are reading this - thank you for introducing me to the joys of running uphill. The course description had mentioned a few hills and one was supposed to be "big." While running, I couldn't remember where they were supposed to be. Around mile 10, there was a sign that said "Pain ahead" so I assumed that's where the big one would be, but it never appeared. I guess I'm getting so used to running up, these felt like a breeze!!!!!