Sunday, February 17, 2013

Race Report : Ice Cube Half Marathon

Yesterday was the aptly named "Ice Cube Half Marathon" in Mount Pleasant, MI.  I waffled a bit about whether or not to do this race, since I hadn't run since Sunday due to knee pain that wouldn't go away, and my ham-ass starting to flare up again.  (I had seen the doc and started PT this week.)  Ultimately though, I decided to do it, (obviously!) despite the 2 hr drive and the fact that the race fee was super cheap ($30) so it wouldn't have been the end of the world to skip it.

Prior to the race, the organizer sent out an email which included this:

"Normally around this time of the year the winds on these open fields can get pretty nasty sitting consitantly at 15-25 mph all day long.  They will cause drifts over the roads that will melt during day and freeze at night.  This makes for a solid sheet of ice on the roads.  In recent years there have been patches of ice here and there.  But this year I expect it to be really, super, icey.  So please come prepared for all conditions."

I definitely appreciated the heads up.  Much like at Groundhog, I didn't really decide what clothes or shoes to wear until I got there.  I just packed a bunch of options.  I carpooled with David from the A2Runners Meetup group, and met Rick from the same group there (he had driven up the night before).  We left at about 5:30 am and got there at 7:30am.  The race didn't start til 9am, so we had time to drive the whole course to scope out the terrain in advance.  The course was open to traffic, but mostly on back roads, so we didn't have to worry about hitting road closures while doing our reconnaissance.

It looked great at first.  There wasn't any appreciable wind that we noticed, and it was nice clear paved roads, with very slight rolling hills.  After mile 3 it started to get ugly.   Then it got worse. From mile 5 to 9 there was more ice than there was road.

ALL ICE.  No road. 

In the car it didn't seem that bad, but out there running it was a different story!  I opted to wear my screw shoes, but almost didn't because I thought there was enough patches of road that it wouldn't be necessary.  I was wrong.  It was SO SLIPPERY.  I'm not even sure if my screw shoes helped at all.  There were people out there in YakTrax, but I don't think they really help on ice at all, and they drive me crazy on dry pavement.  (This race was dry for the first and last 3 miles).  
This wasn't a "goal race" for me, so I put on my heart rate monitor and foot pod and planned to use it as a data collection run.  I usually don't race with my heart rate monitor because I'm afraid of chafing and side cramps and such.  Turns out I was right to be scared.  I got a side cramp around mile 6 and opted to take off the heart rate monitor.  The cramp was gone shortly after that.

So my data collection ended up incomplete.   Oh well.   

Average Heart Rate (Blue / left), Cadence (Green / right)
And splits: 

There was no ice those last couple miles so I tried to pick up the pace, but I just couldn't seem to get below 9:25 for some reason.  Some combination of wind and worn out I guess.  Speaking of wind, there wasn't a ton at the start, and I got warm pretty quickly, so I took my gloves and jacket off.  Then we turned and were facing a headwind and I got cold and put my jacket on, but still didn't need my gloves.  Later, I got REALLY cold and decided I wanted to put my gloves back on.  I tried to but couldn't because they were frozen solid!  (I actually forced my left hand into a frozen glove, but that was a terribly idea.  Very cold and painful.  There was no way I'd be able to last through the pain long enough for it to thaw! 

It was definitely a tougher (more miserable!) race for me than the Groundhog two weeks ago.  Strictly based on terrain (ice) and weather (wind).  My hair froze into this really neat looking feather thing on my right side.  I wanted to get a picture of it, but apparently I forgot to turn my head to the side, and I got just a regular post race photo instead.  Look really closely by my right ear and you might see it.  (My right, your left).  

 I ended up just squeaking under 2:05.  2:04:58 to be exact.  The start wasn't a chip-timed, just the finish, so I was actually a couple seconds better than that.  (Less than 10 seconds though, it wasn't a huge race. ) That's a 9:33 pace.  On the one hand, I'm very happy with that.  That's an average time for me, and these conditions were no where near ideal.

Here are all my half times, ordered by pace.  Ice Cube is right in the middle! 
On the other hand, I've done multiple long runs of 12-14 miles recently with a better pace 9:33, so I kind of expected a little better than that.  But, those were in ideal conditions, and I did give them a hard effort, so I'm not complaining.

Pre-race packet pickup and post race festivities were both at O'Kelley's Bar.  It was nice to have some place relatively warm to wait at!

David, me, & Rick. 
Hand made age group awards for the 1st and 2nd in each age group.   There were no overall awards.  The heads of those little guys are painted marshmallows.  I was 9 out of 23 in my age group, so I didn't win anything.  But I had scoped out the previous year's results and already knew I didn't stand a chance at this one.  They have some real winter warriors show up! 

I felt that the race schwag was surprisingly good, since it was only a $30 registration fee for the half marathon.  They handed out small water bottles at the water stops, and there were energy gels available too.

We got a medal....
Cute little ice cube dude, isn't he?  
...and the coolest little bibs I've ever seen.  I'm pretty sure this is getting added to my medal rack!

Plain cotton T-shirt, which I like (as long as they're not white).  

No ads!  There is a little date discrepancy between the front and the back though!  Haha! 

There was no post-race food or drink on site.  Instead you got to choose between 1) A bagel and a coffee, 2) a beer or 3) a smoothie, from 3 local businesses all easily walkable from the finish line (like, 150 ft walkable).  I opted for the bagel and coffee.  Yum!   Personally, I preferred this option to post-race pseudo food.  I often don't take anything from the post race food lines, because I end up eating junk and then having to eat a real meal shortly after too.   Plus I'm usually just not that hungry immediately after a race.  

Haha!  I just noticed that the date is wrong on this too! 

That would be a chocolate chip bagel with chocolate chip cream cheese.  Boom.  
That pretty much sums it up.  I had a good experience with this race, from an organization perspective.  I heard other people complaining about not getting the right size shirt, despite being pre-registered, while same-day registrants got their shirts, and other people got the 2012 medal because there weren't enough.  I wouldn't have been happy if that had happened to me either I guess, but I am much more flexible on a $30 race put on by a local runner dude than I am with an $80 race put on by some conglomerate.  You can read some of the complaints on their facebook page.  Ultimately, it comes down to whether I'd do the race again or not, and the answer is yes, I would.  I wouldn't do it as a goal race, but on a crappy icy day, it's good motivation to get out the door.  Even with the 2 hr drive.

(Sorry the layout of this post is awful.  I was in a rush and too tired to care). 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an awesome time. I've done the Panda night run they put on. That was a ton of fun. I thought about doing this one, but I'm not sure I'm even in enough shape for it right now. So, I ended up going to 97.1 Sportsfest instead, which was much less running, driving, and $25 cheaper.


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