Saturday, April 13, 2013

#4 of 13: Martian Half Marathon 2013 Race Report

First of all:  THANK YOU to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for paying for my race entry.  I'm not sure I would have done this half so soon after Rock CF and so soon after coming back from injury if it had not been free.  I'm so glad I did.  I had a blast today.

Second: Isn't it cool that half #4/13 was on 4/13/13?  I think so.  Moving on.

I LOVE THE MARTIAN.  This is the 3rd time I have done this half.  The best part about it is the Martian theme and the uber cool schwag, but I think it's got a lot more going for it than that.  My favorite things:
  1. Martian schwag, as mentioned
  2. Weather.  Usually cool.  Some like it hot, I like it cold. 
  3. Social running.  As an out and back, you get to run into opposing runner traffic most of the way. Seeing people I know and cheering for them usually gives me a pace boost, and makes the whole thing more fun.  
  4. Flat-ish.  There aren't many hills on the course, and the ones there are either short or not very steep.  Or both.
  5. Fast.  The combination of the above makes this usually a fast course for me.  
  6. Scenic.   I like the parksy tree-lined look of Hines Drive (the normal route), though honestly I usually don't notice scenery one way or the other.  I don't pay attention.    
This year, I decided to volunteer at the expo the day before the race.  Because of that, I can't really speak to the packet pick-up process or the expo really, since I was behind the table from start to finish.  It did look like there were some long lines at times, for the 10K anyway.  I was tossing shirts left and right so I didn't see much.  

The shirts I was tossing, left to right: Kid's, Women's, Men's.  Poor guys didn't get a green shirt.  I would have wanted green too if I were them! 

 And my sweet "OBEY ME!" volunteer shirt:

If you haven't volunteered for a race, you should!  It's fun and with Running Fit, you get a $30 voucher to a future race.  I have $60 in said vouchers right now that I'm going to use to run the Woodstock Hippie Half for free with in September.  You know I love free races!  

Other expo photos, taken before setup was finished: 

 (Okay, so they're really not expo photos, as much as they are photos of inflatable Martians.  Sorry.)

Here's the shirt and the bib on, from my night-before-the-race try everything on and lay everything out spiel.  

While volunteering I was keeping an ear out for updates on the course, since this was posted on the race website: 
Here on the Green Planet, we dig water, heck our planet is mostly covered in water. That said, there is always a chance of a bit of water covering the Invasion course! The 5K and 10K have no flood issues but the half and full are run through a flood plain. In the 15 year history of the event  flooding has never been an issue and we hope this is the case again.
Hines Drive is closed due to flooding today but we have time for the water to recede with no significant rain in the forecast tomorrow and tomorrow night. But if there is a flood issue, not to worry, we do have an alternate course so the race will go on! The alternate course will be measured to certification specifications but will be pending certification until the paperwork is done.
Well, apparently the water actually rose 1-1.5 feet on Friday, after this warning was posted, and the parks people said it takes like 4 days to recede, so it was looking pretty darn likely that the course was going to have to be changed.  I think they didn't "officially" decide until 4am race day, but it did indeed run on an alternate route.  
You can view the 2013 emergency alternate route and elevation profile from my Garmin.  To compare, here is the 2012 route, also from my Garmin.  I like them both, but I actually think I liked this year's better.  The only reason is that with all the mini loops and out & backs, I got to see all my running peeps a million times!  I said hi to Katie, Brent, Josh, Kevin, and a bunch of my 501 friends (aside: can you find me on the 501 page?!) like at least 3 times each.  They were probably getting sick of me waving at them.  Haha!  Sorry!

There were a couple of downsides to the alternate course.  It was much more crowded than usual, since the streets were narrow and there was runner traffic both directions, plus cars parked on the sides.  It wasn't too much of a hindrance most of the time, but I did sometimes get "stuck" behind people in those subdivisions.  I felt really bad for the people that lived in those neighborhoods, because I don't think they knew about the race.  There were multiple people stuck trying to get out of their driveways, for who knows how long.  There weren't really any gaps in runners to speak of, and even if there were, where could the cars go?  We pretty much filled those neighborhoods for the entire duration of the race.  I passed one lady in her car just sitting there looking hopeless, and then she was still in the exact same position with the exact same expression when we looped back a mile or two later.  Apparently there were some verbal altercations between runners and drivers too, though I didn't witness any of those.  I did see one lady who attempted to pull out and then got stuck, so she was basically just sitting in the middle of the road, cross-ways, with runners diverting around her.  I'll be interested to hear the complaints that come from the residents in the coming days!  Can't say I blame them.  
As for the weather, it ended up being great.  We were all worried because the forecast said 30 couple degrees with 20mph and rain/flurries on Friday, but it ended up being more like 39 and 10-14 mph winds and no precip.  I overdressed as usual, and ended up with my jacket around my waist, my shirt sleeves rolled up, and no gloves pretty quickly, but it was still good.  I wore a bandana over my ears at the start and then moved it to sweatband position at the first or 2nd water stop. I was still a little too warm the first half, but then the wind picked up and I was glad for the cool-down.  The only time I noticed intrusive wind was at the very end when we came out of the subdivisions and parks and ran parallel to the main roads (miles 11 and 12).  At that point the wind was really noticeable!  It didn't last long though.

I think that's enough of the course and weather stuff.  Lets get on to "my day".  That's the fun part.

It started out sort of early with a 5:15 am wake up call.  I picked up 2 friends (one running the 10K and one running the half) from downtown Ann Arbor and then made the 45 min drive to Dearborn.  We were parked by a couple minutes before 7am.  I met Irina there, who was also running the 10K.  Plenty of time for the 10Kers to get warmed up and get to there 8am race start.  The half didn't start until 8:45, so R1 and I had some time to kill!  We sat in the car a while and then headed over to the 501 tent and the porta-potties.  I did run in to Megan at some point during that time, but I was hyperfocused on getting in line to poop and didn't stop to chat...and then she was gone when I got back.  Sorry Megan!  Poop takes priority!  I didn't want to "miss the window".  (Jeff says that's weird, but I think it's normal.  If I wait too long then I can't go anymore!)  On my second bathroom trip a while later, I ran into Josh and Brent.  Who knew portajohns could be such great meeting places??   After that I headed over to watch Dave finish his 10K in his usual super-speedy fashion (congrats on the PR!), and get a video.  At that point, it was 8:38 and time to line up for the half already!  Time flies.  All my crew had already lined up, and I as afraid I wouldn't find them, but I did.  Luckily, Katie was standing just a few people in front of them.  I only saw her because she wore her muscle pants, and I was able to recognize her from behind!  We were able to all get an awesome start line photo.  I love it!
Left to right: Me, R1, R2, Katie, T, Asia.  
For the first time that I've ever seen, Running Fit actually held up pace signs to help you line up appropriately at the start.  That has been my biggest pet peeve about Running Fit races in the past.  So thanks for that!  However, they didn't show up with the signs (at least not that I noticed) until after everybody had pretty much lined up, so it didn't change that much.  Next time mount them in advance, so we know where to go!  I bet most people didn't even see them.  There were only a couple signs and they were all in the front 1/2 of the half marathon pack.

Minutes after the photo, we were off!  I was tempted to try to stick with L (not shown) who was going for about 2:00 but I decided against it.  My mantra the first few miles was "take it easy...this isn't a race"  (even though technically it was!).  My goal today was to do better than I did at Rock CF 3 weeks ago, and to do a better job pacing so I wasn't so miserable and slow at the end.  I have been terrible the past couple years about starting out too fast.   I was hoping for about a 2:05 today, which would be back to a "normal" time for me, after the slow time at Rock CF due to lack of training in the 3 weeks prior due to injury.  In my head, my plan was 9:30-9:45 pace for the first couple miles to warm up, then a bit faster but still comfortable through mile 9 or 10, then kick it up for the last few.  I did a pretty good job of that!  Some of the splits look more inconsistent than they are....I stopped and walked for a smidge at each of the water stops, so the high splits coincide with those.

The water stops are the pretty obvious peaks in the blue!  Pace in blue, elevation in green.  Not much real elevation change, if you look at the scale on the right.

Overall, I'm really happy with my pacing and glad I didn't try to go out for a sub-2:00 today.  I don't think I could have done it, and it would have made for another miserable time at a race, and I didn't need that!  (Time= enjoyment/experience in this context, not clock-time, though honestly probably both would have been true!)

As it stood, I came in with 2:02:28.36, which is good for a recent history PR by a smidge (17 seconds). There's still an old 2006 PR of 1:58:49 that needs to go down one of these days, but I'm thrilled with how today went!  Second fastest half ever!

For comparison here are my other half times, in plot form (or see all my halfs in list form on RunningAhead):

Sub 2 is going to happen this year.  Maybe not until fall though, depending on how warm my May and summer races are.  I can't believe I've done SEVEN halfs since my 2011 2:02:45 when I thought my next half after that was going to be sub 2 EASY.  HAHA.  I do think I would have had it at Rock CF and/or Martian if I hadn't lost March's training due to injury. 

Poor Irina and Dave had been waiting for me for a while since their 10K started at 8am.  Dave had been waiting for the entire duration of my race, since he had finished the 10K before the half marathon started!  We hurried to the car to head out for some brunch.  On the way there, this happened:
My phone: "Ring ring".  Me: "Hello?"  Irina: "There's a chocolate milk on your roof."    {All car  passengers laugh hysterically while Dave gets out to get it for me. }
We went to a Leo's Coney Island (eventually, since I missed the turn and didn't notice until I was 3 miles past it) for brunch.  Everybody got breakfast and milkshakes, except me.  I got lunch and a diet coke.

Me, David, Irina, and R1. 
After I got home, it was time for a shower, stretching, and post-race photography of schwag.  Here are the fruits of my labor:
THREE FREE SHIRTS!  Left: Refuel with Chocolate Milk shirt.  They sponsored me at this race (I won a raffle.)  Thank you!!!  Center: Official race tee.  Right: Volunteer shirt.  Also shown: button and medal.  
Backs of the shirts.  The gray volunteer one actually says "Ground Control" underneath running fit.  I love the design of the official race tee (center) but I wish it wasn't that super slippery type of tech shirt.  I like the wider weave, more breathable, soft tech shirt, like the blue Refuel with Chocolate Milk shirt.  Unfortunately,  the Refuel one is too big.  :(

Here's the mega-awesome medal (possibly my favorite ever?  I LOVE THE GREEN!), and the display-worthy UFO bib.  I only keep the interesting bibs.  I saved the Ice Cube bib, and I'll save this one too for sure!  
Here's the medal on my hanger, with my other Martian medals.  Top to bottom: 2013, 2006, 2012.   (In the center of the photo.  The column where the martians are, in case that wasn't clear....haha). 

Then, I died. :P  Actually I was stretching my R quad & TFL, but Jeff said I looked dead so I stuck out my tongue and made my arms more dead-like.  Cuz dead people stick out their tongues like in cartoons.  I guess maybe if I was roadkill I would.  
I think that about covers it!  Can you tell I had a good day?  I hope all your races were equally awesome!  Contrast this with how I felt after last year's Martian, if you wish.  Night and day!  

Happy Ty. 

See you again next year, Martian friends.  

[Addendum:  Apparently the timing website/QR code scanning they had advertised didn't work for quite awhile after the race.  A lot of people also had missing or inaccurate results.  I didn't even look for my official time until 2:30pm, so this didn't affect me, but if I had been more concerned about my time or was gunning for an age group award, this would have been a real downer.  Not sure if something malfunctioned with the timing system or what.]


  1. Hehehe And then you died! LOL Love it!

    But great race, and awesome way to make a comeback, and brave the cold!

  2. They changed that course fast. Well, Bravo for Running Fit. Last years course wasn't anything to miss. I was there for the Kids marathon (I got a DNF). well done, some tough wind today.

  3. Glad you had a good race and nice to see you. My experience was not quite as pleasant. :)

    My legs were sore almost instantly (from lack of running this week?) - the whole race seemed like a struggle. Combined with crummy weather (I know you like it - I want to be able to comfortably wear a T-shirt and shorts someday), late race start, late race start time which caused parking issues, etc, I had a less than stellar experience. Rock CF and Brooskie Way seem 10x better. (The shirt and medal was cool) Even with all that, I guess I enjoyed myself to some extent. (Maybe I should update my blog with this stuff) :P

    Way to finish strong! Nice race!

  4. Great job! It sounds like you had a lot of fun. It was great to see you during the race a couple of times--sorry I was too exhausted to yell and cheer, but I was doing it in my head ;)

    I was so irritated that the results thing wasn't working! I didn't know my official results until around 2:30, and it was killing me.

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  6. Nice recap. It was good seeing you, and congrats on being the first person to actually recognize me from here and say hello in person. Your waving at me at the turns didn't annoy me. It was actually more reassuring that I wasn't falling back so incredibly far behind where I was.

  7. I don't know what I love more, the medal or the race number design. Both are very cool. Congrats on your race.


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