Gopher to Badger Half Marathon

On Saturday, August 11th, I completed my third half marathon; Gopher to Badger. The race, organized by Final Stretch, started in Stillwater, MN and finished in Hudson, WI.

I’ll back up a moment and start by saying that my poor performance at Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago had me frustrated and DONE with running. I fell out of love with running completely somewhere around mile 10. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the course, the organization and the course support. The weekend itself was amazing and I was traveling with a wonderfully hilarious group of runner friends.

But, I went into the race with no training, having almost completely stopped running after deciding to drop out of the marathon. I went into the race with no plan, which wasn’t helped by my last minute decision to drop back corrals and run with someone I hadn’t previously run with. We started well with Galloway, but her negative splits had me pushing entirely too hard at the beginning; I felt worn out by mile 8 and though I wanted to hang with her until mile 10, I just couldn’t. I dropped back to my own slower pace. Unfortunately, I had used too much already and my body quit at mile 10. I walked the remaining 3.1, mad at myself and hating the hot and humid conditions.

I was so discouraged by the end of the race that I stopped for a good pity cry before finding my friends. When I met up with them, I flopped in the gross, dramatically declaring that I had just finished my last half marathon. Ever. I immediately started making plans to drop my next half to a 5k and my final one to the 10k.

I’ll say at this moment, once again, how much I love my running group. They supported my plan and reassured me that any decision I made would be the right one. I was satisfied with my new plan to never run another half marathon.

Fast forward to last week, at which time I had run a total of 2.25 miles after Chicago. Some time during the week, I decided to go ahead and attempt another half. I still don’t know where the determination came from, but the day before the race I researched the Galloway method and decided to that route but hadn’t decided on my intervals yet.

Now back to Gopher to Badger. On my way to the race, I decided I would go with 5:2 intervals but ultimately let my body decide the pace. If it became too much, I had my phone and could beg someone to come scrape me off the pavement. Good attitude, right?

I arrived at the race location early and it was super easy to find parking and hop on the shuttle to the start line. I chatted with my bus seat mate about different races and we parted ways at the porta potty line. The start of the race was uneventful, with around 800 participants.

Surprisingly, I felt really good, with none of the calf tightness I’d been experiencing since the beginning of summer. It probably helped that the temperature was in the high 60s at race time. I fired up the iPod and started my intervals, with the exception of not wasting any of the downhill opportunities to let my body fly freely down them.

Around mile 4, another participant and I started chatting and running together. I’m thankful for her companionship, which made the miles tick by quickly; she even joined my Thursday running group the following week!

My body, including that nagging left hip, cooperated until mile 12 before giving up; previous races saw mile 10 as the shut down point, so I’ll consider that improvement! I walked the last 1.1 miles but felt good about the day, considering I had NO training to back me up (see a pattern with my running yet?). It’s the first half marathon that didn’t involved tears from pain, frustration or happiness…another improvement.

Overall, I’m happy I decided to give the half distance another shot. After the race, I fully intended to do the Women Rock MN half, but there will be more on that later.

My official finishing time was 2:53:42; not great, but not my worst performance, and I made a new friend. I call that winning.

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