Because I’d just run the Austin marathon February 18 I had a little bit of awkward timing leading up to the GO St. Louis half. Around 7-8 weeks. Since I take around a month of easy running after a marathon and a two week taper going into most half marathons I had basically 2 or 3 weeks where I could do speedwork. I wasn’t totally sure where my speed was, I’d run a 5k in January that was just off my PR, but my 5k PR is slow (very close to my half PR pace). Fortunately I had the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day run to gauge just where my speed was. As I shared in my last bloop, I ran it at 2 hour half pace and it was clear I’m not there yet.
Sunday morning my alarm went off at the painfully early hour of 4:30am. I was awake already because waking up every hour or two the night before a race is how I roll even when I’m relatively calm. I keep as quiet as I can because my housemate (also sister) has hours of sleep left ahead of her. Izzie is less concerned about being quiet and tells me all sorts of things by following me around and meowing. She got fed so it wasn’t that, she just likes to communicate. I got myself ready, ate breakfast and headed out the door by 5:10 so I could be in time to catch the Metorlink train into St. Louis (they run every 20 minutes on Sundays, by going at this time I had the leeway to miss the train I meant to catch and still catch the next train and be in time for the race, if I missed that train, I might miss the beginning of the race.) All went smoothly and I was standing on the train platform at 5:30 for the 5:34 train with a dozen or so other runners and one guy who kept singing random bits of songs. At 6:04 I stepped off the train at Laclede’s Landing and made a port o potty stop, dropped my bag at gear check and met my friend John (same John I ran Austin with). As long as I was moving around I wasn’t too cold. We walked around looking for a few other Team in Training runners but didn’t find anyone else before the race.
We were in the corral when we were supposed to be 15 minutes before the scheduled race time, but the race ended up starting 15-20 minutes late. In that time standing still I got cold. My feet and hands especially. Finally we were moving. The race starts with a short straightaway before turning and going up a steep but fairly short hill. Apparently somewhere in that first part I ran right past Jackie Joyner-Kersee along the sidelines and didn’t see her. She does so much for the local running community in addition to all she does for E. St. Louis where she grew up. There was at least one wheelchair participant and I can’t imagine it was too fun to start out with that hill. It wasn’t fun for me and wasn’t trying to wheel my way up. We wound around and headed East across the Mississippi River on the MLK bridge. This part of the race felt like we were running on the interstate (which we almost were). Around the first water stop I spotted one of our TNT teammates but when I tried to say hello she slowed down to drink just as I came up beside her and I missed my opportunity. After a short distance in East St. Louis we headed back across the Mississippi on the Eads Bridge where the lampposts were bouncing back and forth like crazy. Good to know the Mythbusters showed it would be nearly impossible for marching (or running) feet to bring down a bridge. At this point I told John if he wanted to take off he should because he was running the 7k and getting to the final stretch. He took off and ended up getting 2nd in his AG for the 7k (but that distance apparently doesn’t have AG awards). Also at this point I was passed by a double amputee. One below the knee and one above the knee amputation. Those blades are engineered for running but still super impressive.
The half turned south and headed toward the brewery and the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis. We ran through the brewery complex itself, sometimes they have one of the Clydesdales out, but not this year that I saw. The crowds in general were much slimmer due to the cold but there were still some enthusiastic people out in clumps here and there. Soulard didn’t have its pajama group out but there were two guys dressed as nuns with one group shaking beer can noisemakers. We ran through Soulard, Benton Park and a few other pretty neighborhoods on the south side of St. Louis before heading back toward downtown. The full split off and I was really glad I was getting close to being done instead of just really getting started. One of the 2:10 pacers caught up with me and I said uh-oh. He heard me and said not to worry because he was a bit ahead of pace. Even so I took this as motivation to pick it up a little. I was past mile 10 so it was time anyway. Around mile 12 I started to push it a little more and mile 12 didn’t end up being super fast but it was my fastest mile of the day. We ran back down the steep hill from the beginning (which is what happens if you begin and end a race on the riverfront) and back along and past where the race started. The finish line was right in front of the Arch. I crossed the finish with an official time of 2:07:09. Nicely under my goal of 2:10. I did think about if I could have found that 2+ minutes somewhere, but hindsight is useless. (The answer is a firm maybe)
Post race came the medal and all the snacks I couldn’t carry. I’m not sure how often I dropped things until I managed to stuff most of it in my jacket pockets. I missed a couple of the good snacks, but got the best one - the Ted Drews Ice Cream Sandwich. Even though it was cold that was still really good. Because of the cold I didn’t stick around, I just picked up my gear bag and headed home. I’m happy with how the race went and I think I have a reasonable chance with good training of getting back under 2 hours sometime. Maybe this fall depending on what I choose to focus on.