While I’d love to swear off Mellew Production races, I have my stinkin’ goal of one half marathon a month. There was a local non-Mellew half marathon earlier this month, but I was in Austin so I had to choose Mellew’s Jalapeño Half for June’s race.
Race Day Weather
I lucked out with a cold front that just came through. The day before the race, the high was 106°. Race day’s cold front dropped temperatures down to a high of 98°. Some cold front, right?! The start of the race was actually tolerable at 76°.
Unfortunately the “cooler” temperature didn’t last long. By the time I finished the race, it had already hit 90° And boy was it sunny!! At the turn around point, I felt a slight breeze, but it was so freaking hot, the breeze didn’t really make a difference.
Feelings Going Into The Race
Besides the fact that I have heard and experienced first hand just how bad Mellew races can be, I wasn’t feeling prepared for this race in the least bit, both mentally and physically. Mentally, Mellew puts a bad taste in my mouth and summer running isn’t my thing so from the get-go, I wasn’t looking forward to this race. Physically, my base mileage is very low right now after coming off an injury, immediately followed by a two-week honeymoon, immediately followed by a nasty cold. With all those things lined up back to back, I only had two long runs in before this race; a nine mile run, and an 11 mile run. I know it may sound strange with all the running I do, but I just wasn’t physically prepared for this race, and like this race, I knew it going in.
Meals Before The Race
I had a “clean out the fridge” dinner the night before with all the random vegetables. I roasted carrots, onions, purple and pink potatoes, candy cane and normal beets, fennel, and garlic. YUM! Along with the vegetables, I roasted some fish. I don’t know why, but I can’t remember what kind of fish it was…. some random variety that doesn’t stick out in my mind. At any rate, it was a white, flakey fish. While it was tasty at the time, all those vegetables left me quite “fibrous” (I know that’s not the correct use for this word, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at) come morning.
Oh, and on the fish, if you can see, are these little balls. Those are citrus pearls from finger limes. So cool! The rep from Shanley Farms who attended the BlogHer Food conference with me a few weeks ago (recap coming VERY soon) gave me some finger limes to sample.
For breakfast, I had my usual: A Central Market whole wheat English muffin, jam (apricot preserves), and nut butter (homemade Almond butter).
I put the two sides together, then realized that I hadn’t taken a picture yet, so I pulled the sides apart. That’s why there is jam on two sides, in case you were curious.
What I Wore
Not a ton of deviation here. I wore my C9 white sports bra, as usual. On top, I had a white Nike Racer tank top and on bottom I wore a pair of blue Nike Tempo shorts. I also wore my blue-ish Features socks with an older pair of Brooks Glycerine running shoes and a new pair of ProKinetics Posture Control insoles. I also wore my blue Flip Belt, a pink Under Armour headband, my Garmin Forerunner 610, and my RoadID bracelet. Being so hot and not wanting to depend on Mellew for hydration, I carried my Camelbak. I also brought four Clif Shot Bloks, two in Citrus flavor and two in Margarita flavor.
I also carried my new Mission Enduracool towel, which I bought the day before the race. When wet, with water or sweat, this towel becomes cold. I’m SOOOOO glad I had this towel with me. I was constantly wiping my face and it did stay fairly cool the entire time.
This was an out and back race on the Trinity trail in Fort Worth. The Trinity River spans across North Texas and both Dallas and Fort Worth have invested quite a bit recently into making this river an asset. As it stands now, there isn’t any hike-and-bike connection between the two cities, but at least both municipalities are making an effort to revitalize the river. (Now the challenge is to get all the cities in between Dallas and Fort Worth on board!)
Due to the size of the race, I wasn’t surprised that there weren’t pace leaders, but because the trail was only four feet wide, I was surprised that Mellew didn’t do anything to control who was in front and who was in back. Actually, I take that back. I’m not surprised.
For the first half mile or so, we were running along a relatively shady path. I distinctly remember thinking, “well, while it’s not super shaded, at least there is a decent amount of tree cover.” I thought too soon. 12 of the 13 miles (or 6 of the 6.5 miles out and back) were in full sun. If there is one thing I’ve learned about running in the Texas summer, it is to seek out shade. Well that wasn’t so easy on this course. The few instances a tree cast a nice shadow or we ran under a bridge, I was eternally grateful.
What the course lacked in shade, it made up in being pretty flat. There were a few “hills” as we crossed bridges or climbed up the levees, but nothing outrageous, although at 90° and in full sun, those “hills” were NOT welcomed!
Along the river, we did pass by some of the features that Fort Worth has added to the river to make it a destination, including the pavilion where they have live concerts and people can float in tubes, a wake park, and a kayak and stand-up paddle launch. While we passed by all these cool features, nobody was out in the river using them. Oh well.
The Race Organization
It should be pretty obvious by now that this race was organized by Mellew Productions. Mellew is notorious in my circle of runners for messing things up. Before I get into what all went wrong THIS time, let me back up and share packet pickup with you.
Since Mellew has its own timing system, the company doesn’t have to team up with any local running/timing group (typically through Luke’s Locker or RunOn!) and this frees them up to have their packet pickup where ever the heck they please. Personally, I like having to go to the running store to pick up my packet because it gives me a chance to pick up an essentials I may need, like Shot Bloks. So, among the three locations, I chose to go to the Dallas pick up at the Hyatt House hotel.
There was absolutely nothing fancy about this packet pickup. I gave them my name and they gave me my shirt, bib, and safety pins. No flyers, no goodies, nada.
With nothing to check out, I got my stuff and headed out.
Okay, so back to Mellew being the worst race organizer ever. So this Jalapeño Half has a 5k component to it as well. From what I heard about the 5k, the course was 2.7 miles long instead of 3.1 and the timing system had a major mishap so there weren’t ANY results for the 5k. The half marathon portion ran a little smoother, but seriously, come on Mellew, get with it! This isn’t the first time their timing system messed up. I had friends who ran the Tyler Rose half marathon last year and they never got official times. I’d be livid if that happened to me!
Other non-half marathon issues I ran into on race day with Mellew: We parked at least a half a mile from the race start and Mellew was supposed to have shuttles running for us from 6 AM until noon. I never saw a single shuttle. Because the “shuttle was running late”, Mellew delayed the race from 7:30 AM until nearly 8:00 AM and when the temperatures are rising by the minute, that delay was insane. Did anyone even see that mysterious shuttle show up that caused the delay? Um, no. Next, were the port-o-potties. They were standard, nothing wrong with them, but there was ZERO hand sanitizer in sight. Not even empty dispensers. Mellew simply didn’t order hand sanitizer. Gross!
Post-race, I didn’t see anyone handing out cold towels or cold bottles of water, so you were on your own to figure out how to cool off. They did have the huge water jugs, but I found the water to be luke warm. While I didn’t notice it at the time (mostly because I hardly drink), there wasn’t any beer for the finishers.
On top of all of that, Mellew was cheap with their T-shirts and medals so they could make more money (at the expense of the runner). I hate Mellew. It takes a lot for me to hate something, but I really hate Mellew. I have one more race with them and then I’m done! Anyway, that’s enough of me ranting about how AWFUL Mellew is as a company; back to the rest of the race.
There wasn’t a ton of crowd support; basically a few spectators here and there. A majority of the spectators were at the end, lining the finish line. I’ll get more into this in the next section, but the spectators were very “supportive”, saying things like “Don’t give up, you are almost there”.
I already mentioned the lack-of-shuttle mishap and delayed start. After my hand sanitizer-less trip to the port-o-pottie, I stood around waiting for the race to begin.
Two of my running buddies were supposed to be running this race as well, but one came down with a nasty bug the day before and decided it was best to stay home and rest. I tried to find my other friend, but I couldn’t track her down in time.
A few minutes before 8:00 AM, we were off. The beginning seemed fine. I was going a comfortable pace and hoped to maintain it the entire time. I wasn’t pushing it by any means and it wasn’t going to be a PR, but my initial pace was right around where I wanted it to be, given the heat (read slower than usual).
At mile 0.4 I looked down at my watch. Only 0.4 miles in!? Ugh this is going to be a long race, I thought to myself. I wanted to not run pretty much from that point on, but I kept going, mentally telling myself to just making it to X point and change the point once I made it there. I tried to settle in behind someone who was pacing me well, but alas we came up to a “hill”, she slowed and I passed her. After that, I gave up on trying to follow one particular person.
I skipped the first two water stops, opting to drink from my Camelbak and I intended to drink every time my watch buzzed with the miles going by, but it was so hot, I was drinking WAY more often than that.
Around mile 4 I heard a guy breathing extremely heavy behind me, almost like grunts. He wouldn’t pass me and it seemed like an eternity that he was breathing down my shoulder (in reality it was probably a quarter of a mile). I wanted to smack him. The better side of me wanted to tell him to ease up. He was in for a LONG run if he was breathing that hard at mile 4. The better side of me was waning and I really wanted to smack him. I didn’t have a surge in me to get away from him so I let up my pace and let him pass. What a relief to not hear him anymore!
I FINALLY got to the turn around point and walked through, grabbing some Powerade (holy cow, it was sweet) and a luke warm water. At this point, I noticed more and more people in front of me walking. The heat and strong sun was getting to be too much. I started to run again and took another small walking break before the next water stop, where I grabbed another super sweet Powerade. I ran until I hit mile 8 and then I decided I didn’t care anymore. My pace had slowed over the past few miles and the only way I would be able to sustain myself for the next 5 miles was to run-walk. I decided on a plan: walk 0.15 miles, run 0.35 miles harder than I had been going, walk 0.15 miles, run 0.35 miles, and so on. The 0.35 mile running stretches weren’t so bad and the 0.15 mile walking stretches were glorious and I could have easily walked further than that had I not set in place my run-walk strategy. Yes, I am OCD and wouldn’t deviate from my plan to walk longer. This saved me and it made those last 5 miles go by a lot faster, mentally speaking. Just about everyone around me was alternating from running and walking, although I don’t know how many of them had such a meticulous strategy.
I don’t normally include my pace chart in these write-ups but I thought it was an interesting looking chart so I thought I’d share. I don’t know what that very first dip was, since I didn’t walk at all until I hit the halfway point. My guess is, I lost the satellite for a second under a bridge.
With my run-walk strategy in place, this is when the crowd support got annoying. I got lots of “Don’t give up”s as soon as any spectators saw me transition from running to walking, especially at the mile 12 and 13 markers. I assured them I was fine and I was using a strategy of bolt and recover. Well, I said that to them in fewer words, but you get the idea. Finally, the end had come. I smiled for the camera, crossed the finish line, and got my medal with a big sigh of relief.
Post Race Food And Vendors
The post-race festivities included a band and a jalapeño eating contest. I didn’t stick around for the jalapeño eating contest, but I did listen to the band for a few minutes while I checked out the vendors and food options.
There were ice-filled kiddie pools set out on one side of the stage. I’m not sure what they were for, but I did see one young girl hopping in and out of it. I guess they were supposed to be communal ice baths.
Over in food and vendor area, I took pictures of what all was there, but only went up to the tables that had food or drinks.
I ate the quarter of the bagel then and there and had a few bites of the potato and egg breakfast taco, but I was really disappointed in the tortilla. I don’t remember the tortillas from Taco Cabana being so gross, but I wasn’t feeling it with this one.
No Pain No Gain
At about mile 11.5 or so, I started to have pain on the back side of my knee and only when I was running during my run-walk cycles. It wasn’t killer and didn’t stop me from finishing, but it was definitely pain. This is the exact spot I had issues with while Nick and I were hiking the Inca Trail (I know, I know, the recap on that is coming soon), so maybe it is something residual. Other than that, I didn’t have any significant discomfort during this race. BUT, I am in desperate need of new shoes and maybe this played into the pain I was having in the back of my knee.
When I got home, I made my very own (no messing around with communal) ice bath. Aww, feels so good on my tired muscles, but brrr, feels so cold!
Other Random Thoughts
Two random and unrelated things. One, it was so hot, I sweat like I peed my pants.
The second thing, which is totally unrelated to this race, but fun fact, was I passed by a building that I worked on the planning for while I was employed at the architecture firm.
This was actually REALLY exciting for me because I’d say 98% of my work at the firm never got built and this was the first time I’d seen this building not on paper.
NEVER DOING THIS RACE AGAIN! Enough said. Okay, not enough said. One more thing. On top of being so cheap with their shirts and medals, they totally sucked for this race. Boo.
Okay, now I’m done.
Bib Number: 1790
Division: Female 30-34
Official Chip Time: 2:25:14
Official Gun Time: 2:25:46
Official Race Distance: 13.1 miles
Official Average Race Pace: 11’05”
Official Rank: 336 out of 867
Division Rank: 35 out of 90
Garmin Time: 2:25:14
Garmin Distance: 13.31
Garmin Average Pace: 10’55”
Mile 1: 9’53″
Mile 2: 9’58″
Mile 3: 10’03″
Mile 4: 10’08″
Mile 5: 10’14″
Mile 6: 10’26″
Mile 7: 11’16″
Mile 8: 11’06″
Mile 9: 11’05″
Mile 10: 12’04″
Mile 11: 11’39″
Mile 12: 11’55″
Mile 13: 11’42″
Mile 13.31: 12’13″