2013 The Hottest Half Marathon Recap

by Kim on August 27, 2013

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This race happened to fall on a week that I was supposed to do an 18-mile long run.  It was also the day after a Dallas Running Club long-run (12.5 miles) and being a pace leader, I felt like I should be at as many Dallas Running Club runs as possible, so my plan was to do the 12.5 club run on Saturday and do the race on Sunday, but then I felt like I wasn’t getting a high enough mileage run in on either day, so I decided to park about 2.5 miles away from the race and do a warm up to the start line and a cool down after the race back to my car to get me to the desired 18 miles.  My friend, Jessica, who is also training for the Chicago marathon and who was also running the Hottest Half, decided that my plan of parking far away and doing the warm up/cool down was a great way to get the added miles in, so she joined me.

Race Day Weather
As expected, it was hot.  I don’t know if the temperature dropped below 80° overnight, but when I headed out at 6:00 AM to meet Jessica, my car read 81°.  Fun times!  Saturday’s run was incredibly humid and I hoped Sunday’s weather would be different, but expected it to be the same.  My expectation was right. 

I actually forgot to take a picture of the weather until we were about a half of a mile into the race, but we were taking it easy, so I was able to whip out my phone and take a quick screenshot, just a few minutes after the fact.  The start of the race was a muggy 81° with the Real Feel temperature of 83°.

IMG_7279 58% humidity??  It felt a lot more humid than that!

We were in and out of shade for the first part of the race, but the second half of the race seemed to be more sun than shade, even though the course was nearly an out and back (with a couple of deviations from the out to the back).  I definitely felt the sun shining down hard and the heat creeping up around mile 9 or so.  In fact, I saw at least four race participants lying on the ground on our return.  When I pulled in to the finish line, the temperature had increased to 84° with a Real Feel of 87°.  Definitely not the worst for an August morning in Dallas, but it still sucked!

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Feelings Going Into The Race
I had been dreading this race ALL summer.  In fact, I’d been dreading it since the Big D marathon.  This race is another Mellew Productions race, and from my experience with the Big D marathon and the Jalapeño half marathon, I couldn’t WAIT for this race to be over with.  Not only is August hot, but Mellew just SUCKS.  I am glad to be done with them as of this race!

Meals Before The Race
I’ve been trying to use up as much stuff in our hotel fridge that I carried over from the condo to reduce the amount of perishable food we move into our new home (most of which are condiments), so I found this recipe for Miso Tahini Kale with Wild Rice and Sesame-Crusted Tofu.  I didn’t have white miso, but I did have mugi miso, which I originally bought for this recipe.  Other than the kale, tofu, and eggs, I had everything else on hand from our move out of the condo and into the hotel.  I didn’t quite follow the recipe exactly… I ended up wilting the kale and stirring everything together in the end, but it’s close enough.  We had that for dinner the night before the race, along with a yummy salad.  (Blurry picture… sorry!)

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I had my usual for breakfast: English muffin (stolen from Friday morning’s breakfast buffet at the hotel) with peanut butter and jam.

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What I Wore
I actually have some new items this time!  I wore a NEW C9 yellow sports bra; same style as my white one but I finally shoved over the $15 at Target for a new one.  On top, I had on a yellow Brooks mesh tank-top that I got at some race expo for like $5 and on the bottom I wore a pair of blue on white Nike Tempo shorts.  For socks, I wore a pair of white Features.  I wore those with my  Brooks Glycerine 11 running shoes.  I also wore my blue Flip Belt, my Garmin Forerunner 610, which happens to be brand-new because my original 610 quit charging this week and I used it until it died (luckily I was able to replace it, free of charge at REI), and my RoadID bracelet.  Since it is a Mellew race, I brought my Camelbak as well, along with an opened package of Cran-Raz Clif Shot Bloks.

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IMG_7273 (As you can see, we are a bit cramped in the hotel room.  Jackson’s kitty litter is sitting under the bathroom counter top, right next to the closet.)

The Course
The Hottest Half started at Norbuck Park, went up onto Mockingbird lane for a short stint and then cut down onto the lake.  We ran along the west side of the lake, down to the Pump House, and around the spillway, leading up to Winfrey Point on the east side of the lake.  We made a U-turn at Winfrey Point and ran back down past the spillway, but took a slightly different path at this point, running along the dam (in full sun), before we returned to the main path.  The last mile also had a change from the beginning, running across the pedestrian bridge at the north end of the lake, under Mockingbird Lane, and back to Norbuck Park.  It was a VERY familiar route for me and I knew it would get loads of sun on the return, especially along the dam.

hottest half map

The minimum elevation was 417 feet and the maximum elevation was 496 feet, so the climbs were terrible.

Elevation chart

This race also had a 10k, which ran in the opposite direction, on the east side of the lake.  The 10k portion didn’t start until 8:00 AM, half an hour after the half marathon.

The Race Organization
As I mentioned, this is a Mellew race and my past two experiences with Mellew have been DREADFUL.

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Packet pickup was scheduled for Saturday only so I headed over to one of three locations after my long run and grabbed my race bib and participant shirt.

IMG_7262 This particular packet pickup location was at a Hyatt House.  Unfortunately, it’s not the Hyatt House that Nick and I are currently staying at.  That would have been super convenient!

IMG_7263 As expected, their packet pickup was very minimal.  No freebies or samples.  Just participant shirts, bibs, and advertisements for other Mellew races.

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No need to take any of the rack cards for me!  I am DONE with Mellew!

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Crowd Support
Being on the lake, there was minimal crowd support.  Some family and friends and a bunch of volunteers.  Around mile 4, there was a group of six relatively young people (probably in their 20’s) dressed up in costumes.  Brian, one of my running friends, joked that Mellew must have paid them to come out and support the race.

The Race
I went into this race knowing full well that it wouldn’t be a PR.  Having already ran 14 miles the day before (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that after we completed the 12.5-mile training run on Saturday, I was feeling good, so I went out for a little more before I decided it had gotten hot and I was being silly) and 2.5 miles as a warm up, I had NO intention of going fast.

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 People waiting around for the race to start

My primary goal was to not get injured with all the miles for the weekend, so I took it nice, easy, and slow almost the entire way.  Jessica was on board with me for going slow, so we comfortably and casually took off as soon as the horn blew.

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The start line

A bazillion people passed us and I felt like we were at the tail end of the race, but I wasn’t too concerned.  I wanted to keep my pace between 11:00 and 11:30 per mile, which would put me at my second slowest half marathon.  We plugged away and right around the first mile, we hit a water stop!  Say what?  Mellew had a water stop THIS early in the race?  Surely this was going to be one of only three water stops total on the course.  Both Jessica and I had Camelbaks on so we skipped the first water stop and continued on our light and easy way.

Since we were taking it easy, I was able to whip out my phone and take some action shots!  Yay for mid-race photos!

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It was nasty out, but we talked to help pass the time and the miles.  Up came the second water stop, just over a mile later.  FOR REAL?!  Go Mellew for upping the hydration compared to your other races.  Jessica and I walked through, grabbing Gatorade and a cup of water.  As we were walking and drinking, we heard a voice behind us asking us to move onto the grass if we were going to walk.  Obligingly we stepped aside, but then I felt a tug on my Camelbak.  It was our friend Brian!  He was messing with us, asking us to move aside, but the Dallas Running Club has taught us to be such good patrons at the lake, we didn’t even think twice to this request!  Brian was with one of his friends (can’t remember his name) and the four of us ended up sticking together for quite some time, running 2 x 2.

The water stops kept coming and I was pleasantly surprised at each one.  We continued to chat as we ran and walked through all of the water stops, taking full advantage of this rare Mellew do-right.  Having not looked at the map before the race, I was convinced that we’d turn around before getting to the spillway (aka the biggest climb at the lake), but I was oh so wrong.  We powered up the spillway and when we hit the next water stop, Jessica was saying she was having a hard time getting her heart rate to drop from the climb, so we walked a bit longer than we had through the other water stops.  With the a-okay, we picked it back up.  At the last water stop before the turn-around, the volunteers were handing out ice-cold wet towels, which felt like love!

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We turned around and skipped over this last water stop, since we’d just hit it not even a half mile ago.  When we came up to the next water stop, Jessica said she needed to walk for a while longer, but she told us to go ahead and continue on.  The heat was really getting to her.  Brian, his friend, and I picked back up, and then Brian’s friend took off.  He stayed within reach for a while, but we lost him somewhere between mile 9 and 10 when I was liking the walking breaks through the water stops a little too much.  Brian and I chatted the rest of the way and as we came up to the last mile+ a lot of people began walking.  I did my best to cheer people on as we passed them, encouraging them that what remained was a small portion of what they’d already accomplished.  It was also in the last mile or so that we saw people down on the ground with heat exhaustion and paralyzing leg cramps.

Brian and I inched our way towards the finish line and he asked if I was going to sprint to the end.  I gave him a target of where I’d start my sprint (a woman in a blue shirt) and once we reached her, we took off.  Moments later, we were done!

pace chart

 

My pace chart for this race… the spike at the beginning must have been when we went under a bridge or the satellites were blocked by something!

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Post Race Food And Vendors
When I finished, I checked my phone and I noticed that I had a text message from Jessica.  She was in bad shape and told me to go ahead and make the 2.5 mile run back to my car.  I responded, telling her that I’d wait for her.  She wasn’t too far behind me, but while I waited for her, I took some pictures of the post-race festivities.

Right at the finish line, volunteers were pouring huge cups of water.

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And there was a huge bucket of ice-cold towels!

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I took a couple of pictures of the vendors before getting sucked into talking to the Camp Gladiator people.

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IMG_7290 People checking out their race results.

There were an assortment of booths, pretty consistent to what was at the Jalapeno Half Marathon.  I didn’t check them out in-depth, but I did grab these tasty chocolate-covered banana slices to enjoy while I waited for Jessica.

IMG_7291 They are probably insanely processed, but they were frozen and yummy to eat at that particular moment.

No Pain No Gain
I didn’t really have any pain, but my left IT band was crazy tight from about mile 3 on.  My shoulders were pretty sore after the fact but that was from my automatic computer posture… I hunch over.  My abs were a little sore after everything was said and done too, but that was barely noticeable.  I did chafe on my neck from my Camelbak, which started on Saturday’s run and the race/additional miles didn’t help any.  Actually, I thought I would chafe a lot more than I did, so I guess that’s good.

Other Random Thoughts
Part of me gets caught up in my race times, but a bigger part of me thinks of the big picture.  There is so much going into how a race goes and some of the factors are completely out of my control, like the weather.  I’m not a hot-weather runner at all.  One of the main reasons why I write these race recap posts is so I can refer to what worked and what didn’t work.  Is there a trend?  I know they get long and boring to read for all you out there, but if I don’t write it all down, I won’t remember.  Anyway, I could have most definitely pushed myself harder during this race to get a better time, but time wasn’t important for me for this race.  This is my second slowest marathon, but I really don’t care.

Once I met back up with Jessica, she still wasn’t feeling great, showing clear signs of heat exhaustion, so we ended up getting a ride half-way back on a golf cart and then walked the remainder.  In total, I logged about 31 miles for the weekend, including that 1-mile walk to our cars.  Not to shabby and minus some general post-race tightness, overall I’m not sore at all, thanks to taking it super easy!

Overall Opinion
Wow, way to go Mellew for stepping it up!  Compared to the last two races I ran with Mellew, this is by far the best one.  I do have just a couple of complaints, though.  The participant tank looks like it was originally a T-shirt that they cut the sleeves off of since there is no seam.

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My other complaint is that the rankings are based on gun time instead of chip time, so really, I have no idea how I placed compared to other people’s race time.

When I went back onto their website, I noticed a lot more was promised than they actually provided, but I wouldn’t have known that otherwise.  For example, the website promised lemonade and water blasters at mile 3 and 9, a DJ truck playing music at mile 4 & 8, and misters at the finish line.  Maybe I missed those, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t there.  But like I said, had I not just gone on the website to check my results, I wouldn’t have known any different.

Other than that, I was really impressed that Mellew stepped it up.  Just by having an abundant amount of water stops was all it took for me to think they really turned themselves around.  It’s the little things, right?!

Oh, and since parking was tight at the start/finish line, there was supposed to be a shuttle from the nearest light rain station, but since I was getting extra miles in, I’m not sure if the shuttle actually showed up or not (like the Jalapeño Half)

Race Stats
Bib Number: 4212
Division: Female 30-34

Official Chip Time: 2:37:45
Official Clock Time: 2:38:22
Official Race Distance: 13.1 miles
Official Average Race Pace: 12’03”
Overall Rank: 714 out of 1077
Division Rank: 56 out of 95

Garmin Time: 2:37:46
Garmin Distance: 13.37 miles
Garmin Average Pace: 11’48”

Garmin Splits
Mile 1: 11’23”
Mile 2: 11’24”
Mile 3: 12’15”
Mile 4: 11’52”
Mile 5: 11’31”
Mile 6: 11’57”
Mile 7: 12’06”
Mile 8: 11’37”
Mile 9: 11’50”
Mile 10: 12’38”
Mile 11: 12’21”
Mile 12: 11’06”
Mile 13: 12’06”
Mile 13.37: 9’54”

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