Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stonebridge Ranch Half Marathon Race Report: Awful Start leads to Some Award Bling

Sunday morning was the Stonebridge Ranch Half Marathon in McKinney, Texas.  It was a new race put on by the triathlon producers Playtri.  There were only about 180 registered and it was run all over the streets of the Stonebridge neighborhoods. 

I went into this race not in a happy place.  Reasons?
  1. I've been sporting a pretty bad cold, complete with total congestion and nasty cough and feeling so run down.
  2. Steve and I went to a comedy show the night before (Gabriel Iglesias which was awesome!) so I was not in bed race eve until midnight. 
  3. I knew this race would mean my highest mileage week (Mon. - Sun.) EVER! 32.6 miles.
  4. Plenty of pre-race anxiety... I had a slow start when the alarm went off and unfortunately, my toddler daughter woke up too.  So dogs, hubby, and sleepy girl were now all up - fun.  I had maximized my sleep so didn't have a lot of wiggle room.  I was rushing around like a crazy person.  I went to put on my timing chip (Chronotrack D-tage) and couldn't see any metal RFID strip on the back.  Oh no!  I had this happen about a year before and it had turned out I was given a faulty chip that had no reader stuck in it.  Now I was really in a hurry to get to the race and get a new bib and chip assigned!
  5. I forgot my Garmin at home.  First half marathon without a Garmin
So my thoughts were to go for an easy 12:00 min/mi pace, roughly 2:37-2:40 finish and save my energy for next weekend's half marathon.

I got to the race and headed to the registration area.  I ran into Natalie Merrill (who later went on to win 1st female overall) and told her about my chip.  Her chip looked just like mine - she was assuming that's how it was supposed to be.  We stopped another runner and his chip DID have the metal RFID strip on the back.  So now I had roped another person into thinking we had defective chips.  After some detailed discussions with race registration volunteers, we found a BUNCH didn't have the metal strip showing.  The new chips must have another layer of paper over the metal strip now, so the RFID metal isn't exposed and visible.  Crisis averted but I'm glad I was diligent to check just in case! Meantime, I had a new bib and chip and got all of it affixed and pinned. 

I ran back to my car and heard them calling for "Runners Start".  I hurried to the start, having never met up with the friends I had planned to, a couple Twitter friends (Greg Sisengrath, @asianstyleguy, and Suann Lundsberg, @smlundsberg), and not having done my usual pre-race Gu and Water.  It was only while waiting at the start that I even realized I didn't have my Garmin timing watch!  As it turned out, after the megaphone yells of impending start, we ended up starting the race late, about 8 minutes late. Grr, I hurried to the start for nothing!

All in all, it meant a stressful, high anxiety pre-race time for me.  I was able to connect with Silberia Garcia, a childhood friend who I had not seen in easily about 15 years.  She was running her first half marathon.  I also found Kelly Holmes, a neighbor who had trained with CK Sports and was doing her first half marathon.  Another neighbor, Bev Priutt, was there with her high school age son, Carl, who was running his first half marathon.  Then, Trish Wegren was right behind me in the starting line - a gal like me who loves to run lots of halfs.  The race starts and I feel naked, totally naked, without my Garmin for about the first 2 miles.  It was a small race so the field spread out quickly.  About a half mile in, I saw James Hague-Rogers walking back - I asked what was wrong and he pointed to his leg.  Disappointing, injury at the start. All runners can empathize.  I hear my name yelled and cheerleader-of-the-day Emily Wilemin is there cheering all her friends - awesome runner and supporter! Then I passed Lolita Johnson who does a lot of races and we're pretty similar paces - always has a smile when I see her! 

This was not a flat course as promised - in fact I would dare to say the hill on Virginia Parkway at Mile 4 rivaled anything the Austin Marathon would throw at you!  A few miles in it started to pour - a cold hard rain.  Big big rain drops.  I let out a big primal yell - an "oh yeah, bring it on" yell - to try to psych myself up about the awful conditions.  Rain just kept going and going and before we knew it, we're running smack down the middle of these neighborhood streets as both sides have become giant puddles.  When you pass by a storm drain, you hear the loud rushing of all the water.  Around mile 5, we see some lightning off and on for about a mile.  I'm told there was hail, but I must have narrowly missed it because people finishing before and after me talked about it.  So with all this pouring rain and running in and out of puddles at the numerous street intersections, it meant about 9 miles of soaked footwear and well, soaked everything.  But the soaked shoes were significant since it meant feeling like you were carrying an extra 20 pounds of weight on each foot.  Ugh.

So with no Garmin I came in towards the finish, opened up my stride and actually had a pretty good sprint the last tenth mile.  Crossed with a gun time of 2:32:37 (ended up being a chip time of 2:32:12, an 11:37 average pace).  And I'm shocked.  If I had my Garmin with me, my plan had been to run 12:00 min/mi pace to take it easy.  Oops.   

Meanwhile, friend Michael Henry will be proud of me.  At the Dallas Marathon expo, he had challenged me to run 2 of my 10+ planned half marathons of 2010 without my Garmin to "just see what happens".  Accidentally, I have now done one, and it's interesting to see how consistent my race pace is between when I have no watch and when I'm obsessing over every tenth-mile pace on my Garmin like I usually am.

I'm wet and cold and wait around for what feels like forever outside for the award ceremony.  Race results were not posted very clearly - athenas (women over 150 pounds) and clydesdales (men over 200 pounds) had their own award category, but we couldn't really tell how we had placed based on the overall finish list they were posting.  I knew there weren't many Athenas at the event.  I had seen the pre-reg list at packet pickup and knew only three pre-registered.  I'm glad I hung around because when they did the award ceremony, I was 1st place Athena!  Which means BLING- I brought home my first 1st place trophy - and only my fourth trophy ever!

Summary of Race:
Good race but don't come expecting anything fancy.  Bareboned and with the weather, one or two aid stations were deserted, although the water cups were poured and set out.  Stonebridge has small rolling hills and this course has one monster hill at Mile 4.  Participant shirt is a tee, logo wasn't terribly pretty, but it's nice that you have the option for a dri-fit shirt, should you want it, for $10 more.  Not much in the way of post-race festivities.  Bagel, oranges, bananas, hooters wings, and bottled water.  Again, good race, but it's not about frills, and I know some people care a lot about frills at races. :-)

Congratulations go to...
  • Natalie Merrill - female overall winner
  • Lolita Johnson - first place Athena masters
  • Mark Olateju - 9th overall male, 1st place age group
  • Greg Sisengrath - PR and 3rd place age group
  • Suann Lundsberg - met goal of sub-2 hour half, 5th place age group
  • Kelly Holmes and Silberia Garcia - finished their first halfs
Stats for this Race and this Day:
I'm an analytical person so I love crunching the numbers...
  • Day 48 of my all-outdoor running streak
  • Half Marathon #5 of 2010 (towards goal of at least "10 halfs in '10")
  • Chip time 2:32:12
  • 11:37 min/mi
  • 1st place Athena
  • Highest weekly mileage ever, meaured Monday through Sunday: 32.6 miles
  • Currently at 182.3 miles for the year on my goal to 500 miles by June 30th.

Next up:
Cowtown Half Marathon in 6 days in Fort Worth, Texas!  Cowtown will make my second month in a row of doing 3 halfs within 15 days - in January, I did Houston Half (1/17), 3M Half (1/24), and Texas Half (1/30).  In February, it will be Surfside Beach Half (2/13), Stonebridge Ranch Half (2/21), and Cowtown Half (2/27)

Happy Running All!


  1. You go girl!! Congrats on time and making 1st place Athena! I love your sticktuitiveness!! Hope you can get some rest for your immune system.

  2. Way to go Libby! I was thinking about you this morning as that big storm passed through. Your streak has included some of the worst weather ever! Congrats and I hope to see you at Cowtown!

  3. Rock on -- congratulations on the finish. And congraulations for running without the Garmin; in our training groups, we occasionally have tech-free weekends where people are encouraged to leave the watches at home and instead go with their gut; sounds like your body responded well to the challenge.

  4. You're amazing! Congrats on the first place finish!!!

  5. Wow you really motivate me! Congrats on your win!