Race Recap: Urban Wildland Half Marathon 2014

Disclaimer: This post has zero to do with dogs and everything to do with running. Much like dogs, running is near and dear to my heart and since I’ve met so many dog owners that are either runners or people who love to be active, I’m going to express my post-race thoughts here. While the Urban Wildland Half Marathon is not pet-friendly, I hope to run a race with Kirby in the not-so-distant future and will gladly share my experience at that time. Also if you didn’t know, many of the local running stores are dog-friendly such as Marathon Sports, Gear Running Store and Mill City Running.

The Urban Wildland Half Marathon has been on my bucket list for five years. I typically sign up for races that are put on by the bigger organizations in the Twin Cities but this is a race that makes you feel good about every aspect of it. Proceeds fund the Wood Lake Nature Reserve and Richfield Public Schools. This eco-friendly race serves all beverages (water, Powerade) in biodegradable cups that are later composted at the MN Arboretum along with food scraps. Old shoes and shirts are collected at both the packet pickup and race to be recycled or reused. You could also bring old race medals for donation to Medals4Mettles, a program that gives medals to those with life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities.

Also the small race will always have a claim to fame in that Charlie Day wore the shirt on an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia back in 2007.

Apparently I need to be reminded from time to time that registering for a race and training only coincide if you put in the effort and commitment. I’ve been kicking myself the past couple months for falling into this cycle where I’ll run everyday for a week or two and then stop for a week or three. Even if you know you can run 13 miles, no one wants to show up for a half marathon unprepared. It wasn’t until the day before the race that I mentally committed to crossing that start line come race day. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go and I felt like I had to prove something to myself.

On race day, I woke up an hour before my alarm was set to go off feeling exhausted and with a sense of dread in my stomach. I told myself I could skip the race if I didn’t feel better by the time I had to get up. Lo and behold, that extra hour was all I needed.

Pure adrenaline has helped me succeed in countless races, and I tend to rely on that to get me through at least the first 6 miles of a race. But not yesterday. Yesterday, I felt fear. Not fear that I wouldn’t finish but fear that I would disappoint myself. Sunny and humid weather conditions didn’t help my confidence one bit.

To make matters worse, a bird pooped on me within the first three minutes of crossing the start. Feeling something wet, I glanced down to see what looked like White Out trickling down the side of my wrist. Add that to my list of things I shall never forget.

The Urban Wildland course is beautiful and runs through the trails of the Wood Lake Park Reserve. The residential streets of Richfield also houses much of the course and for that I was grateful to the kind residents who set up sprinklers on the edge of their lawn. I ran through every sprinkler within reach of the sidewalk. At a smaller event, spectatorship is minimal but that makes you appreciate those who came out to cheer on the runners that much more.

My anxiety around the race led me to proceed with caution. I ran extremely conservatively (i.e., slow) for the first six miles. I haven’t run further than that in close to a year so I didn’t know how well my body would handle anything more. Especially with the heat and lack of adrenaline surge that day.

Around the six mile mark, it dawned on me that I felt good. In fact, more than good. And from there, I continually picked up speed until the finish. Somehow or another, the humidity didn’t even get to me and that is highly unusual. Chalk it up to a major case of runner’s high for those last seven miles but I’ve never finished a half that strongly before.

Shameless post-race selfie

Shameless post-race selfie

My final time was 2:11 which isn’t great (in fact, an 83 year-old man beat me), but I’ve done worse. More importantly, this was a much-needed boost of confidence for Twin Cities Marathon. Only two months away (yikes).

Toward the end there were a couple stretches where I didn’t have anyone within 10 feet of me so I actually had room to stretch my arms at any given moment. I could have easily done a cartwheel for one of the photographers. Open space is not something I’m accustomed to during races so that was a nice change of pace.

The Aftermath: The good, the bad, and the ugly

I feel very little soreness, but I’ve been too scared to check what’s going on under my toenail polish. It feels like another toenail may be hanging on by a thread. As a runner, why do I subject myself to this again?