Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon- 2017

This past Sunday I ran the Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon. I signed up for this race for a few reasons:

  1. It is not even 5 minutes from my house and I’ve never ran a half that I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
  2. It’s all about community and I love the community I live in.
  3. I wanted to support my local gym Anytime Fitness Clarkston.
  4. Honestly I just wanted to end the year with 4 half marathons in 2017.

I ran the 5k last year and it was tough. Just the first 3 miles run you through trails and rocky roads so I went into it not knowing if this would be a PR type of race for me because I train mainly on roads and not dirt roads or trails. I didn’t know what the rest of the course would be like though, but I heard from a few people to save my legs for the last 2 miles and THEY WERE RIGHT!

All week the weather was calling for rain/snow with low temps but weather can change so I didn’t really let it bother me. The night before however it changed to freezing rain and that is when I freaked a little. Running on slippery roads and trails sounded like absolutely no fun to me but figured it’s Michigan and the weather changes by the hour so worrying about it wouldn’t do me any good.

The race has a late start, 9:15, so I woke up Sunday morning around 6:30 because I had parenting duties to do to. My husband and Mom were supposed to go to the race. My Mom has never been to any of my longer distance races because she is usually watching my kids so I was really excited for her to go. However, at the last minute my husband was sick so when he woke up he said he couldn’t go and because my Mom had never been to one and it was cold I didn’t want her to go stand by herself so I told her she didn’t have to go. I was extremely bummed though and kept it in at the race but cried on the way there. Other than Disney which I was mentally prepared to do alone because of the time of the event, Justin has been at all my races so knowing he was not at the finish line made me really sad. Especially since it is a community driven event, there were so many friends there that asked where he was and mentally it was hard for me to not have him there. I know that is silly because people do races all the time without their spouses or significant other but I was emotional about it…and it didn’t help that of course that morning Mother Nature decided to show up which made me extra emotional.

I go to the race, dropped off a bag of clothes in case I was cold and wet and wanted to change after, went to the bathroom, and then lined up to start. I chatted with a few people I know and honestly before I knew it, it started. I never ever felt nervous before, I knew that I was there to enjoy myself and didn’t really think about the fact that I was running a HALF MARATHON! Coming off marathon training I basically ran a half marathon or longer every weekend so I didn’t worry about the distance, however I had not ran the distance since the marathon so that thought started creeping in during mile 1!

The first miles are through trails and then come out to a little paved road, but it’s packed with hills. At points you run on grass, the trails have some loose rocks so its important to watch your footing. Once you get out to mile 4 you are on dirt roads which isn’t bad. For me one of my main problems or injuries I have is the bottom of my feet when I run distances. Just pushing down on rocks on the dirt roads hurt my right foot but I kept going and tried to pace myself around a 8:30 minute mile. At the 10k point I was at 50 minutes and some change. This is right where you are heading back into the park and on pavement again. I was doing pretty good until around mile 7, this is the first time I got water and I walked through the water station. A girl I know from IG came up behind me and we ran together for awhile and chatted. It had started to rain at this point and my pace was starting to drop. I told myself to try to finish sub 2 and just keep moving. Through mile 11 and 12 it is hills upon hills. Steep rocky hills that were hard to even jog up without losing my footing so I walked fast up those when I had to and also tried to watch myself coming down too.

The course is gorgeous! The whole time I was just looking at the scenery around me and how pretty it was with all the fall colors in the woods. Once I got to mile 12 I had no idea what the last mile held for me but decided to just dig as deep as I could and run. It was started to rain harder and I just wanted to get to the finish! I saw the sign on the road the pointed “Half Marathon Finish This Way” and I bolted. The finish line is sown a slight hill and on grass and I threw my hands up in the air and got it done. I laughed because the annoucer said “she knows how to finish a race, hands up for the finish…doesn’t everyone do that??

The owner of my Gym- Anytime Fitness Clarkston was there to support me and I saw him on the side and I was SO happy to see someone I knew. I gave him a hug and took one of the blankets to wrap around me. We headed inside to stand by the fire and warm-up for a little while. One of the great things about this race is the Mac & Cheese they give after from The Union which is a big restaurant in our town and they also give out craft beer. I was a little drained from so much that day and wanted to get home to my family so I just took off without getting anything. Definitely was such a different race experience for me because while it was tough and I don’t know if I’ll ever do that half again, it also seems like a blur because I had so many things going on in my head. (I was really cold in this picture)

Finish time was 1:56:10 – shocked myself with that one. Not a PR but considering the conditions and the course I was proud of myself. A friend of mine said she knows someone that runs it every year not to PR but to see if they can just beat their time from the year before. Not a bad idea considering it is so close to my house. I did hear though that they are thinking of moving the location back to closer to our downtown area which is where I run every day so if that happens- sign me up! HAHA!

I started out 2017 wanting a sub 2 half marathon time after several failure attempts. I did 4 this year and each one was under 2 hours including this non-road half marathon so I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made this year!

2018 goals…well those are for another blog post 🙂

Official Stats:

img_5192

Thanks for following my journey through 2017- I hope you continue in 2018!!!

-Jess

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