On Sunday, March 13, I got to participate in a brand new race! Last year, Brooke and I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 5k in Anchorage, and for a while, it looked like we would probably do that again this year. Then Active Soles, the running store in Palmer, announced that there would be a new St. Patrick's Day race in Palmer, the Mayor's Green Day Gallop. I was really happy to hear that it was an afternoon race, starting at 3 pm. But the best part? There was a choice of lengths, including a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. As soon as I heard that there would be a half marathon option, I was in. Brooke isn't in a condition at the moment to run a half, so I felt kind of bad bailing on the Shamrock Shuffle 5k, but I was really excited for a March half.
The day before the race, I went on a 3 mile shakeout run, and it was TERRIBLE. My legs felt stiff and tired and heavy the entire run. My pace was abysmally slow, and I knew that running 13.1 in that condition would be misery. I was very stressed after that run. My shins were bugging me a little also during that run, so afterwards I went home and did some light stretching and then sat for a couple of hours moving hot pads around on my shins, hoping that it would help my legs feel better the next day.
Not sure what to expect from my legs, I nevertheless was looking forward to the race, and took the opportunity to dress up in all my green shamrocked finery, including temporary tattoos on my face :)
I got to Palmer with enough time to spare to get my bib attached, use the bathroom, pack my vest with fuel and head to the start line with plenty of time. The sun was shining, and the day was warm. March in Alaska is notoriously fickle, and it could have just as easily have been below zero, snowy, and windy, but it turned out to be a lovely 50 degree day with sunshine and almost no wind. Perfect running conditions. Since it is a brand new race, I was surprised to see so many people there, but there weren't so many people that the start line felt crowded. They had someone arranged to sing the Star Spangled Banner, which she did beautifully, and then they sent off the half marathon runners. There were 41 of us, 22 of us female.
The course was along roads near downtown Palmer, and they did not have traffic stopped or rerouted for the run, but I didn't have any problems. There wasn't a huge amount of traffic anyway, since it was Sunday afternoon, and drivers passing me were unfailingly polite, giving me lots of room, even though I tried to keep my elbows close to my body, just in case. The course was the flattest half marathon course I have ever run, which was really nice. No crazy hill to climb at the end!! There was one section where we had to run a loop twice, but only twice, and the views were amazing, so it wasn't too repetitive or boring. Great course. Three aid stations with water and some type of electrolyte replacement drink. Well, two really, but one was on the loop, so we passed it twice.
So... the running. It was AWESOME. I ran and ran and ran. I was worried when Map My Run told me at the half mile mark that I had done it in less than 5 minutes that I had gone out too fast. But I kept my pace faster than 10 minutes per mile for the first 10 miles easily, and my final time was about 10 minutes 4 seconds average pace. I finished in 2:11;44, a good 8 minutes faster than my previous half marathon best, even with one stop at a port-a-john. 12th out of 22 female runners. And this is the first time I have ever run a half without ever stopping for a walking break. My legs felt great the entire time.
All in all, it was a great race, and I had a great time. I hope they do it again next year. The only problem I have is with the shirts. (Yes. I know. That's what I said in my last race recap too.) So this is the deal. When I signed up, the race info said that if you were one of the first 150 people to sign up, you were guaranteed a shirt on race day. I was something like #62. I went to packet pick up the day before, and when I asked about the shirt, I was told to pick it up after the race. After the race, I went to pick up my shirt, and lo and behold, they were out of shirts. I was told I would get an email when more shirts arrived. Haven't heard anything yet. I always wear the race shirt to work the next work day after the race, and I didn't get to this time. By the time I get the shirt, any desire to wear shamrocks will have worn off, I am sure. Other than that, it really was great. I want to do it again.