“I can’t believe I just did that!”
This past Sunday I ran the YuKanRun.com Fool’s Dual Challenge. It was a 5K at 8 AM and a half-marathon at 9 AM. A combined 16.2 miles. It is the farthest I have ever run in one morning, and my greatest challenge to date. I was exhausted. I was sore. I was hungry as all hell…but I did it. Not only did I do it, but…well…I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out 😉
All I can say is…WHAT A DAY! I still can’t believe I did that, and everyone I’ve told so far looked at me like I was a nutball. For those of you who read my pre-race article about the Dual, you know what I’m talking about. For those who didn’t catch that, let me give you a brief breakdown:
The YuKanRun.com Fool’s Dual Challenge was a dual race put on by a race company called…you guessed it…YuKanRun.com. Their “thing” seems to be, well, making people run a LOT in one morning. “Oh, you just finished a 5K? Go ahead and run a half-marathon!” “Oh, you had a nice mile run, you say? Go do a 5K, then grab a drink and run a half…then we’ll talk!”
The race director, Craig, is a very nice guy – I went back and forth with him via email a bit. I have to say, he and his team put together a very good race! Well-organized, well-run, and FUN!
So, what’s the deal? How did this work?
Basically, it was dual races…and that was the challenge. At 8 am the 5K began. See that neon yellow person on the runners’ right of the starting line? That’s me. Go ahead, zoom in. I finished in 25:21. I then had about a half hour to relax, stretch, lose layers, refuel…do whatever I needed to do to get ready for the half-marathon. At 9 am, the gun went off and the half-marathon started. There’s your dual race, and there’s the challenge.
I was worried about the 5K, not the half-marathon.
I said this in my pre-race article, but I’ll say it again – The 13.1 was not my big concern – it was the 5K! When I go into a race, I go in with a certain mindset, approach, and set of expectations for my performance based on the race distance. A 5K is a VERY different mindset and approach than a half-marathon! I usually run out of gas and “leave it all on the pavement” when I run a race, no matter the distance…so having a half-marathon to deal with a half-hour after finishing a 5K… that was MY challenge. I had to make sure I paced myself and didn’t go balls-to-the-wall in the 5K. A minute or minute and a half on my 5K time meant a lot more physical exertion, and could be the difference between great success and wild failure in the half-marathon. I had to pace myself. I had to try very hard to monitor my speed and keep myself under control. It was tough, but I had to remind myself over and over…today is not a PR day, today is about finishing.
With that mantra in mind, I ran two successful races, ran the farthest distance I’ve done in one morning, and achieved a big accomplishment! More on that in a minute 😉
So, again…in my pre-race article I talked about the courses for the races. The 5K was, indeed a loop. On our approach driving to the race, we went up this gnarly hair-pin twisty steep hill, and Megan goes “good thing you don’t have to run on this road! It’d already be blocked off.”…guess what? I had to run down it. Thanks, babe. hah.It was a nice course though – classic rural New England, and not too bad difficulty-wise. The half-marathon course was just as advertised – a 6.5 mile out-and-back with a nice little loop for a turnaround. The elevation chart provided was also accurate…but I didn’t realize exactly what it meant…more on that later.
Let’s talk about the experience.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of the 5K run. It was such a big morning and there was so much going on…it’s all a blur. As we were leaving after the races, Megan pointed out “race” signs that had designated the course for runners, and I completely had no recollection of running on those roads! Weird. I remember pacing myself. I remember making a point to not go too hard, but still run a strong, respectable pace. I remember crossing the finish, seeing my time…and being a bit disappointed…but I knew it had to be done to achieve overall success. It’s just all so BLURRY!
In contrast, I remember the half-marathon vividly. The picture to the left is right after the starting line – for some reason Runkeeper started before I actually began the race, so when I tried to “start” it when the gun was about to go off…it was already running! I had to scramble to stop, delete, and restart it, so for about the first .1 miles I was trying to start up my run. Once I got that taken care of, however, things went well. I remembered “today is not a PR day”, and that thought carried me through and helped me not over-exert myself. Another thought flying through my head was one word – Endure. That was particularly poignant given I was running 16.2 miles total. And, of course, the shirt…It was the same shirt from the Hyannis Half – “NO Limits – I Can, I Will”.
This race was all hills and headwinds! I guess it didn’t really click in my head when I looked at the elevation chart…I’m so used to running on Cape Cod that I was NOT mentally prepared for the hills I encountered! Thanks to Insanity: The Asylum…I knew how to handle it though! Haha…lean forward and do high-knees! Those headwinds…I have never experienced anything like that! It takes so much more effort to run against that! I managed, though. Every once in a while I had to refocus, recenter, and renew my efforts. I also had to occasionally fix my form – pull my elbows in towards my body, stop doing the loopy-leg dance…just generally tighten it up. I didn’t run with a pace band this time (like I did for Hyannis) because, as I said…it was NOT a PR day…so I had to monitor my pace the “old-fashioned” way.
I had no urge to go to the water stops along the first half of the race – I had my own hydration source, and I’d hydrate on my terms, when I was ready. I managed my water pretty well, but I did top off towards the end (people at the water tables were VERY nice). They also gave out energy gels along the course! I got a Gu Salted Caramel on the way out and a Clif Shot citrus on the way back! Hey, that’s two less of my own I had to use, so I’m not complaining :).
I got a little bit of a surprise when I got to around the 6-mile mark…I saw the “Entering Rockport” sign! Again, this was just me being oblivious to the world and it not “clicking” when I looked at the map of the course…but I distinctly remember thinking to myself “we’re seriously running all the FREAKING way to Rockport and back?!” Yes, Darrell…pay attention next time. The scenery WAS nice though – classic rural New England the whole way.
The last half of the half-marathon was tough. Once I passed the turnaround (which was a nice little loop of road, not a hairpin turnaround) I started talking to myself in restaurant terms… “7 miles…10.1 all day” – literally just how it sounds – I had 7 miles down, and had run 10.1 all day (thanks to the 5K). I kept saying that each mile to remind myself to stay strong, run hard, and realize just how far I had actually gone…and how far I will have gone once I finish. To think…the accomplishment I was about to make by not only running two miles farther than I ever have…but to do it strong…something I failed to do on New Year’s Eve Day when I ran 14 on a whim. Damnit…I prepared for this, and I was gonna SMASH IT! Once I got to the 10 mile mark…I knew I had a real opportunity to come in at about 2 hours – if I could keep it strong I might even meet or beat my sub-2 hour PR from the Hyannis Half! I just had to achieve 9 minute miles… Then the last two miles happened.
The last two miles were especially tough.
At that point…I had gone 14 miles in total. My body was tired. I was mentally tired. My little mental boosts of “you DON’T need to stop, you’ve GOT this” were starting to wear thin. The people cheering along the race course began to be very important. Seeing others chugging along also became important to me – usually I tune everything out and run my own race, but I had to know, at that point, that others were struggling and fighting along with me. I saw others taking walk breaks just like I was. I saw people who I passed earlier pass me. I passed some who had flown by me earlier…it was just one big fight to the finish.
The last mile was the worst.
At just past the 12 mile marker for the half (15.1 overall) I started really feeling it in my right hamstring and left calf. My muscles were starting to let me know just how hard I had worked that morning. With about .6 to go, I think, my left calf cramped. Just once. Just to say hi. Just to challenge me. I had to stop, stretch my calves, and hit the pavement again. I refused to be beaten this close to the end. I had worked WAY too hard to nuke my time and limp over the finish. I did everything I knew to keep a calf cramp from happening…and kept on chugging. My left calf and the bottom of my right hamstring threatened to cramp for the entirety of that last half-mile…but I kept going. I could SEE the finish, and it was gonna feel good.
And it did.
I finished the half-marathon in 2:01:55!
Considering all the hills and headwinds I had to deal with, I’m pretty happy about that! Oh, and there’s that whole “ran a 5K first” thing too. I was thrilled! After finishing, I literally said out loud “I can’t believe I just did that!” I then proceeded to stretch and eat A TON…I was so sore…but I could actually function! I was a wreck after the Hyannis Half…I was pooped, I was discombobulated and couldn’t think, I was sore, and my legs almost didn’t wanna work. After this…I felt pretty good actually.
Oh…Remember that big achievement I mentioned earlier?
I PLACED 3RD IN MY AGE GROUP FOR COMBINED TIME!
With a time of 25:21 in the 5K and 2:01:55.1 for the half, I had a combined 2:27:16.1 for the Dual…and clinched 3rd in the Male 19 – 29 age group by a commanding 19 minutes! They had a classic podium for winners for a photo op…but I don’t have any photos from that. Why, you ask? The timing was messed up. My 5K results for some reason didn’t register, which meant I also didn’t show up in the Dual results – it was as if I had only run the half-marathon! I figured this out after the fact, and was pretty bummed. I realized, though, that this was in no way the race’s fault – it was the timing company. I shot an email to the Race Director and submitted a timing error request with the timing company, and they were both super-helpful in getting it fixed! My official results now show up, and I can say that I officially snagged 3rd in the Male Open Age Group! The Race Director is even sending me out my age group award since, due to the error, I didn’t get it AT the race! That’s very nice of him 🙂
There were some cool people and parting gifts too!
In the picture above you can see the finisher’s medal – pretty sweet medal! My 3rd half-marathon, and my 3rd finisher’s medal. It even has a nice ribbon, complete with the race company’s logo on the back. They also were nice enough to include a 13.1 sticker for my car! I’ve been meaning to get one of those… I also got a sweet string sackpack (actually well-built!) and a runner’s visor (for doing the Dual). Oh, also…
I got to (re)meet Nicolas – the Perfect Fuel guy!
Within a few days (I hope) I’ll have a product review up for Perfect Fuel. It’s a performance chocolate, and I had it before both the 5K and the half-marathon. I love it. I think it tastes great, I like the idea and the science behind it, and I feel like it helped me in every run/race I’ve used it in! Look for that article soon.
Overall, a great day and big success!
I’m SO pleased with my overall performance and just the day in general! This was the greatest challenge I have taken on yet – I went in with a strategy/gameplan…and it worked! I did well, I pushed my limits, and I achieved what I wanted – I may not have placed in the 5K or the half-marathon individually, but I achieved a combined place…which is fine by me 🙂 I also learned…I was wrong – I said that it was NOT going to be a PR day…but once again it didn’t “click” – I gained a new distance PR – 16.2 miles! Chalk that up to a win.
*Bonus* – I took some video for my buddy Rick who’s vlogging as part of his Falmouth Road Race training this year – you can see the video below!
So What’s The Moral Of The Story?
I strongly recommend checking out www.YuKanRun.com and looking into their races! they’re a ton of fun, a great challenge, and a great way to try something new and see just what you can do!
Just remember – If I can do crazy things like this, so can you. Pick a race, register, and take the plunge! You’ll be amazed with what you can accomplish 🙂