Monday, October 25, 2010

Zombie Half Marathon - Anchorage, Alaska (Race Recap)

Saturday, October 23
Anchorage, Alaska
Half Marathon State - 13/50
Temperature - 29 degrees, partly cloudy


ooooooh yeaaaaah!! Well, I have always wanted to go to Alaska. And so have my parents. But driving there is not an option, and flying there in the summer is EXPENSIVE. So, I was psyched when I found out about the Zombie Half Marathon - held late October (just at the beginning of off season). I had been planning my outfit for months. Just needed the weather to cooperate.

The event this year added an ultra and a marathon option (both relays??) - which started at 8:00, but the half marathon had a late start at 10:00 (since it doesn't even get light until around 9:00, it made sense). We had REALLY lucked out with the weather this trip. The forecast for the week was rain or snow every day. And yet... no moisture at all! I was pretty psyched when I saw the forecast for race day and saw it might even be SUNNY! The most important part of the race? The makeup!!

A wanted the "scary eyes" but had me wash it off almost immediately
An hour until the start, and brrrr

Me and L at the start. Yes, it is REALLY cold - the car said 29 degrees
The course was a point to point, and if we didn't have our dad driving us to the start line, I'm not really sure how the transportation would have been coordinated. The start line was at the turnaround point for the ultra and the marathon, which remember, had started at 8:00. So while we were all in line for the potties, there were runners going by who had already been racing a few hours. No timing chips on this race, and the start line, was just kind of... there.

This is about 5 minutes to start. That orange cone? The "start"

Me and L a few minutes to go time (she was too wimpy for zombie make up!)

Getting last minute race instructions form the head Zombie
If I haven't made it clear, it was FREAKIN COLD. I bought a special beanie and gloves that I had every intention of tossing on the course after I got too hot. I never took the hat off, and the gloves were on and off throughout the day.

The race just sort of started. We didn't want to be TOO close to the front since we weren't really sure where the course was going, but without timing chips we didn't want to be in the back either. The race started out FAST... and was pretty chaotic because you had to watch for "zombies" coming toward you (remember, the ultra and marathoners). I had promised myself I wouldn't pace based off my watch again, but would run on feel. These Alaskans? FAST. I almost felt like I was going out too fast, but it was so cold that I just wanted to get the blood pumping so I would warm up. I found a good pace, and settled in. I was glad to have my fuel belt as we found there would only be two aid stations on the course.

This is a small race - capped at 500 runners (and it DID sell out). The first few miles were pretty crowded while people were finding their pace. The course was all on paved trail, and honestly, there wasn't too much to look at for a lot of the course. Until you got to some of the mountain and lake scenery.

About mile 3.5
Around mile 3.5
I had taken my gloves off right before the aide station at mile 4. I actually saw L in front of me still, she looked to be only a few minutes ahead of me... glanced at my watch, I was pacing pretty fast. But I still felt good.

In lieu of spectators, there was chalk art:

Hahaha... I'll try not to!


Possibly around mile 6?

Cutest mile markers ever!!
Second aid station was just after mile 8. Still feeling good! My hands were getting a little cold, so I put the gloves back on. But then, just before mile 9, I saw MOOSE on the side of the trail. Not more than 10 or 15 feet away! I had to rip the gloves off and stopped dead in my tracks to get this picture (had to! Only wildlife I actually saw!)

Moose!!
I knew if I could somehow keep my pace that I would PR, and POSSIBLY even go sub 2. EXCITED!!  I somehow missed the marker for mile 10, and that's about when I started feeling a bit tired. But I was psyched because I started passing people! Around mile 11 I chatted with a woman who was looking GREAT and asked if she had ever run sub 2 and when she said yes so I asked if I could pace off her. She said sure, and to run as fast as possible NOW because there was a "big hill" at the end. I was REALLY not prepared for the size of the hill. I passed her right at the bottom (about mile 12.5) and every single person was walking. I was "jogging" and was struggling. I have never had such a rough hill so close to the end!

Seriously, look at the end of the elevation profile!!
NOTHING in the world more discouraging than being "THIS CLOSE" to a sub 2 hour PR only to have that nonsense right at the end.

My dad got this picture of me heading towad the finish... my form is terrible!
I got to the peak, saw the finish line and "sprinted" and thought that I had done it based on my watch time:

Sub 2???
Alas, when the official results were posted, they had my time at 2:00:01. That's just cruel. But... it's still a 45 second PR. Next time.

Kids watching us finish the race
There was supposed to be a kids "fun run" of 2K - which was to start at noon. So yep, I literally crossed the line, found the kids, and suffered through another 2K... pretty much alone because A took off and I could barely move :D

A psyched and ready to go for her fun run
There was an entry fee of $5 for the kid race, but they got a REAL medal, a water bottle, hat, and other goodies. Totally worth it and A had a blast (it wasn't timed, but she was pretty fast!)

Overall results:

Officical Time: 2:00:01
Garmin Time: 1:59:57
Overall: 160/429 (apparently lots of people didn't finish?)
Female: 72/273 (Wow!!)
Of note: Only a little over 6 min slower than L. So what if she ran a marathon 6 days earlier :D
Pace per Garmin:
Mile 1 - 8:58
Mile 2 - 8:34
Mile 3 - 8:50
Mile 4 - 8:53
Mile 5 - 8:57
Mile 6 - 9:05
Mile 7 - 9:30
Mile 8 - 9:26
Mile 9 - 9:29
Mile 10 - 9:05
Mile 11 - 8:55
Mile 12 - 8:50
Mile 13 - 10:11 (yep, I walked a very small section of the hill, cost me my sub 2 hour)
Mile 13.1: 9:30 (totally drained)

After the race, we headed inside for food. There was supposed to be pizza, but they didn't order enough and we only got a few slices. Feel sorry for the slower runners! At the 2.5 hour mark, everything was gone! The medal is pretty unimpressive, but they were only awarded to the first 350 people over the line.


The race was fun. I've never "dressed up" for a race before. We were probably the most tame runners out there. People weren't just dressed up as zombies, they wore full on Halloween costumes. If you are looking for a lot of spectator support - this is NOT the race for you. I saw MAYBE a few dozen spectators total until we got close to the finish line. Be prepared for cold, and be prepared to be fast if you want the awards and post-race food. Overall, a good race! Glad I picked this one.

After the race, we showered and put the kids down for a nap. We woke them up with about an hour of daylight left so that they could play at a park. We walked along the Coastal Trail again (this was on the course - approximately where the aid station was at mile 4. GORGEOUS!!




A being a total goof ball.
We had dinner and then finished packing and put the kids down for bed - we had a flight leaving at 2 am, so we figured they should sleep a bit.

I'm glad I made time for Alaska, hopefully someday I can come when it is WARMER.

11 comments:

  1. I've decided I will never PR on a course with a hill after mile 12. Who designs courses like that anyway?
    Enjoyed your race recap, now on to Greece!

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  2. Love the pictures from your Alaska trip, sooo beautiful!! :) and a big CONGRATULATIONS on your new P, you PR on almost very race now. You are doing soooo good!!! The Sub 2 is waiting for a very special race :)

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  3. Great re-cap! You totally kicked ass despite the frigid weather! I can't believe your legs would even move?! It's one thing if you're acclimated but...
    Anyway - great you got a PR but shame on them for finishing the race on a hill. Looking forward to your Greece trip and I hope you please please please take photos of the FOOD you eat! My dream is to eat my way along the coast of Greece someday :)

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  4. Before choosing your race for TN, I would definitely look at the elevation chart. Both halfs that i've done here had a huge hill at mile 12- ridiculous!

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  5. Wow, what an amazing race - I love all the pics!! Congrats on a terrific PR, and I think you should just go with "Garmin time" on this one. :-)

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  6. You girls look so cold! I would love to run in Alaska...lucky you! You posted some great pictures and I love the one with the moose:) We have moose here in Northern Minnesota but I have yet to see one.

    Congrats on a great half marathon finish!

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  7. Congrats! So close to an "official" sub-2:00. Next time! Thats a crazy hill to finish on. Sounds like a fun, unique race. I would be up for it! Loved all the pics.

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  8. Another awesome race recap! It seems that if you didn't stop to take pics for us followers you would have had that sub-2 already. :( But I'm soo glad you do! The pics are great!!!

    One second over 2 is cruel. That Was a non- runner typing up those official results. Grrrrr!

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  9. Dude! That was an amazing time - I'm totally going with your Garmin time. That's the bad thing about not using a chip. I try to avoid races that don't use chip timing 'cause I'm so anal about numbers and them being accurate.

    Way to go!! Now on to Greece!

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  10. This sounds like such a fun race - I love how everyone got into the spirit of it! Maybe I'll need to add it to my race calender. :) Congrats on the amazing time!

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  11. omg i love that this was in Alaska!
    seems like an awesome race. love all the pix
    and congrats on the awesome race and time! :)
    wooohoooooo

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