Race recap: Gazelle Girl Half Marathon 

The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan was this past Sunday, and it was a fantastic morning!

Saturday was packet pick-up at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. My husband drove me down there so I could get comfortable with finding the parking lot I’d be parking in before the race.We didn’t spend much time at the expo, but I did get to finally meet fellow Michigander Jessica there. It’s so fun getting to meet other Instagram friends in person!

And I got to meet up with Kaitlyn, who I planned to start the race with in the 9:30 corral. We ran into eachnother (not literally haha!) on the Grand Rapids Marathon course last year. So, it was fun to see each other again for a different race.

As always, I gathered all my race-day items and set them out to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. My hydration pack had some pitted dates in a sandwich bag that I used as my running fuel, and my mylar blanket for pre-race warmth.

The weather was pretty darn perfect for the race. A little chilly at the start, but not terrible.

There was almost no wind, so that’s what kept me from freezing my behind off! I love it when it’s a calm day for a race.

The race started at 8am, and the local running club had a group photo at 7:40 by the Calder plaza sculpture. I miss running with them, but hope to do more group runs after Nashville since I won’t be so focused on a set training schedule. And my husbands work schedule should lighten a bit soon so that means possibly some weekend group runs! 🙂

I found Kaitlyn in the 9:30 pace corral just minutes before the race started. It’s like finding a needle in a hay stack with so many runners! haha I knew she would be a bit faster than me, but I figured we could start together. I think I lost her between mile 2-3 (she ended up finishing 2 minutes before me — Go Kaitlyn!!). It probably wasn’t the smartest choice starting with that group, or rather wasn’t smart speeding past them (the first two miles were in the upper 8’s for pace…oops!). I started with them but ended up being ahead of them for the first 9 or so miles before they caught up to me.

When the 9:30 pace group caught me, I told myself I could’t let them get away from me. So I fought until the end to stick with them. I literally cried at one point during those last 3 miles because I wasn’t sure if I could do it.img_8204Around mile 10-ish there was a crowd of people cheering and playing Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” (…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger) and that’s when I lost my cool. Complete breakdown…cried while running for a bit haha! 😂 The race got ‘real’ at this point so I am actually not surprised at all that I cried here.

The last mile I could feel myself fading a bit. The three pacers ended up finishing 14 or 15 seconds ahead of me (their avg. pace ended up being a 9:27), so I’d consider that a win!

At the finish line I took a few steps and fell down crying because of how overwhelmed I felt getting that big PR and knowing I had given it my all!My official time was 2:04:06 with an avg. pace of 9:28 (different from watch since I actually covered 13.25 miles since it’s pretty impossible to run the course tangents.) Funny enough, I’m pretty sure this is the first time my watch time and the official time were the exact same because I actually remembered to turn it off at the finish haha!After I got up off the ground, I made my way to the food tent and grabbed one of the Gluten Free Bars (made in MICHIGAN!) and started the mile walk back to my car. I don’t know how far into my walk I got when I realized I never got a medal! haha So of course I turned around and found the tent and got one and ran/walked back to my car.

I had to quickly shower and get ready to go after I got home because we had a 2 hour drive north to make it to a performing arts thing that my Grandpa was being honored at. I unfortunately started feeling sick that afternoon and ended up with a migraine headache for the rest of the day. It was awful! I hadn’t had one that bad before. I had one after my first half marathon but this was pretty unexpected since I thought I had my nutrition and hydration in check. Who knows why it happened…over exertion? Not sure. But I felt better by the next morning :). All I know is Nashville half will be a slow and steady climb to the finish because I want to feel good the rest of the day.

The official race photos were of course all doozies 😜.

Has anyone else gotten sick after a race? What do you think caused you to feel that way?

Race Recap: Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

One of my recent posts about my “Bucket List Races” actually included the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in one of the drafts I had. Then 4 days before the race, I decided to register for it so I updated my list ;). Really happy I got a chance to finally run this one. The course was more entertaining than River Bank Run since you got to run over a bunch of bridges of all different sizes (I think it has a lot of similarities to the GR Bridge Run). One of the main reasons I had never done Gazelle Girl before is because the weather for the race is always AWFUL. So, everything kind of fell into place here for me this year. GORGEOUS weather and I was already scheduled to run the distance that weekend….might as well get some bling for it, right?! 😉 Sorry in advance, this post is kind of all over the place with thoughts haha!

Saturday, I joined a fellow Team Nuun teammate for packet pick-up. We didn’t really look around in there, but there was a bit of clothing and it looked like some various vendor booths set up too. The shirts were nike brand and wicking fabric. I’m not in love with the color, but they fit better than most race shirts in my collection :). (Sorry it’s sideways!) 

I set out all my stuff ahead of time, as I always do. If I don’t, I’m bound to forget something! I had packed “The Gluten Free Bar” in my bag for post-race and was really happy to see they actually had them at the finish line! They are made right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan and love to support local when possible. I buy them at Meijer in the GF section. Definitely check them out if you’re looking for a Non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan protein bar (12 g in the one I grabbed – but they vary 10-12g depending on flavor ) — they ship too! I enjoyed that and an orange and some water after finishing (Nuun once I got back to my car). They also had muffins (not gluten free), bananas, and chocolate milk available.

Getting into the race…thanks to the wonderful world of social media, I was able to find a friend to ride downtown with and a running partner from the local running club I sometimes join (but haven’t in forever! Hopefully I can get out there more often when we finally move). We ran about the first 8 miles together and then I lost her going through a water station. But, it was great sticking together for most of the race!DCIM100GOPROGOPR0971.This was us a few minutes before the race started.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0972.There was great crowd support at the starting line, and at a few places on the course. This was just a little past the starting line.

I was right on target to be in the 9’s for pace all the way up to mile 11, and then it all fell apart. I’m so used to running in the 9’s, but I always take a short break to refuel or stretch a few times (and I stop/re-start my watch every time) when I do long runs. So, it’s tough to see an average pace in the 10’s when my watch usually says 9 something’s. That being said, I’m still very proud of what I did! It was a 2 minute PR over my Disney Princess Half race, and 144ft. more elevation gain! That shows just how flat Disney was lol.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0975.Here’s one of the two of us during the race.

I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I’m always going to have some aches and pains during and after a long race. I had side stitches pretty early on in the race, but they subsided after a mile or two. I felt ok for most of the race, besides the obvious fatigue. I did have knee pain start around the mid-way point and didn’t go away, but my knees felt ok in the days after the race. My hip flexors hurt after the race for 2 days, and my left calf has been cramping/tight feeling since the race. It’s currently taped up in kinesiology tape for good measure ;). Worth all the pain though! I wore compression socks for a solid 2 days, been foam rolling, stretching, icing, and now have the tape on. So hopefully I recover soon and feel good for Nashville.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0979.This was my “yeaaaaaah just over a mile to go!” face 🙂 As you can see, the crowds really thinned out as I neared the finish. I had eaten most of the dates I was using as my ‘fuel’ by this point, and ended up throwing the last 2 I had left in the bag away a bit before this photo. Still hard to tell if they did anything for me, but for now I’m going to keep using them for my distance runs.

There were water stations about once every two miles throughout the race, so I opted to just use those instead of wearing belt or hydration pack and then refuel with Nuun post-race. It was so crowded the first several miles that I almost missed getting water a few times. I’m really thinking about wearing the hydration pack for River Bank so I can get Nuun along the course and so I don’t have to worry about darting off to the sides for water table stops. It’ll be good practice wearing it for that long since I’ll probably be wearing it for the fall marathon too.

I looked for one of the finisher banner things to get a picture by and somehow missed it. So bummed about that!I’m awful about running the tangents.  I’m always quite a bit over the 13.1 distance, so my official pace is always slower (booo!). I also forgot to stop my watch for a few seconds (which is pretty much the norm for me lol!). Official time: 2:14:01 (10:14 pace).

Here’s the “charm” the finishers received. 

I think I’d do this one again. I hate registering so late and paying so much more for it, but I think if I ever did it again I’d late register to make sure the weather was going to be good. I remember one year it was snowing/hailing lol. Being guaranteed good weather is worth the extra cash I think.

The race photos are not free, but they did post some proofs.

gazelleproof1.png gazelleproof2gazelleproof3

Crossing the finish line is the best feeling ever! It makes the ‘I think I’m dying’ feeling during a race so worth it…and keeps me coming back for more. 😉

What is your favorite half marathon? I think I have the best memories of my first half (Country Music Half Marathon — now called Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville). I’ve never been so happy on a course, which I still can’t believe because it was no cake walk! My least favorite was the Laker Loop Half, where I got lost a few times on the course haha (for real).