top of page
  • Writer's pictureAutumn Plourd

SD Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

This was the day I trained three months for. And given how it ended, it’s safe to say I pushed my body to its limit.

I woke up feeling ready to run. Had my layers, had my bag, didn’t forget anything.

We got to the course, I jogged a little to loosen up the legs and dropped off my jacket at the gear check. Then we found a porta potty line and waited. All the lines were long. There were no short cuts. Unless you’re the heartless guy walking down the sidewalk that saw the door open, and walked right in. Skipping 35 of us in line. Jerk. Everyone yelled the entire time he relieved himself. And he deserved that walk of shame.

I made it inside the stall while the national anthem was playing. Guess I’m disrespectful too?

I brought toilet paper from home which was some next level foresight because bathrooms were all out. I tried giving my extra paper to a girl in line but she looked at my hand and said “I’m going to need more than that”. I don’t think she was good at math.

Some paper is greater than no paper.

I wished Jocelyn and Riley good luck and ran off to find corral 3, and on my way, in a sea of over 18,000 people, the libertarian meme master, Gene Diedrich (@genelikesimmons) spoted me and we snuck in a picture. I wished them good luck and squeezed through a fence (literally) that accidentally got me stuck in corral 6. Aka runners expecting to go slower than my goal pace. Bummer.

Plus I looked around and saw lots of bibs with much higher corral numbers, like 14 and 20. Double bummer.

The race starts and it’s hectic. I’m zigzagging across the course just hoping I don’t catch a leg. I’m running on the median, the sidewalk, through any gap I can find. It’s not ideal, but my pace is ok.

My body feels great, my legs feel great. My lungs feel great. I look at my watch and see my heart rate. Already in the 170s. That’s not great. I decide to stop looking at my heart rate. And again I feel great.

The course was hilly, and there were runners as far as I could see. But for distraction, I kept reminding myself that the first 7 miles needed to feel comfortably hard, and that after mile 5 or 6, the course is almost all downhill.

At one point I spot Gene and his wife. They made it to a porta potty and still managed to get in a faster corral than me! Luckies!

At the halfway point, I text my family that I feel great. Because I do. Nothing hurts, and I still have so much energy reserved for the next phase of the race.

I make it to mile 7 and I switch my effort. I rev it up a bit. The plan: miles 7-10 need to feel harder. Not all out, but it should start to burn. This ain’t no joy run, I’m in a race for a PR!

I glance at my heart rate, it’s 177. I remind myself not to look at it. Just go by effort today Autumn. And my effort felt good.

Every time I see a porta potty, I text Jocelyn, because she’s running this thing 16 weeks pregnant, and I thought maybe that information could be useful. I keep getting text messages from her and Annette, trying to find each other, and that reminds me I’m not alone. Even though they weren’t for me, I really liked getting their messages and knowing where they were at on the course.

I turn down all the water, I turn down all the Gatorade. I turn down all the tequila and Krispy creams and Biofreeze. I had my own water and ate two energy gels along the way. I felt great.

I was still battling runner traffic, weaving around the course, running far from a straight line. Would it have been so bad had I started in corral 3? I’ll never know.

Then right around the last 3 miles, we hit a hill that crushes my spirit. I lose all my momentum and my mental game starts to go down the toilet. I text Blake: “Hill just stripped New of everything I had left”…but you know what I mean…

I couldn’t convince my legs to get back to race pace. They were begging for easy, but I kept giving them hard. Then we hit a downhill stretch, and I forced them back into the game. It was the last 5k. Time to give it all I got.

I pick a guy ahead of me and decide to hold his pace as long as I can. His pace is faster than I wanted to go and I start to wonder why I picked a guy’s pace. That’s when I realize almost everyone around me was male. That’s gotta be a good sign.

I held his pace for over a mile before another hill steals it away. He’s gone and I’m grasping for motivation to push. I’m over it. It doesn’t matter that I have less than 2 miles to go. My legs are on fire, my body has the chills, I want this to be over. I think about walking. Obviously I can't let myself do that.

So instead of quitting, I pick up the pace. With a mile to go, I tell myself I can do anything for eight minutes, and I start picking off runners. I sight a girl and race to beat her. When I reach her, I pick the next girl. I’m sprinting as hard as I can to the finish line, trying to shave off any last seconds I can from my time. I don’t dare look at my watch, which is good, because it would have scared me to see I was running a 6’47” pace at 185 bpm (my max heart rate).

And then it’s over. I finished. And I feel great.

I thought.

I pound a water, I inhale a banana, I have no idea what my stats look like, but based on the texts coming through my ear, I’m pretty certain I missed the goal. “I hope you’re proud of your time”. (For the record I am.)

And then my right calf starts to get tight. The left one isn't doing great either. And I still have chills all over. So I call Blake, juggling my water bottle and Gatorade and 5 different (free) post-run snacks. I tell him that my calf is going to give out on me at any minute. He strongly suggests I find a place to sit down. Like immediately. But I’ve got chills and need to get to my gear bag so I can put a jacket on. Then I’ll sit.

Biggest mistake ever.

I step up a curb, 30 yards from the bag check, and my right calf goes full seizure. I try to catch my fall with my left leg, and that calf goes full seizure too. So I slam into the ground, with my phone and bottles and snacks and medal and palms catching my fall. I roll over and I’m yelling out child birth pain sounds (literally) all with Blake still listening through my AirPods.

People rush to help me but my legs wouldn’t release their Rigamortus grip. This INCREDIBLE woman, a soccer player who came to spectate, knew exactly what to do and massaged my calves for ten minutes while another man that maybe never said a word worked on my left leg. My hand is bleeding, but who cares. I’m basically delivering a baby out my lower legs.

Every time my calf releases, my shin locks up. When the shin releases, the calf locks again. They’re switching back and forth between massaging the front and back of each leg.

“Charlie Horse” sounds cute. But these aren’t cute. They should be called “Calf Labor” or “Lower Leg Lock Jaw”, or “Just Cut It Off Contractions”. I don’t know. Something more honest and fear-inducing.

Medics come with salty Gatorade, there’s a crowd all watching, and they ask if my head hit. No. The only thing that hit the ground was my ego.

Then a medic asks if he can spray Biofreeze on my legs. I said, if you think it’ll help then do it. He shrugged and said, well, they’re the title sponsor of the event…sooo I should probably use it. Then he holds it up like a Pfizer salesman and says “Brought to you by: Biofreeze”. Then pops the lid and sprays it on my legs. No joke.

After 20 minutes, they help me up and I hobble to a stretching area and get to work with a foam roller. I missed all my friends finish. Super sorry. But great job everyone!

What a day!

In the end I missed my goal of 1:42:15 by 85 seconds. But it’s ok. My average pace was 7’55” (7 seconds over my goal) and my heart rate averaged 177 bpm. Wow.

Yeah, I can be proud of all of that.

This post brought to you by: Biofreeze. Just kidding.

PS: I can barely walk and my calves still feel like they might seize up at any second, but I think I’ll trust Blake and sit down.

PPS: Super proud of these SUNDAY RUNDAY ladies! Annette continued to be the supportive friend making sure we all did our best. Plus she was rocking some gnarly cheetah print shoes that for sure made her run faster. Riley had a pretty perfect race with a beautiful negative split and set the bar high for all her future half marathons. She might be addicted now. And Jocelyn pushed through pain and discomfort to finish 13.1 miles while a sixteen-week fetus bounced on her pelvic floor.

There's no question: we can do hard things!

204 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page