To describe the race in only one word, it would be WET. It started raining around 7 am, with the race set to start at 7:30 and it didn't stop until about mile 10, at which point everyone was thoroughly soaked. Not much you can do about it, and I am used to running in the rain so it wasn't like I was unprepared. If you asked my mother, the theme of the race would have been "Don't Linger." She repeated that several times as we drove the course the night before. An aside to the course itself, those of us familiar with certain areas of downtown know that being there for any other reason than running by quickly is cause for alarm and probably arrest. Oh, Binghamton. There were plenty of non-shady, non-rundown areas of the course as well, lots of older homes and neighborhoods to admire. Having grown up in the area, the not so lovely areas stick out to me more than the lovely ones, and I do hope that all of the out of town runners enjoyed the lovely areas. I talk shit about home a lot, but at the end of the day it isn't such a bad place to grow up. And I certainly want the race organizers to hear good things from the participants so the race can be bigger and better next year.
Here is a picture of the four of us before the start, the NASCAR pace car, and a picture of the half start taking off from the local baseball stadium on our way to crossing 5 different bridges within the city limits. Number 1, dead center, went on to win the race in 1:08:57, two minutes ahead of the next finisher.
I started out running with my brother-in-law, Andy and it looked like we'd be hanging together for the duration of the race. He's usually a faster runner than I am, but he took a red-eye back from LA the day before and wasn't exactly in top racing condition. Mad props for even getting up that early to run at all. The first few miles were as tough as I expected. Despite warming up and all that jazz I still felt really tight. My breathing wasn't labored at all but I could not get my legs to cooperate. I took a suggestion from Kara Goucher's book and divided the race into 3 chunks of 5 miles, 5 miles, and 3 miles. It seemed to make the distance more manageable and I had a different song in my head for each section. For some reason I seem to be smiling in the professional race pictures. I'm not sure why, other than telling myself to smile because SUAR said so. It wasn't like I was thrilled to be out there. This is Andy, with me following close behind, somewhere between miles 6 and 7.
The course had several inclines although I am reluctant to call them hills considering what Andy trains on regularly in the wilds of WV. The crowd support was sparse in places but there were a few parts of the course that overlapped and we were able to see our family twice along the way. That was a huge boost, along with the little kids with signs handing out "free high fives." Too freaking cute. Esp the one in the ladybuy raincoat.
I was really careful to hydrate and took gels at miles 4, 8, and 11. I didn't really notice a difference until about mile 10. My pace was slower than I would have liked, but as expected given my lack of confidence in training, and I didn't anticipate making any kind of a move until mile 12. As soon as those words were out of my mouth at the 10 mile marker, I suddenly felt really good. Andy was ok holding steady and I took my chance to see what I had in the tank. The last couple of miles were a straight shot down the main street and I went for it. My pace increased a bit from really sucking to not so sucky. Once I saw mile 12 I tried to push harder and used both my mantras and a fun song from my iPod playlist to keep moving.
The last part of the race is a turn back towards the baseball stadium and the road was packed with cheering spectators. We then ran down the outside of the stadium on the third base side until we got to the outfield gate, at which point the course runs you onto the field itself. We got to race the last two hundred yards or so on the warning track of the baseball field, which I thought was really cool despite the rain turning it into a slippery muddy mess.
My sister and dad ran the 5k which started 2 hours after the half. It seemed like a weird time to do it, since so many of the half runners would end up finishing with the 5kers, but it seemed to work out. I was glad to be done in time to get back to the finish line and see them both finish. Had they started it earlier to time it to end while most of us were out on the course somewhere, I would have missed the chance to cheer on my family. They were on the course for me before reporting to their start line and I wanted to return the favor. I'd also like to give a special thanks to my mom! She was the pack mule, photographer, umbrella holder, cheerleader, chauffeur and all around amazing race supporter! None of us would have gotten to the start line, much less crossed the finish line, without her.
I'm a little bummed that there wasn't a picture of me finishing, even though I know it would show me looking down at my watch to stop the timer. There was another woman right in front of me and she ended up in the majority of the shot. I might have gotten a random appendage in there, not worth posting. Mom did get a post-race picture of us as well, so that will have to do. Yay medals! At least we're all still smiling!
Aside from what I would consider to be first-race issues (needed a louder PA system, putting the chips in the bags so people don't make 2 stops at bag check, etc) I didn't have any complaints for the organizers. They anticipated having about 250 runners in total for the half and the 5k. They ended up having to close registration once it topped 1,800. I think that is pretty cool and the organizers said that they were thrilled with the overwhelming turnout. The rain kept a few people at home on race morning, but that doesn't bother me one bit. Fair weather runners need not apply and I'll take your medal too, thankyouverymuch. I would definitely run the race in the future, I'd love to improve on my time of 2:13:27. I was faster than last year's half but not as fast as my first. Meh, I'll take it. My main concern was finishing and I did, so I can set my sights on a time goal for the next one. Depending on what races are in my area, I'd love to do another half this summer amid marathon training.
Lastly, a small portion of the "reward" foods consumed over the course of the day. A delicious bowl of Mud Pie Mojo from Coldstone. Coffee? check. Oreos? check. Fudge? check. Nuts? check. Peanut butter? check. What more could you want in an ice cream?
How was YOUR weekend? Did you eat something delicious? Run a race? Buy something fun?