Updated with ratings at the bottom!
Training for my next race doesn’t start for several weeks now. I’m enjoying EVERY SECOND of this off time before I have to get up at the ass crack to get my long runs in before the humidity and heat explode. Since there’s no Yelp for races I figure I’ll recap my 2015 races.
I should note that I have no pictures from this race. I am too cheap to pay for them and forgot to tell any members of my family that I was doing it so no one was there to cheer me on.
I had signed up for the Tom King Half Marathon, my very favorite, and I couldn’t find ANY of the training plans I’d used before. The one I ended up using had me doing an entire half marathon one month before the actual event. The Frostbite fit that timeline and had been highly recommended. My only minor issue was that I’d also heard stories of terrible weather. Ice, snow, freezing cold. But for $20 (which includes a tech shirt, $8 if you don’t want the shirt) I figured I’d take the risk. I could always skip out and run on the indoor track if I needed to do so.
I did not. It was a beautiful day, the race started at 10 (more on that later), I ran in shirt sleeves.
Can I take a moment to point out that most geographical areas in the US say “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change!” Please stop acting like your city is this unique place because the weather can be unpredictable. We’re all in this together. Moving on.
Beautiful day. This is the point. It had been cold the week before but this day was glorious. To be honest, I’ve only had two races where the weather ended up affecting my participation: one 5k where it was raining and we decided not to do it and one half marathon where the race directors changed the race at the last minute (more on that in a few weeks). I’m spoiled I suppose!
Before the race the directors emailed and said that while the main race started at 11 the walkers/people taking longer than three hours were encouraged to start at 10. I’m full of anxieties that make no sense so this sent me into a spiral. My 2014 Tom King finish time had been just under three. This was a training run on a course with actual HILLS so I had no idea what to expect, plus my training times had always been hovering around a time that would put me close to three hours. I even asked the race directors and they gave me the benefits of either decision.
I left so very early because I get nervous on race day and when I get nervous I leave early. My first tiny roadbump: I forgot my earbuds. A facebook friend pointed out the joy of running without music but I wasn’t about to try that for three hours. I stopped at a random gas station and got a lime green pair that ended up giving decent sound. Second roadbump: a literal roadbump. A tractor trailer had jack-knifed (I guess? It tried to make tight turn and got stuck) blocking the entire road about a mile before park entrance. There were piles of us in our compression gear standing around, but a nice local gave us an alternate route.
If you want to know how early I left, even with the detour I managed to get there over a half hour early. It’s a tiny, tiny race so after I checked in I didn’t have much to do. I chatted with the race director again and was told this time that I really should start at 11 if I thought I’d be under three hours. I was stressing so I just decided to let it go and start at 10. I was there, there was nothing to do.
I lied, here’s a picture of a sign another racer had pinned to her shirt. It’s a sweet story and you can google that phrase to get the full version to which I cannot do justice.
The course is beautiful. Part of it is over unpaved roads, parts are in the community surrounding the park. I wish I had taken more pictures along the way. Even though it wasn’t cold the day of the run it had been freezing earlier in the week so there were occasional frozen puddles but they were easily avoided. But I need to mention this: hills. HILLS. It’s a hilly course.
Small races sometimes scare me because I’m worried I’ll be in absolute last place. This is just pride messing with me I’m sure but it’s still a fear. I wasn’t first but I certainly wasn’t last. I also met a new nemesis! A fellow competitor had a shirt identifying him as a walker, so let’s call him Joe Walker. I do walk/run intervals, this comment may seem out of place but needs to be mentioned before I go on. Well, Joe Walker would actually RUN ahead of me during my walk intervals. I guess he didn’t like the look of my butt or hated being beaten by a girl so he abandoned his walking at times to stay ahead. I ended up a minute or two ahead, so I win that battle (but not the war as coming weeks will show).
There were just enough water stations. No energy gel but there wascandy, fruit, and lots of electrolyte drink. And did I mention how scenic it was?
My time ended up being enough under three hours that maybe I should’ve started at 11. I got my post race pizza and water, cooled off for a bit, then hung out in my car. See, remember me mentioning my close parking job earlier? Well, it was also on the course, so I wanted to wait a bit. Eventually I noticed a lot of cars leaving so I joined it.
It’s a good race. Well organized, somewhat challenging course. Also, small. While I love a good race expo that comes with a large race I prefer smaller, quiet races.
Difficulty: ****- Like I said, kind of hilly
Course: ****- Beautiful, but there were parts where local traffic was allowed through. I guess this is unavoidable.
Price: ***** I think it was $20 which included the shirt, $8 if you don’t want the shirt.
Goody bag/Expo: NA. All you get is the shirt (which, as noted above, is optional)
Weather: ***** Practically perfect.
Pre-race: ***– It was nice that they had a warm building for us to gather before the start, but I had a hard time finding water. I ended up sneaking into a kitchen with a coffee cup and getting tap water. Bathrooms were not portapotties so that was good, but the bathroom was out of paper towels.
Post-race: ***– Pizza and standard post race stuff like bananas and maybe bagels?
Organization: ***** They’ve done this for a while so they have it down to a science. Emails had me a little nervous about starting times and where to park but they had volunteers directing traffic for parking.
Would I do it again? Probably. It’s typically one month before my favorite race (Tom King half) and the price is really good. It could be a last-minute registration since weather is iffy at that time of year.