IT IS DONE!!!
I am still a bit sore two days later, but I finished my half marathon May 11!
The soreness comes, I think, from the rolling-hilly race course – 661 feet of total climb, for which I was not entirely prepared (my long runs had, at most, about 412 feet of climb). The good news is, the soreness is just muscle complaints. No join pain! Yay!! (Thank you, Dr. Rohrick at CARE Chiropractic for helping me work through my crooked spine and joint issues!)
I’m not going to talk about which place I finished in the race because that would only depress me. (Although I do have a rationalization to make myself feel better: I was in the 30-39 category, running against all those chipper 30-year-olds. My percentile finish would have been much better if I were a few months older and competing in the 40-49 age group.)
Instead, I am going to talk about how well I ran, compared to how I have been running.
I finished in 2 hours, 33 minutes, giving me an average pace, according to my GPS, of 11:18 minutes per mile! Wow!! (The GPS also said I ran 13.57 miles – 0.47 miles further than half marathon distance, likely due to my wavering on the course instead of sticking to the shortest path around curves.)
The only time I have run faster this year was 10:56 on May 3, but that was on a li’l ol’ 3-mile run during my taper for the half-marathon.
I ran so unexpectedly fast that my mom missed me at the first photo opp station on the course. (*sad face* But she jumped ahead and caught me at the next station and at the finish. *happy face*)
I credit three things for my impressive-for-me time.
- The altitude. I trained at ~4,000 feet above sea level and raced at ~1,000 feet.
- The general race atmosphere. I am less apt to stop during a race than during a regular training run. Also – no waiting for red lights.
- The coffee klatch behind us. O.M.G. Talktalktalktalktalktalktalktalktalk! Blahblahblahblahblah! I heard every intimate detail of their conversations. As I recall, this is exactly why a friend of mine prefers rural races – with fewer people in a race, you are less likely to get in front of a group of nonstop talkers. But, hey – it did motivate me to keep up the pace to get away from them. And I did! I powered up the hills, they walked, and I escaped!
I will now proceed to my review and experience of the Maple Grove Half Marathon event itself. A note: I have only run four distance races before: two half-marathons and two 20K races, and all of them were in Des Moines, Iowa, so I don’t have a huge breadth of experience to compare against. I was also taking analytical mental notes during the race, since I am on the race crew of the newest marathon/half event in Nebraska – the Monument Marathon.
First, to answer the question on many people’s minds this past weekend: Why did you travel all the way to Minnesota to run a half-marathon?!??
Simple: I wanted an excuse to visit family, my mom lives near Maple Grove, Minnesota, and it was Mother’s Day weekend.
- Beautiful course mainly on bike paths around a lake. The chittering birds in the spring-greening trees all around us was awesome. There was one bird that sounded like it was singing the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth!
- The people who came out to cheer the runners. There were a few families out at the end of their lawns or driveways, bundled in blankets against the cold, cheering for whomever ran past. This is a definitely a mood-improver for me when I start to flag on a run. There weren’t too many fans out there, but they sure were appreciated!
- The people who brought their pet potbellied pig out for a walk along the race course.
- It did not rain! The forecast earlier in the week showed rain in the morning. I am SO GLAD it rained overnight and not during the race!
- The fact that the race bib pickup the day before was at REI, so I could buy energy gels, since I forgot to bring my own.
- The race was timed with disposable timing chips that were embedded in the race bibs. No need to have a timing chip cut off one’s shoe at the end of the race.
- The race shirt, which supposedly only finishers got (but the 5K people got them too??), is a wicking shirt in a color bright enough to get half-distracted drivers to notice you when you’re out and about.
- It was cold and windy. That can’t be helped. But it might have been a nice touch to have heat sheets available for finishers. I didn’t see any.
- In part because this was only a half marathon and not a full/half race so there were no full marathoners to draw out the finish-area operating time to help slow runners like me, and also in part because the weather was cold and windy, by the time I finished, the “race expo” was all packed up already. No free chiropractic adjustment for me. 😦
- There were no finishers medals! What?? A distance race without a finisher medal?? I am sad that I did not get a new piece of bling for my “medal tree.”
- There was zero schwag. The “packet pickup” consisted of the race bib/timing chip. No goodies whatsoever. Not even a course map printout to study the night before. If there were goodies from the sponsors at the expo, I never saw them because they were all packed up and gone by the time I finished running.
- The course map might have come in handy for many people. This did not affect me, but it did affect about 100 runners: there was a goof in the course marking (some jerk turned a sign the wrong way?) and the lead bike led the fastest runners off course and added up to
1.5 miles0.5 mile to their distance. This is a race director’s nightmare. You can bet it won’t happen next year!
- The refreshments at the finish were “meh.” Water. Orange slices. Granola bars. Packs of chips. Bread balls. Basically the same kind of stuff you’d get at the end of a 5K. But maybe there was better stuff and I just missed it because it all got eaten.
Enough with the review stuff! Time for some pictures!
Well, it’s onward and upward from here! *gulp* Full marathon, here I come…?
UPDATE: I got a very nice email from one of the race organizers, who found this blog through a Google search. It seems only fair to share his comments:
Not to sound cheesy, but we truly try to make this event better and better each year. So it was good to read your feedback on the race – highlights and lowlights. The biggest thing we struggle with is giveaway items, which you point out. Myself and co-founder Paul are runners, so we understand how medals and other cool swag is becoming the standard for longer races. We indeed splurge on Brooks technical shirts (men’s and women’s cuts), but run a pretty lean operation otherwise. Our half marathon has the lowest entry fee in the metro area, and all proceeds got to the local Lions Club (we don’t earn a dime, never have, and that’s the way we want it to be – it’s all about giving runners a great race). Our sponsors have contributed goodies in the past for packet pick-up, but that’s kind of dried up with economic issues of late. Anyway, I don’t mean to spout out a bunch of excuses about our lack of giveaways. We’ll definitely take your feedback and have things like extra copies of maps at packet pick-up and at the stadium on race day. We’ll also take a look at having some better food at the finish line – and potentially medals for finishers.
Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw