Saturday, April 16, 2016

Garmin Half Marathon Race Report (2nd race in the Heartland Series)

After a very cautious week of running (three runs again with the race being the third).  I was really excited to see the new route and have for once, good weather. The past two years that i have done this race included hail both times and a horrible thunderstorms complete with wind and lightening.  Read about my previous experiences here and here and here (last year is a two parter due to us having to make an emergency trip to TN and back to KS).

I think any time a race is new or is in a new location, there will be hiccups.  The new RD did a great job of sending out numerous emails on parking and even videos on the FB page that seemed to be updated multiple times a day some days.  I love that, it gets me motivated to do the race and excited about the race!

Mel and I headed down to the expo friday afternoon and were shocked that it had almost doubled in size.  Of course Gypsy runner was there, one of my favorite running gear gurus, so we tried on tons of her clothes and made a few purchases.

I got a new pair of compression shorts that are cosmos themed and a pair of compression capris with dog paws. 

 I am also going to try a new tank with new material for her as well.  I also purchased a new bondi band.  While I am trying to get on board with wearing them, I am not entirely convinced that I like them as much as my running hats. They are great on windy days when I can't wear a hat and here lately that has been oh, pretty much every day.  
After getting all of our stuff, we headed out to a dinner of pasta at the garden of olives.  Got to carb load!!!! We needed to get in bed early due to the fact that we were warned that parking might be an issue, and that we needed to be parked by 5:45 AM. Of course any time someone says you HAVE to go to sleep, I am wide awake.  So, after a fitful night of tossing and turning and even a stomach ache, I got up around 4:30 am, but made myself lay in bed till 5.  We had gotten all of our clothes ready the night before, and gotten our gear laid out and bagged up, so getting ready was quick.  After a short drive over, and one full parking lot, we were parked near the start finish line and ready to go.  Thank goodness it wasn't very cold this weekend as opposed to last weekend. 

I was really concerned about the porta potty situation, but thankfully, there were plenty.  They even had them roped off, so each line had 4 porta pots to fill up.  I used them multiple times pre race, and never had to wait more than 5 or more minutes.  Let's just say that the problem I had last week before RTPW was not an issue this time. I downed my UCAN and got in the start area ready to rock.   This race has no corral system or wave system but I think it is big enough now that it for sure needs it!  I honestly had no plan, other than to run with my good friend Gypsy Runner AKA Amy.  She was doing the full and was looking at staying with or ahead of the 4:30 pace group, and that sounded good to me.  We lined up with the 4:30/2:15 pacers or as close to them as we could get.  

A little note, I drank my UCAN about 45 minutes pre race and had visited the porta pots several times post-drinking.  I felt like the issue I had at RTPW i.e. having to pee would be a non issue.  Well after starting, about a mile in, my bladder told me otherwise.  This has now happened every race I have used UCAN before, including the Chicago marathon.  While I love the energy UCAN gives me, and the fact that I don't have to fuel but once during a half, I DO NOT LIKE having to stop to go to the bathroom.  It kills my time and I will never be able to PR with this problem.  I love the lack of sugar I have to take in, but I don't love having to sprint to catch up with the group again post potty break. 

I was lucky this time a porta pot was open when I got to it, and i only wasted about 2 minutes.  It took me about a mile to catch back up with Amy, but I managed to do it.  We ran together till she had to split off around mile 11 to hit the trail for the rest of the full, while I headed back to the hotel/finish area.  Overall, the course was pretty hilly and challenging, but fun.  We had full sun for some time, so I did stop at pretty much every aid station for water.  I wanted to play it safe and not dehydrate.  About mile 10 or so, the clouds came back and so did the wind, but it was welcomed because it cooled us down.  

 We were all smiles at the end for sure.  Super cute BIG medal, lots of post race food and BEER!  We had noticed that the traffic was quite backed up of people trying to get out of the parking areas, so we headed back over to the expo to rest and get medals engraved and our finisher's certificate.
 We were both pretty spent.  That course was tough, and we were feeling it. After much water, rest, and stretching, we headed back over to Mel's mother in law's house to shower and eat lunch.

Overall, I am very pleased that the new RD moved the race. The course was a challenge, but who wants a super easy course?  RTPW is pretty flat and perfect for a big PR if that is what you are after.  I LOVED the bigger expo and the fact that we could come back into the hotel post race and hang out.  If I could consume beer post running, I sure would have, because they had several options, as well as food to eat that included chicken sandwiches.  They had many nice places for finished runners to sit and imbibe or stand and imbibe.  Not going to lie, the parking was a mess, but I have noticed that the RD is going to explain why this was an issue when it was clearly marked that it wouldn't be.  While I had no where to be post race and could hang out, I know there where those that needed to go to work, or get on the road to get home.  Many have posted some pretty bad reviews and while they have every right to be mad and honest, I think some of the reviews are pretty harsh.  Having been witness to what the RD for Wicked goes through every year just to put on a race, I am never going to criticize an RD and their decisions ever again.  There are so many variables that an RD has to go through including working with the city the race is in and the PD and volunteers.   For that reason, the Garmin RD and race for that matter earned much respect from me.  I look forward to next year and now the decision to NOT do the Heartland Series just became super hard:)

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