Monday, May 16, 2016

Heartland Series Recap 2016

Time for a short recap of the Heartland Series.  Of course if you want a more in depth review of each, click on the name of each race and it will take you to my recap.  If you have been with me for a while, you know that I have battled a mysterious foot issue since February 1st.  While it has gotten better, it still flares up and I have to manage it.  Once I got the green light from Ortho that nothing was broken or going to break, we made the decision to go ahead with road miles versus pool and bike miles and just no intensity.  Because of the lack of intensity, I had to move my A race goal to the last race, which is the toughest course in my opinion.  I want to say a HUGE thank you before I start to several people.  Doug at Body First kept my body happy through some tough massage, and talked some good sense into me several times.    My coach, Coach Jenny listened to me lament through this whole injury and constantly helped me change my training plan.   Lastly, my BRF Melly Mel for also listening to me research and obsess about what this stupid foot thing could be.  I can be persistent when I have a hunch, even if it is wrong, and I will try ANYTHING to make it better, right or wrong.  These three kept me sane and yelled at me when I needed it, and for that I thank you all dearly.

Rock the Parkway:

Normally my A-race because the course, in my opinion, is super flat compared to the other three, and has nice wide, closed roads for running.  I would say this is a beginner friendly course for sure.  The race is an out and back, but on different sides of the parkway, so you at least get different views.  The weather is always iffy, since it is early spring.  This year it was freezing cold, but it has been really super hot.  The parking is really nice and easy, since they have a nice big parking garage right behind the race start now.  This is a race I will continue to do even if I don't do the Heartland Series next year.  A perfect race to try and meet your race goals for the spring (I ran a 2:10 this year, but got my half PR last year of 2:06).  Great post race food and drink and music.  Beautiful LARGE medal that you can have engraved onsite.  Free downloadable pictures that were put up quickly, and are searchable by bib number or name.

Not going to lie, in the past this was not my favorite race.  The past two years I had done this race had hail and thunderstorms hit during the race.  Not the race's fault at all.  The post race was always kind of puny, and they had even run out of stuff for runners post race pretty quickly.  NOT so this year.  I am not sure what they will do next year (i have heard they will move it back to it's original location) but I LOVED the location and the race course this year.  Challenging hilly course, GREAT post race food and party, and a much bigger expo for packet pick up.  I really liked the new RD and his desire to make this a great race, and hope even if they change the course next year that they still at least have packet pick up at the hotel again so they can have the big expo.  Mel and I loved the new challenges that the course brought this year, so will kind of be sad to see it change again (possibly), but many runners complained and said they wouldn't be back if it didn't change:(.  We hung around afterwards and just enjoyed the post race party, something we never do, and even got cool finisher's certificates printed for free. Yeah, parking was kind of bad, not because there wasn't any, but only because the lots closest to the race start/finish were blocked in until the race was pretty much over.  That was totally our fault for parking there, there were many lots away from the start/finish that had a shuttle bus.  We had no where to go so we just stayed until they started letting cars out, no skin off of our back.   This year we had free downloads of pictures, where previously we had to buy the pictures, or they didn't have a photographer at all.  There was no searchable function and the pictures were NOT in the albums based on time, but I managed to find a couple of me after several hours of searching (and I am NOT kidding).  Overall, I think this race changed for the better, but I have no clue what they will do next year. My time was 2:12, and I think that was reflective of the heat and challenging course, but the fact that my foot let me complete this race made me happy for whatever time I got.  

This race has always had my heart.  The course is challenging and usually the weather is slightly hot and humid.  That never has bothered me, because this race knows how to do it RIGHT!   The FB page is very active, the website is super fun to visit, and the merch they have pre race is AMAZING!  I  hope to follow their plan of getting people excited for race day for Wicked :)  The post race party is something unrivaled.  I also heard they had a carb party this year as well the night before.  This race is a fund raiser for the Catholic school and I think every grandma and mom bakes, cooks, fries, stuffs, makes something yummy for the after party.  I so wish I could eat post race, because I would go and stuff my face.  Parking is always easy, either by parking at the school, or parking in designated streets and being bused in.  They communicate it VERY well as far as what is going to happen.  This year, there was also some road construction and they made sure to let us know in advance.  We came super early just to avoid any snags, and had no problems.  The race course had changed to the course I did the first year of the Heartland Series in 2014, but it was equally as challenging.  The name of the game is HILLS.  The ONLY reason I got a PR was the weather was very cool, and there was NO humidity.  The medal was super cute, as the queenie medals always are, and the post race spread was amazing.  Melly mel ate some yummies, and I got my chocolate milk and a sweet roll.  I also got my Heartland Series Jacket, and yes, I almost slept in it last night.:)  As always, they have tons of picture opportunities, and even had a photo booth this year.  I assume they will have free downloads of pictures like always, and i can't wait to see them since i got a PR of 2:05:10.  I will be honest in that this is not a great course for your first time, but the pre race and post race may be worth it to erase the memory of the tough course.
Overall, I am not going to lie, the decision to do or not do the Heartland Series next year will be tough. I figured I would be done after this year, so I could do a marathon in the spring next year, but now I am on the fence.  I have gotten use to doing these series in the spring and may just have to keep doing them:)  Time will tell.  

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