This race started off with almost a 3 hour drive. Two Rivers is not a ‘local’ race location for me. But, the race registration was cheap and I had a place to stay. On top of that, I had mostly finished my homework for the week, so I didn’t even feel that guilty about leaving home for the better part of the weekend.
I made it to Two Rivers and very easily found the high school. Seriously, you can’t miss it. When I went in to get my packet, I was the only one there. I was there during the last 40 minutes of packet pick up and it looked like there were still a lot of people who hadn’t picked up there stuff. There was pick up the morning of the ace, too, so a lot of people were probably planning on taking advantage of that.
The problem with that plan, was that it was stinkin’ freezing! I’m sure the turnout would have been better if the weather had cooperated. I think some people probably waited to see what the weather was going to be like, to decide if they wanted to do registration in the morning. If they stayed home, they probably made the right decision.
This may have been the coldest race I’ve ever done. It certainly felt like it. I wasn’t sure that I had the right clothes on, but I think I did pretty good. I went with a base layer of cuddleduds and compression calf sleeves with my UnderArmor tights over those. On top, I had a tank top, long sleeve tech tee, running jacket and a vest. I wore my hat/neck warmer combo thing and gloves. I tied the entire ensemble together with a green tutu! (Thanks for letting me borrow your tutu, Jess!)
If you look really close, you can see my green tutu peeking out from behind that guy in the black.
I got to the high school for the race about 7:30. I snagged an awesome parking spot! I gathered my tutu, bib, and vest and headed inside. I knew that I would need a pitstop in the bathroom before the race started. I got inside and there were plenty of people milling around. I made my way to the bathroom, prepared to wait in line. to my surprise…NO LINES! Awesome!
Everyone was staying inside as long as possible. At about 7:55, someone yelled out that it was time to head to the starting area. There were some announcements at the beginning, but I couldn’t hear anything. I know that they had a PA system because I heard them testing it when I first pulled into the parking lot. And they were using it as people were crossing the finish line. So, I really don’t know why they chose not to use it for the pre-race information.
Then, we were off. I was grateful that my feet weren’t the blocks of ice they were at the Point Bock Run. But, it was really cold. I was a lot of people holding their hands up the their faces and breathing through their gloves. It is such a shock to your system to breathe in such cold air. I pulled my neck warmer up over my mouth and breathed through that on and off for the first couple of miles. And, one thing I learned…I need sunglasses. The sun was glaring off the mass quantities of snow still on the ground in mid-March. (and the cold wind really made my eyes burn.)
We started at the high school on Hwy 42 and took the south road, before turning and going north. Not the most exciting course ever.
My fueling strategy lately has been pretty unconventional. I stuck to my prerace ritual of having plain white rice for breakfast. Just before I got out of the car at the high school, I had a bite of a Larabar. During the race, I fueled with Craisins. This has become my go-to fuel for long runs. It doesn’t give me any GI problems and I seem to have enough energy. The biggest problem was getting them out of the ziploc bag in my pocket. I opened the bag before the race started, but my fingers were numb and my gloves gave me even less dexterity. At some points, I felt like Hansel and Gretel…leaving a trail behind me.
My plan for this race was to see if I could maintain my half marathon goal pace of 9:09 (or better). Once I got started, I realized that each mile was its own mini-race. I just needed to make sure that each mile was within my goal pace and then I would finish under the time I wanted. So, after each mile, when my Garmin beeped, I looked down and checked the time to make sure I had ‘won’ that mile.
Pretty good! The only mile I ‘lost” was mile 5. I did notice that I started getting a bit fatigued around then. I had to get my head back in the game. I wish that I was better at dialing in a consistent pace. My splits are pretty even, but my pace was all over the place. I would check my watch and see 8:30 and a minute later I would see 9:30. I just can’t seem to get into a zone where I hold the same pace.
The last 1.5 miles were the most challenging miles I’ve run in a LONG time. We turned a corner to head back to the high school and suddenly we were running straight into a head wind…and there was a nice, gradual incline. It was brutal. I wanted to quit and walk, but I had to know that when the going got tough, I could still pull it out. I wanted to be sure that when I got to the starting line of that half marathon next month, I could draw on the experience of toughing it out during this race. And…I’m just not a quitter.
I was pretty happy with my race and 6th place in my age group isn’t too shabby….although there were only 118 total finishers. Again, if the weather had been nicer, I’m sure more people would have shown up. The course actually wasn’t too lonely because there was also a three-person relay option.
If I am able to keep this pace for my half marathon, I will finish in just under 1:59.
After the race, I went to a local coffee shop with a friend (and her totally awesome three-year-old son). The kid who made my coffee turned out to be the son of my high school English teacher. Talk about making me feel old. I remember when that kid was born! Now, he’s making a pretty good latte. 😉
*Great volunteers. Seriously, it was so cold. I didn’t want to be outside, and I was running.
*Super easy packet pickup
*Indoor area for pre-race waiting and post race food/awards
*Other than a bit of ice/slippery spots at the beginning and end, the course was clear of snow. Considering it had snowed in the past 2 days, I think they did a great job making sure that the course was safe.
*Each mile was marked
*Water stations were well staffed and there were cones on the road with signs letting us know when a water station was coming up.
*Frozen water. One of my water station cups was kinda like drinking a slushie.
*Unisex shirts. Mine is huge on me.
*Post race food. Dry bagels, no cups of water, only Gatorade. And it would have been really nice to have something WARM.
*Kinda boring course that measured just a touch long. It would have been nice to run along the water more. We only saw it for a very short time.
*Couldn’t hear pre-race announcements. Hope I didn’t miss anything interesting.
*Did I mention it was cold?
*It didn’t seem like there was an official race photographer. A couple people posted some photos on the race’s facebook page. Eventually, some photos showed up on the race website (which is where I found mine). But, there is no search function to find your photos and it seemed that the photos were very heavily focused on the winners.
Overall grade: B
I think the race was well-organized. The course could be made more interesting. I think it is an event that would benefit from being even more inclusive. In addition to the relay, maybe a kid’s run or something. I’m sure this event will grow next year.
I don’t think I will do this race again. It is a long drive and there are other races that are held the same weekend that I would like to do. But, I am glad I did it. It is certainly a race a won’t soon forget.