The day started with a 5:00 a.m. wake up call. I took a quick shower, ate my usual breakfast of white rice with some cinnamon and sugar, and even had some time to scroll through my facebook newsfeed. Shortly after 6:00, my mom pulled into the driveway and we headed out to Chippewa Falls.
The drive took about an hour and we found a very convenient parking spot at the YMCA. After making the first of three bathroom stops, I went into the gym for packet pickup. This is a relatively small event. Packet pick up was a breeze.
The event consisted of several races. There was a 200 yard dash, 1 mile run, 4 mile run and half marathon. The two shorter races started at 7:30 and the two longer races started at 8:00. There were a lot of families there with different members participating in different events. I love the family friendly atmosphere. There were even some 4-legged participants.
Having the start-finish at the YMCA was great. There were indoor bathrooms, plenty of room for people to hang out. They had a nice sound system set up for announcements. They did a pretty nice job of organizing this event.
My friend, Bryon, was there. He was also doing the half marathon. He is much faster than me. He is much faster than a lot of people. He is also one of the most encouraging people I know.
The half marathon and the 4 mile run started at the same time.
My mom was standing off to the side and I tried to smile to get a nice photo!
The weather really couldn’t have been more perfect. There was very little breeze. It was overcast and not too warm. I actually kept my sweatshirt on until a few minutes before the race started.
(The half marathon follows the red and black markers)
The course started going slightly uphill and then took a left at a golf course. We headed out of town on a county highway. Somewhere before the 2 mile mark, the 4 mile racers turned off and the half marathoners kept going. Running through the country was peaceful, but there weren’t many spectators. I like spectators. They give me energy!
I knew that I had gone out too fast in the first mile, so I tried to find a comfortable pace after that. I was trying to finish this race somewhere in the vicinity of 2:05. I kept looking at my watch and I would see high 8:00 or low 9:00 pace. I kept telling myself to slow down. First, I knew that there was a hill coming up. Second, I didn’t want to work too hard in this race because I want to go for a PR next weekend.
After a few miles, we made a left hand turn and that is where the hill was. It was a bit deceiving. I slowed my pace and made it up the hill, only to make a slight turn and be confronted with the rest of the hill. Tricky! And, it was a tough hill. If it had been later in the race, I might have resorted to walking, but my legs were still pretty fresh. I just slowed my pace and pushed on.
As you can see by the elevation profile, what goes up…must come down! And we did. Quickly. I must say that this was the scariest downhill I have ever run. It was really steep. I’m a big fan of letting gravity help me in my quest for speed. But this was a bit much. At one point, I remember being so thankful that it wasn’t raining. If that road had been wet, or slippery at all, I most certainly would have walked. As it was, I was putting on the breaks for most of this hill. I was nervous that one false step would lead to me falling head over heels down this hill. My mile split on the uphill-10:04. My mile split on the downhill-8:34.
Getting to the bottom of the hill, I tried to settle back into my ‘easy’ pace. But the downhill had tricked me into running faster and my legs just continued that pace. I had to keep telling myself to take it easy.
The course continued through the countryside for a bit more. Most of the spectators were cattle. They didn’t seem to appreciate how hard we were working. I was reminded that I should always take an allergy pill on race mornings. While it is peaceful to run through the countryside, it also irritates my sinuses.
I got to the halfway point at exactly an hour. I knew I was running faster than I wanted to be. I also started to notice that the toenail on my pinky toe on my right was rubbing against my 4th toe. I started trying to wiggle my toes into a different position. I didn’t want to end up with a blister. When I checked it out after the race, I had a small cut on my 4th toe. Just a reminder to check out your feet before you race!
Around mile 10, we had finished the big loop and headed back toward town. We turned off on the same turn that the 4 mile runners had taken. This took us through Irvine Park. I had never been to this park, but it was very pretty. It was open to traffic, was was a little nerve-wracking because the road was very windy, and it was very wooded. Some of the turns made it difficult to see if anyone was coming.
As I was running through the park, I had a really hard time keeping any sort of consistent pace. I think the curvy roads made it even more difficult to gauge my pace. There were some really pretty areas of the park. I saw a lot of people out walking their dogs or hanging out with their kids. It was a beautiful day for it.
I also saw a white buffalo! At first, I thought it was one of those big, white beef cows. But the horns were the wrong size. And I couldn’t figure out why the cow would have so much facial hair and a hump back. As I got closer, I realized that it was an actual white buffalo. All the other buffalo in the field were brown. I think I spent the entire time running past them, with my head turned in that direction, just staring at the white buffalo. I’m lucky I didn’t trip and fall.
I made a conscious effort to slow down during the last couple miles. I knew I was running at a faster overall pace than I had intended. About a half mile from the end, I saw Bryon biking toward toward me. He told me I had about 3 minutes to the finish line. I looked down at my watch and saw that it said 1:56. What the heck? I picked up the pace and tried to chase down that 2:00 mark.
Officially: 2:00:33. 12/34 in the 30-39 age group.
Overall, I think I did okay. I didn’t stick within my plan for the day. I probably should have taken it a bit easier, but that is hard when you feel so good. I did notice that my back hurt on the downhill sections. It is still sore today.
One of the things I really liked about this race was that they had the local high school football team working the water stations. There were a lot of water stations…pretty much every 1.5-2 miles. The football players were out there in their uniforms handing out water and cheering on the runners. It was great to see them out there. Granted, there were a few who looked like they had been dragged from their beds too early on a Saturday morning, but I’m sure the coaching staff was encouraging their participation. And there were a few others who really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After the race, they had water and bananas and a yummy trail mix set out for the runners. But there was no finishers medal. The shirt was okay. At least it is a tech shirt, but I don’t know how much I’ll wear it. I’m not sure fluorescent green is my color.
After the race, I grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and then went to take a shower. I was able to get cleaned up pretty quickly and by the time I was done, they had the results posted on the side of the building.
I said goodbye to Bryon, and my mom and I headed over to the Leinenkugel’s brewery for our tour! I can’t think of a better thing to do after running 13.1 miles. We learned about the process of brewing, we saw some cool parts of the plant, and we sampled some yummy beers.
Clockwise from upper left: Lemon Berry, Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Sunny Bear (4/5 Sunset Wheat, 1/5 Berry Weiss)
*Easy packet pick up. Well organized.
*Inexpensive-This is the least expensive half marathon I’ve done this year. (I don’t count the Red, White and Boom because we had a discount code for that one.)
*Start/Finish area. Indoor bathrooms and free showers.
*The course was very well marked. There were volunteers at each intersection and signs along the way through Irvine Park.
*Lots of aid stations.
*No medal. Runners love medals. This is the second half marathon I’ve done this year with no finishers medal.
*No porta potties. I don’t understand how there can’t be porta potties along a half marathon. You have to understand that running gets things moving. Porta potties are a MUST! I was fortunate enough to not need them, but I did see one poor guy who had to ask a spectator if he could go use their bathroom.
*No photographer. I like being able to see photos from the event.
Overall Grade: B-
Porta Potties and a finisher’s medal would raise the grade.
I don’t know if I would do this race again. It fit well into this year’s goal of 13 half marathons. It is an inexpensive local race, but it isn’t really conducive to a PR attempt and there are other races that happen the same weekend that I would like to do. And, there’s no bling!
But, I would recommend it. It has a race for everyone. And it is during Pure Water Days, so there is a lot of other stuff going on in town after the run. You can always try the brewery tour!