Just Run Half Marathon Race Recap

Half marathon #9 is in the books.  This was another relatively local event for me.  The race is in Stevens Point, which is only about an hour from my house.  You may remember that Tim and I did a duathlon in Stevens Point last weekend.

This race started at 8:00.  I left my house a little before 6:00 and headed over to Stevens Point.  I was glad that I gave myself a little extra time, because my GPS led me awry.  It decided that my destination was actually about 3 miles from where I wanted to be.  I pulled over and did a bit of quick research on my phone and was able to enter in a different address and I made it there in time. 

I parked the car and headed over to get my race packet.  The race finished at Pioneer Park and that is were all the registration stuff was set up.  The ducks were hanging out waiting for us.    Registration was really easy.  I got my bib and my shirt and a bag with the usual advertising and granola bar.  I headed back to my car to drop everything off and to put some more sunscreen on.  Then I came back to the park to find the bathroom.  I love have a real bathroom before a race.  The only problem with the location of the registration tent, was that it was all on the grass and the grass was still wet.  I started the race with wet feet. 

Even though the shirt is cotton, instead of tech, I really like it.  It is organic cotton (does that matter?) and it is super soft.  And I like the design and the fact that there aren’t a bunch of sponsors plastered all over the back.  Instead…a nice quote.  It is hard to tell from the photo, but the shirt is a cream color and the writing is a dark blue.

About 15 minutes before the start of the race, the Sweet Adelines sang the National Anthem.  This is a group of about 6-8 ‘mature’ women in matching outfits who sang in really beautiful harmonies.  Then there was a short walk to the bridge where the starting line was located.  Although, there was nothing to indicate that it was an actual starting line.  The MC mentioned that the ‘official’ starting line was the light pole next to the speakers.  That is just how small races work. 

There was a brass trio that played a little processional music and then there was a horn and we were off.

The 5K and the half marathon started at the same time but went opposite directions after the bridge.  This was not marked and some people ended up having to cut across an intersection because they went the wrong way.  A sign at the end of the bridge would solve that problem.  I know that the announcement was made during the pre-race information, but sometimes people are talking or listening to their music and they might miss it.

My goal was to take it pretty easy during this race.  We started out running through the UW Stevens Point campus and there was a guy playing a big xylophone-type thing.  I actually stopped my music so I could hear him.  It was really interesting.  I had remembered reading that there would be music along the course.

After going through campus, we turned to head toward the Schmeeckle Reserve.  We ran through the same area last weekend.  We took a different set of trails this time, but it was still nice.  If I lived in Stevens Point, I think I would like to run on that trail.

We came out of the Reserve at the same point we went in.  We turned and started running past the golf course and headed out on the same roads that I had biked on during last weekend’s duathlon.  We were heading out on an out and back section that went through a subdivision and then down the road for a ways until the turn around point. 

It was shortly after coming out of the Reserve, that I started to have some GI issues.  This is a chronic problem for me, but I have been relatively lucky that I haven’t had too many race day issues. I tried adjusting my fueling.  I was only taking very small bites of my craisins, but it wasn’t helping the problem.  I ended up stopping at my 7.75 to use the porta potty.  My stomach just wasn’t happy with me.  I tried to get back into a rhythm after that, but my stomach was still off.  I knew there wasn’t another porta potty until mile 10.5 and by the time I got there, I figured I should stop again.  I was afraid I was going to throw up along the side of the trail.  I stopped eating anything after about 8.5 miles in the hopes that I wouldn’t throw up.  I don’t know if it was the heat that got to me, or if I had eaten something that just didn’t agree with me.

There were musicians all along the course.  Not the typical bands that you would normally see, either.  The Sweet Adelines were singing somewhere between miles 4 and 5.  There was a young man (junior high or high school) playing his cello at one of the water stops.  The same brass trio that was at the beginning, was at two other points along the course.  I also heard a clarinet, a string quintet, a french horn, a pep band and a couple others.  I really liked this aspect of the course.

The course itself was really flat.  There weren’t really any hills to speak of.  It would be a great course to try to set a PR.  However, the course did measure short.  My Garmin measured it at 12.97.  The course was also pretty boring.  There just wasn’t much to look at.  There were a lot of open spaces and very few spectators. 

The end of the course came through the park, along the river.  That part was actually quite nice.                               Contrary to the map, I did not run the end of the course through the river!

  You can tell by looking at my splits when I stopped at the porta potties.  I figure it was about 2 minutes each time.  That would have given me a better finishing time…assuming I would have finished.  Either way, I’m fine with my time.  My ‘official’ time was 2:00:02.

The post race festivities were set up at the same place as the registration area.  They had the typical food: chocolate milk, Gatorade, water, bagels, bananas, oranges, granola bars, cookies.  I grabbed a chocolate milk and alternated drinking that with a couple cups of gatorade. 

I am a very salty sweat-er and I was covered in white salt when I finished.  I knew that I needed to get some salt into my system.  I also had a couple orange slices, half a banana and I quarter of a bagel.

I took a look at the results-they were posting them very quickly-and then headed off to the car.  The YMCA was allowing runners to use the showers and I needed to get cleaned up.  The drive to the YMCA only took a few minutes.  On the way there, I got to see the UWSP men’s cross country team working out.   They are really fast!

The shower was wonderful.  I felt amazing to be clean.  I headed to a gas station to get some more water and grabbed some coffee, too, before heading home.

I ended up finishing as the 22nd female overall (out of 63) and 11/23 in the 30-39 age group.

Even though this wasn’t a goal race for me, and considering I had some GI distress, I am still coming away with a lot of positives.  My legs felt great the entire race.  I think taking a couple weeks of easy miles was the right thing to do.  My body needed an opportunity to recharge a little and I could really tell the difference.  There were a lot of times that I would look at my watch and see that I was running faster than the pace I wanted to.  I was hoping to come in around 2:05.  Granted, I came in faster than that (and it would have been even faster without the two stops), but I wasn’t pushing too hard and my legs felt really good. 

Pros:

*Flat course.  This course has PR potential.

*Music.  I loved seeing the different kids playing their instruments along the course.

*Volunteers.  The volunteers at the aid stations and at the intersections were wonderful.  They were very encouraging.  There seemed to be quite a few kids volunteering and I love that!

*Post race.  I loved the efficiency with which they posted the results.  The food spread was great.  The park was a great place to hang out post race-very family friendly.

*Showers.  Thank you to the YMCA for letting us use the shower facilities.  That is such a great perk after a really hot race.

*Something for everyone.  There was a half marathon walk that started at 7:00.  There was also a quarter mile kid’s run that started at 7:30.  The 5K and half marathon started at the same time. 

Cons:

*Short course.  I really don’t understand how the course could be short.  It seems that if you have an out and back section, you can just lengthen that section to make the course accurate.  The turn around for the out a back was literally in the middle of the road…not at an intersection.  So it would be a very easy fix to accurately mark the course.

*Crowd support.  There was very little crowd support.  There was occasionally a family who would be standing at the end of their driveway, or a few people at an intersection.  But, overall, very little crowd support.  I just like bigger events with more fans.

*Medal.  Pretty generic.                            

 

Overall Grade: B-

I just really have a hard time with courses that aren’t accurately marked.  But, I liked running through the Reserve and the course is really flat.  The post race atmosphere was fun.  I certainly would have stayed longer if I had the kids along.  I may do this race again in the future.  I think it would be a good one for Tim to do.

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7 thoughts on “Just Run Half Marathon Race Recap

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  6. Nice run, Heather…a 2 hour flat HM on a hot day is no slouch!!

    A few thoughts: Do you need to eat during a HM? Would your stomach to better with nothing?

    Ain’t it great to get a shower!! So good to drive home clean!!

    Garmins can be off on the distance…I wouldn’t read too much into that discrepancy.

    I loved the “Start at the light post” quote!!! Wonderful stuff in small races.

    Enjoy your weekend and have a good 10K on Monday!

    • I’ve thought about going sans food for a half. But then I remember a race I did a few weeks ago when my stomach started growling around mile 11! 🙂 I have a few more HMs to test different fueling options.

      I checked with a couple other people after the race and their GPS marked the race distance short as well. And someone else mentioned that they had done the race last year and the course was short. Oh well. I guess I can just hope that they will fix it for the future.

      I think every race in the summer should offer showers. It was the best!

      Good luck on your race Monday!!

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