Half marathon #12 is in the books. Only one more to go to complete my goal for the year. More importantly, this was Tim’s second half marathon of the year (ever).
I wasn’t really sure what type of race strategy Tim was going to employ going into this event. I knew that I was just going to run with him and let him lead the way. I would be there to encourage him if he needed it. As it turned out, he didn’t need much encouragement.
It was cold! Like 33 degrees. That’s cold. We had all our winter running gear on and I was still cold. I never really warmed up.
We started the morning by driving to the Chula Vista resort where they had free parking and a shuttle bus to take us the one mile to the start/finish line. There was a building where we could wait inside and leave our gear bag.
The full and half marathons started at 8:00, with the 5K at 8:15. I was so thankful for a warm place to wait…and real bathrooms with NO LINES! Even though we were able to wait inside, my fingers were still cold when we headed outside to the starting area.
Tim had decided that he was going to start pretty slow with the hope of being able to run the entire race and not have to take walk breaks. I thought this was an awesome goal and once the gun started, we took off!! Really slow.
The pace turned out to be pretty perfect for what we wanted to accomplish. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get my fingers to warm up. They were frozen the entire race.
We had a great time winding our way through town and then out into the country. We knew we were near the back of the pack, but it was fine. It is such a different mind-set for me to just run the race and not be so focused on a time goal.
Around mile 4, I started having some stomach problems. We probably shouldn’t have had ice cream the night before. I saw a porta potty and ran ahead of Tim. I had to significantly pick up my pace to catch up with him afterwards. After the turnaround, I stopped at the same porta potty on the way back. Pit stops take a bit longer when you can’t feel your fingers!
The hills on this course are rather significant, but we just kept plugging along. Our pace would slow a bit on the uphills, but because we were still running, we ended up passing quite a few people. If I had been ‘racing’ this event, the hills probably would have demoralized me. But because I was just having a good time, the hills didn’t really bother me that much.
I think someone was out to get me during this race. Somewhere in the first couple miles, I narrowly avoiding being hit in the head by a falling apple. It landed about a foot from me and scared the crap out of me! Later in the race, somewhere after the turnaround point, I got beaned by a falling acorn! It hit me right in the chest. What are the chances?!? And towards the end of the race, I had a very wet, falling leaf fall onto my face. Maybe this is why I don’t do outdoorsy-type things!
As we neared the 10 mile point, I did a check-in with Tim to see how he was doing. We had been maintaining roughly an 11:00+ pace, and I wanted to see if he was feeling like he wanted to pick it up at the end, or just hold steady. He said he was doing okay, but during the next mile, I could tell that things were getting a little harder for him.
Once we got to the 12 mile mark, I told him that he could do anything for one mile. That is one of my mantras that I use when things get tough. I think it helped him toward the end. We made it the entire race without having to stop and walk and during the last two miles, we passed a lot of people. That is a great feeling!!
Yes, we are trying to do a fist-bump as we cross the finish line. Tim likes to make the most of any photo-op!
After we crossed the finish line, we got our medals and our cowboy hats. Then we quickly grabbed a couple cups of Gatorade and a bottle of water. They had bananas, full-sized bagels and granola bars at the finish line. I grabbed a banana and a granola bar. I didn’t take a bagel, because I didn’t want to eat a whole one. I ate half the banana, but it was half frozen and more green than I typically like my bananas. We headed over to the beer area and got our free beers. As is usually the case with a free post-race beer, I drank about half an inch and dumped the rest. I wish they had smaller cups, so I could just get the little bit that I want and not be so wasteful.
We headed back into the building to grab our bag and warm up a bit.
Cowboy hats don’t fit well with ponytails.
After we warmed up and went to the bathroom, we stood by the doors to wait for the shuttle back to where we parked. And we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more. I was starting to get worried that we were going to be late for our late check out at the hotel. Finally, the shuttle came and a bunch of stinky, sweaty, shivering runners climbed on board.
We headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and to pack up our stuff. We stopped at IHOP for lunch on the way out of town
Out and back courses are pretty dull. This one was too.
Those two big spikes are when I had to make a pit stop.
Don’t believe the total time from that chart. My Garmin got turned back on at some point after we finished. Our actual finish time was 2:26:56.
The half marathon had a total of 505 finishers and the full marathon had 107. There were only about 30 or so runners in the 5K. I guess the 5K had some navigation errors and a good sized group of the leaders turned back too early and were disqualified.
*Tim ran a half marathon!
*Well marked course. Each mile was marked with a flag. Water stations had big blue flags, so you could see them as you approached. Each corner had signs showing which way to turn (or if you were supposed to go straight). The more major intersections were marshalled by volunteers and law enforcement. I even saw one Wrong Way sign at one corner.
*Indoor waiting area. It was so great to have a warm place to wait for the race to start. And having ‘real’ bathrooms with warm, running water was such a luxury before a race. Indoor gear check was a big bonus too, since rain was in the forecast.
*Swag. I don’t like country music at all, but getting a cowboy hat and a belt buckle makes the race unique. This is the 12th half marathon I’ve done this year and this race takes the cake for best swag. The shirt was okay, too. I don’t have a lot of long sleeve tech tees.
*Out and back course. I’ve never been a huge fan of an out and back course. And this one was pretty boring. The vast majority of the course was out in the country and it was just pretty dull. Because it was so rural, there were very few spectators. The roads were also heavily banked in some spots. I noticed that my right hip started to get a little sore toward the end and I think it was because of the uneven roads.
*Out of water. One of the water stops ran out of cups. This was a pretty big deal. While the weather was cold, runners still needed to hydrate. Tim put off taking his second gel because there wasn’t any water to wash it down.
*Shuttle system. While it was great to have free parking and a shuttle to/from the start/finish area, they really needed to utilize more than one small hotel shuttle. There were several hundred runners and using one shuttle that had 13 seats (we crammed more people in, standing) wasn’t the best. There should have been several shuttles-or just get a big yellow school bus that can fit 50 people.
Overall Grade: B-
This race is called the Honky Tonk. Other than the race swag (and a country band at the finish line), there wasn’t anything ‘country’ about the race…no music along the course, or any themed décor. The course wasn’t anything special, although the few spots along the river were pretty. The race was well-organized, but I expect that with a professional event organizer.
Overall, I’m glad I did it, I’m even more glad we used a Groupon for the registration. I’m thrilled that Tim ran his second half marathon! I don’t think I would ever do this race again. There are just too many other races to do!