Good Riddance, 2013

2013 has not been the best year. The year started with the sudden death of my grandmother, who I was very close to (my mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was 8). It also included my husband having numerous medical issues, numerous bad luck type expenses (major car issues, part of my bike being stolen, etc.), and me having to give up on my goal of earning a second master’s degree. I’m sure I’m actually forgetting bad stuff in that list, to be honest. The year also had highlights, though, so I thought I’d go through a few of them to remind myself that while it was probably one of my worst years, if I look at the big picture rather than focus on these small problems, the year has been pretty good!

January

  • I finished my first quilt! My grandmother taught me how to sew and got me into quilting. Normally I just quilt small things (table runners, purses, etc.) but she bought me the materials to make my own quilt and after I found out that she had cancer (October 2012) I made a goal to finish it before she passed away (don’t worry, I did, and she saw it over skype). In 2014 I plan to finish some of the quilts she had been working on.

The awesome quilt. It had some issues with the binding, but whatever, it was my first quilt.

  • I returned to graduate school! I had taken off fall semester of 2012 for my husband’s medical issues and was able to return for both semesters in 2013. Leaving once and returning gives me hope that I will return and finish eventually!

February

River on her first day home, being a pit-ball.

March

  • Every year my roommate and I try to throw an epic fancy cheese and wine party. We had it this year for her birthday and as an added bonus made it a masquerade!

Selfie in my sweet masquerade mask.

  • Ran my first 5k! You can read all about it on my race report!

April

  • I replaced my running shoes for the first time.

  • Played hookie from an academic conference to go see Sue (and other, lesser dinosaurs and I suppose a few other things) at the Chicago Field Museum.

  • Ran my 2nd 5K and almost broke 25 minutes (I have done it a few times in training, but never officially in a race).

Pre-race selfie.

  • Won an outstanding teaching assistant award for the political science department. Mostly because I had the patience to not yell at kids who didn’t know that Obama is not a dictator (regardless of your opinion on him, he still has to deal with Congress, so he is not factually a dictator). Hopefully my roommate wins outstanding independent instructor award this year for the patience she exhibited dealing with kids who were not only ignorant but argumentative about it (like, yelling at her for displaying statistics from reputable sources because they just “can’t be true” levels of ignorant and argumentative, and that is just the tip of the iceberg).

May

  • Independently taught my first upper-level statistics course. It was intense to teach 2 hours a day for 4 weeks but I loved it!

Bathroom mirror selfie before my first day of teaching.

  • Belle and River were introduced (because Kris came to visit in Indiana). Belle did get injured while there due to having a panic attack, but it had a silver lining: River became nicer to her because she was trying to protect her, and I bonded with my students after explaining to them that my poor doggie bled all over their exams.

Belle and River slept on this bed while Kris and I slept on an air mattress.

My roomie observed that this photo shows their true nature: Bellie begging for belly rubs and River slowing encroaching on my space.

Injured Bellie 😦

  • Two friends of mine got married and Kris was able to attend the (awesomely geeky) wedding with me.

Guests were asked to wear their Harry Potter house colors. We represented Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw!

I won the Tardis cookie jar centerpiece (as I said, awesomely geeky) and was gifted the Corgi for watching their furbabies during bachelor/bacherlorette festivities.

June

  • My roommate and I moved into a nice apartment that did not have awful maintenance men who pretend to fix your AC (ours was broken in the old place for 11 months, including months where it was so hot the dog starting throwing up).
  • Kris and I got bicycles!

Don’t worry, I bought a better lock!

  • Ran my first half marathon and beat my goal of finishing in under 2 hours! I don’t actually have any really good pictures of this, as the pro photographer didn’t catch me. There is a picture of me crossing on the post, though.
  • Finally took our delayed honeymoon to New York, where we went from loving to hating Brooklyn in the course of an afternoon and saw Wicked (which was amazing). But seriously, Brooklyn, we could only take so much hipster and you guys were apparently too cool to sell us overpriced craft beers (we were ignored in a bar).

On the Brooklyn Bridge.

They seriously gave us these cups for wine. And filled them with about 1 inch of wine.

July

  • I turned 24. Not the most exciting of ages. Really I just want to be 25 so I can save on car insurance, though I will miss saying that I am in my “early 20s.” At least I got a nice present – a GPS watch!

  • Chopped my hair off! It is so much nicer for running to be able to tuck it into a hat like a dude and wash and dry it in minutes (I can seriously blow dry my hair in under 2 minutes). I also get tons of compliments on it!

  • Kris and I went to another wedding. I mostly am posting these pictures from weddings because Kris and I are adorable. 
  • With my birthday money, I accessorizedmy bike.

August

  • Celebrated our one year wedding anniversary!

Cake from Kris’s family.

September

  • Quit the horrible second Master’s program (this was both good and bad).
  • Acquired my first running injury by falling down a hill (read:cliff) while trail running.

October

  • Ran my second half marathon. Again, it was in the rain and quite unpleasant. At least I didn’t do worse the second time around!

I look so thrilled to be there.

November

  • Made a mini-Thanksgiving for roomie/BFF and I.

  • Road-tripped to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after being stuck in the Cleveland Airport for hours.

Belle hating her harness.

Evidence of civilization.

  • Forced Kris to do his first 5K – a turkey trot – with me in record low temperatures for the area.

December

  • Got to come home to Kris and Belle to celebrate the holidays and got tons of awesome Christmas presents!

  • Kris and I plan to celebrate the new year by hanging out at home with Belle (if there are fireworks we don’t want her to panic) drinking wine and eating butternut squash and black bean enchiladas rather than the traditional pork and sauerkraut (that is the tradition in this area). I don’t really hate sauerkraut THAT much but my family always picks on me about it so I basically don’t eat it out of spite. Amusingly, I told my mom I couldn’t make it because I don’t have a crockpot and then I wound up getting a crockpot from her for Christmas.

See, when you look at it that way, the year doesn’t seem half bad! Not only did I run my first race, but I ran 5 races and was able to maintain my weight loss (well, within a reasonable range of about +/- 5 lbs) all year. Here is to hoping that 2014 is even better. Happy New Year everyone!

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Thanksgiving Break Recap

I technically got back from Thanksgiving break on Sunday, so apologies for procrastinating on putting something up about it. I was just really tired and I’ve been kind of busy this week (the semester is finally wrapping up AND I got an expansion pack for Civilization 5) so I hadn’t gotten around to making a post.


My break started out AMAZINGLY. First, my roommate and I celebrated our own mini-Thanksgiving the night before I left. I think it turned out pretty well considering that I planned it in like one day and made almost nothing from scratch. Except chocolate chip cookie pie (which is unfortunately not pictured). Note: I substitute oatmeal for the nuts, which is the best way to make this recipe. Unless you prefer nuts, which is ok, I guess. Also – warning: NOT HEALTHY AT ALL.

Not sure how I did it, but the crescents turned out quite well. And the prepacked marinated turkey was surprisingly good!

The “best” part came next. I had originally purchased a plane ticket to fly into Harrisburg after my classes ended on Tuesday. Now that I had no classes, I was a little disappointed that I would not be getting in to see Kris until 11 pm. Then, I discovered that I could switch my ticket to another time that day for $75 or less. How exciting – a flight was getting into Harrisburg right after Kris was getting off work AND it was free to change to it. I was super excited – but I should have known better. I was flying, after all, which cannot go well. That is the job of the TSA, after all – to make sure everyone has a miserable experience in airports (or at least I think that is their purpose?).

I ended up missing my connecting flight, meaning that I would be stuck in Cleveland for 5 hours until the already delayed next flight left. It was snowing in Cleveland and freezing rain in central/southeast PA (they were cancelling flights into Philly) so I was quite worried about getting stuck in Cleveland. I obviously wound up crying in the airport and eating a bunch of unhealthy food (I had the worst latte and cupcake ever). At least there was a brewery with giant beers nearby!

My awesome dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Company, where I had a beer named after the burning river incident and they inexplicably COVERED my fries in parsley. I mean, everything tasted great, but that was odd.

I did eventually make it home early… at 10 instead of 11. It was pouring rain in Harrisburg and Belle had a panic attack. I’m sure part of it was her exposure to her new safer car harness.

Look how upset she is 😦

I was also really not looking forward to the drive because of the giant snow/rain storm hitting the east coast. Both of our mothers were sending us thousands of panicked text messages not only about whether I was ever going to make it from Cleveland to Harrisburg but about how we probably shouldn’t drive to Charlotte after all this. We went down 95 instead of 81 though (95 is further east) which only added “1” hour to the trip (like 2 or 3 with traffic) and kept us away from the really bad weather in that part of Virginia. We actually never saw snow once (it stopped snowing in North Carolina right around when we crossed the border). We also got to see some interesting sights by going this way, such as 7 cops with people pulled over in a row near Duke and this really weird redneck/Italian/Mexican part of Charlotte (“Guns & Thrift” was near a Mexican grocery store, and “Scottish Plaza” had nothing but Mexican and Italian restaurants and stores with their names in Spanish). There was at least one good part of the drive: the return to civilization (i.e. the east coast) meant the return of Sheetz (Wawas were also present, but they are the worst)!

Coffee and donuts for our road trip! White chocolate mocha and blueberry fritters are pictured.

We did finally make it to South Carolina where we had a lovely time…other than the weather. Of course because we were coming down from up north they had record low temperatures. Look how bundled up Kris and I were for our Turkey Trot:

Freezing in the car after picking up our packets.

At least the Turkey Trot went well other than the temperatures (I actually NEVER got sweaty the whole time because I didn’t thaw out until like mile 2). Kris ran about the furthest he has ever run in one go, and we got to run through this super swanky neighborhood.  The race was also huge! We watched the start of the 8K and it took 5 full minutes for all the runners to pass us near the starting line! They also had nice medals and t-shirts for everyone (sorry no pic, the medal is in Harrisburg and the shirt is dirty). My only “complaint” is that I would have preferred hot chocolate over ice cold water after the race, but I guess I wouldn’t expect a race in Charlotte to plan for that!

We spent the rest of the break mostly just chilling and doing some light black Friday shopping (I got a jacket for myself and some Christmas presents for others; the only thing we bought on super sale was a video game for Kris’s brother). I decided that for the first time this semester that other than the Turkey Trot I would take a short break from working out as well in order to relax. It was nice, except that coupling that decision with Thankgiving/traveling (I always eat poorly with traveling) lead to me being pretty bloaty upon my return. I think I have nothing to fear, though, considering that my weight is back down to normal despite eating pizza almost every day since returning. Plus, buckeyes are always worth it. Luckily, our drive home was uneventful (we were able to take shorter route) and we were able to enjoy a nice date night (sushi!) before I left the next day. Now I just have to drive back in a week!

Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon Race Report

I’ll start with the good news: I finished in 1:57:34, which is a 15 second PR! It’s not really that big of an improvement, but considering that I was afraid I wouldn’t even break 2 hours with all of my inconsistent paces while training, I am very happy with this time.

Now on to the bad, which is basically everything else. Ok, that is a lie. There were a few other good things. The race was adequately organized: hey had plenty of police present (important later); lots of volunteers; tons of water/gel/bathroom stations; the course was clearly marked; and they had plenty of food afterwards (though the selections were limited). Also, check out my awesome train medal:

Bathroom potato selife.

Close-Up!

So, what was so terrible, then?

Earlier this week, I realized it might be rainy today. What I didn’t realize was that it was going to be dark, 40 degrees, and raining. This caused the majority of my problems. I switched at the last minute from a tee shirt to a long-sleeved tee, at least. I made two poor attire choices, however. First of all, I left my gloves at home. Second, I decided to put my raincoat in my bag at gear check since I would be “too warm” if I wore it in the race. Also, all my money was in the bag that I checked, so when I finally ventured into a store that was selling Purdue gear at the starting area to stay warm, I couldn’t even buy gloves or a hat there, like many of the people were doing (most were just stretching or sitting around). My hands were numb until  mile 4, and then the numbness set back in around mile 8. By the time I was done, my hands were so numb that I couldn’t manage to open my water bottle (used my mouth) or turn the key in the ignition to start my car. I just had to sit there in the car until I warmed up. In general, being cold really hindered me. I was only “warm” for the middle of the race, and the whole time that I was cold, I was really having trouble pushing myself, because I was just really sore and stiff, especially towards the end. My left leg basically never loosened up and now my knee hurts quite a bit, though it has felt better as I have moved around throughout the day. At least this time, there weren’t any people attempting to haul barns through the race, though one person did drive out into the middle of it. Thankfully they were immediately intercepted by a cop!

Look how pleasant the weather was! And yes, it was still this dark when the race started 20 minutes later.

A few other interesting comments about the race:

  • I got a high five from a toddler who was spectating. He had tiny mittens! Squee!
  • When we saw the leader go past after the turnaround, a guy near me said something like “I couldn’t even bike as fast as that lead bike and that guy is running that fast!” This was true for me as well – I don’t know if I could keep up 5:00 miles on a bike for 13.1 miles!
  • The course was FAR less hilly than I expected – even the biggest hills were not very steep, so it wasn’t so bad. I will have to rub this in the face of the friend who was whining about how hilly the race was going to be earlier this week (especially if he still thinks it was hilly).

 

Heritage Trail Race Photos

Just a mini-update to add a couple of photos from my race.

Starting out! It looks REALLY dark here but it just looks that way because it was dawn and cloudy. It wasn’t exactly bright, but we could see. I’m the one in the apparently super-reflective clothes, namely the orange hat.

 

Finishing up! I’m glad they took this from far away – I was so muddy I was almost embarrassed to see the photo. My official chip time was 1:21:06 – we started 20 minutes after the marathoners. I would like to note that the route is actually closer to 7 than 6.55 miles (though that is a still a REALLY slow time due to the mud).

By the way – one more thing. I redact my misgivings about Planet Adventure that I voiced yesterday. I can no longer find that “horror story” I read, so maybe I dreamed about it. They also had all of the results and these photos (for free!) up on their website before I went to bed last night! Amazing!

Wabash Heritage Trail Quarter Marathon Race Report

Holy cow is that title a mouthful!

Before I begin with the long description, I guess I should tell you that it ended up going ok! I came in 6th out of the ladies (22nd out of 51, so I was at least in the top half) with a time of 1:21:06. Keep in mind that the quarter marathon was more like 7 miles than 6.5, by the way. The rain really slowed me down, but it slowed down EVERYONE.

I did trip SEVERAL times, but it only counts if you fall down into the mud, right?

As I’ve been mentioning for the last few days, I was REALLY nervous about this race. I’ve never done a trail race, and especially not one in the rain. I wasn’t quite sure how things would turn out and was even considering not doing the race. After seeing the bright orange shirts, though, I figured I should probably complete the race so that I could wear it. Also, since I was running it with a friend, I figured I shouldn’t make her go alone.

I tried to calm myself down by making sure I was fully prepped for the race. Last night, I packed a bag with a complete change of clothes, a towel, and my water bottle and laid out everything I was wearing for the race.  I’m glad I did this last night because I realized I had no safety pins and had time to go pick some up (By the way, did you know Target has a sewing section? Because that is where they keep the safety pins, FYI). I decided to wear running tights (so as to not scratch up my legs in the woods again), my favorite running shirt, and my running hat. I typically break out my expensive Balega socks for races, but opted not to this time so that I would not ruin them in the mud. I got a plastic bag to put my car keys in (there is a small zipper pocket in my tights for keys) and charged up my GPS watch. I figured that even if I can’t import from it right now, it would be the better option than my phone in the rain.

When I woke up this morning, it was POURING and still dark outside. A quick look at weather.com showed me that the rain was expected to end around 8:15 AM, though, which was good because my race was starting around 8:20. I figured the worst case scenario was light rain rather than the downpour we were currently having. I opted to wear a raincoat over my attire just in case. I was glad I made this decision – I wound up leaving it in the car, but it was able to keep me dry until the rain finally did stop. My hat also prevented my glasses from getting wet, thank goodness! The dark and rain did cause one problem I didn’t expect – parking was kind of a nightmare! They didn’t have enough space at the park where the race was starting for everyone to park, but they were trying to cram as many people in as possible in. I was afraid my car, which has quite pathetic skills when it comes to dealing with rough terrain, would get stuck in the mud if I parked in the grass where others were parking, though, and went to park on the “city streets,” as the race website had encouraged people to do. Battle Ground, IN is about the size of my hometown (read: there isn’t even a gas station), though, so finding on street parking was mildly difficult – not because there were a lot of cars, but because the streets don’t have space for people to park! Plus, it was dark and rainy and I could hardly see where I was going. It was quite unpleasant.

Now, the race was put on by Planet Adventure, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They promised all kinds of race support on their website, which seemed very thorough, but I have heard horror stories (I think I read a story on Reddit once where PA took everyone’s money but then canceled a race and didn’t tell anyone, but I am sure there has to be more to that story). I had only 2 minor complaints, though. The first is that the stuff they gave out is VERY branded. That is not THAT bad, though, as the stuff is pretty cute and I learned at the race that this is sort of one of their “big” events (it was the first trail event they ever did as a company, I think they said) so I am ok with them wanting to brag themselves up. The second complaint is that when I arrived, I noticed a Miller tent. Now, I always hear about these other people running races with beer, but I’ve never been to one, so I was pretty excited, even if it was gross Miller -I’ll take pretty much any free beer! When I got to the finish line, though, no beer was to be found. The only thing at the tent was bottled water. I’m not sure if they were saving beer for the full/half marathoners or if there was just no beer but they had to break out that tent due to the rain. Either way, I don’t consider it a major problem with the race because they never promised beer in the first place, and they did have all of the other support that they promised, such as water/powerade/trail mix stops pretty much every couple miles and great snacks like chocolate milk and bananas at the end (and also for some reason tiny potatoes?).

Bathroom selfie with my race swag. Sorry it is so blurry!

Close-up of the medal. Again, apologies – I am not a photographer. I tried to get River to model it but it was too big for her really and you can’t see it well in the photo. I really like that medal is a leaf – my friend joked that she is glad she did not finish in the top three, because she liked the medal more than the plaque they gave the winners!

They also did a fantastic job marking the course. I say this because they marked it well enough that I never got lost! This is already impressive (I have no sense of direction) but it is even more impressive if you consider that I was alone on the trail for TWO WHOLE MILES. Seriously, I am not sure what happened. When I was nearing the turnaround point, I was near a ton of people, and I was about 10 minutes behind my friend (I knew this because I saw her running back to the finish). After the turnaround, though, I started to pass TONS of people, and after I hit the marker indicating that I was two miles from the finish, I never saw another person, so I was quite nervous I had done something wrong. I also thought that maybe I had sped up a lot but I still finished about 10 minutes behind my friend so I don’t think I did. The only thing I can think is that the other quarter marathoners slowed WAY down. They must have slowed down quite a lot, because the person who “finished” after me was actually the guy in first place for the full marathon (he wasn’t finishing, they just had to run the course 2x so he was reaching his turnaround point). I think a lot of the quarter marathoners were a little underprepared or something. Near mile 2 of the race, we had to cross a creek. It said directly in the race description that we would need to do this. A lot of people were surprised and complaining when we reached it, though, because they had only brought one pair of shoes (who does that for a trail race in the rain?!). Then, after the creek, the trail was basically pure mud for the next mile and half to the turnaround point, which you had to promptly turn around and run/slide through again. I think at this point a lot of the quarter marathoners, many of which had also probably gone out too fast, were just like “Fuck it, I’m walking” because I was ZOOMING past them at my incredible 12:00/mile pace. By this point, I was tired and just wanted to get back, so I tried to run in the weeds and just keep my footing as much as possible. I think I handled the mud fairly well – as my meme indicates, I fell only once, and it was because the mud obscured a branch. I didn’t even get hurt because I fell on nothing but mud. So I just got muddy!

Overall, this was a fun experience. I am now far less nervous about running in the rain and I am glad I have been able to experiment with trail running. Perhaps there will be more trail races in my future!

Race Report: Double Creek Half Marathon

As you can see from yesterday’s post, I was able to accomplish my goal of completing a half marathon in under 2 hours, coming in with a time of 1:57:49! I celebrated with a post-race lunch of pulled pork and hard cider, and afternoon nap, and then an evening of shopping (for my husband, which I love doing because I get to pick out something other than the same old clothes for myself). Then, today I tried to keep my legs from getting stiff by doing a VERY slow 20 minute jog and taking a 4 mile  bike ride with my husband – a test run of his new bike! Both of us are completely new to road bikes, so we are trying to just take it easy and get used to them.

I found him this beauty on Craigslist. Why is it that it was super easy to find a road bike for an average sized male in a mid-sized bike friendly city but hard to find one for a small woman in a small town? I can’t believe how much easier it was to find him a used bike. I literally scoured Craigslist for weeks before going to the LBS, being disappointed, and buying new for myself.

Before discussing the actual race, since this is my first half, I’d like to take a moment to discuss my preparation for it. I am very glad overall with how it worked out. The training program I used (Hal Higdon Novice 2) was feasible for me, though near the end it was really taking its toll on my poor body (I just could not eat enough). I ended up making some mistakes that led to me finishing it early, which gave me 2 extra weeks of really long runs (12 miles or more) and let me sneak in a practice half. This gave me a lot more confidence. I also made sure to pay attention to the advice to try out things I was thinking of doing for the race for several long runs, such as the use of nutrition gummies and trying out different breakfasts (settled on a cinnamon raisin bagel with neufchatel cheese). The morning of the race, I had everything laid out (I knew what I would wear based on what worked best in training), had everything ready to eat, and even had a plan on where I was going to stop and use the bathroom before we got there (I still had to pee in the gross porta-potties due to nerves, though).

Anyway, on to the race report!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’d say one of my biggest beefs with the course was that the hilliness was poorly represented by the elevation profile on MapMyRun. However, despite my protests, this aspect of the course may have actually been beneficial to me. I knew there was a hill – I just thought it was a gradual climb over a long distance rather than several steep up and downhills that slowly went up to the highest elevation (and the uphill 5K at the end I forgot about, which was more of the gradual uphill type thing I was thinking of). Because I knew there was a hill, I made sure to incorporate hills into ALL of my long runs – I was thinking this would give me an advantage because in these long runs I was running up big steep hills, which would surely be more difficult than my half marathon and make running such a “flat” course far easier! I was correct that it advantaged me, but not in the way that I thought. Instead, it only advantaged me because as other runners walked up the hills, I was able to continue (slowly – and I mean slow, at least in comparison to myself, these were 9-10 minute mile splits when my average pace was 8:50) running. Those of us who were able to actually run up the hills were definitely congratulating each other at the tops!

Anyway, I will stop dwelling on the hills so that I can complain about two other things (don’t worry, the good is coming, I just want to get the bad out of the way – let me rant, ok!?).

First, I would say that one poor aspect of their organization was that starting/ending the race was sort of poorly organized. It was completely unclear where the starting line was and I never actually heard anyone announce that we should get going (in fact, no information was being announced). I just sort of walked up to where other runners were standing and saw that there was a finish line there…but no starting line… and hoped we were in the right place. I think I could have started up farther in the group had I been sure of what was going on – the people around me were talking about how they weren’t sure they would be able to run the whole thing because they had not completed their training due to injury or simply had not trained. I may not be fast enough to be at the front, but I should have been in front of people who were less prepared than me. The finish was also a little confusing. Because of issues with road closures (the next thing I will talk about) when I was coming up to the finish, a car was squishing all of the runners together and it was difficult to finish strong with a crowd of people (though some woman I had been playing tag with was able to overtake me in this mess). The times were also being displayed right at the end of the route on a computer making a bit of a traffic jam of volunteers handing out medals and towels, finishers looking at their times, and people trying to get to the water station.

The second problem with the race was that they claimed that the roads would be closed, but I don’t think they were (or if they were supposed to be, it was poorly enforced). There was a sign near the starting area that said something like “slow down – runners on road,” but it really should have said “there are 5 simultaneous biking and running events occurring on this narrow, winding country road right now and you probably aren’t going to be able to get past the participants, spectators, and structures that are all over the road so just turn around.” Perhaps they could have used fewer words, but you can see how their message did not represent what was going on at all. Due to the simultaneous nature of the events (there was also a 5K and 3 different bike rides going on), people were running and riding in both directions, and this became quite tricky with cars trying to go down the road as well. There weren’t any cars at this point, but I’d like to see how it would have worked if runners, bikers, and a car would have encountered the one lane bridge that was part of the course at the same time. The worst thing that probably happened because of this was that as I was leaving, an oversized load that was literally hauling a small barn pulled right up to the finish line! I did not see the outcome of this, but as Kris and I walked back to the car, we saw a cop, lights flashing, driving up to the race. This was at about the 2:30 mark so I’m sure lots of people were still trying to finish the race in this mess. They did do a good job at having people to direct traffic at intersections, though, to be fair.

Now, on to the good! The course was very well marked (I was never confused about where to go) and they had a lot of volunteers and aid stations. I had trained myself to carry my own water and nutrition because the availability of it at the race seemed limited (the website implied there would be 2 water/bathroom stops and said little about nutrition) but they had water/gatorade stations about every other mile and several types of gels available at the near halfway point (it was the turnaround point for the route, about 5.5 miles in).They also had promised a brunch, and my hopes were not high for it (I was imagining some bananas, bagels, and water) but they had tons of different foods – donuts, bagels, fruit, PB&J, breakfast sandwiches, granola bars, bags of chips and pretzels, and lots of different beverages. I also got very cool stuff! The t-shirts they gave out (which I picked up at the very well organized packet pick up the night before) were not t-shirts but tech shirts! All of the finishers also got a medal and an ice cold towel (wasn’t expecting the towel, but was very thankful for it). I was very impressed with all of the amenities and swag, considering that registration for this race was only like $40 – this even must have a great group of volunteers and sponsors!

Pros:

  • Good hydration and nutrition amenities (especially post-race)
  • Fancy swag
  • Fairly cheap for a half-marathon
  • Course was very scenic (there were literally barnyard animals watching us as we ran past farms)
  • Having runners and cyclists going in both directions allowed for mutual encouragement
  • Having a computer displaying gun times near the end allowed you to see results very quickly

Cons:

  • Course was more difficult than I expected
  • Roads were a little crowded with cars, cyclists, and runners trying to share country roads
  • Road closures not handled well
  • Start/Finish of race poorly organized
  • I don’t think there were any photographers, so my only pic is Kris getting my back as I ran through the finish (could not really sit on the other side of the finish line due to amenity locations)

Overall Assessment: Would do again! I would love to go back and do this race for years to come if I am in the area – it was a really pretty course and the race was very cheap and overall a good experience. However, next year, Kris and I are thinking of doing one of the bike “tours” (they aren’t races, just scenic organized rides) together. They have three different events – 33, 48, or 62 miles, so we will have to see which one we are up to by next summer! Perhaps some day I’ll even have a chance to do the “endurance challenge” – finish the half marathon then hop on a bike to ride any of the three cycling events! If I want to start at the same time as him, though, I won’t be able to do the half. That’s ok, though – there are tons of half marathons I can run, but very few biking events I could do with my husband by my side!

Finish line photo! Coming in under 2 hours!

Me being triumphant afterwards!

Edit: My husband has informed me that there was in fact a race photographer, and actually, upon closer inspection, I can see him in my finish line photo *facepalm.* I just never heard anything about photos from the race organizers or actually saw my picture be taken, so I assumed there was not. Here’s hoping there is a good photo of me!