When I made my fall race schedule, this race wasn’t originally on the list. Sometime in late summer months, Kristy mentioned on twitter that she was going to give up her bib as she wanted to race in Detroit, I figured why not give this race a go! I had heard a lot of great things about it as a flat, fast course and with it being a home race I wouldn’t have to travel for a weekend. I forgot to look at my calendar as this was going to be my 2nd of 3 half marathons in less than 30 days. Oops!
The night before the race I got everything ready. Got my clothes out, bib on the shirt, bag packed for a change of clothes, breakfast laid out on the counter and water bottles filled in the fridge. Sounds good, right? I crawled into bed, set my alarms and had the goal to be out of the door by 7am.
Skip over a few hours of sleep and I roll over in bed, look at my clock and see 7:15am (Race was 45 minutes away from me and the last shuttle to get to the start line was to leave at 8:30am)!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!
I immediately shot out of bed and starting freaking out. I started the tea kettle to make some oatmeal & hot tea and then started throwing on clothes. Since I had everything laid out, this part was quite easy. Since I had no time to eat breakfast at home, I threw my oatmeal in a coffee to go mug and my hot tea in another, grabbed my bag and off I went. About halfway up the road I realized I left my water in the fridge. DOH!!! Somehow I got there around 8:20am, just in time to meet my friend Brian before he got onto the shuttle to the start line. I was lucky I actually ran into him because it was a lot colder than I thought it would be and ended up snagging his jacket to run in. Thank goodness for friends! We boarded the shuttle and headed to the start line.
I had heard the fire hall where the start line was would be open, so I wasn’t too worried about getting there so soon before the start of the race. However, once we got there that was not the case. There was also only about 12 port-a-potties for over 1000 runners. I immediately jumped into the bathroom lines. About 20 minutes later, I was still in line. It was horrible! Whatever magic runner to bathroom ratio might be out there, this race needed it badly! I finally gave up just about every other runner and headed into the woods. There seemed to be one area where most of the women were going & most of the guys were actually going into the corn field on one side.
I threw my gear check bag into the back of a random truck (seriously!) and then walked over to the start line. A few minutes later we were off!
All I knew about this course is that it was net grade downhill and mainly on a limestone trail. The first 2 miles though were on paved roads and mostly downhill. It was actually a pretty nice start. It’s a small race (maybe 1200 runners) so even at the start, I never felt trapped. It was easy to settle into a pace and move about the course at the start. Somewhere around mile 2, we turned onto the Butler Freeport Trail and stayed on that until about middle of mile 12. I’m not a huge fan of crushed limestone trails. I know. Weird. However, I just never feel like I get a good grip. Again. Weird. Just roll with it.
Around mile 3 we came to the first water stop. On the map and online, it said it would be around mile 2, but it seemed like they pushed back all of the water stops a mile. I wouldn’t have even paid attention but since I left my water, I had to. They probably had the smallest cups of water out there. I grabbed one though at the water stop, took a few sport beans and kept going.
By this point, I was setting in on a good pace. It was somewhere around 10:30-10:35 and I was feeling good. I had a worry that the trail would be full of puddles and there would be lots of leaves I’d slip on, but neither were the case. Even though it rained all night the night before, the trail was pretty dry. I had never been on this trail and this time of year, it was just gorgeous. At some point around mile 4.5 I even pulled out my phone to snap a picture and I never do that.
I got to mile 5 right at 52:30 and felt great! I was actually slightly shocked. I figured I’d try to keep this pace as long as I could. At my last half, I did the wall around mile 8.8, so I was going to try and get to get further before I died at this race. At one point I went to go eat some spot beans and dropped them on the ground. I turned around to grab them off the ground (they were in the bag) and nearly got run over. Oops! I thought the runners behind me were more towards the side and further back. Sorry, runners! I hate being that person.
This was in a way a boring race. There really weren’t any spectators except for when the trail passed one of the roads. Even then there were maybe a handful of people with signs cheering on runners. I did at some point around here see Cathryn with signs about bacon I think. That was a huge pick me up when I needed it the most! After one crossover there were some plain white signs and one said ‘Go Random Stranger’ and again, that was a nice boost! Whenever you don’t have those people out there cheering along the way, anything helps to get you going. Somewhere around mile 8, I started to lose it. I slowed down to around 10:40, but kept going as best I could. I figured at this point I had 5 miles left and I could suck it up for an hour. I just tried to ignore the pain and keep going.
At mile 10.5, my legs hurt. I finally gave in and started walking. I know I had less than 3 miles to go, but I just had to walk. Legs felt heavier than lead bricks. I started by going 5′ run/1′ walk, but shortly just went to whatever I could. I would just check the watch, tell myself to run for X minutes and try that. Generally speaking, it worked. The goal was to just keep moving. Luckily, I can keep a good pace when I walk, so I was able to keep an average pace of around 10:55-11:00 during these last few miles.
A few people told me the only hill on the race came at the very end. They were right. To get off the trail and over the finish area, we had to run up to the main road. To say it was a small hill would be right. It was short, but steep considering I had just run about 12.3 miles on completely flat trail (really it wasn’t THAT BAD). I walked up the hill and up to the bridge where I figured I’d be able to finish the rest running. At this point, we were close enough to the finish and I knew the boyfriend was there to watch me finish the race, so of course I couldn’t let him see me walk. Motivation can be good sometimes!
I was happy to get through the finish line and when I checked my watch was faster than the time I ran at the Crawlin’ Crab Half two weeks prior! I dropped 1:50 from that time on another flat course, so I will say that is a win in my book. This race also qualified me for being a Half Fanatic since this was my second half marathon in 13 days.
Overall I was happy with this race!! I would easily run this race again. Even if Kirsty hadn’t gifted me (THANKS AGAIN!!!), the cost of this race is very affordable! You get a nice race shirt and this year’s medal had a turtle on it, so what’s not to love. Oh, and there was amazing hot cider at the finish line! I think I even convinced several other local runners to join me in running it next year. If you are looking for a potential PR course and something to fill the calendar, this is definitely a race to consider!
Official finish time:
60/82, 25-29 Females