Even though I finished my 13th half marathon on Sunday at the Presque Isle Half Marathon in Erie, PA, I will admit it wasn’t very pretty. I was definitely not as prepared as I could have been since I hadn’t been running as much and the heat and humidity just got to me. I was hoping to finish around 2:18, but I definitely wasn’t close to that and by the time I crossed the finish line, I honestly didn’t care as I was just happy to finish.
Even though Erie is only about 2 hours away from Pittsburgh, with a start time of 6:45am, Lauren, Kelsey and I carpooled up the night before. I knew I would not be able to actually get up at 3am, drive up to Erie, race and then drive back. Nothing about that sounded good. What was fun was that Steff, Joe and Steff’s mom were also in Erie for the night so we met up with them for dinner. They also planned to come out the next day to cheer everyone one.
Sunday morning was an early one. I finally rolled off the couch around 5:10am and started getting ready. All 3 of us had to pick up our bibs still, so we wanted to give ourselves time to get bibs, use the bathrooms and finish getting ready. We arrived on site by 6am and got great parking. The first thing we did was head over to packet pick up and snag our bibs. I should have known at this point, this was one of the lease organized races I’ve ever run. There seemed to be two windows that were marker. One was for race day registration (only $40 but you didn’t get a shirt) and the other was for pre-registered A-M. Well, I walked around the building searching and searching for the N-Z, but couldn’t find it. Finally once I asked a volunteer they snottily said it was in the big long line. Oh, you mean the line for A-M? Okay, cool.
So we all waited in line and it wasn’t bad, but a little signage would have helped and finally got our bibs and walked back to the car. We noticed as we walked back the port-o-potty lines were starting to get backed up. Well, we quickly got our bibs on, chip on the shoes & shoes tied and then all headed to the bathroom line. Holy crap (no pun intended). Those lines were crazy long! We got in line at 6:23am. The race started at 6:45am and IF the race organizers had enough port-o-potties this time should have been enough to use the restrooms and get to the start line.
You can probably guess by the statement above that there were not enough port-o-potties. There were over 1200 runners and lots of spectators and ONLY 12 port-o-potties. Twelve. Can’t make this up. I am not sure who failed at the math, but someone did. This was clearly not enough.
As we waited in line, the anthem started playing and then all of a sudden you heard the start gun go off. I have to say the amount of runners still in line was unreal. We were just a few away from finally getting to use the restrooms so we all waited. This wasn’t an option as I knew if I didn’t, it wouldn’t have been pretty at around mile 2. Finally, after using the restrooms and hustling to the start line, we crossed 6 minutes and 30 seconds after the start gun went off. So it took almost 30 minutes to get through the lines to use the bathroom. Come on race organizers, you MUST do better than that for next year. And to make it worse, there were hardly any restrooms along the race course that were quick to use. Sure, there were the bath houses, but you had to go a little of course to get to them. So, in terms of bathroom accessibility and availability, this race FAILED in that category.
Once we actually crossed the start line, things did seem to get better in terms of how the race was organized. The course was along the main road through Presque Isle except for the last quarter mile which was on the bike path. For the first 2.5 miles, I ran with Lauren and Kelsey. It was a nice easy pace and they were doing a 5/2 run/walk and being such a hot day, I was completely okay with that. Then, I just didn’t stop for one of the walk breaks and broke off from them.
I decided to run through each mile and at every mile marker do a 1-2 minute walk break depending on how I felt. I also walked through any water stop that I grabbed water at.This went really well up until mile 7. Then it just fell apart for about 1.5-2 miles. The water stations was one thing the race organizer did get right. They have great volunteers and there were tons out there. The gatorade mix was horrible, but just knowing there was so much water out there was refreshing.
Around these miles, the road also opened up and you were running in very little shade. I definitely felt that big difference. It didn’t help that somewhere around mile 8, park rangers started blazing through with lights and sirens on and I overheard a bike marshall tell them a runner was down at mile 9 and needed immediate medical help. Never good.
As I finally got to mile 9(ish), I saw the runner was alert and was getting plenty of medical attention. They had the gurney out and it was good to see they were “okay” as I passed by. In a weird way though it gave me a little push. I somehow got a second wind and not necessarily picked up the pace, but went back to my running the full mile with a small walk break at the mile marker.
During the walk breaks from mile 9 to the finish I chatted with several cool people. We talked about the horrid conditions and what made us actually signed up for this and show up. They helped pass the miles and before I knew it, I was hitting mile 12! That was a nice surprise!
Since everyone I came up with was still on the course, it was actually nice to know that were would be people near the finish to cheer me on and when I saw Steff & Joe it definitely was a pick up to get to that finish line. I swear the last quarter mile felt like a mile. It just didn’t want to end.
Once I crossed the finish line, I got my medal and went to find water. They were giving out small picnic type boxes with sandwiches so I picked that up too. I headed back to cheer on the rest of the crew with Steff & Joe. I basically just plopped down on the ground and cheered on all the runners as they went by. It’s always fun to cheer on runners right at the end.
Since I did start way after the starting gun and at a much slower pace, by the time I did pick it up, it was interesting that I passed more people than people passed me. This was definitely a first for me. Even with the walk breaks, I had very few people passing me. Maybe I need to just be one of the last people across the start line going forward. Even though my time wasn’t the best, this was a small ego boost.
Even though this race only cost about $35 to register, I would really have to think about doing it again. Running in Erie in July is just dumb and it’s not the most well organized race. I’d pay $10 if I knew it went to get more bathrooms on site. The shirt also doesn’t even say what race it is. It’s also a size large and might fit me and another small human. It’s a decent medal though and actually my first spinner medal. Even with that, it’s a race I’d just have to consider again and not one I’d rush out a sign up for again.
Official finish time:
13/31, Athena 3 Category