So far this year, I have run at least 1 half marathon every month. It’s a streak that I like and plan on continuing with. Well, for September I knew that my only chance at a half would be over Labor Day weekend. I wanted to stick to my taper with Air Force marathon and since I had 12 miles that weekend it just made sense. The problem was, there were too many choices!
Finally in the last 2 weeks of August, things started falling into place and I decided on the Boy Scout Half Marathon in Bowling Green, OH. This made sense logistically for me as I was planning to visit Michigan over the weekend and would be back in the Toledo area for a house concert on Monday. Plus with the last minute registration (the Wednesday prior), it still cost less than $50 for the race! This race was supposed to be nice and flat, so not ideal for Air Force training, but I wasn’t necessarily complaining about a flat course, especially for half marathon #30!!
I headed out toward the Toledo area Friday afternoon after work. It’s an area I actually know pretty well since 2 years ago I practically lived there for a work project. For a holiday weekend, it was actually an easy drive, but I certainly saw a lot of state police out there on the turnpike. Once I checked into my hotel, I headed over to a local running store, Dave’s Running Shop, to pick up my packet. Even though I registered late, they were still able to give me a race shirt. I was appreciative of that. It just so happened that the store was in a plaza just down from Great Black Swamp Brewing Co. So, guess what I did? Headed over to enjoy a pint. Duh. Do we expect anything less at this point?
I ended up grabbing dinner from Cracker Barrel and took it back to the hotel room. I was honestly just exhausted and knew that Saturday was going to be a long day. It was nice to be able to relax, pull out my race gear and be in bed around 9pm. I had the alarm set pretty early as I had a good 20-minute drive to the race site.
Since I had a late check out at the hotel, I planned on going back after the race to shower before I hit the road to Michigan, so it was nice to just take what I needed in the AM to the race and not pack up and check out. I ended up getting to the race site around 7am. I somehow got in the back way as I had no issues pulling right into the parking lot. The race started and finished at the Wood County Fairgrounds so there was plenty of parking and it was just a quick 2 minute walk to the start line and the port-o-potties. As soon as I got everything together, I went right for the bathroom line.
Just before 7:30am they cleared the road of cars and we headed to the start line. A bunch of us expected there to a National Anthem, especially because it’s the Boy Scout race, but there wasn’t one. That was definitely a big miss. Just as I was filing into the start corral, I noticed one of my Toledo coworkers. I knew she was going to be there, but hadn’t seen her yet, so I figured I would miss her. Well, it lucked out we were right next to each other in the start corral and ended up running a few miles together.
I really had no clue about the course other than it was pretty flat and mostly on back country roads of Ohio. The morning air was a bit crisp for Labor Day weekend, which was a nice surprise. With the earlier start, it was nice to still have the sun just coming up still and not a huge issue until the latter part of the race. One of things I noticed right away is that the course was not necessarily closed to cars. It was a small race and yes on back roads, but this should also be advertised. I do run races all the time with roads not closed, but usually they put up cones to signify runners stay here, but they did not this race and well, some of the folks just went speeding by at 50+mph. For the most part of the race, I stuck to the left side so that I could at least see cars coming at me. It was only times where the race crossed that I didn’t. At one point, I actually had words with another runner about this very thing, but more on that later.
The first few miles seemed to just fly right on by. The co-worker I was running with ran into a few of her other running friends so we all just chatted along the way. One woman was doing a taper run for her 100 miler in two weeks and I was just amazed. Just after mile 2, the 5k runners split off from the half marathon runners. It certainly thinned out a bit, but nothing crazy noticeable. Again, just perks of a small race. The other nice thing about the course was that 70% of the run there was some type of shade cover either by trees or by way of the sun just still not 100% up. That was pretty nice. My first 3 miles were probably some of the most consistent race miles I’ve done in awhile: 10:49, 10:51, 10:50.
Then from about mile 3.5 to 5, we hit the bustling street of downtown Bowling Green. You saw a few more spectators out there, but nothing crazy. Any that were out were nice and did cheer for most runners, but otherwise this was a spectator free race. This was the only part of the course that runners were actually pushed to one side of the road by cones. It was a nice little stretch and was a good break from the corn fields.
Shortly after mile 5, we turned into a school parking lot and hooked up to the Slippery Elm Trail. By now the sun was starting to come up a bit and you could feel the temperature rising so this trail being completed shaded was a wonderful reprieve at this time. It was sad that we were only on it for about 3/4 of a mile though. They certainly should have taken advantage of that trail a bit more. As we got to mile 6, we were to turn right onto another road. Well, the 2 runners in front of me kept going straight and I almost followed. Then I realized we were to turn right and I grabbed their attention to make sure they also turned right as well.
It was about this part of the race that the country road stretches seemed to get a little longer each time. All of mile 6 was just straight done along some corn and soy fields. Well, I think it was soy. At mile 7 we had a cross over on a road. They had volunteers stopping traffic so we could cross safely. I had actually been thinking to myself during mile 6 that I was so impressed with the runners at this point for running on the left side so they could see cars coming. Some of these drivers had no care in the world that people were out running and just went storming by. It was just after this cut over that I had a little incident with another runner.
So, we cross over and immediately me and everyone in front of me go to the left of road. Good job. Kudos. We’re going along and then out of no where in a very deep, pretty frightening voice we hear “MOVE OVER NOW. MOVE. MOVE NOW. GET OVER NOW.” Well, my heart basically leapt out of my chest due to the fierceness of this voice and the emergency like scream. So I immediately look back to make sure nothing was coming and because I had no idea what was going on and slowly move to the right. I honestly thought it was a race official trying to get an emergency vehicle through or something. I mean the way this guy screamed, it just sounded like a 911 move now.
Well, once I was on the right side and realized nothing was wrong and it was just another runner telling people to be on the right, I looked back, screamed something to the effect of, “why did you do that? You actually put us in more harm.” and went back to the left side. Several other runners went with me. I am sure if I had a heart rate monitor on, it would have shown a very elevated heart rate, so I tried to slow down a bit to relax. Then all of a sudden this guy passed me and started chatting with this women right in front of me. I could easily hear him and he went on about how this bitch yelled back at him when he was telling people to move sides of the road. Oh, I got heated. I was pissed now.
Well, I’m not a quiet person, so I spoke up. I told him he should not have done that unless he was an official with the race and that it put runners in harms way. He swung his head back and spit out some words that I needed to follow his orders and I was in the wrong. Again, I asked him if I was a race official. If he was, sure I would say sorry and just that in the future it might be a good idea to identify yourself as such. Well, he wasn’t. I let it go and said he should just worry about himself and really understand the rules of the road as a runner. He called me a “big bitch” and just turned around and kept running. I’m sorry, but there the only times I have ever spoken up in a race is if I have seen an official race car, emergency vehicle or an injured runner.
So that all happened during mile 7 and as we went through mile 8, we just weaved through a random neighborhood. I saw some old guy out riding around on a golf cart and asked him to switch me. He certainly got a good laugh and told me he wouldn’t last 10 steps. As we left the neighborhood we turned right onto a long country road. And what did I do? Of course I safely crossed to the other side and hung out the left side all by myself. I was totally fine with this because I knew I was safe. Somewhere on this small stretch, I passed 2 women on the other side of the roads with headphones on. They were basically running in the middle of the road though. They had no idea that a car was behind them so I safely got their attention and pointed it out. Around mile 9.5 we turned onto another country road that I did not think would ever end.
I saw this stop light way off into the distance and felt that I would never get to it. It was during this part of the race that I could start feeling the heat and humidity. In fact, it was on this stretch, that I started losing my pace. I had my fastest mile in mile 9 (10:27) and then went to my slowest for mile 10 (10:55) but was able to pick it up for miles 11 and 12.
Once we made it back off the country roads the last bit really seemed to go fast. As I came to the final bit into the fairgrounds I really didn’t have any kick left. I have to commend these 2 ladies though that just came out of no where and smoked that last half mile. I always wish to have something in the tank for that last kick, but nothing was there this time. I was just happy to have again run through the whole half expect for one or maybe two water stops for a quick 10 second break to grab gatorade.
As part of the finish line festivities there was an all you can eat pancake breakfast for about 6 bucks. I had fully intended to take part, but I wasn’t feeling great and the idea of pancakes in that humidity and weather didn’t see appealing. I hung out for a few minutes but then headed back to the hotel to shower and get on the road to Michigan.
Overall this was a great race for what you paid. The wooden medal is unlike one I’ve ever gotten. The volunteers at the water stops were amazing! Each one was a local troop so the kids were very enthusiastic for being out there so early. The only downfall of this race was the open course, but not necessarily that it was open, but that it was just all over the place. Even though I stayed on the left side when I could and definitely did more crossings that others, my watch finished at 13.11 miles. Not bad actually.
I just think for future they should indicate in the race details that the race is over and perhaps even remind runners to stay on left or even the right (if they chose so) and even go to put up cones at certain areas. The only other negative was that their timing mats apparently didn’t work for all at the start. When I got the results I was certain it was off and this was why. To be fair, they went with straight gun time. By watch I finished in 2:19:50, but my official time was about 20 seconds slower. Even with that though, I would do this race again. It was the perfect way to kick off Labor Day weekend.
Official Finish Time:
24/31, F 30-34