This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is favorite inspirational running books and movies. I’ve read lots of running books that I loved (check them out here) and my current favorite is Tales from Another Mother Runner, but I’m definitely going to use everyone’s ideas in the link up to create my own personal “to-do” list for summer reading and movie watching. Be sure to head over to April, Patty and Erika to check out their recommendations and as always, ladies, thanks for hosting!
This weekend I did a new thing for me – I ran a half marathon “just for fun.” Not that all of my half marathons aren’t for fun, because it isn’t like someone is paying me or forcing me to run them, but this one felt different since it was one I just registered for on a whim without specifically training for it or setting goals for it. I was reasonably sure my training this spring would carry me through a second half marathon in two weeks so long as I didn’t push it but I was amused at myself for being one of “those” people who run 13.1 miles just because. 🙂
Cute shirt but big! Need to remember to size down next year.
This was a small local race in one of the Omaha suburbs and I’d heard great things in the local running club’s Facebook feed about it. Registration was only $50 and packet pick up was at a local hospital near the race. There wasn’t an expo but there were lots of friendly volunteers pointing you in the right direction and lots of people advertising for other local races. There was also a free pasta dinner for runners that night, which was nice (but I skipped it). In addition to the long sleeved tech shirt, we got a one shouldered backpack (the yellow bag in the pic) full of little postcards for other races and a free gelato coupon that I will definitely be trying out for a splurge one day soon!
Flag at the starting line
The race morning was damp and windy and chilly. I briefly wondered if I’d misjudged things wearing a skirt and short sleeved tee, but reminded myself that the “damp” weather meant I’d feel like I was melting about a mile into the run. I was right about that. It was fun chatting with people while waiting and realizing how small this race was really going to be. There were 850 people registered and less than half of those were doing the half (also a 10K and 5K that day). I knew from looking at the previous year’s results and my experience with other smaller non-themed races in our area that this race attracted fairly speedy people. These smaller races always seem to here. Thus, I was expecting to be in the back of the pack and lined up accordingly. The first mile or so was on a hilly dirt road and I very quickly had my suspicions confirmed: I was not going to be crowded back in my take-it-easy section of the race.
Foggy pictures at the beginning because my lens kept getting misty in the damp.
This course was almost all rolling hills, which really wasn’t too bad. None of the truly steep sections were long and none of the longer stretches of incline were very steep. Plus, lots of downhills, right?
I was warned that we’d be able to see the finish line (the stadium with those lights on the other side of the lake) for a couple of miles before we got to the finish, as an evil little tease.
After the dirt road section (which they say will be paved next year), we went through a little residential stretch with a few clumps of spectators, which was nice. I was running this race Garmin free so I only knew how far along I was when I would pass a mile marker. They’d released the 10K runners 10 minutes after the half and it was somewhere between miles 1-2 that the 10K leaders passed us up. Speedy kids. 🙂 Throughout the course, they had the split points for the 5K, 10K and half marathon really well marked with lots of volunteers at every point. Our bibs were different colors so it was easy for the volunteers to pick us out and tell us where to go. All around, I have to say that the volunteers did an outstanding job with this race. There were consistently plentiful, cheerful and energetic. It was a really well supported course.
A lot of the course was along the fantastic trail system in Omaha and followed along the creek, which provided a lot of lovely scenery for an in-town run on such a steamy day.
This course wound through town, which I enjoyed because Darrell and I spent a lot of time in the parks in this town when we first married and lived on this side of Omaha. I smiled every time I passed a park where we’d play bocce or the little miniature golf course we’d go on our weekly game night (miss those!).
That little glimpse of lighthouse through the trees is the national landmark themed mini golf course in Papillion – played many a hole there. 🙂
Because it was such a small and speedy group of runners, I was never crowded on the course which was SO pleasant after Lincoln and the near constant crowding there. I just tried to keep a steady pace, never walk too long and keep moving. I told Darrell I was expecting to finish between 2:40-3 hours because I was in no hurry and wouldn’t be pushing it at all. Every time I passed a new mile marker I was amazed at how fast the miles click by when you keep putting one foot in front of the other. True of so many things in life, right? About halfway through, when I realized I’d passed a handful of people as I moved up the course, I decided to set my one and only goal for the rest of the race: if I passed you, you stayed passed. I was going to finish ahead of you. It was fun to pick people off as I moved through. I was actually very excited to get passed by two people somewhere in miles 7-9 that I didn’t realize were behind me (and thus I hadn’t passed them, so it didn’t violate my goal to see them pass me) because that meant those girls were running a strong race to have that much left in their engines late in the race.
A lovely stretch of two miles or so that was mostly flat from miles 7ish-9ish.
There were photographers on the course in the last few miles and one of the perks of a hilly course is that you can see the photographer for a bit before you get there. That is great motivation to pick it up and run again, right? I suspect I’m grimacing in a lot of my photos because while I was having fun, the humidity really did suck and my legs really were not feeling this as much as they normally would be. I will say that while it took me a lot longer than usual to get into the groove of this race – for the first 3 miles I seriously wondered if I’d lost my mind heading out to do this – I did not hit that point around mile 10 where I normally fall apart. Maybe I need to remember that and incorporate a more gradual warm up into my pacing plans for my next goal race?
There were some really lovely stretches through the trees toward the end, but it was unfortunately also a climb out of there and up to the stadium to finish.
The race finished on the track of a local high school. As I rounded the stadium to come finish, I saw people with the cute little butterfly medals and made lots of them laugh when I exclaimed “Oh good we get medals. And they’re cute!” Before that point, I wasn’t actually sure we’d get medals as I’d never run a half marathon this small before. That was good motivation to pass one more person as I picked it up to finish.
Isn’t it a cute medal? Definitely one of my favorites!
Darrell and Oliver liked this race too because they got to hang out on the football field while they were waiting for me to finish. They were right by the finish line where they could easily see me as I came across. That was such a great moment for all of us. O was really excited because he was in charge of Daddy’s camera phone. I’ll have to share his pictures with you guys later this week – they’re a hoot.
There was a big spread of bagels and donuts at the finish, along with water and Powerade. I saw people with bananas, so they were there somewhere too but I grabbed my bagel and quickly got away from the temptation of Dunkin Donuts so I didn’t hang around to look for the bananas. They were doing the awards presentation as I finished and afterwards, the announcers did ask that people stay around because there were a few more runners still on the course (at least 30, from what I can remember passing and being behind me). Unfortunately, right about that time the skies opened up and those guys had to finish in the pounding rain. 😦 We did make sure we stopped to cheer for them as we were heading out and they were rounding the parking lot.
All in all, this was a great local race and I would definitely do it again. I’d also run another race without the Garmin again. For a race where I don’t have a time goal set (like the 5 mile and 10K I have coming up in the next 3 weeks), that’s a great way to just relax and enjoy myself without worrying about pace. I like having a spring half marathon to train for to keep me moving through the winter, so I may train to run this again next spring with a goal of just beating this year’s time. I suspect I may settle into being one of those runners with a half marathon in the spring and in the fall, with the fall being the PR target time because weather works in my favor there and clearly doesn’t in the spring. It was also good to see that I can run a half marathon two weeks after completing a half that I raced, as I’ll be doing that again in the fall when I run the Des Moines half marathon again followed by the Wine and Dine 2-3 weeks later.
My official finish time (which I didn’t know until they emailed me because I didn’t bother to go check while I was at the race) was 2:41:57, 71/81 in my age group. I can definitely beat that time next year and will definitely back with a little more effort and oomph to my step. 🙂
Have you ever run a half marathon just for the fun of it? Was it actually fun? I confess, this did leave me in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day. Gotta love long run endorphins!