The Ups and Downs of the She Power Half

When Cori asked me to sign up for the She Power Half Marathon back in March, I was in a bit of a running funk. I was worried that since I had not really been training, that a half marathon would be too much for me at this time. So when she pointed out that there was a quarter marathon option, I was easily persuaded to tag this race onto my extended summer trip home.

The packet pick up for this race was at one of the branches of the Indiana University Hospital. Pick up was a breeze and there was that extra touch of having each shirt, bib, and various swag in cute little boxes. I felt like I was getting a gift, but then remembered that I actually paid a race fee for this “gift.”

20160625_144610

We decided to scope out the race venue before heading back to our hotel for the evening. The race was being held at Eagle Creek Park just north of Indianapolis. We found the entrance and noticed that it was one car entry. Since we knew we had to pay five dollars for parking in the morning, we just knew that getting into the park before the race was going to be a nightmare if we waited too long to arrive. We decided right then and there that we were going to try to make it to the park by 7 which we did with no problem.

It was a good thing that we decided to arrive when we did. There did end up being a traffic jam at the entrance causing the race to be delayed 10 minutes. It was already a humid day, so I was ready to get started before the sun became too much.

FullSizeRenderIMG_0727

One of the cool things about this race is that the medal doubles as a photo frame. With all the downtime, we decided to get our pictures printed before the race. That too turned out to be a great idea because our wait was nominal, but after the race it would have been crazy long.

Finally it was time to begin the race. When I registered, I had the option of running a road race or a trail race. I opted for the road since that was what I was used to. If you were running the half marathon, you needed to complete two loops, and you could choose how you wanted to complete them, both road, both trail, or one of each. When I saw some of the ladies’ shoes at the finish, I was grateful to have kept to the road course. Apparently there was a small lake on the trail that was unavoidable due to recent rains.

The trail was mostly flat, but the race starts us a hill which zapped my energy pretty fast on the extremely humid morning. I pushed through and was happy with the course for the most part. It was hilly at times, but one hill was in my favor, and I picked up a lot of ground running down it.

As I rounded the turn to head back to the finish line, I was so glad that I had picked the quarter marathon instead of the half for this race. I just did not have it in me to complete another five miles. The near seven I had already completed was just enough for this morning.

IMG_0753

As I came across the finish line, the race director called out my name, which was a nice touch. Then my medal was placed around my neck. Immediately after I was handed a rose, which was something that I had never been given at a race before, another nice touch. Finally it there was a nice drawstring bag with all the promotional swag. It was so nice to have something to stash all my stuff in and have my hands free for water and post race food.

20160626_093804

I loved that they had a snow cone station at the end. It was the perfect way to cool down and wait for Cori to finish her half. For the first time ever, I was finished before her, and I was able to snag some pictures of her crossing the finish line.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the organization of this race seeing how it was an inaugural race. My only complaints were the lack of restrooms and the spacing of the water stations. The race directors were relying on the four bathrooms already in the park along with four port-o-potties to support all the women in this race. We hit the line around 7:15 and people were already having to beg for toilet paper from the stall next door. The water stations were spaced out strangely. I went about a mile and half between most which is normal, but then there would be two within a quarter mile of each other. With the high humidity that day having a few more stations would have been so appreciated. My only other complaint was having to pay to park on race morning. That is something that could have been added to our race fee so that we didn’t have to wait at a gate and cause the traffic to bottle neck. The support of the runners, medal, food, and free photo downloads were excellent and helped offset some of the negatives of this race. As I just visited their website recently, I’ve noticed that they are changing the venue for next year, so hopefully they will have worked out some of the kinks based on this inaugural run. If I was going to run in Indianapolis again, I would probably do this race one more time. Even though I did not complete the half course, I was inspired to get back into the habit of training, and am working towards a half in November. So thanks She Power Half for that bit of a push I needed.

 

 

Advertisements

Bridges and Blisters: Sarasota Half Marathon

Whether it was cruising around St. Armand’s Circle, patio dining downtown, squishing my toes in the silky Sarasota sand, or running over the John Ringling Causeway, my Sarasota race weekend did not disappoint.

Camera 360

I signed up for this race last March after seeing its adorable dolphin medal on Pinterest.  And for the bargain price of $50, I anxiously awaited March 2015.  So, one year later my race buddy and I hit the road.  What should have been a two hour drive easily stretched to three due to numerous accidents on both I-4 and I-75.  We passed the time playing the license plate game (finding 34 states), catching up, and discussing our other upcoming races (Chicago, and Disneyland).

Arriving in Sarasota, our first stop was packet pick-up at Fit to Run downtown Sarasota.  The line looked rather long, so we ignored our growling stomachs in order to get bibs and t-shirts.  After a 30 minute wait we held our swag bags equipped with the most obnoxious neon green shirt.  The bright spot in the bag was an adorable light blue race jacket and First Watch coupons.

IMG_20150314_145730 (2)

Leaving Fit to Run, we headed past the growing line which had doubled in size since we had entered it and began our search for lunch.  We settled on Mattison’s City Grill with it’s charming outdoor patio.  While the location was quaint, the service was less than desirable.  Our burgers were tasty, but our server was overly busy and not as attentive as one would like.

Camera 360

Stomachs satisfied it was time to hit the beach.  We decided to hit Lido Beach which was closest to our hotel.  It also allowed us to drive the race course and see the dreaded bridges we would be running over the next morning.

IMG_3197

Lido Beach was pretty crowded considering it was already 5:30 when we arrived.  We walked away from the crowds on the silky sand looking for shells.  However, high tide isn’t conducive to shell collecting, and alas, we came home empty handed.

Camera 360

Dinner was at a locally owned place called Joey D’s, a Chicago-style restaurant.  We both love our Chicago dogs and thought they would make the perfect pre-race dinner.  Not disappointed, we scarfed down our Vienna dogs and headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night.

Race morning started at 4:15 with a quick breakfast of a banana.  By 5:15 we were in the car heading to the start line.  The race didn’t start until 7, but parking was rumored to be difficult, so we arrived early as not to stress.  Getting there so early allowed us to move to the front of the corral, use the port-a-potties before long lines formed, and relax.

sarasota-half-marathon-map

The temperature hung around 66 degrees, but the humidity was 100%.  So while it wasn’t hot, it didn’t take long after starting for my face to turn bright red and the sweat to cling to every inch of my body.

My running buddy stayed with me for the first two miles so we could snap a picture on the causeway.  Then she took off and I kept to my 1:1 intervals.  I hadn’t run in three weeks due to a terrible case of bronchitis, so I was a little nervous about being able to breath.

2015-03-18 19.48.46 (2)

Miles one through six had me on pace to break my half marathon record by 15 minutes.  I took the bridges in stride running up them as much as I could and running down them without stopping.  However, around mile seven I hit both a physical and mental wall.  The physical wall being that I did not honor the cardinal rule of running:  thou shall not introduce anything new to your run.  I tested out a new pair of socks on this run which caused me to get four terrible blisters on both feet.  Three days later they are still very painful to walk on.

Camera 360

Mentally, the humidity was making me miserable, and several times I wanted to stop at a water station and wait for race support to transport me back to the car.  I trudged along watching my pace slow from turtle to snail.  Any ground I had gained in the first half of the race was slipping away in the second.  By mile 11 my mantra switched from one more mile to one more step as my lower back tensed up, my knees ached, and feet burned.  Seeing mile 12 was the greatest relief as I knew I could walk the entire thing in no more than 15 minutes.  At this point my feet were in such pain I could no longer run.  Finally, I passed the mile 13 sign and turned to see the blessed finish line.  I did not want to walk across the finish line so I sucked up the pain and ran the last tenth finishing only five minutes longer than my personal record. If only I hadn’t worn those stupid socks.

bazu-5178206 (2)

After crossing the finish line a volunteer put the comically large dolphin medal around my neck.  Grabbing a bottle of water I hobbled over to the grass to get off my feet for a little while.  My running buddy found me, and we watched the final runners come in.

First Watch was the sponsor of the race and provided a post-race breakfast of some of their menu items.  I scarfed down a Siesta Key Cocktail and a blueberry muffin.  We stopped for a few post-race photos, and I swapped out my jacket for a larger size.  Then it was back to the hotel for quick showers before driving back to Orlando.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Sarasota Half Marathon.  The 5000 runner cap made the course comfortable.  The race route was scenic and portions were shaded which was quite appreciated once the sun was blazing.  The bridges were difficult but not impossible and provided for a great view of the sunrise.  While mostly the race was positive, it would have been nice to have a few more water stops along the route.  I had brought my hydration belt, so it wasn’t an issue, but with the humidity I would have struggled more without it.  My other complaint is the starting time.  Although it would mean getting up earlier, I would have preferred a 6 A.M. race start in order to avoid the sun at the end of the race.

It’s nice to have another half under my belt.  And now that I’m healthy again, I can get back on the training band wagon to prepare for the Iron Girl in Clearwater next month.  As for Sarasota, I’m still contemplating whether or not I want to sign up for next year.  For $50 it’s hard to ask for a nicer race.

bazu-5167356 (2)