May 31, 2014
The Sunburst Half Marathon takes place in South Bend, IN. It also offers a marathon, 10K, 5K Run and a 5K Fitness walk. My husband and I did this race last year but I was solo for it this year. One of the highlights is that it finishes in Notre Dame’s football stadium and the fight song is blaring as you run down the tunnel onto the 50 yard line. Well…not this year. They are doing construction on the stadium so the finish line would have to be moved to the outside.
I registered for this race on January 31st and with taxes and fees paid $69.25. Oddly I had trouble securing a hotel. Last year, we stayed at the Double Tree and the start line was LITERALLY outside the west door. This year I finally found a room at the Quality Inn which was 3.5 miles away. Close enough but not close enough to walk there in the morning. I hate having to figure out parking for a race in a city I’m not familiar with.
FRIDAY, MAY 30TH: In typical fashion, I did not leave my house when I wanted to. Things kept coming up that I needed to take care of AND – this is so unlike me – I had barely staged anything the days prior so I still needed to put a lot together before leaving. And then I got caught in traffic up in Carmel with all of the construction that is going on. I was literally sitting there with the car in park for 15 minutes.
MapQuest estimated that it would take about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get up there. Thus I needed to make a stop with about an hour left in my drive in Argos, IN (never heard of that town before). A quick in and out at a McDonalds/BP Gas Station combo. I was very tempted to get an chocolate dipped ice cream cone…but resisted the urge.
I was parked and in the Expo around 6:30pm. Not too much to look at as far as vendors was concerned but I may have gone through the Meijer table twice to get some Kettle Corn. I joked with the ladies working there that it must have been my twin sister the first time through! You had to look up your bib number on a board. I‘m always a little stunned with people that just stand there in front of it. Can they not find their name? If you’re just being nosy and looking to see if people you know are signed up at least be conscientious that there might be others behind you needing to get THEIR info. Okay…off my soap box. I was also surprised that the event shirts were just laying out on a table and you picked up what you needed. It was nice that you weren’t locked in to a size if it was incorrect but I worried that people might take multiple shirts.
Since I wasn’t completely sure about the cost situation where I had parked, I didn’t dilly dally around. Boom! My parking was free. It was a short drive up to the hotel. While checking in I asked about getting an extended check-out time and was told no. He tried to give me some “tips” on getting around it in the morning (leave my stuff in the room, take the hotel number and call if I have shuttle issues) but I must admit that I was a little worried. Race was at 7:30AM, if it took me 2 1/2 hours that would have me done at 10:00AM. But this was a point to point race and you had to be bused back to the start line. I was worried that I could get hung up at the shuttles. I guess we would just have to see how it would play out. Nothing I can do about it at that time. After settling in, I heated up my dinner (I packed my own food in an effort to save some money) and watched Dateline. It was lights out around 10:30pm; I had my alarm set for 4:45am.
SATURDAY, MAY 31st: I did not sleep well the night before. Some of it was that I couldn’t shut my mind off and I couldn’t get the temperature in the room right either. I ate my breakfast and then took a quick shower. Although I was going to leave most of the things in my room (as suggested), I did take a few items to the car so that the load would be lighter and quicker upon my return. I wanted to leave plenty early to find a place to park. My preference was to get something on the street a few blocks away so that I wouldn’t have to pay for garage parking. Found a place with ease and probably could have gotten a little closer and in a parking lot but not knowing if those businesses were closed on Saturday had me thinking twice. Getting towed or ticketed was not on my list of things to do while in South Bend. I was just a street away from a Burger King so stopped in there to use the restroom one more time. Great idea! I then walked over to the start line area. I had to laugh because the DJ made an announcement that it was 7:00AM and South Bend is on Eastern Savings/Daylight (whatever its called) time and if you thought you were about to start the marathon…you had missed it by an hour. Man – that would suck!
So I had 30 minutes before the half marathon was to start and random thought were being processed by the ol’ brain. For some reason, I had a bit of a panic moment and couldn’t remember if I locked my car. So since I had time, I walked back over toward that direction and gave one more press with the autolock to hear it beep. And since I was right by the Burger King again, I used the bathroom one more time. Back to the starting area and began stretching - since I had just completed a little warm-up walk – and then it was time for the National Anthem. I heard the countdown but never did hear the staring gun (and I don’t remember hearing it last year either!) and then we were off. Since I was familiar with this course, I put my phone away and didn’t plan on taking any pictures. This event does really well with their hydration stations and there is always plenty of water, Gatorade and volunteers to hand it out. Around the three mile marker, I see some girl run past me in a full on Maleficent costume. I can’t even imagine how hot that had to be. She’s more woman than me!
From the Sunburst Facebook page
The route changed slight and they didn’t send us through Pinhook Park. Last year the volunteers were dressed up as pirates here. We merely went to the next road and then had to run up a hill. Boooooo! I grabbed a GU prior to going up the hill and once we got to the bottom was the 10K(?) – it might have just been 6 miles – timing mat. Then you were right back at the aid station at the beginning of the hill so it’s a great place to take my first bit of nourishment. Last year we didn’t run far before we turned around to begin running on the Riverside Trail along side the St Joseph River. But this year we had to run further north before tuning around. We ran right past the Water/Sewage Treatment Plant. WOW! That was stinky. Prior to the turnaround I ran past a guy pushing a stroller (not a participant) and asked for a ride but there was no room for me.
Running south on the Riverside Trail is one of the prettiest parts of this course and it is mostly shady. Although it wasn’t “hot” at the start of the race the sun was out and beating down on us.
Between miles 10 & 11, I saw this guy (the only time I took my phone out during the race):
I think I remember him being there last year but I’m not 100% certain.
The hill at mile 11 was still there and I again walked up some of it. This was my 13th half marathon for the year and I’m was a little tired. I could tell I was slowing down a bit later in the race.
Sadly between miles 11 and 12 I saw that an older woman had fallen and she must have hit the pavement hard. Her visor was very bloody. I felt so sorry for her. There were plenty of people around tending to her and an ambulance had shown up as well.
Although I knew we wouldn’t be finishing INSIDE the stadium, the course ran us through a parking lot to get us back into campus. It was the most boring thing ever while being so close to the finish.
The nice thing about the finish not being inside was that spectators were RIGHT THERE at the end cheering you on. Not that I had anyone there for me, but it was still nice. And they handed out ice cold towels at the end. THAT. WAS. FABULOUS! Runners were allowed inside the west(?) side of the stadium concourse to get food. The line was a mile long and I still had that whole checkout time thing looming over my head. So I walked toward the head of the line just to see what they were handing out and if it would be worth my time standing in line. The first thing I saw were popsicles! So I asked the next person in line if I could just cut in and grab one. Thankfully she said yes. I did take a cup of fruit as well which was the very next item and then got out of the line. Maybe because the stadium had limited access but I remember everything being spread out better last year and the lines not being so long. Had my finishers picture taken and then went out to the buses.
The wait wasn’t long and I sat next to a very nice man on the ride back and we talked about running. Duh! Then I was so discombobulated getting off the bus. Luckily he could see that I looked confused (both times) and eventually had me headed in the right direction. I pulled into the hotel parking lot at 10:50! I jumped in the shower real quick & figured that even if house keeping knocked, they would give me 10 extra minutes. I was actually able to get my hair completely dry and no one ever knocked. I did peek out into the hall a couple of times to see where the cart was.
I was definitely dreading the drive home. I stopped about 30 minutes south of South Bend to get a sweet tea to have with my PB&J during the rest of the drive.
One stop prior to home at the Blue Mile store in Broad Ripple to get my packet for Sunday’s race and then I was home.