Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hodson Half Marathon – Race Recap

September 20, 2014


This half marathon wasn't originally on my radar.  I needed to pick up a half this weekend because the Women Rock event changed their date from the 20th to the 27th.  At first I was eye-balling the Heritage Haul Half Marathon in South Holland, IL.  But the Hodson Half appeared in an email from Active.com and since it was closer – taking place in Marion, IN - and cheaper, it became the winner.  I was even able to register on-line without any fees or taxes.  Unheard of!!  Total cost was $45.

EVENT INFORMATION: The Hodson Half offers a half marathon & a 10K run/walk in Marion, IN beginning & ending on the beautiful Indiana Wesleyan University campus.  Race day registration opens at 7:30AM and races begin at 9:00AM by Hodson Hall in the IWU Campus.  A portion of all proceeds benefit the United Way of Grant County.

MapQuest told me that it would talk approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there from my house but I was going to give myself 2 1/2 hours to get there.  So my alarm was set for 5:00AM.

I had the directions printed out and I had OnStar dialed in but for some reason, I wasn’t paying attention or following along correctly.  I would later figure out that – although I basically knew how to get to Marion – I wasn’t taking the most direct route so I missed my turn.  And after a few miles of being “recalculated” I was still uneasy about my route and just decided to get back in Interstate 69.  This would take me a smidge out of my way but being able to drive 70+ miles per hour (or a little faster) would make up the difference in my mind.  And that is also why you give yourself a good cushion with the driving time frame.

And as with all of my half marathons, I want to fully take advantage of the journey during them and leading up to them, had I not “gone the wrong way” I may have missed these adorable street signs in the town of Gas City that I passed through before arriving in Marion, IN.

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Even with my driving snafu, I still made it to the campus with plenty of time.

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The first order of business after I parked was to find a bathroom.  I was super excited to see folks coming out of the main building which meant INDOOR/REAL BATHROOMS!!!


Just on the other side of this building was packet pickup.  Got my bib, timing chip, goodie bag and shirt then headed back to the car to get everything situated. 


I wasn’t sure what the shirt would be like and if I’d be able to wear it during the race so I actually stop at Walmart shortly after leaving my house on the way up and bought a new plain white tech shirt.  The one I was wearing was old and dingy looking.  I was super excited that the race shirt was red.  Believe it or not…I don’t have a red tech shirt.  So back in to the Phillippe Performing Arts Center to put on the shirt.  I probably should have requested a medium – although I don’t remember knowing they were gender specific -  because it was a little tight and the neck hole seemed really small.  Oh well.

It was chilly and breezy while waiting to get my packet and at that time I wished I’d had a throw away with me but the forecast was on tap to be a pleasant day for running.


I started walking around taking some pictures and then saw they were conducting a pre-race meeting.  Didn’t know that was to take place!  So I hurried over.  I doubt that I missed much of anything.


Then it was time to head over to the start line.  It was a gun start; no timing mat.  After a prayer, we were off.


Essentially, this was a 10K course and the half marathoners would do it twice. 

Course Map

We started on the campus, ran across one of the main roads (Adams Street), through a grassy area and then on a side road (Meridian Street). 

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This would take us to our first aid station.  We would turn right onto 33rd street and run for barely a tenth of a mile before entering the Cardinal Greenway.  This was the prettiest section of the course. 


We would be on the Cardinal Greenway (CG) for about 2 1/2 miles.  Not long after the 2 mile marker were some porta potties and an aid station.  From a distance I could see the table set up and what appeared to be unopened supplies but no people.  I thought maybe the volunteers were running late and since I didn't feel like I needed anything, it wasn’t a big deal to me that it was “unmanned” and I passed it by.

This sign was on the Cardinal Greenway and located in the ugliest portion of the trail.  To the side was some fenced off electrical/energy power area.  Obviously I have no idea what it is really called!  This area was also open and exposed.


After leaving the CG, we were routed down some various back roads, through a neighborhood and then entered the campus again.  The half marathoners had to veer off slightly and run about a 1/4 mile lollipop by the track & field area of the campus. As we entered this loop, a signed let us know we were at mile six.  As we were exiting, the next sign let us know we were officially halfway.  Humorous.


Then it was past the pond and time to run the route again.  I took most of my pictures while running the course the first time around. 


Once back on the CG and approaching the aid station that wasn’t manned the first time around, I noticed that there was an older gentleman sitting there.  So I stopped and asked if they were out of supplies.  He said no and pointed to the jug of unopened water and the unopened sleeve of cups.  I don’t know if this guy had never done this before and no one gave him instructions but this was basically self-serve.  I thought about mentioning to him that it would be helpful to runners to have some of this pre-poured but I was sure there weren’t many behind me and no need to waste supplies so I poured my own cup of water and moved on.  That was definitely a first for me.

More signs from the course.  Some were more “entertaining” than others.


We had to cross a railroad track four times (twice during each loop) and that always makes me nervous.  As if my finishing time isn't slow enough, I would HATE to get stopped by a train.  And there was one small hill/incline between mile 4 & 5 (which was also mile 11 the second time around) and I did walk up most of it.  This road was also not closed and some people were driving down that hill fast!

The aid station just before mile 12 was out of cups so I was given a large bottle of G2 to take with me.  I felt bad wasting most of it.  But then the aid station after mile 12 was still full of supplies.  RANDOM!

Back on campus and we make the turn to run past the President’s House.


Another turn and then it was on to the finish line.


Technically I took those last few pictures after crossing the finish line and getting my medal.  It was a nice cool down.  Then I headed over to see what they were serving for lunch.  Holy Cow - it was a full spread.

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This was my plate.  I saved those brownies and took them home to my husband but I ate the cookies.  The lemonade hit the spot.  And the chicken was really good.  I even ate the skin.  I cant even tell you the last time I did that.Post Race Food (5)

There was only an overall male and overall female winner and then they had some raffle drawings but I didn’t win anything.  So it was time to get back in the car and drive home.

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This was really small race.  Only 45 people did the half marathon.  The medal was just a “sticker” medal but I tried to keep in mind the size of the event and that proceeds were going to the United Way.

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The wind kept blowing the medal so I couldn’t get the shot I wantedzMedal (2)

I don’t know why I would ever do this race again but I would recommend it to someone.  It was pretty good for $45.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blues at the Crossroads Half Marathon – Race Recap

September 13, 2014


I searched and searched for an event logo but couldn’t come up with anything.  This is the logo for the group that puts on the half marathon so it will have to do.  Additionally this race does not “communicate” well with registrants.  You don’t get a pre-race email but can verify your entry on the website.  I even sent them an email 2 weeks prior to see if I could get bib #60 for this race since it would be my 60th lifetime half marathon and it is in my hometown and all.  CRICKETS!  I never heard back from them.  Not even a “Sorry we can’t do that.” 

This race has a mail in option (so no fees or taxes) and I was able to get in prior to the price increase so the total cost was only $40.  BOOM!

Oddly enough – even though this is in my home town – I’ve never done this race before.  And since my Mom still lives there it only made sense to spend the night with her prior to the race so that I can get some extra sleep. 

So I drove to Terre Haute Friday afternoon.  Originally the plan was to get to her house between 5:00pm & 6:00pm but I had a few extra stops to make and didn’t get there until around 7ish.

The most important stop was packet pickup.  It was super low key and took place at one of the local running stores.

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Then I headed down to my Mom’s apartment.  She lives in the south end of town about 10 minutes from the running store.  She had my “bed” all made up for me and after unloading all the stuff that I’d brought over for her (groceries and other supplies), we sat down to have dinner.  I brought my own food but she did have some chocolate chip cookies that were a delightful addition as dessert.

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The highlight of dinner was her reading the local obituaries to me.  Yeah…so there was that.  Good grief.   We watched Dateline and then it was time for bed.  She was going to stay up a little later and watch the news which wasn’t the best scenario for me because she has a really small apartment and because her hearing is BAD so the volume on the TV has to be really loud.  Luckily she didn’t stay up too late.  Wouldn’t have mattered anyway, I didn’t sleep well.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th: The alarm went off at 5:00AM and after a quick check of the weather, I hopped in the shower.  The race was scheduled to start at 7:30AM and we had planned a Half Fanatics picture for 7:00AM.  It was probably only a 20 minute drive to the start line for me but I wasn’t sure where I was going to park.  Although the course is “mostly” an out & back, the start line & finish line are about 6 blocks apart.  So wanted to park somewhere in the middle…but I wasn’t sure where that was because I couldn’t figure out where the finish line was going to be.  So much for having a hometown advantage!  Thankfully my brother was up and since he had done this race before, he was able to verbally guide to a parking spot – sort of. Smile

I ended up driving right past the start line and found a place to park about 3 blocks away.  The weather was cooler and windier than what we would normally have for this time of year and I’m glad that I had brought a “throw away” with me.

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Gathering everyone for the Half Fanatics picture was like herding cats.  They were showing up little by little and then one person would need to go do something.  Since we were dilly dallying around, even I made one last dash to the Hilton Garden Inn to use the bathroom.  I think we finally took the picture at 7:20!

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It was nice (and fun) that my brother showed up to see me off.  He did this race last year and I think it is his PR race but he’s still recovering from Plantar Fasciitis and was super disappointed that he couldn’t run it.  And he said that he was in the process of making me a poster but didn’t get it finished.  Well, it’s the thought that counts…and would have been my first ever race poster! WOMP

It was time to line up and take off.

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The first part of the course would be very familiar to me since I know downtown Terre Haute.  My only concern was being stopped by a train.  Trains run through Terre Haute ALL THE TIME and less than 6 blocks into the run, you have to cross railroad tracks.  Thankfully we were not stopped.  This is a concern in any race where we have to cross railroad tracks but the odds of getting stopped during this one were exponentially higher!

We run east for about the first two miles before turning north where we would run past the ISU football stadium.  Just after the turn, there was my brother again cheering me on.  YAY!   It was just prior to this that I ditched the “throw away” even though I probably could have kept it a little longer.

This is along historic Ohio Boulevard.2014, 09-13 (13)2014, 09-13 (15)2014, 09-13 (17)2014, 09-13 (20)2014, 09-13 (21)

After running on the west side of the stadium we turn right heading east again and eventually getting on the National Road Heritage Trail.  The HT (Heritage Trail) is new to me and I was looking forward to checking it out.  My brother runs on it all the time.  This is a completely paved trail route and I believe that it is part of the old railway system.  The hope is to eventually connect the trail all the way across Indiana.

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For a bit you need to run past some new apartments (cleverly named Heritage Trail Apartments and they looked very nice might I add) and then you get on what I would consider the trail.  It is mostly surrounded by trees on both sides.  From this point, we were just a little over 3 miles in, would run to the 7 mile marker which is the turn-around and head back in to town. 

Not far into the trail you come across this little park.  I would call it a “rest area” but whatever.

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I’m probably just over 4 miles into my journey when here come the leaders back in.

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Basically I’m just chugging along with nothing to write home about, get to the turn-around and head back in.

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I finally get to see some of my Half Fanatics friends as they are making their way to the turn-around: A.L., MYMW, JD, AJ and his daughter and JW.  This race will qualify JW and AJ’s daughter for Half Fanatics.  YAY!

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GU was handed out just before the 8 mile aid station.  Funny thing – I saw those girls as I was running east and thought maybe they were there to cheer on a friend.  It wasn’t until coming back when I realized what they were there for.  But…prior to reaching the “GU girls”, I could see from a distance that there were lots people picking up cups just west of the aid station table but it didn’t look like there was anyone AT the table.  As I got closer, I could tell that there was no need for those volunteers to be at the table because they were out of cups and water.  Not a good place to run out – just after the GU stop.  #FAIL

So we run out of the trail and past the football stadium again.  The “trail” continues but now runs through some residential areas.  But it is still clearly marked that you are on the trail and we ran through another small park area.

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After this marker it was less than 1/2 mile to the finish.2014, 09-13 (35g)

I began getting tired with about 1 1/2 miles to go and started taking some walking breaks.  Two ladies tried to encourage me and get me running again but since I would be doing another half the following weekend, I decided to just take it easy.  Thanks anyway girls!

Finally to the finish.  Holy cow the road in this area sucked!  It was like running on cobblestones; so lumpy and bumpy.  And really this entire finishing area seemed like we were in some back-alley.  Gotta say I was a little disappointed.  I don’t need it to be fancy or flashy but I guess I was expecting a little more. 

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And the medals were only half unwrapped.  The ribbon was out but the medal was still in the plastic.  Maybe they thought it would keep them from getting scratched but its so anticlimactic to get your medal and its still sealed. Sad smile

They did have lots of food options but sadly on my first pass there wasn't any “just cheese” pizza.  So I grabbed a granola bar and a chocolate milk and waited at the finish line to cheer my friends in.

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Although the sun was out, the wind was still whipping around and I wished I’d done a drop back with a jacket in it.  I was shivering.  My car wasn't very far away but I was afraid that I’d miss someone crossing the line so I just tried to suck it up.

MYMW and I did our traditional post race photo and we chatted with some friend and waited for her husband to come it.

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After everyone had crossed and we all said our congratulations, it was time to go.  My bearings were out of sorts a bit and I wasn’t sure where my car was in relation to where I was.  So I walked back toward downtown with JD.  Although we didn’t get stopped by it, a train was passing while we were walking.  JD commented on all the train traffic in town.  JD – you have no idea!  Winking smile  Since I had walked “out of the way” from my car but  was near the Square Donut shop and thought I’d stop in, splurge on a donut and see my friend DCH.  I only had one piece of pizza (I didn’t really care for it) and since I just completed a half marathon, I felt that I donut would be okay.  Not surprising, they were super busy and “the Donut Heiress” (DCH) was not working so I left without a tasty treat.

My car was just two blocks away from the donut shop so I decided to  drop off my stuff, grabbed my jacket and then went to check out the Larry Bird statue in front of Hulman Center.  I’ve been an LB fan since he took the Sycamores to the NCAA Finals in 1979, followed his career in Boston and was fortunate enough to have worked for the Pacers during his time in the front office.  But this was the first time I’d been to the statue since they erected and dedicated it. 

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Now I just had to wait for some random stranger to pass by to get my picture taken.  Luckily, I didn't have too wait long.

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Now it was time to head home.  The plan was to stop back along the trail to take some pictures since I didn’t take that many while I was running.  Plus, it all was on the way out of town and not really out of the way.

I’d barely been on the trail for 5 minutes when something caught my eye in a clearing on the right side.  Wild turkeys!  They were a tad camera shy but I got a few pictures.

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I also came across this poor little casualty.  Would this be considered “road” kill or “trail” kill?  He didn’t look very flattened so I wondered if a runner hit/ran into him during the race or if I bicycle ended his life.  Sorry little guy.   R.I.P.

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The last thing I was looking for was this marker on the trail.  Odd thing is that I didn’t see it while running east but saw it as I was coming back in to town.  And although it appears to be a 2 miler, I never saw the 1 mile marker and I wasn’t about to walk another mile to look for the mile 3.

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The last shot I wanted was that of the “Welcome to Terre Haute” sign.  They certainly need to replace the poor thing; it has seen better days. 

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I also wanted to try to do a fun medal photo with the golden domed courthouse in the background but I would have needed to drive back into town & I was just ready to get home. 

The finishers medal was good but I have to admit that I like the one that my brother got last year better.


LOVE the shirt!  It’s a smidge big but better that than all tight and hoochy.  And I really like the play on the date and the distance.  The added the .1 (point 1) after the 13 in the date section since it took place on the 13th of the month.


I must admit though – overall – I was a little disappointed with this race.   Maybe I had it too hyped up in my head because it was taking place in my hometown but I feel like there is so much more they could do with it.  Its been around for a long time and it is a fund raiser for them but it doesn’t seem like they really want it to grow.  And they certainly could jazz it up a little more out there on the HT.  I’m probably one and done with this one – but never say never.