Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Veterans Half Marathon – Race Recap

November 8, 2014


So today’s ACTUAL date is November 26, 2014. That means this half marathon took place over two weeks ago and I am just now blogging about it. I’m sure I’ve forgotten many of the things I wanted to talk about since then but I doubt that it will stop me from using too many words!

I registered for this race way back on January 2nd. It was another one of those “sign up now and you’ll get a special deal on the rate” that I saw on Facebook. With taxes and fees, my total cost was $43.50. That is a great deal on a half marathon, friends! And then, it was mostly forgotten about.

I had two things come up where I could have totally blown off this race. One of my dearest friends who lives in Texas was turning 50 and her friends out there were having a party that I could have gone to. And THEN - just two weeks before the race - I got a call from the Indy Honor Flight that they had an opening for a guardian on the next flight. I was finally in the rotation. But my portion would have been $500 and since I still haven't found a job, it didn’t seem like I should make that financial commitment.  It was the final flight of 2014. I had been waiting all year to get the call. And I had to turn it down.

But this goal of completing 31 half marathons in 2014 is also important to me. So I kept my eyes on that prize and regained my focus.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH: MapQuest advised me that it would be about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my house to Columbia City, IN. In typical “Susan fashion” I set a time for which I wanted to leave the house and missed it by a long shot. I can’t even remember why now.  But I am pleased to report that I once again did NOT have to stop and pee while driving up there.

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I drove to the hotel first and dropped off some of my stuff. After my less than stellar experience at the Motel 6 in Springfield,IL I was worried how good the Quality Inn of Columbia City would be but it was great. The room looked modern AND it had a refrigerator and a microwave. Plus when I asked about checkout for the next morning, I was told – without hesitation – that it was 1PM for everyone doing the race. I think I heard angels sing. Angel

Then it was on to packet pickup which was at “race headquarters on the square” and luckily they also provided an actual street address so that OnStar could guide me there.  I got lucky with my parking spot which was literally just across the road. This place was only 2 miles from the hotel.

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This “venue” (I don’t know if it is where Three Rivers Running Company is always housed or not) was tiny. And everyone seemed to be using their outdoor voice!  I could barely hear the questions that I was being asked.  I got my bib and then I was given my event jacket. Earlier in the year, receiving a jacket was a welcomed change.  Now I have at least 5 or 6 jackets. I didn’t really like this one at first but it has grown on me. For some reason I was given a hooded jacket; most people got one without the hood.  And this one is lined.

Finishers Jacket (2)

They had some shirt there for sale – they weren’t race specific – and I found one that I liked so I bought it to wear on race day.  It was more patriotic that what I had brought with me.

I had noticed that there was a Walmart just before the hotel. As I was unpacking some of my stuff I realized that I had forgotten gloves so I popped in the ol’ Wally World to grab a pair. I also ended up getting some dessert (forgot that too) and a white long sleeved tech shirt to go under my race shirt. Remember – nothing new on race day!  LOL

Back to the hotel to heat up the food that I brought, finish unpacking and staging for in the morning and just relaxing before going to bed. It was lights out around 10:15PM

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH: My Half Fanatic friend A.L. was doing this race as well with two of her friends.  Ironically they were also staying in the same hotel in a room directly across from mine. We learned this THAT morning as we ran into each other in the hall as we were leaving.

The full and half marathon were both scheduled to start at 8:00AM. I was able to “sleep in” a little since my drive time would be so quick. I’m so thankful that I spent the extra money on a hotel instead of trying to drive up that morning. It appears that this town shuts down (at least around the Square) on race morning because you were allowed to park almost anywhere. I found a spot at the post office which was just a block away from the start line. I walked around a took some pictures…as I’m known to do. Winking smile

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I saw these guys getting ready and asked if I could take their picture.  2014, 11-08 (8)2014, 11-08 (9)

Then we I asked if I could be a picture with them, the guy on the right made me wait until he put on his Benjamin Franklin glasses…as he called them. He said he wanted the picture to be perfect.2014, 11-08 (12)

It was a nippy morning because of the wind but other than not having my headband to go over my ears, I felt adequately dressed. I also had a throw-away sweatshirt for the start of the race.

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I met up again with A.L. at the start line. Even though this was a smaller race, she and I started toward the back. One of her friends is a faster runner so she moved up and the other one was doing the 5K. It started 15 minutes after our race. They asked all the people participating that were current and former military to come to the front and we gave them a round of applause. Nice touch, I thought. I think the National Anthem was a recording but I don’t remember now but then the cannon (seen in the photo above) was fired and we were off and running.

I figured there wouldn’t be much to photograph along the route so I put my phone away. This would be another race where I was pretty sure that I could drive the course later and grab a couple of pictures if I wanted to.

Yep, not much to see along the course but I did stop and take a picture of this lady. I think I saw her three times on the course and then I saw her again about a half mile from the finish when I was coming in. She always had this great big smile on her face and was cheering for EVERYONE! I don’t know if she had a particular athlete out there or not but I enjoyed seeing her. She traveled around on a bike…which I didn’t even notice until the second time I saw her.

Thanks HAPPY Lady!2014, 11-08 (18)

I really wanted to have a good race especially since I was running in honor and memory of Dad.  Each year this race focuses on (dedicates the race to?) a particular branch of the service. This year it was the Army which my Dad was a member of in WWII.


Part of my struggle is still that I’m tired (this was my 29th half marathon of the year) and my hip will give me a fit every now and then.  The cold didn’t bother me too much but the wind was brutal at times, especially on those country roads with nothing but open fields on either side. I never really felt like it was at our back. How is that possible? And this course had some rolling hills to say the least. I took way too many unscheduled walking breaks. Just before the 11 mile marker, A.L. ran up beside me and joked that she needed her shoe tied.  At first I fell for it and offered to stop for her but she was just joking – I had to tie her shoes prior to the Monumental Half Marathon. Good one A.L.!  She then went on without me. It was also at this point that it started to drizzle a bit.

I had one lady that was my “need to beat” during this race. I nicknamed her “Church Lady” because she was running in a long skirt (not a running skirt) which is a requirement of/part of the Pentecostal religion, if I remember correctly. She was next to me at one point and pointed out that she couldn’t get her lip balm to dispense from the tube.  She thought it had frozen. I showed her that I carried the stick type with me and then picked up my pace. It was nice to see her husband and daughters (I’m assuming) at one point on the course with a sign and cameras taking pictures of her. And I will give her all the credit in the world for running and having to wear a long skirt. I would think that would be very restricting. But at the same time, how can someone running in a long – what looked like denim – skirt be next to me in this race. We all find different motivations to keep us going and she was mine. From time to time I would casually turn my head to the side to see if I could see her in my peripheral vision. I would cross that finish line before her.

I got my medal – which was still wrapped in plastic and I couldn’t even open – and then walked over to get some soup. The broth was great but I didn’t care for the vegetables in it. I never saw A.L. again and meandered around for awhile looking for some place to take a finishers photo. Thankfully a police officer was getting ready to walk into their headquarters so I asked him if he would take a picture of me in front of the giant American flag hanging there in front.  This guy was great and even got down on his knees to get “creative” with one of the shots. It turned out to be my favorite one.

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As I was walking back to my car I randomly passed an area that had bottled water, pretzels and cookies. I thought it might just be for the local running club but asked and was told that it was for everyone. It certainly wasn’t positioned where – in my opinion – “everyone” would know it was for them. After you crossed the finish line, if you kept walking straight and crossed the street you would walk past it. But most people were crossing the finish line and then turning right to the area where the soups were. Maybe its just me but the placement seemed off.  However, let the record show that I was very thankful to get those cookies!

I sat in my car for a bit – eating those cookies - and then decide to drive the course to take a few pictures.

This banner was just after the one mile marker and also wear I tossed my throw-away. It was still there when I went back to take this picture so of course I retrieved it!2014, 11-08 (26)2014, 11-08 (27)This marker was between miles 4 and 5. Now whenever I see something like this I always think of my husband and the history/ancestry research that he is doing.2014, 11-08 (29)As you approached the 5 mile marker you saw this “Where R U From?” sign. Along with this guy there was a lady sitting out there with a clip board and she would yell this question to you as you were running by. I had stopped my music and yelled my home city back to her and she then wrote it down. You passed them again around mile 9 and the other side of the sign said “Good Job.” When I went back out I asked the guy if they did this for the race and he said no. They just thought it was something interesting to do. I thanked him for braving the elements to cheer us on and he thanked me for my participation. Small towns can be really great.2014, 11-08 (32)2014, 11-08 (31)

The course was always well marked with signs and the mileage was painted on the road. But I thought the aid stations were randomly spaced.

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I loved this sign that was in someone’s yard near mile 10.2014, 11-08 (37)

As I was driving this course, I just couldn’t imagine being one of the marathoners still out there. First of all it was a pretty boring course and to have to do it twice? And the weather had not improved from when I finished so they were still out there in it. No thank you.

This was an “okay” race in my opinion. There are definitely areas in which they could improve. I won’t do it again mostly because it is just too far away without needing a hotel room the night before. The price was reasonable, the jacket was nice but the medal was average at best.

Shirt-Medal-Bib (1)Medal

Instagram photo:Instagram

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