Bedford is 70 miles south of Indianapolis and would take me approximately an hour and 25 minutes to get to. That was a little too far to justify going the night before to packet pickup so I would just need to get my bib race morning since that was an option. They really encouraged everyone to come Friday to get packets but I just couldn't rationalize driving that far two days in a row. They said that we might not get our shirt size, if we didn't get our packet the night before. I don't understand that. I realize that there are people that sign-up the night before a race but if you have people that have registered in advance and you asked them what size shirt they want/need, you should save those shirts back for people who have preregistered. People that signup last minute can have THEIR shirts mailed to them if the race doesn't have their size. So I decided that I would just wear a "generic" running shirt down there that morning and hope for the best.
Since I wasn't 100% sure where I would be going in the morning I wanted to leave earlier than I normally would "need" to. Race Directors - please put an address for the start line (even if its the address of the closest building) so that people coming from out of town can MapQuest or OnStar directions! Luckily my friend TR did the race last year and she gave me an address to use for OnStar. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00AM so I wanted to leave my house at 6:00AM. That meant the alarm needed to be set for 4:45AM.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10th: I left the house at exactly 6:00AM. I probably should have gotten gas the night before but I had enough to get down there so I would worry about filling up on the way home. It is still so dark outside that early in the morning and when taking back roads, I always worry about hitting a deer. While I didn't see any deer, less than a 1/2 mile from my house there were 2 raccoons in the middle of the road. Their beady eyes were shining in my headlights but thankfully they scurried across the road to safety. And I wasn't 15 minutes from my house and I had to stop to use the bathroom! It is situations like this that makes me not want to carpool with people! But after that, there were no more stops until I got to Bedford. While the drive down there was uneventful, it was the trip of a thousand orange construction barrels. They weren't all necessarily blocking off a lane but they were lined on the side of the road for at least 20 miles!
I didn't exactly make it to where TR had told me to park but I figured I was fairly close to the start line when I saw several runners in a bank parking lot. I found a spot on the side of the road and headed toward the music. I was about 1 1/2 blocks away. I saw the "Race Day Registration" sign but it didn't register that I would get my packet in that location. After walking around for a bit, I finally asked someone where packet pickup was and they pointed me back to the sign I had just walked past.
It was so nice and warm in the packet pickup building! I got my bib number and I'm happy to report that I was able to get the correct shirt size. Since it was a chilly start to the day, I went ahead and put it on over the long sleeved tech shirt that I wore. The race shirts were black so I hoped that I wouldn't get too warm wearing it - as well as a shirt underneath - once the sun came out.
Unfortunately there was no public restroom in this building and I really needed to pee one more time. There was a single porta-potty just two doors downs. I don't think that it was technically a "race facility" but there was no line and another lady had just exited from it so used it. Whew....it did not smell nice in there!
Volunteers were setting up the post race goodies as I walked over toward the starting area.
The forecast looked to be a perfect day for a half marathon.
But it was still chilly and I tried to find a storefront nook to stand in to stay a little warmer. It is interesting to see how people tolerate weather differently. For example these two guys: one clearly has no problem with cooler temps while the other guy is sporting the popular trash bag ballgown for warmth. I too have used a trash bag but I've never had one "floor length" so I was impressed!
The mayor gave a few words of wisdom (she was participating in the half marathon as well), there was a prayer, the National Anthem and then it was time to get in place for the start. They did a good job of announcing that the 1-mile Family Fitness Walk participants should be in the very back, the 5K-ers in front of them and then the Half Marathoners and it looked like most folks were lining up appropriately. There were A LOT of kids; not sure if most of them were doing the 5K or the 1-miler. But this event also had a school challenge program which is probably why there were so many children.
This isn't a very big race yet so all distances started at the same time and after just a few blocks the half marathon continues straight while the other distances turn right. This caused some "dangerous" conditions as young children who were on the LEFT side began darting through half marathoners to get to the other side of the road to make their turn. I realize these kids don't know any better and they are just running all nilly willy being excited about running a race but (IMO) it would be wise for the organizers of the race to perhaps separate the course - with cones maybe - for these few blocks so that only half marathoners are on the left side of the street. I had one lady tell me she was worried that she'd be taken out by a kid!
I really have nothing else to post about this race. It was one of the most visually unstimulating course that I've participated in. It was so boring. Even the leaves hadn't started to change much down there so I couldn't be in awe of the beautiful fall colors. Usually during a first time race for me, I am taking lots of pictures but I barely took any during this half marathon. But here are some of the items of interest that I noted along the way:
- The aid station near mile 3 was very energetic. I think it was sponsored by a realtor (maybe a bank); one lady had a sign that said "run fast like you are late for a loan closing" and I should have taken a picture for my friend that owns a title company. It was at this section I saw a younger man - maybe in his early 20s, if that - who was wearing grey fleece sweatpants and they looked like they were the heavier material. He was taking a walking break when I passed him and I couldn't help but wonder how hot he might get later in the race. Fast forward to entering Murray Forest Park - just before the 11 mile marker - and he is COMING OUT of the park! How did that happen? I never saw him pass me and I would have recognized those sweatpants. He had to have cut the course at some point.
- Just past the 5 mile marker we ran through Hillcrest Circle (the first subdivision of the city) and this was what I would consider the most scenic portion of the race but was probably only 1/4 mile in length.
- The aid station (mile 7 I think) was associated with a hospital or health care service provider. They were very energetic, had some great music playing and had a gurney on display. I asked it they were giving free rides.
- Around mile 10 1/2, there were some residents out cheering us on and they had made and posted some clever signs. This was the very first time I took a picture of anything on the course.
- As I was coming out of the park, I saw two people running in wearing Shawna Girgis for Mayor T-shirts. The city of Bedford was also plastered with signs to re-elect her. And as they got closer - having seen her photo on some of those signs and billboards - I recognized that it was her. I now had some added motivation that I at least needed to finish before the Mayor.
- I ran past a young man before the 12 mile marker who appeared to be just walking in the area but he was walking IN the street where we were all running. He said to me, "God Bless You. I'll be praying for you." Hopefully that wasn't a sign that he thought I didn't look so good and maybe I wouldn't finish! But it was nice and I thanked him.
- The final aid station (after the 12 mile mark) had another set of enthusiastic volunteers. I was offered not only water & Powerade but a slice of pizza. I tried to talk this gentleman in to running in front of me with the pizza as motivation but he wasn't up for it. They said they had handed out several slices on this day.
But I am pleased to report that I finished 10 minutes before the Mayor. I contemplated tracking her down and getting a picture with her (she's the first female Mayor of Bedford and was elected back in 2008, ) but was just in the mood to get home.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS RACE:
- Race day packet pickup was easy.
- The aid stations always had plenty of water and Powerade and enough volunteers to actually hand cups to runners. Although the first aid station had water in the Powerade cups but the rest of them had done it correctly.
- This is a "challenging" course for someone like me that doesn't do any hill work. I know I should but I don't. Here is a description of how the course flows: http://www.bedfordhalfmarathon.com/images/docs/2014_Bedford_Half_Marathon_Course_Description.pdf
- I didn't enjoy this race and not because I am a wimp when it comes to hills. There was just nothing to it; it was unspectacular. In contrast to the Hotlanta down in Georgia that I did back in August which was just as hilly. I enjoyed Hotlanta more...and it rained on me the last 6+ miles!
- Looking at the statistics from this year to last, attendance for the half marathon was down by over 100 participants (312 in 2014 and 208 in 2015) but the 5K number was up. It will be interesting to see how it does next year. I think they are going to give away a "Streaker" medal to those that have completed all three years. I will not be back however.
- They did give a really good medal.