Sunday, August 24, 2014

Running the CRIM for the first time

Last year when the CRIM was over, I just kept reading how amazing the race was. So when it opened I registered right away. Then I promptly didn't think about it again for about 7 months. The week of the race, I realized I was registered AND I was supposed to run 12 miles as my long run that weekend. Initially I planned to just not make the drive to Flint since it was not in my plans but I figured that was silly so my mom and I made plans and off we went.

Now, I have never been to Flint except driving through on 75 so I had no real idea what to do. My mom had printed so directions so we managed to get off the expressway at the right exit and we ended up parking at the YMCA which was perfect! It was only a few blocks from bib/shirt pick up and the start. We parked, got our race stuff and headed back to the car to get ready. We then stopped in the YMCA to use the restroom (this was so nice that they opened their doors to the runners). The MTA station also did too which I thought was great.

The start area was very crowded but super well organized. There were 8 corrals and I was in E (my mom was in F). My plan for the race was to try and maintain my marathon goal pace, despite the hills. Now, I knew very little about this course. I had read it was hilly and that it had great course support. In my head there was a hill at Mile 5 and otherwise I had no idea.

I was not ready for everything this race had to offer. First, it was HILLY and I mean the whole course. Not crazy hills like Kentucky but there were a quite a few. Also, at Mile 5 there were 3 hills in a row. Now for the course support, oh my, it was amazing, beyond anything I had expected to have at a race. First from the race there were water stops every mile and Gatorade at Mile 5 and Mile 8. Then there was all the rest of the course support! A lot of the course went through areas where students from U of M Flint and Kettering University lived. The frat houses had music and sometimes beer, shots and just out there cheering. People and businesses were out cheering, watching, offering cups of ice, champagne, more beer, Jell-O shots and more music. It seemed like the entire city came out for the event and it was the most welcoming feeling ever. I also loved the mile markers and I wish I could have taken a picture but each mile was painted on the road! It was so cool.

I am so glad we went and I think this race is going to be a must run for me each year from now on. I loved it!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon 2014 Recap

Like I have mentioned previously, I have been really bad at updating my blog about my races and training so I am trying to do better. With that in mind, I am heading back in time to recap my race from the beginning of June (oops).

I had done this race last year for the first time and I had really enjoyed it. I had signed up the week after for a super discounted rate and I was looking forward to it. I even had convinced my mom to do it as her first half marathon. We made an entire plan of it, with my sister and niece coming with us (so the kids could sleep in) and my mom and I running. Then I found out my BRF (Best Running Friend) was getting married the day we had to leave to get to the race. There was no way I could make the wedding and get to Niagara Falls for the race so I knew I had to skip the wedding. I think this was the hardest running thing I have had to ponder. I would have let the race registration go but with passports being ordered/paid for and my mom ready to complete her half, I needed to be there. (We did make it up to them with a dinner out to celebrate, though even 7 weeks later I am still so sad I missed their special day).

So back to the race. We left Saturday morning for the trip over. It was uneventful which is GREAT when traveling with 3 kids under 6. We got to the race expo at the mall. Now this was different than last year. Last year it was just a tent in the parking lot where the race was held. I was excited for the bigger location until we got there. It was about 3pm and the expo had a couple hours to go and the line was NUTS. It was wrapped around and back to the center of the mall. We ended up waiting in line almost 45 minutes, which after a 5 hour car ride was not the best for the kids but they did great.

Again this year the swag was AWESOME. Included was makeup, bubble bath and WINE, yes, a full bottle of wine.

We went to check into the hotel and get settled. We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (never again, just too slow and overpriced) and went to see the falls. Then it was bedtime.

Sunday we got up bright and early and met a running friend in the lobby to head over to the race. It was smooth as could be from our hotel (we stayed at the Embassy Suites this year instead of Great Wolf Lodge like last year and it was SO MUCH closer). We parked and headed to meet up with some people from the Posse!!

When it was race time we all headed to our starting spots. My mom was a little worried, as is normal before your first race. I just knew I was hoping for another PR this year but I wasn't sure how it would go. As we were waiting to start I realized I was lined with with the same two ladies that I had lined up with the year before! What are the chances of that. It was so fun and a great start to the race. It is always nice to hear everyone singing the Canadian National Anthem too!

And we were off. I really did not have a plan for this race. In the first 3 miles I took 2 walk breaks then I switched to a 5:1 interval but sometimes I did 3:1. I really just ran more on feel this race. I did have in the back of my mind that a month earlier I had my best time in the hilly Novi half, so since this race was flat I was hoping to do better. I did, though not by too much!

I came in, got my food (boxes from Tim Horton's with cookies and fruit) and went to watch my friends and my mom finish. I have to say, it was awesome to be able to cheer people in and to see my mom cross the finish line. It really was wonderful.

Once my mom was done we met up, did a finishers picture and then we went back to the hotel to get showered and checked out. That was smooth as can be and then we were heading home.

Overall, again this was a nice race but I am not registered for next year. The expo was kind of a bummer with the long wait and also the drive is a bit long. Not horrible but there are a lot of other races the same distance away that I want to check out. I do like this race a lot though, just having done it twice it is time to explore others!