Saturday, September 28, 2013

Detroit Women's Half Marathon and 5K on Belle Isle

Last weekend I decided to take a training run and use this new race as a place to get in my miles. I am SO GLAD I did.

First, the communication by the race were the best of any race I have done. They made sure everything was completely clear and they send out many email updates and posted to their Facebook page all the time. I really helped me to get excited for the race (well more excited).

The expo was help downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn. It was OK, but I think if the race grows at ALL it will need a different layout or venue for it. My favorite part of the entire expo was the Spa. Since it was a Women's race it really catered to women. Inside the spa were students from Aveda doing nails, neck/hand massage and hair braiding. There was also a local PT/therapy place offering stretching which was nice!

The expo also had some of my favorite vendors and the Blick Art store had the BEST EVER poster making station there. Plus they gave out a coupon. Because of their station I have to have the SUPER big markers they had there, they were perfect for posters!!

Race morning was a perfect Michigan fall morning. It was a little cool at 57 but it was clear and nice. We headed down to Belle Isle early so we did not have to worry. Just as promised, parking was a breeze. Tons of spots and super easy. Standing around it was a little chilly but not bad. It was just mom, my godmother and myself and they planned to meet up with Pattie. I missed seeing her due to a last minute run back to the car for my inhaler!!

For an inaugural race, it was amazing (heck, it was amazing for any race I have done). They had pacers at all levels (wearing the cutest matching skirts/tops). I ran into a long time friend before and got to say hi. She was planning for a much faster  I got in with a Princess friend, Janie (we matched) and kind of planned for a 2:45 or so finish. I was using this as a training run and honestly my times lately had not been breaking any records, actually as my miles increased my times did too. I went off and felt great. The sun was coming up over the river and Belle Isle looked so nice. The course actually went backwards from the marathon course which was a little confusing for me since I went the other way 3 weeks ago (and I am easily confused on directions).

There were so many cool things on the course. There were inspirational signs everywhere with the best quotes. I really wish I had been able to get a picture of all of them. Also, tons of water stops, 3 fuel locations and 2 chocolate stops with Sanders chocolate caramel candies!!! They also had course support, the best being what I think was probably a high school group. They were awesome to run past! Also the view was so nice!!!

 I did not like the energy drink they had by Hammer but I loved the Hammer fuel stuff. I stuck with water. Now, I have been trying to limit how much I drink on the course and 9 water stops were a lot BUT with the wind my mouth was dry and I am so glad they were there.

Belle Isle really is a wonderful place. We made the loop of the island 2.25 times. The worst spot was at the end near the Coast Guard post because the wind was brutal. Someone said it was over 20 mph which I believe but I don't know for sure.

So, as for my race....I just went with a comfortable pace in the beginning. At about 5 miles I realized I had the 2:20 pace in my sights which was not good. I knew I was going too fast. At the 10K mark I checked my watch and I had run my fast 10K ever! I kept saying I needed to slow down but I felt awesome. At 10 miles I knew I could beat my Niagara Falls time so I decided to see what I could do. I came in at 2:26 which was a PR by 3 minutes!!! I also felt great.

I got my medal (this was the only odd thing, it was the same medal for the half marathon and the 5K). I do love the medal. Then we realized both my mom and my godmother had placed in their age groups so we waited for them to get their wine prize and get a picture on the podium!!!

A few observations. First, most races are not like Disney races (I know, I was shocked). In this I mean times. At 2:26, I would be placed in the top 20% at Disney since there are a lot of new runners. Here, I was in the bottom half of finishers so I was on the slow side. Also, while many people wore skirts (it was a women's race after all) there were very few tutus or costumes!!

Either way, I will do this race again for sure! It was nice to have something so amazing in the D! And according to them, Women Run The D!

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