First this race is the 3rd and final race in the Heartland 39.3 race series, where you finish 3 half marathons in 5 weeks (Rock the Parkway, Garmin Half, and Running with the Cows). This was my 2nd year completing the Heartland 39.3 series. This year I got a larger outer medal "holder" for last year's medal. If I complete 3 years in a row I'll get a jacket. So yes, I'll be doing it again...call me a sucker.
Anyway, back to RWTC. I won't lie, this is a challenging course, and was made even more challenging this year with a course change. It's also not particularly exciting. You pretty much run on back roads out in the country. For many people this is awesome! Country roads and fresh air...but I prefer people and more to see. But this race still has so much going for it. First, it is by far one of the most well organized and friendliest races I've ever done. Everyone has to be bused to the race start, but they are so well organized and you basically have a bus waiting for you where you park. They make the quick trip to the school where the race starts and when you get off the bus, there are people everywhere greeting you and telling you thank you for coming to their race. They are awesome. They have a bag drop inside the school and also pre-run breakfast if you are interested. You see nothing but friendly faces and amazing volunteers. The medal and shirt are also great. And the post race spread....well it's like no race I've ever done. There is so much food. There are homemade items as well as catered in sandwiches, BBQ, pizza...and so on.
Even though this is a smaller race, they also have pacers which is great. After my last disaster race at Garmin I decided to start slow and to do that I started with the 2:35 pace group. I was hoping I would finish around 2:35, but with my slower running times this year I doubted it, but thought if I at least started with the 2:35 maybe I'd stick with them and I wouldn't go out to fast. Historically I've been about 5 minutes slower at this race than Rock the Parkway - which was the case again this year. I did 2:35 at Rock the Parkway and a 2:40 here.
|Me & Kelly pre-race|
The race has true rolling hills. The course is hilly, and the hills just never stop, but for the most part none are particularly steep. That is until this year! As I've mentioned this was my third year and this year they changed the course. I couldn't get the map to pull up for some reason so I wasn't sure what the course change was. Well, for SOME reason they decided to add a HUGE hill at mile 9. So here's my deal. Miles 9-10 are typically the most difficult of the race for me. They are truly my "make it or break it" miles Honestly as I was finishing up mile 8 I was feeling pretty good. I was hanging right with the 2:35 pace group and I started thinking wow, I might just finish here. I feel strong. I feel great. I am woman hear me roar...blah, blah, blah.
But then comes mile 9. Literally right at mile 9 you start the climb. Is this the biggest hill I've ever climbed - no, but it was unexpected and for me came at my hardest part of the race. It is a 70 foot climb over .6 miles...just up, up, up. It was tough and here is where I faltered. It just took too miuch out of me. You get a nice little downhill for the balance of mile 9, and then you just go up, up, up again. Mile 10 to 11 is basically an 80 foot climb uphill. There are some little rollers in there, but overall you just keep going up. It was just a killer. I had managed to average around an 11:35 for the first 9 miles (even with that hill), but then that just took it out of me and I just couldn't keep my pace after that. My last few miles were in the 12s, with mile 11 at a 13 something pace.
I finally reached 13 miles on my Garmin and though wahoo I'm almost done. But, I couldn't see the finish line anywhere. That's when I knew the race was going to be super long. I knew by mile 11 I wouldn't make 2:35, but I thought I might still be able to do a 2:38 or 2;39. I pushed at the end and when my watch was at 13.1 miles I was at 2:38. I could see the finish line and thought maybe if I pushed I could still come in under 2:40....but I crashed. I literally had to stop and walk with the finish line like 500 feet in front of me. I ended up with 2:40:03....I just couldn't push those last few seconds. I was kind of bummed and mad at myself that I wouldn't just push a bit more, but I was spent. Those last hills had just killed me. Did I mention it's an uphill finish??
So yes, it's a hilly course. It's constant hills, but I'd still recommend this race anyway. The aid stations are awesome. People are so friendly and they have one about every 1.5 miles. Then when you get done you get a cowbell, your medal and of course that insane post race spread!
I found a bit of food and my friends and headed home with my double race bling and excited to be done with 3 marathon in 5 weeks.
Now I will add another one. I'll be doing the Colfax Half Marathon this weekend in Denver. It will be my first race at altitude and I'm pretty sure I might die. I expect this race to be like 3+ hours. We shall see.
If you are on Instagram please follow @sportchaletexperts - I will be Instagramming from their account on Sunday during the race. So you can literally follow my adventure as I update throughout the race. It should be fun!!!!
|Additional race bling for the 3 race series|