When I set out in January on my first run of the year, I considered running goals for the year 2013. I tried to be bold. I wanted to do something that both sounded cool, and sounded difficult. But, I knew it had to be something that was possible. To tell the truth, from the beginning I knew I would accomplish this goal. I can’t say, however, that I had the same feeling after the 3rd race, or the 6th race, or the 9th race. It wasn’t until I finished the 11th race, The Mo’ Cowbell Half Marathon, that I knew I was on track to complete this lofty goal. In fact, I was ready to give up on this thing many, many times.
I chose 13 13’s in ’13 because it had everything I needed to push myself to be a better runner.
It was lofty. I remember reading somewhere in one of my runner’s magazines, or online somewhere, that a person should only do about 4 Half Marathons per year, and of those, only 2 should be goal races. I knew going in that I wouldn’t be able to push myself in every race. However, I still hoped to break the two hour mark in all of the races. That did not happen. While I did break 2:00 more often than not, my average time for all of the races ended up being over 2:00 because of one particularly bad race in Chicago when it was 75 degrees with 80 percent humidity.
The goal was specific. I knew what I had to do. I had to run one half marathon per month for the rest of the year, and do 2 in two of those months. No biggie. Except, I couldn’t find a race in December, so, ok… 3 months with 2 in there. Then, the Half in Edwardsville was rained out… so, 4 months with 2, or… one month with 3?? I went with 3 months with 2 races each. The question then became: how? How would a fat guy like me run that many races without dying? I had to find the perfect balance of training and resting. For the first half of the year, I was not successful. In the second half of the year, I figured it out. In the last 3 races, I actually felt myself getting stronger. My race times may not have reflected it, but I was becoming a stronger (not faster) runner!
And, it was catchy! How cool does 13-13-13 sound? Bad luck? Not for me!!
Ok, on to the year end awards!
My favorite “free” shirt is a tough question. The local race here gave us a nice heavy sweatshirt. The Mo’ Cowbell race has a sweet long sleeve technical shirt. But, first place was definitely the Disney Wine and Dine Shirt:
Ugh. Even though I hate the word “Swag”, I’ll use it in this situation, because it IS what we call the bag of goodies that comes with a race entry. Still… Let’s change that.
A few of the races came with a free back bag. But, only one also came with a free, race logo’d cowbell that everyone rang to “Don’t fear the reaper”, ala Saturday Night Live. And, since the shirt was awesome, the bib was cool, and the medal rocked… Mo’ Cowbell wins the award for best “Swag”. (Still hate typing that word)
While I really liked the course at the Komen Promise Run, with it’s 3 legged out and back, and I really liked the course for the Mo’ Cowbell, My favorite course of the year was the Paducah Iron Mom race. I think the reason why I liked it so well was because it surprised me! I had no idea that Paducah had such beautiful neighborhoods and parks. I mean: This is the finish line:
Best Finish Line
Well, I invented this category just to put in the report that in Little Rock, I got to give Bart Yasso a high five, but then I got to thinking. It was the Wine and Dine race at Disney where I captured this picture:
Plus, at this finish line is where I accomplished my goal and screamed like a wild banshee! So, best finish line is at Disney World.
I think the award for best on course aid, such as water stations and Gatorade and such goes to the Mahomet Area Youth Club Half Marathon in Mahomet, IL. I seem to remember there being water and/or Gatorade at every mile. It seemed a bit over the top for such a small town race, but it was in the middle of August, so anything could happen weather-wise. Glad they did so well. They just won this category! (Sorry, I never took any pictures of water stops…)
Best Crowd Support
I could go a couple of different ways with this one. I could base it on signs and spectators enthusiasm. I could base it on amount of bands and cheer groups. I could even try to figure this out on a per capita basis given the size of each community in which the race is held. I decided to go with pure awesomeness. If you’ve never ran a race in Chicago… What are you waiting for? No city that I’ve ever ran in has been out in full force like Chicago. And… they scream, they cheer, they hold up signs, they blast music, they hand out beer, they… well, they just plain rock. Congrats Chicago!
I mean… look at the size of the expo! (Again, while running, I’ve never taken a picture of a crowd…)
Best Course Entertainment
- Disney world. Hands down. Less than every mile there is a DJ, or a light show, or a character. The race even goes through 3 of the theme parks where there is plenty more of that, and stuff to look at. Plus, runners run through the christmas lights at Hollywood Studios. It’s just top-notch all around. Here are a couple pictures of that:
Best Post Race Food
At most of these races, as you file past the finishing chute, you are presented with some post race food options. Usually they are things like bags of chips, a granola bar, a bottle of water/gatorade, or a carton of milk. St. Louis made this situation something to run for. At their finish line they had homemade pretzel sticks, St. Louis’ original Toasted Raviolis, and of course, Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard Sandwiches. Wow. I could have taken home a backpack full of food and eaten for months. Far and away the best. Nobody came close on this one.
Best Post Party
Most of these races have a post party. Again, most post parties are right there on site. They might have a band. A beer tent. Maybe even some food vendors. Disney had a pretty great one. They even invited me in to Epcot for 4 hours after the race and let us ride rides and eat and drink food and beers from around the world. But, they charged me big bucks for that. You know who didn’t? Little Rock. Free post party later that night after the event. Free dinner… BBQ and all the sides. Free… OPEN BAR!! Dancing, Awards, the whole thing. Best post party possible. IF you host a race, and don’t do it this way… SHAME!
Best First Time Race (Inaugural Event)
I ran in two races this year that were in their first year as races. Both were in Peoria. And, I really enjoyed them both. But, I think overall… Run River City Did a better overall job. The course was a little easier and better staffed. The shirt was nice. And, the medal was available at the finish. Plus, it’s one of my favorite medals. So, to represent Run River City, here is their medal (it’s big, too!):
This is a tough category to judge, because every medal tells me a story. How was the weather? How was I feeling? Any good stories that day? Who was it with? How did you run? Each of them is special. But, if I had to pick the best physical medal… I’d go with… this one:
It was between Little Rock and Disney Wine and Dine but, this medal is Big! And, Thick! And, Heavy! And, … sparkly? But, most importantly, it has a pretty awesome ribbon on it. Just remember, race organizers, you can really spruce up a medal with a nice ribbon!
Best Overall Race
Again, there were so many good races. But, best overall was The Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I said in my recap of that race that “Nobody does ANYTHING like Disney does ANYTHING”. And, that’s true. Truth be told, they could have won almost every category in this recap. But, that wouldn’t be fair. Plus, it wasn’t perfect. But, it was pretty close!
So, that’s my year end recap. Sorry to be so long-winded. I will finish by posting all of my races, places, times, and finishing positions if available. Check back in a few weeks and see what I come up with for 2014! I’d welcome your suggestions!
Race #: Name Place: Time: Result:
1 Fly with the Eagles Carterville, IL 1:58:15 146/>400
2 Little Rock Half Little Rock, AR 1:56:12 647/4404
3 So IL Spring Classic Lawrenceville, IL 1:53:26 24/78 (6th/age)
4 Go! St. Louis Half St. Louis, MO 1:59:09 1888/7851
5 Iron Mom Half Paducah, KY 1:57:59 144/593
6 Run River City Peoria, IL 2:28:36 (25K) 152/425
7 Rock n Roll Half Chicago, IL 2:16:55 6619/14038
8 MAYC Race Half Mahomet, IL 1:59:43 192/301
9 McKendree Harvest Half Lebanon, IL 2:08:14 55/124
10 Quad Cities Half Moline, IL 2:05:24 845/1900
11 Mo’ Cowbell Half St. Charles, MO 1:57:58 N/A
12 Komen Promise Run Peoria, IL 1:58:22 N/A (3rd/age)
13 Wine and Dine Half Disney World Resort 2:07:48 1682/12,153
And, one more picture… Here are all of my medals from the year. Not all are from Half Marathons. I won a couple as awards, I did a Spartan Race, and a couple short races gave out medals. But, make no mistake… They’re all from 2013!
OK! Tell me what to do next year!! Thanks!!