I’m almost sad that this incredible journey of mine is nearly over. Mainly because I’m just now hitting my stride! I felt stronger during and after this race than during or after ANY of the previous eleven races!!
I headed up to the Peoria area late Friday evening after our best-ever tennis season ended on Friday afternoon. I was lucky enough to listen to my St. Louis Cardinals clinch a World Series berth as we headed towards my parents’ house, where we would stay. Saturday, my wife, mother and I went to pick up my race packet, including an adorable pink tank top that I would wear during the race.
Then we headed to lunch on the Peoria Riverfront. The Peoria Riverfront is a really nice area that doesn’t get near the amount of business and traffic as it deserves. Of all the places I’ve travelled to, it’s really put together as well as any riverfront area I’ve seen! They could do a lot more with it!
This is the race I signed up for in early June after one of my other Half Marathons was stormed out. It was suggested to me by my good friend Adam, one of the guys who is responsible for my running problem. Adam said then that he’d do this race with me, and was true to his word. We also talked our good friend Nicole into it, as well as Myles and Kari. Myles and Kari are husband and wife. Adam and I have known Myles since we were small children. With all of these friends of mine running with, I was really excited to be a part of it.
This race is put on by the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The Komen Foundation raises money and awareness for breast cancer treatment and research. On their website, they expected 3,000 runners for the inaugural event. Just over 300 showed up on race day.
I picked up Adam at 6:00 and we made our way toward the Peoria Civic Center, where the race started just outside at 7:00 a.m. We huddled indoors with most of the rest of the racers since start time temps were in the upper 30’s. By the time I finished the race, it had made it all the way up to 44 degrees. This was a pleasant change from my last 5 or so races. I was ready for some cooler weather.
The race had an interesting course layout, to say the least. Upon examination, it was apparent that this would be a 3 legged out and back course. That means to say we’d head out and back in 3 different directions to complete the 13.1 miles of the Half Marathon. Already I was skeptical. Looking into it further (and knowing the area), I could tell immediately that this would be a hilly course.
Ok, soooo… so far, given what you probably already know about me and my race preferences, you might have assumed, at this point, that I did not enjoy this race. Hilly. Out and Back. Pink tank top for the shirt. Race #12. Tired Legs. You would be WRONG! I loved it! This might have been my 2nd or 3rd favorite race of the year!!
The course WAS hilly, maybe the toughest course I’ve run on all year. But, for once the downhills helped as much as the uphills hindered. The out and backs WERE INTERESTING. But, it gave me an opportunity to see Adam, Nicole, Kari, Myles and other runners who I didn’t know were running with us. Also, it was a great chance for the runners to cheer each other on. Even without running next to my friends, I was running with them anyway! My legs WERE TIRED. But, there were motivational signs every so often such as “This hill sucks, chemo sucks more”. Since it was also a relay, there were groups of people throughout the course that were set up waiting for their partners, and they did a great job of cheering runners on. Overall, there wasn’t great spectator support, but I expect that to change in the future as this race grows. There were a few cheer groups out there on the roads that really helped push runners along. Especially the ladies at the bottom of the worst hill on the course on N. Park Rd. That hill was a killer! But, the screaming and yelling and ringing of cowbells really pushed me along.
Water stops weren’t an issue at all. There were 2 or 3 water stops on each out and back, which meant there were 4 or 6, since we passed each one twice! I will say, though, that the water stop set up at mile 1 was unmanned. Someone missed their assignment on that one. No big deal to me, but mainly because the temps were cooperative.
Overall, considering this was the first year this race was held, this was an AMAZING event! Improvements can be made, sure. One example: finishers medals weren’t available at the finish line! I know, right!?!? How dare they??! Apparently, they will be providing medals for ALL participants. Also, I would assume that in the future they will have long sleeved shirts for the cooler temps of late October. But, again, that’s not a BIG deal.
Best news of all??? Yeah… I broke Two Hours, again! 1:58:22!! And, because it was such a small turnout… and I think a little because the hills may have gotten to some people… I got 3rd place in my age group!! Luckily, Adam picked up my medal for me and sent me a picture of it so I could get it into my post tonight!! Adam got 3rd in his age group, too! He’s younger than me, bless his little heart! Congrats, buddy!
Anyway… wrapping it up… Would I do this race again? Most likely! On a scale of one to ten, I’d say it’s a 7 1/2. That’s a solid score for a first time race. Fix the medal issue, because a lot of these people won’t run without one! I’m not toooo picky, and it was still a little disappointing! A little more PR for the race, and some advertising might get some people out to scream and shout! Otherwise, the race was a great success in my mind! And, if I’m around next year… just maybe I’ll see ya there!!
ONLY ONE MORE RACE!!! YAHOOOO!!!!
Matt Snell, you just ran your 12th Half Marathon of 2013. What are you going to do next??
I’m going to Disney World!!!
Wine and Dine Half Marathon is last, but certainly not least! Check back in 3 weeks for my final blog post of 13 in 13!!!