After spending a few days in Hannibal MO, I moved to Stoney Creek Inn, a very pretty hotel in Columbia MO. The Go Girl Run Half Marathon will start and finish just 1/2 mile down the road - within a pleasant walking distance. I know because the first thing I did after checking into the hotel, I took a stroll to check it out.
Ever since I signed up for this race, I'd been worrying about the weather, worried that it would be hot and humid on race day. When I started this trip 10 days earlier, the forecast was too long-range to be a sure thing so I packed both a short-sleeved shirt and a sleeveless shirt for this race. For that matter, I did the same for the Quincy IL race the weekend before, which turned out to be a hot race day morning.
By the eve before the Go Girl race, the race day morning forecast was for mid-50s temps at the start, warming to about 70 by the time I would cross the finish line. My decision was made...I'd wear the short-sleeve shirt and might be a little chilled at first, but would soon warm up once underway.
So race day morning, out the door I walked and headed down the hill toward a small park and the start line. It's an all-woman race...no men allowed. There were maybe 400-500 half-marathon runners and about as many 5K runners, those shorter race participants starting 15 minutes after we do.
It was cloudy and chilly....just as long as it doesn't start raining, we'd be okay.
The course was fantastic! It immediately took us up a long uphill stretch but then sent us barreling down the backside of that hill where we picked up the trail system. Much of the race route will be on one of these beautifully groomed packed sand-and-gravel trails, the absolutely gorgeous MKT Trail, which is part of the "Rails to Trails" programs that can be found all over the country.
It was lush and heavily wooded, running across the occasional wooden bridge over streams and small rivers, and with no sign of "civilization" visible at all from the trail. Beautifully smooth and flat with a stream running along-side at some points along the way.
= = = TMI Alert = = =
About 3 or 4 miles into the race I felt like I needed to pee. We had a long section of the route in the early miles that were deep in the woods on the trail and there were no support services provided along this stretch. But I'm surrounded by dense woods with occasional primitive trails cutting off the main trail here and there....and I'm running among other women, no men. So I ducked down one of the small little primitive trails for a few feet and then proceeded to take care of business. I tried to be as discreet as possible, revealing as little flesh as I could. This mostly resulted in more urine wetting my shorts than the ground beneath me.
= = = End of TMI Alert = = =
So now I had a dark wet stain down one side of my light gray running shorts. Maybe no one will notice. Or....maybe it will start to rain and hide the evidence. It had been rumbling thunder off in the distance for a while and the skies to the southwest were starting to seriously darken.
Well....be careful of what you ask for. Within the next mile it began to spit rain a bit. Then it hit.
The temperature seemed to plummet with the first wave of heavy, gusty rains. I was freezing! Before long, my hands were aching from the cold and my torso was seriously chilled. It was a battle to keep moving forward but we were so far away from the start/finish line that there really was no other choice but to keep at it.
In the middle miles of the race, we were off the trail and out on city streets and sidewalks, not under the relative protection of tree canopy, and we were getting pummeled! It reminded me of the Mardi Gras Half Marathon in Galveston last year...but in that race I was at least wearing my Brooks jacket. I was really wishing I had that jacket right about now!
A few miles of this and we were routed back onto trails for another couple of miles. But the protection was short-lived at mile 8 when we were sent back out onto a major road - and a major uphill - for another mile. But once we conquered that hill, we were returned to the trail system for the rest of the race. And it was a great race for me! I was still (mostly) running by the last mile or two of the race, and was feeling good, especially since I'd just run a half marathon seven days earlier.
As I neared the finish line, was within a few yards of crossing it, I sensed someone running behind me and coming up very fast. We crossed the finish line at nearly the same time and she managed to elbow me out of the way of the only person at the finish line assigned to remove the timing chips from our shoes. So I waited my turn, then quickly lost sight of her. She looked like she could be in my age group....no doubt she was trying to make a "play" for finish position.
|Finisher's medal on left, 3rd place finisher medal on right.|
At this race, as at the race last week, the timing chip company had tables just past the finish line where we could get our finish times and ranking there on the spot. I didn't think to do it last week and therefore missed out on claiming my 2nd place finish award. I wasn't going to make that mistake again this time, especially since the technology is being offered to us. I walked over there and claimed my printout and sure enough....there it was!! 3rd Place in my age group!
All finishers got a finisher's medal but also a really nice, engraved wine glass. The perfect vessel to fill with a fabulous fruit smoothie, offered in three different flavors, along with fresh fruit, protein bars, and other goodies in the finish line area.
I wandered over to the stage area, where the finishers' awards ceremony was underway. They were just starting to announce the 60-64 age group awards as I walked up. The announcer started with the 2nd place winner, so I walked up to the foot of the stage and said, "And I'm the 3rd place winner," and handed him my printout slip. Talk about perfect timing! I joined the 2nd place winner on the stage and the announcer continued on with the 1st place winner with hardly a delay or break in the action.
Then someone was putting podium finish medals around our necks, "gold" for first, "silver" for second, and "bronze" for me - I was elated and could hardly process this! I'd just had an age-group podium finish last weekend..two back-to-back races! I've never placed in my age group in a half-marathon before. I've come in 2nd twice and 4th once in 5K races, but this is a first for me!
My feet barely touched the ground as I walked up that steep 1/2 mile hill back to the hotel. The euphoria stayed with me as I showered, dressed, packed the car up and checked out of the hotel. It stayed with me all the way to my stopping point for the night - Miami OK. I couldn't wait to get home and hang my new medals on my medal rack. I would hang that 3rd place finishers' medal with pride!
Here's what the 50 States-50 Half Marathons map looks like now: North and South are now firmly joined together with these last two states colored in.
Next up: Anchorage Alaska and the Mayors' Half Marathon on June 22, the day after my 65th birthday. With this race, I'll officially move into the next age group of 65-69, and will officially join the ranks of the Medicare "gang."