Success! I finished my first race last Sunday and I can now call myself a half-marathoner. It feels amazing, let me tell you. Here is a little recap of the Spooktacular Half Marathon at Bonelli Park.
I woke up that day a bundle of nerves, not really knowing what to expect. As soon as we (my husband, my daughter, and myself) pulled up to the park, all of that melted away. It was a perfect choice for my first race. Small, with a local feel to it that reminded me of my cross country days. There were only a few hundred runners in each of the 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. It seemed like most of us were checking in and getting our bibs that morning, so the lines were long but moved fairly quickly. We passed the time by checking out all the costumes, which might be the very best thing about running a Halloween race! I was absolutely thrilled with how my first shot at a running costume turned out. I love Dia De Los Muertos, and since that was the theme of the event I thought it was just perfect.
I applied the temporary tattoos to my face and arms the night before, which was a smart move because it was a time consuming. But so worth it! They didn’t smear or rub off the entire race. The skirt is from SparkleSkirts and the headband and Shimmerbands are from RunShine. It was a little chilly right when we got there but it warmed up quickly. One minor gripe – because of the long check-in lines the race started at least 10 minutes late, and with an already late-morning scheduled start time of 8:10 I started worrying about the heat. Usually I start long morning runs by 6:30!
Fortunately the course was beautiful and mostly shaded. We had great views of the reservoir for a good portion of it, and there was a nice mix of asphalt paths, roads, and trails. The “stream crossing” that I had been dreading (I HATE getting getting my shoes wet) was nothing more than a trickle of water with a temporary metal bridge set over it. There were two hills that we climbed twice, and even though I saw many people slow to a walk I had no problem keeping my pace over them.
There were a couple of major problems with the course, which I hope the race directors/organizers take to heart for future events. In one spot there was a crazy intersection where people were coming from all directions and varying stages of out-and-backs. I really had to pay attention to where I was going because the signage was sparse and there were cones everywhere. The second time I came to this area I had to come to a dead stop and ask a volunteer which way to go. After the race I heard that some of the front runners were actually told the wrong direction and ended up running almost an extra mile! The other major issue was the lack of marked hazards. At one point I ran over an unmarked horizontal pipe that stood a few inches off the ground and thought “someone is really going to get hurt here”. Unfortunately, I was talking to the ladies in my MRTT group afterwards, and one of them DID trip on this spot and got pretty banged up.
That being said, It was easy to overlook the the issues with the course. I was having so much fun! Perfect weather, beautiful scenery, pleasant volunteers, and plenty of crazy costumes to look at made the time fly by. I started getting excited at mile 12 because I knew that I was going to beat my goal time by almost ten minutes. I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:06:53, collected my medal and was almost immediately able to find my husband and daughter. They had had an amazing 5K race themselves. My husband placed first in his age group – while pushing her in the stroller! He is a rock star. My daughter was absolutely enthralled with “her” medal, to the point of shedding some tears when we had to take it out of her bed before saying goodnight.
The medals for this race are outstanding (as were the tech shirts you received for registering for the half). I will cherish mine forever, a reminder of a “Spooktacular” start to my racing life. I’m so glad I was able to share this awesome day with my little family. We might have to add a few more family runs to the race day schedule!