First off, did you know I could get 63% off lawn sculptures? Or so says my Groupon. And I'm *pretty* sure they don't sculpture what I want, if you know what I mean.
Alright on to the review!
I've run this Half twice before, but unlike my Father and his uncanny ability to remember EVERYTHING about races, I just remembered lots of pretty neighborhoods and rolling hills. This suspicion is confirmed by the description of: "A challenging, tree lined and park like course that runners have consistently enjoyed and considered the best Half-Marathon course in Iowa."
I'm pretty sure no one would say, "this course sucks ass and really no one likes it, but it's the only half-marathon around so they keep showing up. IDIOTS". NO but really, this course is literally rolling miles from mile 2-11. Up down, uuuupppppp dooowwwn, up....straight...turn...DOWWNN.
Okay, I need to backtrack to swag, entry fee and other particulars.
Fee: $25. Yes, please, this is vastly cheaper than most Half Marathons around.
Swag: Ugly grey shirt with this logo on the front:
So , not too jazzy, BUT the first 2000 Half-Marathoners that showed up to pick up packets got free socks. AND these happened to be the same sort of thin Asic's socks that I love, and my Dad hates, so I got two pairs. SCORE!
The race is slated to start at 8 am. And this is the only race that I have ever attended that it actually DOES start at 8 am. No talking, no blithering about who is running, no anthem, just literally...."runners on your mark, set *BANG!*". It is glorious.
There were 10 water stations, which were very adequate. The course was well protected and traffic controlled by the finest of Des Moines police officers, and the spectators were friendly, albeit a little quiet. I prompted many by yelling "good morning!", much to the annoyance of some of my neighborly runners. I think I helped some run faster to get away from me. You're welcome for that.
On more personal note:
Dad and I pulled into the parking lot ($8 to park btw), and I realized at that moment, no GARMIN. Now, this could either be a blessing or a curse. So I decided at that split moment that I would let it be a blessing. I wouldn't watch my pace, and hold back, I would listen to my body, listen to the splits given by some mileage counters and just be on my way.
Miles 1-5 were a little crazy for me. Dad hung on until mile 4 and then I didn't hear him any more. I heard my 5th mile being called out as "41:33" and thought, I need to slow down a little and then no mile splits were called out again until mile 8. At that point I heard "1:07:43" and I was all "holy crapballs!" So though I didn't think I could get my split, I knew I would finish very close to my goal of 1:50.
We turned down the last stretch up a long 1.8 mile slow climb and I knew I would make it. I pushed and smiled and yelled and clapped. I probably looked like a mental patient (I'm used to it). Then a chick started passing me with 3 blocks to go, and I told her "go get it!". I love doing that, cheering on people who pass, because I know that when I run, I need that little push...and I hope I can be that little push for someone else.
All in all, I loved the race, and I will do it again. Because like childbirth (so I am told), the happiness at the end negates all the pain in the middle.
AND...ANNNDDD. I finished in front of my Dad. Maybe only by 1:20, but this is the FIRST time EVER that I've finished before him. He is hitting 60 years old this year, and I seriously have never beat him. Not without cramps or pain....in his case.
It only took nearly 20 years....sheesh.
Would I recommend this race? Yes. It's cheap, friendly, hilly and scenic.