On Saturday, we drove from Madison to the Quad Cities for my fourth half marathon of the 2009 racing season. It was about a 3 hour drive from our house. We had never been to the Quad Cities, and weren't sure what to expect.
The race started at the John Deere Pavillion in downtown Moline, Illinois. It was a nice "newly urban" area and we were quite impressed. It was right across the border from Davenport, Iowa, another one of the Quad Cities, located across the Mississippi River.
After that, we headed over to the kids race, which Paige was participating in (another post to follow). Then, we headed back to the (smallish and crowded) race expo. We were happy to see that Bondi Band had a booth!! We purchased three (two for myself and a snazzy one for Jason), checked my chip and were on our way to the hotel. I also picked up my free copy of the QC marathon poster. It really does capture what the event is like and there is the awesome bridge I ran over early on in the race.
The hotel was located near the airport and the area was very unimpressive. The hotel accommodations were nice, but we had trouble finding a decent restaurant and the mall was half vacant. After a bummer of an evening (and adventure with the GPS system), we ended up back at the hotel for a family swim. The kids loved it and Jackson surprisingly went down well that night in the pack-n-play in the living room. Later, he woke up because we were located right off of the elevator and vending and someone was banging around with the ice maker in the hallway. Luckily, he did fall asleep and we got a decent night's sleep. The alarm was set for 5:30 (the race started at 7:30 AM). But, Jackson decided he had a great night's sleep and was up at 4:45. Paige soon followed in our bed before 5:00 and I surprisingly was fine with getting up. I was excited to race! We enjoyed the early continental breakfast that the hotel put out for the race participants and were on our way.
I was having stomach problems as usual, so I of course hit the bathrooms several times. There were about 20 port-a-potties, but the lines were way, way long. I got to the back of the start line as the national anthem was finishing up and there was less than two mins to spare. I was at the back of the marathon pacing groups, which was not ideal. But, at least I had made it there before the gun went off.
Jason and I were really impressed by the elite field at this race. Quite impressive for a smallish-midwestern race. The elite athletes, full marathon, half marathon and 5K participants all started at the same time, at 7:30 AM. There were about 4,000 athletes.
We started off through downtown Moline and under a huge American flag. We headed up the ramp onto the highway. We crossed the gorgeous bridge over the Mississippi River, over to Davenport, Iowa. This was VERY cool, but also VERY crowded. The participants for the half marathon and the full marathon were still on the same course at this point and road traffic was also taking up one lane. It took me over 10:30 to get to mile one (usually I am between 8:00 to 8:30 for my first mile). I thought that the mile marker was either off, or it was just due to the congestion.
There were a lot of hills along the course, which I wasn't aware of. A lot of commercial and residential neighborhoods for the first half of the course. Big bands, high school bands, small bands and singers and musicians lined the course every half mile to a mile. It was very nice. There was also a hot air balloon festival going on, so they had hot air balloons set up at each of these distances, throughout the race, too. It was all a very nice distraction.
The second half of the race started along the pedestrian path, along the Davenport side of the Mississippi River. Around mile 8, a women in front me twisted her ankle and fell down. Two other women stopped with her, so I kept on going. One of the water stations on the path was also not able to keep up with the demand of runners coming through at that point. There were a lot of angry people, not able to get their fluids in. Some of the water stations were also really crowded and you had no choice, but to walk up to tables to get your drinks and dart back and walk through other runners. Enough said. They did have energy gel at two points for the half marathon, which was awesome and I took advantage of them. I believe they helped me out a lot, since I never felt fatigued.
For the last part of the race, we crossed over to Arsenal Island, which wasn't as impressive as I thought for the first part. The second half was nice as we ran along the other pedestrian path, along the Mississippi river and then we crossed a bridge, to get back into Moline.
We came down an off ramp, intown downtown Moline and had about .1 miles to go. As I came down the off ramp, one of the leaders from the full marathon passed me, to head out on the rest of the marathon course (about six miles?). Dude, he just ran 20 miles, in the time I ran 13. Completely crazy!
I heard Paige yelling at me, to my right, as I ran in front of a fire truck. I realized that I wasn't going to get a new PR, but it was going to be my second fastest half marathon to date. And, I hadn't done any real training or true long runs since my last half marathon distance race in late-August. I was completely satisfied.
overall place: 464 out of 1525
division place: 30 out of 124
gender place: 149 out of 833
The post race party was great, but I didn't feel like taking advantage of all the great eats. Brats or hotdogs, chips, cookies, soda, Nestle chocolate milks, fruit (loved the watermelon at that point!!), bagels and tons of other goodies. They were also doign post-race massage and I noticed that they had the bouncy castles, free for the little ones, that they had at the kids race the day before. The finishers medals were very nice, too.
We stuck around and watched the last of the half marathoners come through for the next 45 mins and watched the elite field come in from the full marathon.
1. Henry Kipsang 2:19:13
2. Jynocel Basweti 2:19:40
1 female. Buzunesh Deba 2:44:22
Overall, I thought the race was great and had a great experience. The crowd support was great throughout the race and the volunteers were awesome, as usual. However, I don't think I'd head back to this race for quite some time. As there are so many other races to do, places to see and we weren't all that impressed by Moline (except for the downtown area). If we do go back, we'll house ourselves in Davenport or one of the other areas.