The course started a few blocks away from where I did in 2008, due to another event going on. And the course was going to be reversed. I ended up liking it much better than the original course. The only part I'd complain about was the first half of mile, when we ran behind a sewage treatment facility and everyone was complaining about the stentch, and then we followed that by a decent incline up hill. Otherwise, the course was pretty awesome.
There were a lot of photographers scattered out on the course ... several in nice locations by the river or on the gorgeous bridges (I love running across bridges!). This photographer captured my new favorite race photo. Thank you!
We traveled through residential neighborhoods on foot and the water stations were spaced every 1.5-2 mi from what I recall. They had red Gatorade (which I really appreciated, since I HATE the nasty lemon lime flavor that most courses offer) and water available at every aid station. I carried my handheld water bottle, but actually drank the whole thing half-way through, and had a young lady dump two cups of water in my bottle, to fill it back up. I grabbed Gatorade at every water station along the way, too.
The course had very few hills the first seven miles, except for that one at the sewage treatment facility at the start. Around mile four we ran down a step hill towards the downtown area, where there was a lot of crowd support. It was exciting and I picked up speed, as we headed along the river on the gorgeous running path.
As we passed the crowd, some guy passed me and said that he had to comment on how my outfit was the best on the course. I heard this several times from other runners and several spectators and volunteers loved the matching skirt and purple compression socks. I always smiled, said thanks and added a little extra bounce to my step. I loved sporting my purple 13.1 Bondi Band, too .... as I ran my 13th 13.1 distance run of the year.
After we passed the crowd, things got pretty quite along the river. It was so nice and the sun was shining (annoyingly in my eyes at times, but nice) and such a beautiful morning. A great day to race! I loved the shade from the trees, the sound of the water, the gorgeous bridges we ran over.
We ran through more residential neighborhoods after miles 7 or 8 and up a pretty steep hill. I lost steam for a bit and then took another gel. I gained some energy and sipped on my water bottle. There was an an aid station with sponges and another with energy gels in the second half.
The last couple of miles we turned right on a nice shaded path that would bring us to the finish line. I picked up speed the last mile and could hear the announcer calling everyone's names ... I knew I was close. I passed over one last bridge and veered towards the finisher's chute. And, then my name was called.
I picked up speed, pumped my arms and made some really ugly faces. I wasn't going to PR, but I knew that I had a great finishing time ... I believe this was my third fastest half marathon of them all over the past six years.
I saw the clock approaching 1:55 and just missed it with 1:55:05. I guess I should have picked up speed before I crossed that bridge! :)
I grabbed several yummy beverages, including Diet Pepsi, bottled water, organic chocolate milk and then headed to pick up some grub (my second of three breakfasts of the morning -- the third being the complimentary breakfast back at the hotel!). I really enjoyed the variety of bagels from Panera Bread, which included my favorite Cinnamon Crunch! I also grabbed my favorite after long-run fruit (oranges) and some energy bars for later. They also had some pizza which I didn't take and some other goodies. The medal was MUCH larger than what I received in 2008 and more artistic.
I had the absolute BEST experience at this race and definitely want to go back for a third time. With just over 1,000 finishers, it was a really nice mid-sized race that wasn't too crowded, but just as exciting as the larger races I've participated in. I spent the rest of the day touring St. Charles and the gorgeous downtown area along the river and the wonderful park. I found a cute sweet shop and indulged in a cupcake before I headed back to Wisconsin. I definitely would love to take my kids back to the family-friendly destination.
19/81 Age Group (30-34F)
Half Marathon #13 of 2011 D-O-N-E!!!!