Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Womens Half Marathon (Bloomington, MN) 2012 Race Report

Last fall, I was in search of an all women's race.  I wasn't going to get back to Walt Disney World's Disney Princess Half Marathon anytime soon.  I found the Womens Half Marathon at Mall of America (HERE), located in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Registration had just opened and they were offering the first few registrants a super-discounted rate.  Sign...me...up!

I ended up making a girls weekend out of it and three of my gal pals ventured four-plus hours north to the Twin Cities.  We stayed at the host hotel, The Double Tree.  The expo and packet pick-up were going to be taking place at the hotel, so that worked out great.  I arrived downstairs at the expo, when they opened at 9am.  Right after I picked up my race packet, I ran in Richelle (pictured below), a RDM reader.  We had talked about meeting up and just happened to run into eachother when I arrived.  We browsed the expo together for an hour.  There were about twenty booths ... all geared towards woment.  I somehow managed to not purchase a thing ... most likely because I was spending my day at Mall of America after the expo.  There were a lot of new exhibitors and some fun, new products.  I really enjoyed window shopping and getting to know Richelle.

The technical shirts were really fun and feminine and the custom bibs were great for getting support on the course.  We also got some free goodies and an awesome reusable tote.

My friends were planning on driving the two miles to see me finish the race.  The race started at 7:00 am on Sunday morning.  And, the host hotel was offering a free shuttle service to the start line.  The line was long, when I arrived at 6:15 am, but the shuttles were constantly picking up runners.  When I got to the hotel lobby, someone said, "Hey, I know her!".  It was Ruth, another RDM reader, who I also have corresponded with on Facebook.  We spent the next twenty minutes getting to know eachother and taking pictures, while we stood in line for the shuttle.

I arrived at the startline and there were women everyone in brightly colored clothing.  My friends later agreed, that I actually didn't stand-out this time!  I left my hot pink compression socks and tutu at home this time!  There were plenty of port-o-potties available and the lines were short.  The 1,200+ female half marathoners lined up at the start line.  The dozen-or-so men that were registered, were instructed to go to the back ... because, well ... ladies first!  The 5K participants were lined up at the back of the pack.  I was in "Corral A" and started towards the front.

We were off promptly at 7:00 am.  We ran the first couple of miles through the buisness park, which was pretty boring.  Someone at the start line told me that miles 2-3 were supposed to be hilly. There was no course elevation map online, so I didn't know what was in store for me.

Right at mile two, we ran adjacent to the ski hill ... OMG .. it was one of the (if not THE) toughest hills I've ever attempted ... and then, conquered.  For Madison-area runners, this hill was more difficult for me to manage than Observatory Drive, on campus.  Women were panting and walking left and right (remind you, this is the FRONT of the pack).  And of course, there were race photographers placed at the very top of the hill, snapping shots.  I had to pretend I wasn't miserable (above).  Oh yeah, that hill was a blast.  Not.

Mile three brought more hills with it and then many more hills after that. What the heck??  Just when I didn't think there would be more ... there was.  By mile six, my legs had had it.  They were burning.  I could feel myself slowing down.  I had hopes of going sub-two hours again, but I feared it wasn't going to happen.

We ended up in a nature conservancy area, and ran along a flat (ish!) path.  The sun came out at one point, but for most of the time, it looked like it was going to rain and was very cloud-covered.  Thank goodness.  It was pretty humid, and I fear it could've gotten much worse.  One part of the course, when I thought my legs were d-o-n-e, the path turned into gravel.  Mind you, this wasn't crushed gravel.  It was loose and my legs were trashed.  Footwork wasn't fancy.  But, I ventured on.  I ran with the same pack of ten-twelve women for much of the second half of the race.  The second half of the race was pretty flat, compared to the first half.

I saw Richelle several times out on the second half of the course.  She could tell I was struggling, because she kept asking how I was doing ... all with a very fresh smile on her face.  She'd stop at water stations, I'd keep going with my handheld water bottle.  Then, she would pass me again.  She, and then the 2:00 pace group passed me.  There is nothing like watching that 2:00 sign running ahead of you, and then no longer seeing it.

At just over one mile to go, there was a woman to my right that I was passing ... and then she stopped.  I told her to keep going, and she started again.  I kept going and saw another gal walking to my left.  She was holding her side, as if she had a cramp. I patted her on the back as I passed her. And I told her that there couldn't be another hill and that she should try finishing with me. She agreed and joined me.  We turned the corner, and there it was, another pretty big monster of a hill.  Darn it.  She laughed.  I laughed.  I increased my pace and conquered that last hill. 

My tunes were blaring, but I could still hear the announcer and the crowd and cowbells at the finish line.  My friends were waiting for me at the finish line, and I need to make a good impression.  I wanted to show them why I do, what I do.  Despite the fact that the clock was ticking past two hours. 

There were my friends, waiting for me with the camera.  My non-running friends were cheering me on and snapping photos.  They probably thought I was nuts ... running 13 miles, after a two-three hours of bad sleep in a hotel room, covered in sweat, my thighs chaffed (oops, forgot the Body Glide) and my legs aching.  Surprisingly two days later, one of them signed up for one of my upcoming Couch to 5K programs for the fall.  Inspired?? Maybe.

I ended up crossing the finish line in just over 2:03 .. being my second slowest half marathon time ever (the other being my first half marathon of 2:20, back in 2006).  Am I disappointed with my time???  Sure, a little bit.  But, I never stopped to walk.  I never told myself that I couldn't do it.  I encouraged other runners to keep moving on the course (that coaching mentality kicked in).  And, I motivated a friend to start a journey of her own.  I would consider that a pretty successful race.

273 / 1,247 Overall
269 / 1,234 Women
45 / 184 Age Group


  1. Love the recap! I also ran this hilly race on Sunday. I came with 4 of my running buddies from Hayward, WI. We train on the Birkie ski trail and the hills still kicked our butts! Great job, wish I would have run into you.

  2. Great report Jamie! It was great to meet you.

  3. Awesome job!!!! Great recap! Erica

  4. Nice job!
    A hill that's harder than Observatory Drive??? Not sure if I want to meet that one anytime soon :-p

    Congrats on a great race!

  5. Great job, especially with so many unexpected hills! I think you did fabulously. :)