Monday, May 12, 2014

Race Review: Hippie Chick Quarter and Half Marathon

For this recap, I'm pleased to share with you not just one runner's review of events... but two!  As you may already know, my co leader for my Moms RUN This Town club is also a guest blogger on here now and then... and I am so proud of her as she not only tackled her first half marathon, but did so with speed and strength! 

We both took on the "Hippie Chick Quarter and Half Marathon" put on by Better Series on Saturday May 10th.

Mariah's first half marathon experience:

On Saturday I ran my first half marathon! It was a long time in coming as I had gotten plantar fasciitis 8 days before what was supposed to be my first half in February. By the time Hippie Chick Half finally rolled around in May, I was chomping at the bit!

I met with Robin and some other friends in our running group for a group pic in the morning.  Then I headed down for some quick warm-up drills and to the start line. There I found my coach, Nikki Rafie, who introduced me to the pacers for the 8:18 pace group and gave me some last minute advice. I wanted to run about 8:12-8:15 so I was planning to ditch them after 4-6 miles. The gun went off and I started thinking they were going kind of fast. My Garmin beeped for mile 1 - 8:03! WTF? My mantra for the first half of the race was "Keep calm, run on" and I started using it at this point. Mile 2 according to Garmin: 8:00. *#$&#*! If I wanted to blow my wad too soon I could have done that on my own!! I was starting to get worried. Mile 3: 8:00. My mantra was no longer effective so I decided to say it with a British accent. There, much better.

Then we start running into a headwind and I was thinking, ok, if we're going to run this fast I will try to draft off of the pace group leaders. Unfortunately, they're all so petite that's just not happening. They are from Team Athena, but I was the only Athena in sight. Plus their balloons kept bonking me on the head. Abort mission. At least we slowed down to around 8:05 with the headwind. 

We turned in a direction I was not expecting to go. I had told my hubs and everyone else who was cheer-leading when to be where based on the course that was posted on their site, which they did in reverse. My husband was supposed to hand me a bottle of Cocogo at mile 8 since I can't tolerate gels or most sports drinks, but no Cocogo for me. *Sigh*. Keep calm, run on.

Miles ticked off around 8:04-8:08 as we hit some small hills. About mile 7, Nikki popped out of nowhere and paced me for about a mile. We sped up a bit, because well, you don't run slow in Nikki Rafie's presence. Beep: 7:59!! Nikki made a comment about us being ahead of schedule. The pacers asked if I want to slow down. "No!" I shouted emphatically, then I thought "Did I just say that?" At the 9.3 mark I looked at my Garmin and saw that I hit a 15K PR. I wasn't sure whether to be excited or very, very afraid so I was both. At the 10 mile mark we were down to only 2 racers and 3 pacers hanging with the group, so the pacers said we could split up and go at whatever pace we wanted. I turned on the full and absolute beast mode and pulled slightly ahead with my 2 personal pacers the rest of the race. At the 11 mile mark I asked one of them to tell me a joke. She told me a story about a friend who ran a marathon and thought she was eating Gu, but instead she ate Vasoline. That distracted me for 30 seconds and then I got back to being miserable.

Next thing I know it's mile 12 and there is a friend of mine with her cowbell! I was thinking "Draw energy from the bell" and then tried to keep thinking of the bell but then all I could think about was how many minutes until I could stop running. And then I started counting breaths and going through my various mantras. There was the finish line! I beat my husband and daughter there by about a minute. I had no fuel but a few sips of Nuun and water but I seemed to do ok with that. My official time was 1:47:09 which came out to 8:10 per mile. My Garmin said I ran 13.27 at 8:04 avg. Apparently I was weaving a lot.

I found my family and got some food, and then I had the chance to see Robin cross the finish with MaryAlicia, right on her stretch goal pace!

After the race I enjoyed the food but I had a hard time finding water. Every station seemed to have only Nuun, so I ended up getting water from the bathroom sink. It reminded me of a scene from Idiocracy. "Water? Like out the toilet?"

Mariah at the finish!  (photo credit to her lovely husband)

My take on the event and festivities:
I was under trained and dehydrated from being sick earlier in the week but neglect to mention those things as I my friend Maryalicia (from Run Oregon) who had generously agreed to pace me for this race.  :)  I have always been too slow to be in a race where a pacing group was available for my race pace.

I had ran "Run Like Hell" in October with a 2:38 finishing time and wanted to go for a 2:30 this time.  :)

Let me just say, that if you haven't heard of or tried the Galloway Method, you have got to give it a try!  She set her timer for intervals of running for 30 seconds and walking for 15 seconds.  It took some getting used to, but before the race was done, I was certainly looking forward to those walk breaks (which really aren't a break... I was busting my butt to move forward towards the finish!).

We picked up a couple people along the route and they joined us too for a bit on our adventures with run/walk intervals.  I have to tell you though, when you are going to start walking, get to the right so faster people can pass on the left and watch behind you so that you don't cause an accident of people running into you when you suddenly stop running and move to a walk.  We would raise a hand in the air and shout "walking now!"

We skipped the long lines at the porta potties and queued up for the race.  Before I knew it, we were off and running!  Weeee!  (okay.  Maybe I should have gone and risked a later start time?)

There was a porta potty at the first aid station, but the line was already way too long.  "That's okay"  I told myself... "I probably really don't have to go anyway. Just running nerves..."

I packed my Nathan QuickShot  for the race, but planned to rely on the ample water stations the race webpage had described on the course.

The first aid station, the volunteers had the water in large bowls and they were dipping the cups into the bowls... getting their ungloved hands into the water!!!  EWWW!

The marshy, farm land smell did not help my gag reflex on that one.  

Keep moving forward.  We passed a couple more water stations and I tried to ignore if there were pitchers, bowls of water or large coolers.... I just needed to stay hydrated.

By mile 5 there is no denying I need to pee.  Next port a potty, I'm getting in line.  

Where are the porta potties?

The next aid station around mile 7 is just getting a truck load of porta potties dropped off!  If we had been any faster, we would have missed them and had to wait until the finish line.  The speedy racers missed out if they had to go...

Likewise, those of us with an 8 minute mile pace or greater had no water at the next station.  Mile 8 was out of water.

The volunteers up and left their station
and the resident who owned the farm behind the aid station had come out with a water cooler on the back of one of his vehicles.  We grabbed a dixie cup and got in line as he filled our cups and I thanked him profusely.

That hiccup aside, the course was very beautiful, a few slight hills and lots of people to cheer and be cheered by!  i loved that aspect of it.

If there was one thing I could change, it would be that at the finish through the parking lot to get to the finishing gate, there are too many zigs-and-zags.  It isn't a straight shot from the road and into the stadium track.  I had to dig deep to finish and I could hear in Maryalicia's voice that her encouragement "Almost there!"  also was saying "It's just about 2:30:00 now... can you dig any deeper?"

Then, running all out, as hard as I can, I have to also slow to turn and weave through the parking lot and the curbs.  GAH!  But....   digging as deep as I can and asking Maryalicia to drag me to the finish if i should fall over and try to die....

photo credit: Mariah's lovely husband with his super neato camera
I made it through the finish line!!  Maryalicia warned me not to get discouraged when I saw the clock... "Gun Time" I mumbled between gasps of air.  But when I approached the timing pads on the ground, my heart leapt as I saw the time read 2:30:00.... the next timing pad was sooooooo far away...... MILES!  Would i get to it in the next 60 seconds?

Logic would have reminded me that this was the gun time and that anything under 2:38:00 was a PR, but I was illogical at that point.  I made it!  Official chip time is 2:29:45!!

Our finisher's medals are a bit on the underwhelming side, but the event is geared towards ladies (men can register but their times and results are not tracked and they are not offered any awards.) and so being geared towards the female population, the race gave out necklaces with a 1 1/4 inch charm (including the hoop) and approx 1/4 inch wide.

I don't know if I'm being a spoiled brat, but for pushing so dang hard to cross that finish line, I wanted some bling!!  If the bling is so tiny, it had better at least be silver plated.  This is not.  oh well.  

From a male spectator point of view, the husband had a lot of fun with the kiddos as they waited for mommy to finish.  A clown provided entertainment and kids who were in the kids' dash could partake in the pancake breakfast that was also available for the finishers for the quarter and half.

Bathrooms were all converted to women's restrooms except one small men's room outside of the stadium.  The husband found this terribly inconvenient as he needed to change a diaper while I was out on the run.  And there wasn't a changing table in there anyway once he got in there.   So, making the event a little more "dad friendly" would have been nice for a women's event held on mother's day weekend.  All in all, the kids had fun.  I ate my pancakes and drank half my free beer before the kiddos kicked it over as i got my free massage.  I enjoyed myself and am over the moon with my PR, running with my friend and future Hood To Coast team mate and making new friends out on the course.  (This event happens to be hosted by the same company who puts on Hood To Coast.)

 Would I do it again?  likely not.  The event is a little pricy for the overall experience.  But I am so glad I got the experience to do this and owe my amazing PR to Maryalicia and her experience and advice on my (lacking) running form and showing me the ropes with the run/walk method.

Thanks Maryalicia!!


  1. You would think that for a women's race, they would have adequate bathrooms! Perhaps you should get one of these next time:

  2. I might just need to! :) Thanks for the reminder! I've heard of it once before!