After running 12 races last year, and 4 already this year, I’ve realized I’ve become a bit of a race diva. There are things I expect from big races now, especially those which regularly make Race Bucket Lists.
I was impressed by the amount of pre-race communication. We regularly got emails with updates and information. This included the virtual race bag and program. I rarely keep much from races other than the shirt and medal, so I was happy they didn’t print things out.
The race expo was good for a non-corporate race. The bib and shirt pick up was easy (although not well marked, had to ask someone where to go). I was surprised, however, that for a big race in the Nation’s Capitol IDs weren’t required for pick up.
The Expo had good representation: CEP, Sweaty Bands, New Balance (which had some great race specific gear I had to talk myself out of, including limited release Cherry Blossom shoes), Sparkly Soul, and lots of local races and running stores. I picked up a few things:
New Sparkly Soul bands, including the Rockstar 13.1 which isn’t available online yet! I’m now building my Pittsburgh half outfit around it.
110% Play Harder Compression Sox. I’m a believer now. Cori has written about them, and finally decided to check them out. They’re nice and compressy, yet not too thick.
Before the Start Gun
From the moment I got close to the staging area, I knew I wasn’t going to love the organization of the race. The area was fenced off, but entry areas weren’t clearly marked. Once inside the fence, the signs showing what each tent was were barely visible.
Bag check was easy, as there were tons of drop spots, with limited numbers for each spot, so it was quick and easy.
The Porta Potties were all set to one side, and grouped so each line was leading to 5 potties. It made the lines move swiftly and easily.
I was surprised when water and bananas were out on tables before the race. I assumed they were pre-race treats, and saw some people enjoying them, which solidified this in my mind. This is an important thing to remember for later.
Also, I was excited to see they were handing out Mylar blankets before the race because it was much colder than expected until the sun came out. I was prepared, so I didn’t take one, but looked forward to it later.
I met up with my friend Heather easily, and we headed for the corrals. There were very small openings to get into each corral, but there was no one checking your bib color to the corral color. There was also no one trying to limit in and outs. So there was a constant flow of people in and out of the corral. Since there was no control over the corrals, they were packed. No room for any kind of active stretching, so I deeply regretted not really warming up pre-corral.
I look happy, but was being crunched into the corral. Also, I inadvertently ended up in the corral ahead of me.
In every race, you expect the first few miles to be crowded. You have a lot of people moving in the same direction, so you deal with it.
But, in a corralled race, you’d expect that they would control the number in each corral so that parts of the course wouldn’t be an issue with a lot of runners. There was no thinning out in this race. At every point, people had to hop onto the grass or onto medians in the road to pass people. I thought Disney races tested my calisthenics capabilities of side sprints and front-backs, but this took it to new levels. I’ve never been so frustrated about not being able to speed up when I wanted to, in my life.
There was a perfect amount of hydration stations. Every 2 miles or so. For someone who was not properly hydrated coming in, this was great. Until, I realized that they weren’t well planned. By the 6 mile stop, you had to physically stop and wait for them to pour water or Gatorade. Like, actually stop, not just slow down, or for a second, but there were lines. Major fail.
There were great cheering sections along most of the course, and the finish line was amazing. I was excited to cross through, and immediately saw Courtney, who put a big smile on my face.
I continued walking down the chute, looking for water, and suddenly there was no water, and the end of the fence. I could not figure out how to get out for a few minutes, and finally figured it out. I was still looking for water, and finally found someone handing them out. I skipped bananas because I wanted none of them, and went in search of where to get my medal. You had to pay extra for a medal, which I was so happy I did because it was amazing. I got my medal, went and retrieved my bag and met up with Heather and Christine.
We chatted about the race and suddenly I saw people with Lara bars. Heather said there was a table full of boxes of them, so we went in search. They were gone. Probably because they weren’t in a finishers only area, but everyone who was milling around could grab a bar. Thankfully Heather gave me one of hers. That’s a good friend 😊
Heather & I recreating a picture from 2006. She’s still a beast.
Overall, it was a good, fun race. If I’d known all the potential issues, I would have been more happy with the race. It’s a big race, with big race issues. But it was a perfect race day, I finished and met many of my goals, and spent the weekend with so many amazing friends.
What’s your biggest race pet peeve?
Do you prefer water or Gatorade during a race?
Have you ever corral hopped?;