Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 Bentonville Running Festival Half-Marathon

I still haven't blogged about our Branson trip, and I will, but I thought I'd get my race recap out of the way while it was still fresh on my mind.

The first of two half-marathons this month... I picked this one because I have a friend that lives in Bentonville.  The plan was that the girls and I would spend the weekend with her and she'd keep the girls for me while I did the race.  Bentonville is a 3 hour drive from my house, so it's not a race I can just get up early for and make the drive the day of.  If I hadn't had a friend in town, I never would have even considered it.


My friend's daughter caught pneumonia.  We hoped she'd get better in time, but she was still pretty sick by mid week, so we decided that me and the girls staying at their house wasn't a good idea.  Which left me with a dilemma.  I couldn't drive up the day of, and I couldn't take the girls with me with no one to watch them.  So I reached out and another friend of mine offered to keep them overnight for me.  I booked a hotel room in Bentonville.  Problem solved!

The next plan was for me to get off of work, check the girls out of school, take them to my friend, then hit the road.  It left me very little room for error....  I get off of work at 1:30.  Half an hour to my friend's house from school.  Packet pickup ended at 6pm, and it's a 3 hour drive as I said.  I was hoping to get on the road by 2:30, to be in Bentonville by 5:30.  I got to the school and it took 20 minutes to finally round up the girls and get out of there.  Ridiculous.  I still could make it.  But I had to get gas, get the girls settled in.... it was creeping up on 3pm before I hit the road.  I would just barely make it, but I could still make it.

Then, not even 20 miles out of town, traffic came to a dead stop.  It took 20 minutes to go the few miles to get around the accident.  There was no way I could make it, and - of course - despite having used the bathroom before leaving my friend's house, I needed a pit stop.

During my potty break I emailed the race people and explained what was going on and they told me what I needed to do to pick my packet up in the morning before the race.  Disaster averted!

I made it into town about 6:30, feeling like my bladder was going to explode.  It's not like I was guzzling water, and I never have to pee that frequently, but of course I had to when it was totally not convenient.  Then I realized I had printed out directions to the packet pickup location, not the hotel.  Smartphone to the rescue.  I GPS'd my way to the hotel.

I checked into my hotel room....

I had a king size bed and 5 pillows all to myself!  A night of just me... no one else... no TV, no talking.  Just pure peace and quiet.  It was divine.

I got up at 5am, changed into my race clothes, found some breakfast, and headed out to find the place to pick up my packet.  I've only been to Bentonville once and we didn't really explore town then, so I had no clue where I was going.  Thank goodness for the GPS yet again.  Of course, the route it picked for me included part of the race course, which was closed, so it wasn't as helpful as I hoped for, but I found a place to park for the race.  Which turned out to be almost half a mile from my destination.  I had to walk to get my packet, walk back to the van, then walk back to the starting line.  I really was thinking that if I believed in omens, I probably should just walk away.  Go home.  But, I didn't.

My shoe charm says "Sole Sister"... my sister has one, too.

I had hoped that at packet pickup, had I made it in time on Friday, that I would talk to someone about the early start, since I was a walker.  The 3:15 pacer started early, and I knew I wouldn't cross the finish line before that.  Yes, I could finish the race in the 4 hours, but I thought an early start would at least let me get home earlier.  But, since I was late, I couldn't do that.

Almost immediately, I felt like EVERYONE had passed me.  There were very few walkers.  I imagine most of them took the early start.  The policemen on bikes were circling around the last few of us.  I was honestly afraid to look behind me, to confirm that I was last.  I just walked.  Someone has to be last, and I was going to do this race regardless of where I was in the pack.

Bentonville is a beautiful town.  I never take my phone out to take pictures during a race, because it slows me down, but I took 3 pictures today.

Hay sculptures.  I tried to get both of them in the picture, but apparently failed.  I thought they were so cute and clever.

We passed an old cemetery, and it was probably my favorite part of the course.  Not only was it really pretty, but the signs were great.

(No, it really wasn't.  LOL)

We passed the Waste Water Treatment Facility, too, but that was neither beautiful or fun.  It was smelly.

I was getting really excited towards the end.... my pace was excellent.  I was under a 16 minute average.  Barely, but still.  With just one mile left to go, I just knew I was going to end with a sub-16:00 pace.  Then... the hill.  I had heard mention of The Hill.  But didn't think too much of it.  Ha!  I do not know how ANYONE could run up that hill.  Seriously.  By the time I made it to the top, and for a minute I wasn't sure I would, I had a stitch in my side (I'm walking, remember?), I couldn't breathe, and I thought I might have to visit the first aide station conveniently placed at the top.  It was insane.  They had cardboard figures of the race director dressed up like Satan along the way.  I'm really not exaggerating.  It was killer.

And it killed my pace.  I tried to recover as best I could, but it just wasn't in me.  I finished in 3 hours, 33 minutes.  Two minutes faster than my first half last year, 12 minutes faster than my second half, and it's hard to compare to the last half I did since they diverted me and I lost half a mile.  My pace was 16:23.  So, I did get a new personal best =)  And I definitely was not last ;)

I crossed the finish, got my medal, and pretty much immediate walked the half a mile back to the van, wishing I had parked closer every step of the way (and GPSing it again as I had no clue where the van was in relation to the finish, even though it was fairly close to the start, but I have zero sense of direction), and drove back home.

It's hard to see, but I wrote "x 4" in the dirt next to my sticker

Aside from the stinky waste water facility and the evil hill, this was probably my favorite half-marathon yet.  There were so many people out cheering us on, staying until even the slow-pokes like me.  Water stations galore, never more than 2 miles apart and that was rare.  At times it was every mile.  And the scenery was gorgeous.  I'll definitely do it again.

I'm tired.  I'm sore.  I have an epic blister on my left foot.  And now that I've written this, I am going to bed.

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