January 4, 2014: What's better than a well-organized race with lots of course support, well-stocked aid stations and an attractive, officially certified route? A FREE well-organized race with lots of course support, well-stocked aid stations and an attractive, officially certified route. Yep, f-r-e-e, with the option to buy a long-sleeved tech shirt. With race-day packet pickup and ample post-race recovery food and drink, Columbus, GA's Red Nose Half Marathon comes highly recommended.
I'm calling this post a "race" recap, but it was actually not so much a race but my long training run for the weekend of January 4, 2014...with the polar vortex and all, the weekend brought the cold even here to Alabama.
I know my northern and midwestern friends are looking at the reported southeastern temps right now and saying "you call *that* cold?!? I'll show you cold!"
The news media really made it sound like a REALLY great day to experience life in the great wild yonder.....from gawker.com:
KBC and I are well matched for race day; we are both paranoid, so we planned to meet up and leave Auburn with ample time to get over to Columbus, get parked and get packets picked up and race bibs pinned on well in advance of the starting gun. Our meeting time was made even earlier by the fact that Columbus is on the Alabama/Georgia line - so JUST in the eastern time zone. Meaning we lost an hour. A whole hour of precious, warm, cozy sleep (or as my Hubs says, "glorious minutes"). No matter, we were getting the long run done for the weekend and out of the way early. As I passed the War Eagle Supper Club to meet up with KBC, I did see some die-hard party warriors heading out of the bar after a long night. The joys of living in a college town; some are headed to run while others are just headed home (or to the Waffle House, if they're lucky)!
We hit *zero* traffic from Auburn to Columbus, and thus were amongst the first people to get our packets that morning. No line to speak of....
So what did we do? Get in some warmup miles? Dynamic warmup exercises? Triple-dog-dare each other to place our tongues to a streetside pole to see if they stuck? Not even.
We walked back to her car, turned on the heat, and set the alarm. Pre-race nap FTW!
And we STILL had time post-nappity-nap to get into the local running store (Big Dog-Columbus), visit the restroom, and be ready to run (yep, we were that early). But, we certainly didn't fight our way up front with the local elites. The race is chip-timed, but everyone "starts" at the same gun time, then crosses a timing mat at the end for your individual finish. Based on my Garmin, we were about a minute off from what was reported as our "official" time, and I think that where we started was the primary culprit. I will also say that the first 0.5 was really congested based on our spot in the pack, and we had to weave and work our way through this part, so if you are racing this one in the future, get closer to the front.
I started the race with a hat AND headband/earcover AND neck gaitor, knowing I'd be shedding some layers once I got warmed up. KBC's husband commented when he saw me - "seriously. Are you going running or skiing? That's about as much as I wear when I ski." All right, all right, all right, you got me. About 3 miles in, the hat was the first to go; it's the Nike Therma-Fit Reversible, which easily balls up into not much of anything and fits in a pocket. I actually liked having the gaitor; I could pull it up and cover my chin and mouth when we weren't pushing it, and then pull it down for more ventilation once we pushed the pace. The gaitor was easy to slide around my Fitletic belt once I got too warm. The headband/earcover (also a Therma-Fit Reversible) stayed on the whole time; my little mini-ears need to stay protected. :)
Scenes from our run, a good bit of which was riverside. Almost the entire course is on Columbus's paved Riverwalk; very little road running in this race.
Out on the course, volunteers were at every turn and there was great support at aid stations. Powerade and water were at every station, along with full-size individual packets of sport beans and shot blocks at some stations. Pretty cool amenity for a free race, eh?
We kept a very nice even pace, and per my Coach's instructions, did 6 surges in the last half of the run, where we picked up the pace significantly for 30 seconds before dropping back down into a recovery pace for a few minutes. We both liked doing these in the second half of the run....not only did they keep us warm and loosen the knees and hips up somehow, but since this was basically an out-and-back course except for a little switchup at the start and finish, we'd seen where we were going already, so the surges made the time pass a little quicker. Threw one more surge in when we turned the last corner and saw the finish line; sprinting toward the mat and banner is just so much fun!!
We finished in 2:10, which I was happy with for a 13 mile easy-pace training run. And, with all of the "I'm cold" talk we had been doing all morning, and all the clothes I ran in, what's the very last thing you would have thought I would have eaten?
Yep, a popsicle.
Surprised me too, but we couldn't resist trying them. Planet Popsicle brought runners complimentary peanut butter, honey and banana pops. Pretty good recovery treat!
KBC, her husband and I all agreed; we'd all done races significantly more expensive than this one that didn't offer so many amenities. A fun, chilly morning in Columbus worth the drive to the eastern time zone.
Hope you had a great first weekend of 2014 and your week has gotten off to a great start!