Iowa City Road Races, Run for the Schools. Sunday October 19, 2014. Sunny, cool 40 degrees. 9 am. Half Marathon.
The race hosts many distances. At 8 am there is a half mile fun run, at 8:15 there is a mile run and then at 9 am the 5k, 10k and half marathon all start at the same time.
It’s hard for me to truly enjoy this race as a running event. I run a lot of races, which are more fun, more scenic, with better medals, (if you didn’t run the first part of the “longest marathon” the medal doesn’t mean much, except you finished) but it’s hard to give up on a race in your back yard. Plus, this year I was part of the race organization, I was asked to help with the social media, (facebook & twitter) I was approached to help as a coach or mentor for the Couch to 5k class, and I was an exhibitor at the expo.
Registration: Was available online until the Wednesday before the race, you could also mail in your entry form. Registration was also open at the expo and on race day. Competitive race pricing, money went to the Iowa City Community School District and Regina Catholic Schools. Included with the fees were chip timing (first year), white cotton shirt, race bib, and many promo flyers.
Expo. The expo was held in the Rec Center the day before the race. Many exhibitors backed out, but there were still plenty of things happening. Running Wild, the local running store had deals on shoes, you could create race signs, or enter a poster contest, sign up for a free week at a cycling studio, learn about the schools, buy some head bands, learn about the Rival Game Relay, and learn about Medals 4 Mettle. I also brought information about Mile 22 bags and BibRave.
Pre-Race: There was on street parking around the downtown area for free. If you are not from the area you might have trouble finding a spot. Many announcements before the race including a message to line up according to pace, very crowded start with three races at once and no corrals. National anthem was sung.
Race / Course: All the courses are on the streets of Iowa City. Which can be a challenge in itself as many drivers aren’t always aware, but the course was marked well and I didn’t see any mad drivers this year.
- Each mile was marked, most had a volunteer shouting times based on their clocks – not official
- Where each course split was well marked and manned with a volunteer
- Water and Gatorade stops, but in same paper cups; volunteers shouted which drink they had
- Not many spectators, but the ones on the course were very encouraging
- There was a bathroom on the course
- Cement and asphalt surfaces, many crack and potholes, need to be alert
- A Volunteer took photos
- All major intersections had a law enforcement official, all intersections had a volunteer
- No food or gel stops
- No course entertainment
- Hills, but nothing steep
Finish: Clearly marked with a banner over the street and the timing mats, names were announced. Chips were promptly removed from shoes, and the medal was hung around your neck. There were bottles of water, but I had to back track to grab one. On the next block was the post race food: bananas, oranges, cookies, bagels, sandwiches, water and chocolate milk. There was also free post race massage. Same amount of food for the first finishers as the last.
Overall: Not my favorite course to run, but I know the course and it’s in my back yard, so if I am around I will run it. However this race always falls on the same weekend as many other races, so we’ll see if I am back next year.
Personal: Where do I begin? I hadn’t been training for this race, aside from running with the Couch to 5k group, which was a lot of fun. I did run the Quad Cities half 2 weeks before. I also have PF, which I have been babying. I was well rested and didn’t have any goals.
I was running with Laura, who was one week removed from a huge PR at the Chicago Marathon, she also did not have any goals for this race.
We started out in the crowd, just enjoying the beautiful fall day, keeping a steady pace. I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch, but when we hit mile 3, the watch said 30:27, which was an excellent start for me. We kept running and talking.
I believe some where in between mile 9-10 Laura said for me to go ahead, but of course, I was struggling to keep up with her. We kept together for about another mile, I asked her what her PR in the half was, it was around a 2:07. I was doing the math as we ran, I hadn’t been looking at my watch, but was paying attention to the volunteers yelling the times at the mile markers. I knew she was on course to PR…I also knew I was close to breaking 2 hours again.
At Mile 10.5, I picked up the pace, working towards a sub 2 hour half. Laura kept up behind me, but faded a tad. Around mile 11.5 I was running with 2 other women, just before mile 12 a volunteer shouted 1:53, I thought ah hell I can’t run a 7 minute mile, but then at the 12 mile marker the volunteer shouted 1:51. The joys of not having the official time, oh I guess I could have looked at my watch too. I told one woman there was no way I could keep up her pace, so she shuffled ahead. The other woman, was walking and running, so I kept with her up the last hill.
When we got to the top of that last hill, that woman stopped to walk. I could see the finish 3 blocks ahead, I told her to pick up the pace, slow and steady, the finish was just up ahead, so she did, and I couldn’t keep up with her.
I crossed the finish line, checked my watch, 2:01:50 (official 2:01:55) I was ecstatic! It has been a long year of races. This was my 12th half marathon this year, my 23rd overall, and my second fastest. I never thought I would be close to breaking 2 hours again, after a disappointing Chicago RnR.
Then I turned around to see Laura cross the finish line…she had done it, set a new half marathon PR….yes a week after kickin ass in Chicago. (official 2:02:
Josh was also at the finish line after completing a great race too. Joel also came down to cheer us in. Love having running friends, always supportive.
I am also waiting for the official results for Iowa Longest Marathon. I know I didn’t win with the fastest time, but there is an award for most improved time, and I cut mine by about 7 minutes.
We need to work on our group jump timing, lol