Another crazy Halloween Half in the books. It is always a fun time meeting and chatting with TONS of friends at the start and the warming tent as we wait and wait and wait for the 9AM start after getting on the buses at 6AM. SO tired. But, the company and excitement is always good!
Catherine and I were the 2:00 pacers and the end of the 1st wave. They did different pace waves this year so that they could open the highway (the canyon road) between the waves and not just do a hard close for an hour as everyone came by. So, we had to do sweeper duties for the first wave, because when we came to the road it was the cue for the officers to close the race course and let cars through. If you didn't make it through with the pacers you had to wait for 15 minutes until the next wave came through. That would really stink for anyone really wanting to get a decent time.
When we started we tried to be the last through the line, but people continued to stream through. I stopped and went back to the last person and explained what was going to happen. Then every group I passed I made sure to tell them what was going to happen if they didn't keep up with the pacers. Just over 2 miles down the canyon at a 9:10 pace - that was all you had to keep!! I felt like I did my due diligence in warning and encouraging people to make it through, but when we got to the highway there was a trail behind us of a good 50 feet or so, but then there was a gap... I knew that when that gap hit the highway everyone else would be cut off. I think there were only a handful of people behind that gap, but they were there. I shouldn't feel bad, they were warned and warned about the waves and to pace yourself properly for the wave starts, but well it just didn't completely work. I still feel bad they had to wait.
The course started further down the Alpine Loop than in years past...by about 2.5 miles. Less canyon pounding, but they threw in a really nice out and back along the frontage road just before Nunns Park....UP the canyon about 1.3ish miles. Ugghhh! Even just poking along that hill wasn't fun to tackle. I hope everyone had seen that change on the course map and that no one was expecting their normal crazy downhill course this year! They would've been a little disappointed.
Catherine and I had a few different groups that tagged along with us. Allison was our first tag along and she was doing great, but she stopped at the first water station and since we hadn't banked our time on the downhill canyon miles (we wanted to be closer to AP for the road closure issues) we didn't have time to walk through and I never saw her again. Catherine stopped there at Vivian for a pop stop and so I was on my own for the next mile-ish until she sprinted her way back. Pop stop = tempo run when pacing :)
During those miles I picked up the jail bird, the ghost and Dolly Parton (okay, not really her costume, but the balloons in her shirt made it look that way!). We all had good chats and conversation, but when we hit the out and back with the hill, we dropped them all. The ghost and jail bird hung on REALLY well and they were determined, but it was just too much after a mile or so. The sheet on the ghost was making a really good sail so he was working nearly twice as hard as well!
The next miles we just kind of passed through a lot of people and didn't get a huge crowd, but around mile 10 we picked up a couple people that did really well sticking with us to the end! The tall pirate was running his first half and all the women in his family had encouraged/inspired him to do it. Yes, he was ahead of all of them! Then there was a lady in a red jacket and she hung tough those last miles too. At the final turn to the finish I could tell we were early. I knew how far out the finish was from there and we still had 90-120 seconds to get to the finish. So we slowed down a bit and walgged to the end (walk/jog). Then about 50 feet in front of the finish we ran backwards and stopped a bit to encourage runners to beat 2:00! We got a few to pick it up and push through for a strong finish. Then, the finish line cameras were in view and we had to finish running :)
About being early enough to fudge the last .10 of the race: There were NO mile markers! People said they caught them every once in a while, but I only saw 8, 11, 12, 13 AND they were off. Like .20-.25 early. I don't like to trust my garmin, especially on this race because of the canyon so I was relying on the mile markers! Stink. I didn't know who was right and who was WAAAY off. Well, my garmin finished at 13.06 miles, so they had to be off a lot more than I thought. Anyway, I know it isn't a good excuse, but we just tried to keep our overall AP at 9:09 and if the course was long/short we couldn't help it. So, the course was short - nothing I can do about that. I finished in the correct AP for our pace time and that is all I can do with no mile markers and faulty garmins. Even with that 1:58:40 isn't TOO terrible, right? I once heard that 30 seconds either way for a half is acceptable. So, I'm acceptable!
The finish didn't have much of anything good :( chips that weren't all that good and fresh fruit. The apples were YUM!! I could've eaten 10 of them...at least. I wanted an orange, but they weren't cut. I didn't want to peel an orange with gloves on or cold sticky hands if I took the gloves off. The bananas were cut up though...go figure. I grabbed an apple, said good bye to Catherine and ran back on the course to run in with Danielle (my ride) who was pacing 2:20.
Along the way I saw Steph and Heidi my friends from the old 'hood where we grew up. Heidi was running her first half and Steph was her support. I ran maybe a tenth of a mile with them before the sideline crowd got too dense and I peeled off to run back again. On my way back I saw Rachelle and Julie walking back to their cars! I'd only gotten to see them for a second at the top, so it was fun to chat for a bit. Then right on cue came Danielle! I joined her for her last mile into the finish.
We passed a couple teenage boys walking and I harassed them into running again. Danielle and Laura, I think, were embarrassed by my prodding, BUT we never saw them again! They took off, you gotta know how to get them going :) Then just before mile marker 13 we came to an older guy walking. I said to him "c'mon finish line! no more walking!" It took a little bit, but he got into a run again, then admitted he hadn't done any of his long Saturday runs. I simply replied "well, you've run .25 mile, right?" "yeah" "you have less than that left! You KNOW you can run that much! Who cares what is behind you and in the past, you can make the finish with no more walking!" He then admitted that I was much too positive :) Oh, and our tall pirate that finished with Catherine and I remarked that we had waaay too much energy for him! All good comments as far as I am concerned!
So, I got a good couple miles extra in and made a few more good memories. The last 2 were slow, but hey...a mile is a mile, right? Afterward we returned our singlets, grabbed my bag and rode the bus back to our car. A little stop at the cupcake shop and we were on our way home. Another Halloween Half in the bag!
Thanks to everyone who made this one a fun one for me! I loved it, as always! Well, except the anxiety about not knowing my exact pace and if I was on time or not, because the mile markers were obsolete and/or wrong. Oh well, despite the worry we still brought it home on time and had a great race.