Today I ran my seventh half marathon, the Evansville Half Marathon, in 2:06:36. Here are my observations from today.
1) Get on the bus.
This was the first race where Jon (husband and runner support) couldn't just drop me off at the start line. You had to go to certain drop-off points in E'ville to board a shuttle bus. We live relatively close to E'ville, but we don't know it well. I made it just in time from our hotel to get on the last shuttle bus. The shuttle buses took us to Reitz High School, which is high on a hill with little parking around it. So the whole set-up made sense--glad I made it.
2) You don't know a city until you run it.
I've been to Evansville plenty of times, but it's once of those cities dominated by one main expressway that everyone seems to use to avoid actual city neighborhoods. This half had me running through mostly city streets, though there was a smallish portion of on the city's bike trail. I know now what the neighborhoods in this city look like.
3) Volunteers once again make the race.
This race had a lot of volunteers helping out along the course: giving out water, gatorade and orange slices, yelling out splits, and offering applause and encouragement. There were spectators as well, not as many as in Madison, but quite a few there to root on particular people. Volunteers were also responsible for interesting signs along the way: chalking the names of cities participants had come from to run the race on the bike trail path, putting up signs with factoids (58% percent of the runners at this race were female, for example). One of my favorite slogans I saw today was also written in chalk on the bike trail path ("That's not sweat; it's LIQUID AWESOME!")
4) A race can take you to unexpected places.
At one point we ran into a minor league baseball stadium. I looked around and realized the stadium was where they shot the movie "A League of Their Own!" I love that movie, especially when Tom Hanks as the manager says "There's no crying in baseball!" There's crying in running, but that's because the sweat keeps running into our eyes.
5) Music, or not.
I didn't turn my music on at all. Seemed too much of a bother. There was music along the course though, both recorded music ("Staying Alive"? har-dee-har-har-har) and live acts. My favorite was the drumline that appeared just when I was lamenting the distinct lack of funk among the music selections I was encountering. Nick Cannon would have been proud.
6) Sometimes race directors don't lie.
The description for this half said "primarily flat." Thinking of what sadists race directors/planners can be, I thought "yeah, right." But this was mostly flat, far flatter than either my Cape Girardeau half or my half in Lebanon, IL. That flatness helped me get a great time (second fastest half ever).
7) Sometimes a goody bag, sometimes a bucket.
One of the fun things about doing races is what you get in the "goody bag" besides your race number and your timing chip. This half gave its participants a bucket (not a tote bag or a drawstring knapsack, but a pail you might mix paint in). This, I thought, was very weird. Runners from Evansville told me that this was standard practice for this half. One of the sponsors of the race is a plastics company and they provide the buckets. But still, a bucket is weird.
8) Return that timing chip or it's $35 bucks.
This race had a timing chip that looked like a mini hotel key with four holes punched in it. It came with a little orange twist tie. You were supposed to use the orange twist tie to put the chip on your laces, but I didn't realize this until I saw everyone else's twist-tie-and-timing chip combos. I put my laces directly through those holes and didn't use the orange twist tie. At the finish, the race volunteers just snip off the twist tie. Except for me, I had to unlace my sneaker to give them back this chip, which had I lost would have cost me $35 bucks.
9) I had gels before, but not during.
Tried two new to me brands: Accel Gel (I actually liked it) and Hammer (not so much). I had gels with me on the course, but didn't bother to use them, since water and gatorade were abundant, thanks to the race volunteers. I never had to fight to get a drink of either. And a first: ice pops, courtesy the Evansville Icemen, a minor league hockey team in town. They had their cheerleaders (skategirls?) handing out tasty ice pops. I was too eager to get my ice pop to consider whether or not their outfits were skanky or not. I just wanted one.
10) This was fun; let's do it again.
I liked this flat, fast half, as did a lot of people. The fastest times today were 1:11 for the top male and 1:25 for the top female. I also liked getting to know this city better, seeing the non-strip mall part of it. And the post-race lunch at Stoll's Country Inn? Delish, though I may have made up all the calories I burned racing at their buffet. But can you resist apple butter? I think not.