Monday, February 1, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Cloud Snapple Half Marathon

Approaching the packet pick up location near the start of the half marathon.

Notice while the sky is overcast, there is no snow on the ground. This is dramatically different than the finish of the race when there were several inches of snow and heavy snow coming down.

The race was very well organized. I believe there were several packet pick up times on Thurs and Fri before the Saturday race day, but all competitors had to pick up a chip the morning of the race.

Other than being parked at the furthest parking lot, the mechanics and logistics of this half marathon were very easy.
Here I am approaching the finish of the half marathon.

Although the weather was perhaps even worse than the Disney Half Marathon I did not set another PR. Although realistically during this race I was pretty warm and my feet never got wet. My face did get pretty chilled and by the end of the race the snow did pile up on my neck gaiter, hat and face but overall it was not too bad.

This picture is right before the finish line (you can see the time of 2:23:53) and is facing north/west on the C&O Canal. This is the same towpath the JFK50 miler goes along from mile 17 to mile 42.

After the finish I got a picture with my new friend Naomi. I met Naomi along the course. She was really positive, upbeat and was a friend of an ultra running friend.

Naomi and I ran about 11 out of the 13 miles of this race together.

We both agreed had the snow started prior to the race we probably would not have shown up. In fact without the positive weather reports alluding to an inch or two of snow primarily occuring in the afternoon, I would not have started this race

You can see from this picture the continuing snow as well as us being moderately snow covered. In fact on Naomi's shirt you can see the snow piled up. Because I had Goretex material on (both jacket and pants), I think the snow simply fell off my jacket.

Here is my friend Rosy.

It was Rosy's first half marathon and she did really well.

Her goal was to run 14 minute miles consistently throughout the race. I believe her time was ultimately 14 minutes and 6 seconds per mile.

Considering the challenging conditions with the snow (and some patches of ice), I think Rosy did exceptionally well and definitely was a trouper considering the challenges we all faced throughout the 13 miles along the course.

After finishing the race, I came home to shovel our driveway and sidewalk. My supervisor for this chore was Gilligan.

As you can see he really exerted himself by lying there for a long time. I think after about half an hour he shook off his first cover of snow. This is after about another 15 minutes.

It cracked me up that he seems not to care when he gets covered by snow. He just sort of lies there and becomes one with the snow...

My second half marathon of the year had worse weather than the first (the Disney Marathon which had a bit of snow/sleet and rained the remainder of the race). Sadly this was not supposed to be the case since the predicted storm in the mid-Atlantic was not supposed to arrive until the afternoon.

And the county I live in (and the race was in) had a prediction of 1-2 inches of snow when I left my house. However, within a few miles of the race, the snows came. And by the time I finished there was 4 inches of snow on my car.

Other than the snow, the inaugural Cloud Snapple Half Marathon was a huge success! My only comment is that for those of us in the "last" parking lot had an 800 meter walk to the packet pick up and race start. For me, the extra mile warmup each time I headed back and forth to the packet pick up or the race start/finish was not a big deal; however, I imagine for those new to the half marathon distance were not thrilled with this extra mileage.

Also, luckily I had arrived just after 8 for the 9 a.m. start time just so I could hang out with other runners and leisurely head to the start. In fact due to the extra long hike to the packet pick up I had minimal time loitering, but I did get to hang with other runners. After picking up my packet I headed back to the car to put on my bib and my chip. Then I slowly headed to the start by way of the ladies room. Sadly there was a very long line. But ultimately when runners starting being willing to use the doorless stall, the line moved quickly. Since the tree's were starting to look like an option to me (except for the fact that it was about 15 degree's and I was afraid I would pee then get stuck to the ground, a fear which apparently others found amusing) I happily used the doorless stall.

I arrived at the start line just before the star spangled banner was sung. And was able to start running with only a brief moment of waiting. I started my run with a very nice lady Rosy who I had walked a bit of the 800 meter trip from the car/bathroom. We ran a bit together but ultimately I got a bit chilled so moved forward.

At some point I joined a group that was going my preferred pace. While running along I would sporadically chat with runners. At some point I started chatting with a young lady Naomi from Alexandria. She mentioned that she was trying to keep a solid and steady pace but not go too fast as she was 2 months pregnant. Her pace was really strong and consistent which made it very easy to run with her.

Somehow races and events came up and she mentioned that she crewed for someone at Badwater. Once she mentioned Kiera's name I said I knew Kiera. She is a friend of my friend Tony and she ran both Rocky Raccoon and VT100 last year which I ran. In fact I ran a mile or two with Kiera at last years VT100 which was fun. Naomi commented that ultra runners seem to know each other and that it is a small community which I would definitely agree with. After our introductions, we then spent the next ~11 miles chatting about marathons, ultra's, crewing, pacing and running in general. Realistically this was one of the fastest feeling half marathons I have run. Naomi was great fun and made the miles fly by.

While the miles were flying by the snow started flying as well. About 2 miles into the half, a few snowflakes started falling. But by mile 4 it was snowing quite heavily. The runners who started coming back towards us after getting to the turn around, were covered in snow. Heads, faces, shoulders all were snow covered. And not just a few flakes but nearly covered with snow. I imagine we looked like the other runners however until the finish I did not realize how snow covered I was. My neck gaiter was covered in snow and was frozen solid with either condensed breath, drool or snot (I am a little unsure because after about mile 1 I stopped having feeling in my face).

Running along the C&O Canal and the Potomac it was obvious that the river was quite high. Recently there has been alot of rain here but the river was exceptionally high and the banks even looked a bit like the bayou of Louisiana.

Pretty soon Naomi and I passed all the various locks, buildings and passed under the bridges leading up to the turn around. At the turn around there was about 1-2 inches of snow. This was shocking to me considering the prediction was the entire snowstorm to be this deep. I became a bit concerned that I would be trapped at the Carderock parking lot; however, I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge I had 4 wheel drive.

Heading back to the start/finish, I knew where the icy spots were (which sadly there were) as well as where the towpath was a bit rickety. But soon enough we were approaching the finish line. Although the time on the clock said 2:23, but it felt faster than Disney because I had such a great time chatting with Naomi.

After finishing and grabbing a piece of pizza, I headed back on the course to cheer on some of my friends. I had a few friends I had met early on during the race as well as in the doorless stall bathroom (which is apparently a good bonder). I then continued on course cheering on runners until I ran into my friend Rosy. It was her first half marathon and I figured if she was up for some company, I was happy to build up my mileage. After finding Rosy, we then ran the final mile to the finish line. She was running along and while perhaps struggling a bit was quite a trooper. She continued jogging the entire time we were together which was very impressive considering it was her first half marathon and she had never run more than 12 miles.

After finishing I started going home. However before doing this, I had to clear off my car. There was at least 4 inches of snow. While scraping the snow off the car, the weather forecasters admitted that the new prediction for snow totals was 6-8 inches. Hmm!!!!

Once the car was clear of snow I started heading home slowly. And by slowly I mean REALLY slowly. The 12 mile trip that took me less than 15 minutes getting to the race took over 1 hour to get home. Even worse, there were many cars that were fish tailing and even spun out on the main highways I used (I-495 or the beltway and I-270). It was a bit frightening but I kept my speed to value I was comfortable having a wreck in (25 mph). Although I had 4 wheel drive many other cars (including the majority of cars that were facing 180 degree's from what they should have been), I figured if I was hit I sure wanted to be able to walk away and shake it off. Nothing (other than possibly getting to the hospital for a critical issue) is worth going fast in unsafe conditions.

Once I got home it was time to start shoveling. Having had the 22 inches of snow fresh in my mind I shoveled our sidewalk, the cars and our driveway regularly to stay ahead of the storm. Considering that the storm was predicted to be 1-2 inches I had no idea what the final total would be.

1 comment:

candlerun (htabby) said...

Great race report! The pics sure tell a great story too! :0)