I drove to Seabrook and got there probably a bit too early, but I was able to park at the school just down the street from the race start. It was a nice bonus to see the early start marathoners take off, too. This race hands out tons of stuff, including spray hand sanitizer and blinky shoe lights. I'm not a huge fan of the black shirt since I'm super pale, but I'll probably wear it anyway because the race was so much fun. I love making Mom of Four my custom bib name. It sounds so overly sentimental, but my kids are the best thing I've ever put so much work into. I like to be a bit of an ambassador for getting out there and doing something for yourself, even if you're toward to back of the pack. Also, that medal is huge and heavy. People who'd done the challenge to race both days got an extra medal on Sunday, so there were tons of people walking around clanking at the post-race party. It was awesome.
The half marathon was two loops of mostly crushed granite trail. While it's technically a trail run, the course surface was flat and non-technical enough that #4, who is all of 16 months, could have handled it. This is good, since I'm not sure how much rooty, gravely steepness I could handle. I leave that stuff to Christian. The course went past neighborhoods, through a slightly wooded spot, and along a bayou. The neatest part of the course was in Pine Gully park, which sits on Galveston Bay. It was cool to look out on a big body of water, especially when the sky is foggy and it seems like vast nothingness. The race does have two-direction traffic on some of these narrow paths, which was usually not a problem.
There were hot dogs, which is my favorite junk food ever. They had vegetarian rice & beans if you didn't eat meat. Also, an ice cream cart with strawberry popsicles. I might have been a little too enthusiastic with my appreciation for the ice cream volunteer guy. I'm pretty sure he thought I was crazy for being so happy about a popsicle. There was tons of food and there didn't seem to be any sort of bib-marking that kept you from going back if you wanted, say, another popsicle.
I've barely been training (total of 5 miles in the two weeks leading up to the race) since #2's surgery was at the beginning of March and my motivation to go work out after the kids went to bed was non-existent. It was supposed to be raining at this race. The only reason I went was that #2 really wanted the medal after I showed him the race logo. Well, that and thinking that this is where it would be so easy to give up. No one would say I sucked for giving up on my goal because I had to spend so much energy taking care of my kid. Since I'm stubborn, I decided not to quit where someone would expect me to. I was out of my preferred gel and had to dig through stuff Christian had won at race raffles to find enough to take with me. Christian has roughly a million Hammer gels left from RWB trail camp and about the same number of Huma chia gels from their fundraising campaign. I find both of these absolutely disgusting, so it was sort of funny to be surrounded by sports nutrition and hardly able to find any for myself. I found some non-tested but innocuous looking vanilla gels and dragged my exhausted self to the car at 5 a.m.
While I was waiting for the race to start, a relay team sitting near me started getting dressed in costumes. It's worth checking out at the race photo site to see these four guys dressed as Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach. The rain seemed to be holding off, but I'd chosen to wear a hat and leave my glasses in the car. Who needs to see clearly anyway, right? It was still dark when we started. I felt all tough, starting in the dark and being on a trail. Look at my handheld! I am hardcore!
The first few miles were uneventful, just a bit wet. They had signs with jokes and trivia questions posted along the side of the course. The wooded portion of the course seemed cool until a HUGE GUY came barreling around the corner cutting into the side that should have been not for him. I'm not a tiny person and it startled me so badly. I tried to be extra noisy going around the other blind turns. I was going along at an easy pace and then the rain started. Drizzling at first, then pouring. Wearing a hat proved to be the best decision ever when there was rain constantly dripping off the brim. Having those few square inches of my face kept relatively dry made all the difference in the world in my mood. Then the thunder and lightning started. I was about as far as you could get from the race start at that point and was worried that they'd call off the race and keep us from starting another lap. I was mentally rehearsing what I was going to say to the keeper of the bling about how I needed to give this medal to my kid who'd just had a femoral osteotomy and cannot even WALK, but the storm must have been far away enough that they let me start my second loop. Incidentally, I was lapped just before the end of the first loop by the women's winner. She is thirteen years old. Good to know she's almost exactly twice as fast as I am. The other great thing was the aid stations, which just so happened to have my favorite gel in the world. They also had candy and Girl Scout cookies, which is maybe a trail thing? Christian is always talking about how they have a huge amount of food on the course at ultras, not just sports nutrition stuff. Speaking of ultras, you could spot the hard-core people throughout the race. They had on their hydration vests and were wearing buffs and serious trail shoes. These are my husband's people. You could also tell the total roadies, including a really fast guy running in what seemed to be a tri suit.
On the second loop, the course was much wetter. There was no avoiding the puddles this time and I got thoroughly wet. ANOTHER GUY almost ran into me at the same exact corner even though I was hugging the edge of the path as closely as possible. He was wearing nothing but running shorts with flames on them. This is the stuff of nightmares. It made me miss my nice ladies only races. I get that people want to do well, but if you know there's two way traffic, stay on your side! Shortly after that I looked at my watch while approaching mile marker 9 and calculated that if I maintained my pace I would finish at 3:03. I argued with myself that both the distance of a half and the concept of an hour are both completely arbitrary, but I decided to pick up the pace as much as I could to see if I could break three hours. I put on my best race walking form and went splashing along the trail. A fast guy, who I think was actually being nice and not making fun of me, told me I was the best power walker he'd seen all day. I was doing about a 12 minute mile at the time, which isn't too shabby. When I passed mile 12 I could feel a blister starting, but I also knew that I'd make my time goal. See how happy I was to finish, even though I was cold and filthy? Something about the race atmosphere was just so positive that very few people were bothered by the rainy weather. Or maybe I'm just smiling because the announcer at the finish line pronounced "Brynne" correctly.
Note that I strategically cropped this -- my days of awesome race pictures are over until black tights season returns. I am so pasty-looking in my shorts, and I'd also worn the only pair of crew length running socks I had as defense against the gravel. They are black. It was not pretty.
What I Learned
Hats are the best thing ever in the rain. Next time I do a trail race, though, I need to bring different shoes with me to drive home. I was really, really muddy. I didn't try to clean any of it off, though, since I needed to show off my trail-ness to Christian. He was duly impressed with my filth, which didn't put #4 off of clinging to my legs like he thought I had left forever and couldn't believe I was back. I am definitely planning to return to this race in the future, since it was well organized and fun.