This race was the first 5k I did when I started walking last year. I was so excited after finishing that race that I decided to try walking a half marathon and I'm so happy that I've made the decision to stay active even if I'm not fast. I was really looking forward to this race this year and ultimately had a good race, but this series has so much room to grow.
Packet pickup was incredibly slow because something was wrong with their computers, and then I got stuck behind someone picking up packets for her eight thousand closest friends. I think I only got impatient because I'd thought I would be in and out in a few minutes and didn't put #4 in his stroller. We got a cute tank, little reusable bag and a few samples. The race bibs are awesome and I have a little "founding finisher" designation.
Last year the race was held in Houston, this year it moved to Katy. I'd thought the parking situation last year was less than great, but this year there was a half mile between the parking and the race start. We had to cross a major highway, but there were police directing traffic. I wouldn't have minded, but we'd brought the cheer squad. #2 still can't walk very long distances and I should have had Christian drop me off with the kids close to the start because he ended up having to carry him on his shoulders while pushing #4 in the stroller. I corralled #1 and #3, both of whom got poked with some sort of stinging nettles walking though a field. We had four fairly grumpy kids on our hands by the time we got to the start. The kids did cheer up with free cups of yogurt and little signs they could decorate with markers to cheer us on.
We had one lane of several two-lane roads for the race. Due to the time of the race, there was a constant stream of cars in the other lane, but safety was maintained. There was one water stop. Apparently they ran out of water for the back of the pack. Tip #1 -- carry your own water if you're slow! I always do at half marathons and at several races I've been pleased that I was able to pass by the aid stations while other people were standing there in a line waiting for cups to be filled. The 10k was supposed to start at 7 and the 5k at 7:15. Nothing started on time, we were sent of in random waves, and you couldn't hear the race announcements over the music. I did hear that it was ladies' night and the feeling's right, but nothing about the race. The 10k split off from the 5k at some point (I was doing the 5k) and when the faster 10k ladies rejoined us at their mile 5.5 they were unfortunately met with a very slow field who weren't letting faster runners pass.
I had coupons for two glasses of champagne and I saw other people eating boxed dinners of salads and sandwich wraps, but the lines were incredibly long and the kids were tired. The post-race area was really crowded. I'm not used to doing such large races. #2 was using his walker and countless people were suddenly horribly embarrassed when they realized they'd shoved or cut off a mobility impaired kid. Tip #2 -- look where you're going and just slow down a little, everyone! Rather than walk back across a giant highway in the dark with the kids, Christian walked with all of us over to Sprouts and we grocery shopped while he went back for the car. The kids actually had an awesome time weighing all sorts of produce and choosing new fruit to try.
I have barely trained since #2 had his surgery. We followed that up with all six of us getting Fifth Disease, which isn't dangerous but is annoying. Still, I wasn't going to skip this race, especially since I had friends going. I was trying for fast turnover, but I just didn't feel like I had any power in my legs. I didn't have any knee pain so I kept pushing to a 37:43 finish. That's 8:13 faster than last year! One of my friends was with her daughter a bit behind me and they were using me as a rabbit. I think that's the first time that's ever happened to me so they completely made my day.
There were a lot of ladies who probably had no idea about race etiquette. People walking four abreast, people in headphones hanging out on the left edge of the course, run-walkers coming to an abrupt stop. I want people to join and love this sport, but I didn't realize how much I value the almost universal compliance with these "rules" at most other races. There was no effort on the part of the race officials to get people to line up in pace groups. I will continue to do this race because it was my first 5k, but I hope that as they continue the series they will improve the race experience.