So the morning of the race, we got up at 5:45, having budgeted what we thought would be plenty of time to get dressed, drive to the parking area, and get a bus to the start line before the race started at 7:30, even though our corrals were towards the back and would most likely not start until 8-8:15.
That was a great plan until we got in line for the buses. Moving 30,000 runners (not including their spectators at this point) takes a lot of work and they were woefully under prepared. We stood in line for an hour and got to the start line at 8:00. The had started the race 15 minutes late, and they were announcing that corral 14 was just under way. Ceci was in corral 16, and I was in 26, out of a total of 32. We split up to drop the bag at gear check and go to the bathroom, with a plan to meet up at the V (for veterinarian) family reunion sign afterwards.
So after the bathroom break and some quick stretching, I get into the mass of people. At this point, they are not separating by corrals really, they are just starting a bunch of people and then making the next bunch wait. So the whole point of getting people to run at around the same pace is out the window. I finally get to cross the start line at 8:30, with the supposed corral 31 people. And they are mostly walkers. I have to dodge walkers the entire 13 miles! And even though I am a super slow runner, it affected my pace. Though there were people around me the entire time- I never ran alone- which I thought I would like. I don't. Even at the finishing line, there were strings of 3-4 walkers blocking the path. I think 30,000 is just TOO MANY PEOPLE!
So the post race area was a huge crowd, got snacks and water in the participant area, and then found the V sign. Found Ceci shortly thereafter- she had a great first half marathon, making her goal time, and finishing strong. But now we were in the general area and couldn't go back for more water or to get a picture together. We exchanged our race shirts and then found the line for the shuttle back to the parking area.
And an hour of standing in line in the sun later, we finally get on the buses. REALLY? You would think the Rock and Roll organization would be prepared, but they were not- and now you had all the spectators coming back as well as the runners. It was a long time and I got sunburned and hungry. We stopped at the first restaurant we found, which was Cracker Barrel, and had a great lunch with lots of biscuits. Yum. The shower afterwards was heavenly- I realized my skin was so grimy it would stick together. Gross.
So overall, it was a good race- I felt stronger than I have previously, and the next day and able to walk more easily. But the difficulty at packet pickup, the disorganization with the parking shuttles, and just the overwhelming mass of people- I'm not sure I want to do this one again next year.
But it does get me excited for the Austin Half- I would love to get under 3:00 for that race, and I have 3 months to shave about one minute per mile off my time. Is it possible? I want to try!