Friday, September 16, 2016

Carowinds Run and Ride Half Marathon Recap

Last Sunday was the Carowinds Run and Ride Half Marathon. I was really looking forward to this race because even though we have lived here for 7 months, we still haven't gotten to the park, and my entry fee included a ticket. They had reduced fees for those who didn't want a ticket, which was also cool! 
The hubs and I got there nice and early, so I could pick up my bib and swag before the race.

It was still dark, but it would be light by the time the race started. The bib pickup was fast and pleasant, and they had actual bathrooms at the ticket booth which was a nice bonus. There was no air though, so it was a but stuffy, but I think it was a fair trade. I didn't take a pic of the swag, but we got a tee, arm sleeves, a buff, and a magnet. I put the magnet on my car and it blew off before we got home. Oops.

They also had Sally and Linus at the bib pickup, so I scored some pics before I headed to the start.

After a speech about  9-11 and the anthem we were off. The race began by looping around the parking lot and then we entered the park through the main gate. It was a double loop, which I wasn't thrilled about at first, but on the second loop, you had a nice sense of where you were and how far you had to go, which was awesome. 
We got to run through their Dinosaur Land, I don't know what the official name is, but it was very interesting to run through, and very hilly! This is not included with regular park admission so it was a nice bonus to the race. It was also super shady, which was a nice bonus, especially on the second lap. 

Carowinds is a beautiful park, and we ran through most of it, including the water park, which is included with regular admission. After the park, we ran through the campgrounds and RV park and then we doubled back into the park for round two. 
I'm not gonna lie, the last 3 miles were ugly. Super ugly. It was getting really hot and it was humid all morning, and my pace slowed dramatically. I thought I might not finish. For real. This was my 45th half and I was afraid to show it in the official photos like I usually do. I have never DNF'd a race, although I have had a couple DNS. 
When we finally reached the part where we turn towards the park, they directed us to go straight instead, for a one mile out and back in the parking lot.

If you look to my left that is the sweeper, she is about a mile behind me, maybe a little less. Yikes. My last mile was mostly walking, a little crying, some texting to the hubs. But I made it to the finish.
I got my medal, cried a little more, and then searched for the food and water table. There wasn't one. No volunteers either, even though I finished under the time limit. Another runner managed to find some cold water, which was a bonus but I was RUNGRY! 
I found my friend Lissa and her friends, who so very nicely waited for me to finish, and we did a finisher photo.

Lissa had a season pass and she could get the hubs a discount so we went to the ticket booth to get almost half off, score!, and then back to the car so I could change into dry clothes before we went to the park.
First stop, Starbucks for some chocolate milk, followed by a very large iced tea lemonade. Then we hit up Cinnabon so we could share a delightful bun. Yummmmmm my tummy was a little wonky from the heat so I only ate a little before we hit the rides.

They were ready for Scarowinds, and I couldn't resist this picture! I wish he was shorter so I could get my medal on there, but he was enormous!

Over all, it was a great race and a great day. They defenitely needed better use of their volunteers. The water stops were all all well manned, but there were large groups of teenagers in volunteer shirts just sitting around in some areas, but none at the finish. 
The results still aren't up because of issues with their timing company, but they have been super up front about it and I've received two emails already with updates and a discount code for next year. The medal was amazing and next year I will sign up for the 5k on Saturday because the medals connect! Whoa!
The course is very hilly. That's life around the Charlotte area, but it definitely bears mentioning. If you're local, it's probably no big deal, but newbies like me struggle!
The pacer for the three hour half was off pace before we even hit mile 1. She told another runner that she was banking time for the end but more than once she caught up to the 2:45 pacer and he needed to tell her to slow down. By mile two I could no longer even see her and I never saw her again. Up until mile 10 I was on pace for a 2:53 half and still never saw her.  I finished in about 3:01 and she was long gone when I left the chute, so I'm guessing she finished a few minutes under the time. I can't even imagine how hard pacing must be, but it was very demoralizing in the first miles when we couldn't even keep up with the pacer, and not all of the runners had a gps watch. I told a few that they were still on pace, and a couple of them were very relieved to hear that. My best advice when using a pacer would be to wear a pace bracelet or a watch so that you know on your own whether you are on pace. Trying to keep up with a pacer that is going too fast can wear you out and wreck your whole race. 
I will definitely do the race again, though. It was a beautiful course and I look forward to beating my time next year. The race used one of the photographer's pics of me in their album, so I will leave you with that.....


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