As the light rain hit my windshield, driving past the lighted Krispy Kreme donuts sign on HWY 26, I contemplated turning around and grabbing a hot donut instead of continuing on to the Hippie Chick Half Marathon. Just then, Michelle Lewis’ ‘Run Run Run’, a soft melody about running dedicated to Boston Marathoners, came over my speakers and my mood changed. I continued on to the race and I am glad that I did! What had initially been forecast as a stormy day, instead ended up being a beautiful day for my first Hippie Chick Half Mararthon, a predominantly women’s race with over 2000 runners.
At 6:55am, the race traffic started just after getting off the highway. You could park by the race start at the stadium or at the Intel parking lot and walk about a third of a mile. I did not want to walk, but I also did not want to deal with traffic after finishing the race, so parking at Intel looked to be the best option (I chose wisely). The traffic and walk put me behind time on meeting up with my friends at 7:15 for a photo. I still arrived in plenty sentence structure it’s absolute yes it is absolutely of time to walk around, see the booths, and meet up with my friends later. The Stadium was spacious and large enough to hold the crowds. There were tons of Port O Potties and real bathrooms for people to use (of course those lines did get longer as the race start loomed closer). Bag check was a breeze! I kept my jacket because I still thought it could thunderstorm, and with the 45 degree weather I was going to need it (I chose poorly). There were tons of booths; Mother Runner, Lunar Bars, Muscle Milk, running stores (in case you forgot something) and Free Chocolate! I went back to bag check to get that checked because I was pretty sure it would not be there when we finished (I chose wisely). Of course, the bag check people promised to take care of it as they winked at me.
The race started on time, or at least shortly thereafter. My friend Robin York and I lined up, and my goal was to lead her to a PR with the Jeff Galloway 30/15 second run/walk ratio. We would start out running for first ¼ of a mile until it thinned a bit and start the ratios of running and walking. We noticed that the pacers were ‘Team Athena’, a local women’s running group. This made it a group of empowering women instead of the men in skirts that usually were the pace setters for this race. That did not bother me though, and it did not seem to bother others either that the men were missing. (Although this was my first Hippie Chick race, I knew about the men pacers because my brother was usually one for this race in the past.)
I was pleasantly surprised at the course, it was NOT the same as Helvetia as I thought it was going to be, but it was still a beautiful course. It featured gentle rolling hills, amazing scenery, and the weather continued to get better as the clouds broke and the sun came through. At mile two, Robin and I picked up another “Mom’s Run this Town” member, Kim, and she stayed with us until we crossed the finish line. At mile five I ran into Heather (who in my mind I constantly call Heidi) and since I see her at so many races, I know she is one of the few runners who has hair longer than me. She puts them in the cute braids, sometimes up, sometimes down and it is always nice to see her when I am running!
At mile 6.5 I had a bit of a freak-out momentwhen repositioning my Gymboss I dropped it. The battery fell out and I spent a half mile trying to get it working and set again with the right intervals. It is still fairly new to me, so I could not remember how to set it. Luck shone down on my and I finally figured it out and we were on our way again.
My brother was taking photos and we hammed it up along the course. Everything was great except as we headed toward the turn-around. At that point, runners were letting us know there was no water at the mile 8-ish station. The good news is there was a water station about mile 7 and the turn-around looked like this was a last-minute added water station just in case. There were three port-o-potties at the turn around and we took advantage of them before moving on again. By the time we got to the aid station, the kind homeowner had brought out water for us! Now that is just awesome!
While the course and weather continued to improve, Robin and Kim started to tire, and I am sure my encouragement of ‘shoulder’s back, chest out, arms down’ got very tiring for them to hear (as well as the women around us). Luckily, Robin wanted me to help coach her, and her form was waning as she tired. I had to hold myself back from speeding up as we got towards the end of the race. We were so close!
At aroud mile 11.75, Robin just wanted to run it in and avoid the intervals, so we did! I pushed her that last mile because we were getting close to not making her 2:30 goal. We saw the finish line and I grabbed her hand to run in in the last few feet. We crossed the finish line with time to spare beating her goal of 2:30. She achieved a new PR at about 2:29:30, beating her old record by over 8 minutes! Think how much faster we could have been if I had not dropped the gymboss or if we had not stopped for the bathroom?! We received our necklaces and moved through the finish chute with smiles on our faces.
Afterwards we enjoyed more pictures, Muscle Milk, pancakes (yum!) and bananas. At 2:45 (race time-wise), the food still seemed plentiful, but the chocolate was gone. The crowds seemed evenly dispersed, and I think it helped that the tents were spread out to encourage this. I was a bit disappointed that they would not allow me to get a non-alcohol drink with my beer coupon – it was beer or nothing. I would love it if they offered other options for non-beer or non-alcohol drinkers. I went to bag check to get my gear and pass out SunRype bars. As always, they go so quickly! The clouds were rolling back in and I was so glad the weather was as nice as it turned out!
I really enjoyed this race – though it is a spendier one. The only cons are the price and the water table in this event. The pros are a nice shirt, swag bag, beautiful course, a great array of booths, and for the most part volunteer support. Everything seemed to go smoothly, or was fixed promptly. I believe, with this race, I chose wisely.