The packet pick up expo, or ExMO is located at the St. Charles Community College.
There was a lot to see and do! There were a lot of vendors willing to talk to you about their products, races, or services.
One of the big perks is the classes offered throughout the day. I intended on going to all the classes, but I only made it to the first yoga session and the talk about the Galloway Method.
While I was glad to spend quite a bit of time here today, I wish there would have been a little refreshment…maybe a snack booth where you could purchase a cookie or water…
The other fun perk was the outside Brooks tent. They had a giveaway, flying money box, and gait analysis check! I did it all…several times 😆
I won a shirt, sunglasses, and ear buds…and I didn’t get the winning ticket in the flying money box.
I did get my gait analyzed! They put sensors on my legs, had me do a few leg bends, and then run for a bit… Come to find out, I have a neutral stride! Nice. I have trusted in my stable Adrenalines for a while now…maybe a new style is in the works!
There was a lot to see, checking in and getting the bib and shirt was nice and easy. I don’t love when they put the shirts at the end or back of the Expo, but I understand the why… There were a ton of vendors and everyone seemed excited for the race this weekend! A fun experience overall!
Once we got to the starting area, I found Gametime Mobile Storage. While I thought there would be a bag drop off, there wasn’t any mention of it in the first e-mails. There was mention of the mobile storage units to keep your belongings safe… So, I rented a “large” locker for $12. For the cost, I was really glad that I got it! Sometimes you never know if someone else is going to accidentally run off with your bag…and in a far-away place, I wouldn’t want to risk it!
Everyone milled around for a little while…and around 7am, we finally lined up.
I chatted with the runners and fellow pacers around me. Most of the people were running either the half marathon relay or marathon distances…so it was slim pickings for runners that would be sticking with me the whole race.
The excitement of the first mile had people passing us left and right. Within the first mile, there was a band playing outside, which added to the excitement for sure!
Around the 0.5 mile mark, we hit a small incline and this is where I re-explained how we were going to take the hills at an slower pace to keep even effort throughout the race. I seemed to gain a small following at this point now that people were interested in what I had to say…ha!
This stretch of distance took us around a small park area near the river and we walked through our first water stop.
The next couple miles were down some paved back roads. We saw farm equipment tilling up the field, a pumpkin patch, a couple blips of people cheering us on, a couple dead animals, and good conversation. Everyone was still feeling good and there were less people passing us and more sticking into my group.
Miles 5-8 were a change in scenery for sure. We started down the out-and-back loop in a residential area. I hollered at the pacers heading back to the finish and kept my group moving along at a nice pace. We were right on schedule with paces and it seemed like everyone was doing well!
Around mile 7 -7.5, there was a water/GU stop and it seemed like the runners I had with me either wanted to take more time and didn’t get back with me quickly OR decided not to stop and ran on through ahead of me. One of the runners I was talking with the entire way decided that his HR was a little high and he was going to rest a little longer and thanked me for my time 🙂 At least he TOLD me he was letting off the gas! **Good luck with the rest of your 50 states venture!!**
Oh well. I heard something like, “2:35. Wow, she had a big group before…I wonder what happened…” around mile 7.5… I wondered what happened too!…
Around mile 8 I started talking with someone new. We spent the next couple miles chatting about family, running, and life. The time ticked away and before long, she was going to take it quite a bit easier on the upcoming hills and we said our goodbyes 🙂
Right after the mile 9.5 water stop, the “hills” began.
As far as hills, they were not all that bad. But after nearly 10 miles of flat grade or down hills, these hills seemed HUGE. I kept a small pack of runners motivated to continue the first climb…I kept thinking, is this the “hills” that people were so worried about?? But once I crested the first, you could then see the LONG hill up next.
I slowed my pace to a manageable speed and kept my breathing as close to what it was before the hills… I saw someone’s shirt that said “I Run 4 Riley” and it made me think about my Aiden 🙂 I Run 4 Aiden. A sweet, sweet little girl – coming up on her first birthday!! I talked to Aiden the whole way up this hill…I wished her all the best, prayed for her safety, prayed for her momma and sisters, and just kept talking to her about this run… Before I knew it, I was at the top and started my downhill descent.
Once we got to mile 10.75 or so, there was a whole bunch of little kids, “little guppies”, with signs and bells and lots of excitement 🙂 The energy these little crowds give can really boost a runner and I told the runners that were around and with me to take in their energy, we were going to need it for a strong finish!
After the excitement died down, the crowds fizzled, and the runners were alone once again. There were a couple runners that I believe were running Galloway because I heard their watches go off often and they would run past, I would pass when they walked, and repeat…
There was a STEEP down hill around mile 12 that shot us towards the finish!
Once I settled back into pace after the monster downhill, I started rallying runners that were struggling to run and finish the race with me.
We made the turn onto 2nd street and we were just a couple turns from the finish!
I met a lady, who I named “Nachos”, who was running fast, then walking, then running fast, and just running out of steam completely. Her friends were just a little bit ahead of her trying to coach her to the finish. I told her to just take it easy and run with me to the finish. In the process, I picked up another couple ladies that were also riding the struggle bus…
We passed the time by talking about what we were going to eat after the race. First on her list, nachos with cheese and jalapenos 🙂 We rounded the corner on Clark and I hear her feet stomping the brakes down the hill. I coached her to let gravity work for her now and take the hill a little faster. This is when I said “Come on Nachos! You got this!” Her friends were laughing and thought the nickname was perfect for her!
I kept watching my time like a hawk. I knew that I banked a little time before the hill and I didn’t want to finish too early. I started hollering back at the runners to beat me to the finish!
Many runners got a little extra boost from me yelling around that you could just see them give that last 0.25-0.5 mile more juice! I was like a shepherd with my pacing stick, calling in my runners! Towards the finish, there was a gal, that was just SPRINTING and when she got close, she said “You are NOT beating me!” Yes!! I ran most of the way in with her before seeing if anyone else was close enough to finish in the 2:35 time.
I finished in 2:34:55.
This was a great race! Amazing weather, great runners, nice water/gatorade stops, and a nice downhill finish for the half marathon (not sure how the marathon finished). The crowd support lacked in most areas except for the residential area, the water stops, and the final 0.25 mile stretch. The only pet-peeve I have is when at the water stops, they put the water first and the gatorade second…no one REALLY wants to be tasting gatorade for miles! Or if water is first, then gatorade, add another table of water after…just to wash it all down!
The only major hiccup was that they ran out of metals for the half marathon a little before the 2:30 finishing time… As a pacer, I was a little upset that there wasn’t a metal to have…but as a paying runner and/or first time half marathoner (as many runners were), I would be quite upset, and they were! Everyone was assured that new metals would be cast and sent to the finishers. No fuss… No pretty metal pictures either 😦
The post race area was big enough for everyone to get around without bumping into everyone 🙂 There was water, chocolate milk, bread, fruit, and beer! We all just hung out and relaxed for a bit before picking up our belongings from the mobile storage and heading home.
This was a great race through and through! The ExMO was a lot fun and there was a lot to do and see. The morning of the race was beautiful and perfect weather for the half marathon distance. The volunteers were nice. The post race party was a lot of fun with things to do with the entire family. This is certainly a race that I would enjoy running the Mo Cowbell Half (or full) Marathon again.
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