We had an address for packet pickup and that was our destination address. We ended up driving right passed it because we weren't looking for a bar. Yes, packet pickup was at a local watering hole. There was 1 guy with a computer to look up our bibs and give us our shirts. On the website, the shirt was noted as "tech" and this wasn't the case. It was a cotton/poly blend and I will not be wearing it out for a run any time soon. Not to mention, it was gigantic and only "unisex" (aka men's) sizing. Oh well, for a cheap race, I wasn't going to complain (until now I guess). After picking up our bibs and "swag bag," we set out to explore the tourist shops along Broadway street. We even took a stroll down the river walk which was quite pretty.
That night for dinner, we stopped at Sprecher for a delicious dinner consisting of fried cheese curds (standard Wisconsin fuel), beer tastings (6 different varieties), and a portobella mushroom wrap with beer chesse mashed potatoes (it tasted as good as it sounds FYI).
|Kate S and Kate LF with our beer tasters|
Next up, we changed into our pajamas and took a walk to Cold Stone for dessert. I used to work at Cold Stone in college so I tend to like it made a certain way. These young kids just don't know how to make it like we used to. The ice cream was still delicious, I just had to mix it myself in the cup (kind of defeating the purpose). They also were singing some serious songs that brought me back to those days. I don't miss them (I only miss my 50% discount). After eating our ice cream we headed back to the hotel to try and watch some episodes of Workaholics before going to bed.
We got up nice and early, ate the continental breakfast at the hotel (we all had oatmeal), and headed to the race. We could see a small swarm of runners as we pulled up to the supposed location and we knew we were in the right spot. We overheard a few people talking that there were only 200 people running this race.
We snapped a quick photo and walked across the park to the start.
|Me, Kate S, and Kate LF. Black and pink attire required|
Before the race, the director (the guy with the computer at the bar from yesterday) told us where some of the big hills were, for those of us that didn't study the race map (raises hand). This worked out nicely when we were figuring out our run/walk strategy.
The first few miles were out on the main road with a bit of a hill at mile 1.5. This wasn't one of the hills the director mentioned so this had me worried. We kept on pushing through to mile 3 when we took our first walk break, as there was a straight hill from mile 3-4. It seemed like it would never end but when it did we picked it up and got moving again. There was another big hill at mile 7 that went on for about 1/2 mile. By this point the sun was starting to get hot and the little walk breaks became more frequent. We were still on target to make Kate LF's PR so we kept on moving forward. Since the course was mainly an "out and back," the previous one mile uphill meant a full mile downhill on the way back! After that downhill, we took some more walk breaks so we could run the last full mile. The last half mile was most uphill and Kate LF was struggling a bit. We cheered her on and she picked it up. When we turned the last corner, Kate LF picked it up into a sprint and we all crossed the finish line together with smiles on our faces. I really hope the photog captured the moment!
Along the course there were water stops (with both water and Gatorade) about every 1.5-2.0 miles. There was also a band playing at every water stop. I thought that was a nice touch and something unexpected along the course. Despite there being a small number of people running the race, there seemed to be lots of groups of people finishing together which adds a nice touch as you're struggling through the hills and sun together with strangers.
The finish line was behind the bar where we picked up our packets. They had hot dogs, chips, fruit, water, Gatorade, Mountain Dew (?), and granola bars all waiting for us at the finish. A fun band was playing some classic rock jams that kept the party going. We didn't stay long at the post race party as we had a 4 hour ride ahead of us. (Plus, we had to get some Spotted Cow on the way home, naturally.)
Overall this race was fun, small, and a nice time with my friends. I probably wouldn't do this race again, but us girls have decided to make this an annual tradition. Who knows where next year's half marathon will take us! If you have recommendations for fun, cheap, midwest half marathons in states other than Illinois, we're open to suggestions!