A few months ago I was making my list of races and stumbled upon the SheRuns event series of half marathons & 5k’s. I was on the fence about doing it, but then found a Groupon that cost me $30 for the race so I figured I was game.
Race packet pickup was from 6-6:30 and I planned to arrive at 6 so I could stretch, get 2-3 miles in and not be rushed. Instead I took a wrong turn and ended up rushing to get 2.5 miles in before the race start.
I cruised in from my warmup (9-ish minute miles) with about 30 seconds to spare and snap this picture as the race horn blew.
Update: I’m a terrible estimator and apparently really bad at counting. There were 94 runners and I came in 7th, not 9th.
It was a small race with probably about 40 women. This is a VERY GOOD thing because it was not only a trail race with some very narrow passes, but it was also an out and back race, so congestion would have been awful if there had been a lot of participants.
The race information claimed it was a “very challenging” course that spent a lot of time on the trails. And that was no lie. I have never done a run over 5 miles on trails before and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I spent most of my time looking at my feet trying not to trip over rocks, hopping over creeks and dodging mountain bicyclists, but it made the time go pretty fast.
I swore to myself that I would run this in 9-ish minute miles. But it was a major struggle both physically and mentally to keep this pace. I came out of the gate way too fast with an 8:30. I pulled back the rest of the race to 8:45-9:10 minute miles. The initial pull back around mile 1 meant getting passed by about 6 women which was so super fun and I loved a lot. You know, like I love being tortured or yelling at my kids. This was mentally tougher on me than ANYTHING. I am much better at mentally competing and pushing myself than holding back. #learnsomethingneweveryday
My biggest concern was the heat…and given your advice from earlier this week I knew that an 80+ degree half marathon on the trails meant I could drop my shirt off at a water station if I wanted and there would be no judgment. I also lubed up my chin and knees with Body Glide to ensure that any flapping skin hitting said areas would not cause chaffing.
I preventatively put my number on my shorts in case I ditched the top (which happened at mile 1). I also grabbed a visor at Road Runner Sports the night before since I only have a black hat = heat trap. (side note: totally shocked they were only 8.95 with VIP memberships and since I’m a total cheap-o this was GREAT news for me)
Overall I finished in 1:59 (for 13.52 miles- see below). I think I came in 4th in my age group and 9th overall or something. I just glanced once at the results and walked away and was too hot to care. I wasn’t too concerned about the finishing deets as I was doing this for training.
-Race Logistics: The race was directed really well. Even being small, everyone had chip timing which is always a perk, the scores were scrolled on a computer on-site within minutes of your finish, everything was SUPER organized from beginning to end.
-Aid Stations: Aid stations were frequent enough and well-stocked- gels, water, and electrolyte mix. My only beef came with the Chia Seed Gel Pack (see below). Even so, I carried a water bottle with me mostly for comfort since I was worried about the heat.
-Post Race Grub: There was a great assortment – bagels, bars, chocolate (each finisher got a little bag as we crossed the finish line bless them), bananas, oranges, etc. but it was too hot to even want to eat a thing. I had a tiny piece of bagel and an orange slice then thought I was going to hurl, so I settled for 3 bottles of water followed by 1 bottle of Honest Tea – this mama was THIRSTY.
-The People: I met some great ladies running. I was mostly alone throughout the race, but around mile 8 I caught up with a woman named Deanna and we ran about 2.5 miles together and talked races, training, etc. which was a nice break. I also stumbled across a poor woman who got lost and added 2 miles to the race so she hung out 100 yards ahead of me to ensure she wasn’t lost the last 2 miles.
The Not So Good:
-The Surprise Gel Pack: At the turnaround they had gel packs. I grabbed mine and was desperate because I was about 9 miles into my running at this point. I ripped open the pack, squeezed away and almost choked to death when I realized that the pack was laced with Chia seeds. I was so not expecting that. It was like sucking seedy raspberry jelly from a piece of foil – not pleasant.
-The Medals: They were so-so. I only paid 30 bucks so I don’t really care, but I do think medals are super fun and judge them discriminatingly. The concept was cute, but if someone had just taken the time to even sew the top of the ribbon instead of just tying it, it would have looked a lot nicer.
-First Aid: They needed more first aid options. A few women fell [for the first time ever in my life it wasn’t me] and there was not near enough first aid stuff for them. I ended up grabbing my first aid kid out of the car to help some of the women clean up cuts, scrapes and bruises after the race. It’s a trail run so these things will happen, I think they should have been more prepared.
I also wanted ice for my foot (especially since it was a small race) and I had to bum some off of Honest Tea who was there at the finish line (thank you marketing peeps you rocked sharing your ice) to do so.
-Course Markings: There were a few spots where it was easy to miss. I didn’t like a longer stretch that I think was on the street (next to a trail – the markings were unclear so I’m not sure) so I got on the more padded trail and it wove back and forth and ended up adding about half a mile to the race. Since I wasn’t really “racing”, I didn’t care too much, but for those who cared, it would have mattered.
Overall – for $30 and my need to get in a long run, matched with my desire to mix it up – it was worth it. That said, if I had not had a Groupon and had paid full price I would not have been very happy. Most women out there that I talked to were in my shoes – cheap race and using it for training – so we got what we needed out of it.
Are you near any of the SheRuns events?
What are your thoughts on trail distance races?