The race hotel provided a shuttle for the runners beginning at 6:30 am for the 8:00 am race. This was so convenient and allowed Greg to sleep in. Let's face it - this wasn't my first race (it was actually my 10th half marathon) so the excitement had clearly worn off for him to rush to the start line. I met a really nice girl who lived about an hour outside of Dallas on the bus. She was running the full marathon and had some wonderful race stories to share. This was the first race that I used the shuttle service and I'm glad I did. You can meet some very nice people along the way. We were dropped off outside the massive American Airlines arena and it was strange trying to figure out the mess when surrounded by 20,000 people plus their friends and families.
The problem with massive events is that you can't hear the announcements, have no real idea what's going on, and have to wait up to 15 minutes just to cross the start line (12 mins this time). The upside is that, as a slower runner, you're always part of a crowd and there's generally a good spectator crowd to keep you motivated. It was kind of tough to take in the downtown scenery due to the combination of fog, dew and humidity, which made the asphalt slippery. It's hard to describe this course. There were so many turns that you were constantly having to slow down within your small running crowd that it was difficult at times to build up any momentum. I found miles 7-9 to be absolutely amazing because of the breathtaking mansions we passed. I can honestly say that I have never seen such displays of wealth (old money). Dallas makes Beverly Hills homes look like cheap imitations. Even the Christmas lawn displays caused me to be in awe. Miles 10-13 were along the Katy Trail, which was 3 miles of concrete beating of the joints. The Katy Trail didn't hold a candle to the all-purpose trails at the Metroparks. I definitely wasn't a fan of the final 3 miles on unforgiving concrete. The final stretch was back at the American Airlines parking lot and I found the finish line chaotic and unorganized. As soon as I crossed, I received my medal (pretty nice medal at least) and space blanket. But then it got really congested. Apparently, the finisher t-shirt boxes were just dropped in the middle and it was a free-for-all. All I wanted was water and I had a hard time finding some. I was pointed toward the runner's village, which was yet another disappointment. There was a HUGE line that snaked around. I looked to see what people were carrying out to determine if it was worth my while. Would you believe that thus race of 20,000+ people had bagels and bananas. Really? Really? Not worth waiting 20-30 minutes for unless Javier Bardem was serving them! Instead we trekked back to the hotel and I had a hot cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend and a cranberry orange muffin that Greg brought back to the room while I warmed up with a steaming hot shower.
My race performance was 2:37. Not bad since I ran 9 minutes slower the previous month. I am looking forward to no immediate race plans and just running the trails with my dog. I'm pretty sure he's looking forward to that as well!
Completing this race reminded me why I enjoy smaller, more intimate races. A big name race is nice once a year or so, but I definitely prefer that smaller, more laid back vibe so much more!
Happy holidays and I hope you find yourself outside enjoying this wonderful time of the year!