Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report: Naperville Half Marathon 2014

Hey howdy hey. Let's see...the last time we spoke I just finished IMWI. Since then Schmitty took some time off (full stop for three weeks during which I wore out the snooze button) and took up knitting doggie tail end caps...kind of like those antenna toppers. It's an idea that was waiting to happen and I think I struck at the right time. Thinking of calling them Tail Tips (copyright The Triathlife 2014, all rights reserved). Just in time for the holidays.

But the blog is called The Triathlife not The Doggie Life....so what's next?

Schmitty has been spending the fall and early winter getting his running legs back. January 11, 2015 is circled in red on the race calendar...The Triathlife will be running the 2015 WDW Marathon. As part of our training we inserted the Naperville Half Marathon so coach Liz could assess our fitness. Glad we did. It's a new race (2nd year), it's local-ish, and it still sports a relatively small field (read: manageable). Flat. Fast. Yes a good test of how road worthy Schmitty's legs have become.

Lets review shall we.

PreRace: Sunday Morning
4am - yadda, yadda, early morning, yadda, yadda, coffee, gel, yadda, yadda, shake out run and all that pre-race stuff. Said goodbye to one very sleepy doggie then hitched up the horses and we were off to Naperville at 5am. Sleep on race morning is sooo over-rated. Team Schmitty arrived before the barricades and we scored free parking at the Naperville Library just a few block walk across the river to Naperville Central High School. No lines at the protapots and they opened the gym as a warming center in the wee hours of the AM. Score.

The one thing I did enjoy about this race is that everything was centrally located and easy -- the warming center, port-a-potties, gear check and race start...all in one general area. You can do that if you're not running with 45,000 people (looking right at you Chicago Marathon).

Like I mentioned, the Naperville Marathon and Half-Marathon is in it's second year. It's growing and it seems like the race organizers want it to expand rapidly. So I fear this really cool local/community race vibe may soon be trampled by tens of thousands of running shoes (sigh).

Game On
Mayor of Naperville?
  • Prior to the gun, the running folk gathered and were gregariously greeted by the mayor - WELLLLCOMMMME TO NAAAAPERVILLLLLE! Now, I couldn't see the man but if the resonance of his vocal timbre were any clue (not to mention a pre-race speech punctuated with every mayorism imaginable), I pictured him as the very caricature of a mayor. You know...the top hat, the tails, the spats...the big MAYOR sash. Remember Mayor McCheese? Yeah, that. I suspect that Mr. Mayor also finds himself in the last float during the Naperville Christmas parade...all clad in the red suit.
  • The plan was to "warm up" the first two miles and then start to gradually nail it back. Since this is both a half and full marathon there were pace groups for the latter. I decided to use the 3:15 marathon pace group as my barometer...staying just off the back until I felt like it was go time.
  • Ran into Matt Halpin from the Salt Creek Tri-Club within the first two miles. If I'm honest I only noticed him because he almost spit on me. I believe his words were "at least I almost spit on someone I actually knew." Well sure...I suppose so. Saw Matt again after the race. Since we both hit our goal times I wanted to give him a Triathlife salute - SAAAA-LUTE.
  • To the dude I passed at mile five with the gravity stricken shorts. Either your waist band isn't rated for 5 pounds of gels or you seriously need to replace that draw string.  Regardless, plumber butt has no place in an orderly society, let alone a road race. I would thank you to rethink your running trouser strategy before your next race -- Schmitty.
    Cookies!
  • Mile 6 I FINALLY passed Cookie Monster. Schmitty was not going to get beat by a guy in a big Cookie Monster head/hat thing. He must have been a teacher or coach or maybe just a lovable local celebrity (Naperville public access TV weatherman?)....anyway...lots of kids on the side of the road very entertained by seeing Mr so and so. Plenty of pics being uploaded to the Snapgram or the Instachat or whatever the kids use nowadays.
  • Mile 12 spectator dude grilling bacon at the side of the road. Hmmmmm bacon.
  • Runner know thyself. I told Jen I thought I was in 1:35 shape and well, yes...1:35:26. Good foundation but lots of work to do in the next two months if I really want to attack the marathon.
Post Race:
Got my bag out of gear check and was able to get myself into some warm, dry clothes. Skipped the post race goodies to hit the finish to see Jen come in. I positioned myself on a bank so I could see down to the finish and still be close to the finishing shoot for after Jen crossing the line. Jen has been working incredibly hard to finally secure that elusive sub 2 hour marker for the half. I was keeping a close eye on the "real time" clock as it edged over 2 hours...fingers crossed not knowing how far after the gun that Jen crossed the start. Then I saw her. Then she crossed the line. Then the double fist pump. Sweet fancy moses, she got it :) GO JEN GO!

Outside of some crazy post race gear check issues after Jen finished (see below), I'd have to give this race The Triathlife seal of approval. It's still got a localish feel to it, the Napervillians came out in droves to cheer (a lot of running through subdivisions), the time of year is seemingly almost perfect and the race organizers seem intent on putting on the best race they possibly can.

Case in point:

This race has a great social media presence. They communicate a lot...but not just AT users...they really are intent on creating dialogue and are serious about the feedback they receive. They strike just the right tone with their communications...I don't know who that person or team is...but having been in and around the comms game for a very long time I have to give them kudos. For example...there were some major issues post race that overwhelmed gear check as the masses rolled in. This was the race response on Facebook.




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