Super soft cotton race shirt, with Kyle Field pictured in the numbers.
I didn't expect to be writing a race recap - I planned on spectating this race. But as it turned out, on Friday afternoon several bibs were offered up, for free, from some of our runner friends who'd signed up but ended up not being able to run the race. Since Jeff and I were going to run six miles anyway on Saturday, we decided to take the bibs and run the race on Sunday. I have to say that a lot of races don't allow bib transfers, and I don't know if this one did, but the bibs were already paid for and the race was sold out, so I didn't feel bad about using them. Besides, I liked being called Rachel for a day!
After the race, a volunteer said "great job, Rachel" and I just said thank you, while Diane giggled.
If you'll recall, this was the race that Jeff and I DNF'd last year - you can read about that saga here, which is why I wasn't that excited to sign up for it in the first place, although the route had been changed completely and this year, both distances would finish on Kyle Field, which is the famous football field at Texas A&M University. But I'm not an Aggie, and we were registering for other races, so we decided to sit this one out...well, until two days before the race. Anyway, bibs happened and the rest is history.
Race day dawned early, even with the start (in front of Kyle Field) being only a few minutes' drive from our house. But the race began at 7:00 am - thankfully, because it was hot and humid - and we had to park and walk under a tunnel that would be closed off at 6:45 am because the race was going to go through it, so we got to the university right at 6:00 am and met up with our fellow renegades. There were 1,500 runners between the half marathon and the 10K, so it was a pretty lively crowd, and a much better experience than the year before, when the 10K started at a different location than the half, and a lot of runners didn't even show up because it was raining and windy. This felt like an event, and when they played the Aggie War Hymn (here's a video taken about six weeks ago at an Aggie home game - you can hear the War Hymn and see the area where the finish line for the race was), everyone was amped up and ready to run.
We were amped, trust me.
The race started and Diane and I set off, trying to not go out too fast in all of the excitement. We only ran a little bit before hitting a nice downhill where we ran through the tunnel. Of course, there was an uphill to get out of it, but still, you know how much I love my downhill running. We changed up our intervals for this race - instead of doing our usual 2:45, we switched to 3:1, with the reasoning that we run for an entire mile before taking a break on our weekly runs - surely we could handle running for three minutes at a time, right?
We were doing really well, even with the heat...it was 72 degrees with 100% humidity when we started, so we tried to slow ourselves down and just treat this as a regular run. That worked for a while; mile one came up really quickly, and then just as quickly we were at Barbara Bush Drive, which is a winding incline that leads to the George Bush Presidential Library. We've run Barbara's road several times before in other races, and I don't understand why she had to make it so steep - didn't she realize runners would be tortured by it? Actually it didn't seem that bad this time, but I suspect that's because it came at mile 1.5 instead of mile 6, like in previous races.
There were aid stations every 1.5 miles, with plenty of water and Gatorade. I started out with Tailwind in my water bottle but did take a cup of water at each stop, just because it was so darn hot. My fingers started swelling up and it was hard to bend them - I was sweating like a fiend and by the end of the race I could feel a layer of salt drying on my face. We hit mile two and I was doing OK, mentally, which for me was already a minor miracle. Mile three came and while I was telling myself "you regularly run three miles with Cary on Thursdays, you can do this," I started to feel like I was never going to get finished. By mile four, the wheels were starting to come off and I was taking extra walking breaks. When we hit another tunnel and had to go uphill, which was much steeper than the first one, I could barely walk it. Looking back, I think I just ran out of gas - the heat and humidity got to me, and while only using Tailwind worked the last time I ran a 10K, just two week prior, it was a lot cooler and I think I probably could have used some additional fuel.
So we ran and walked the rest of the way, until we got back to the football stadium. I could see that the Jumbotrons were showing runners crossing the finish line, so naturally we wanted to finish strong. We ran through to the tunnel entrance, which was interesting - it was lined with thick black padding, and was downhill - I guess that's to give a good showing when the football team bursts onto the field. I nearly tripped on the padding, though...that would have been embarrassing, to roll onto the field! Luckily I caught myself and stayed upright. We ran in, and while we didn't see Cary, Andi, and CC, who were in the stands, they saw us and got some pictures:
Not gonna lie, this was pretty cool!
Here we are on the Jumbotron - it's hard to see, but if you click the picture you'll find us.
Here's Jeff on the Jumbotron:
His moment of glory...and now, his Facebook cover photo.
Diane and I took our time enjoying being on the grounds of Kyle Field - we took lots of pictures and even touched the football goal post when we walked by it. Hopefully that won't jinx the team when they play against Alabama on Saturday! Here's our finish area pictures:
There's such a height difference with us that Diane has to duck down when we take a selfie!
At the finish line...
End zone - right after this, we touched the goal post for good luck.
We saw another runner put her medal on the football field and take a picture, so we did the same, just on the edge of the field. Snapped a couple of shots and got out of there fast, as A&M officials were approaching - they didn't want anyone on the field. What can I say, our Renegade-ness was showing.
We finally left the football field area and went to the post-race party, where we met up with our group. The theme of the race is Oktoberfest, and along with a medal and finisher's shirt, you also get a beer stein at the end:
They had beer, but I don't drink and actually none of our group had any. I may end up planting succulents in this - it's a pretty blue color.
Going along with the Oktoberfest theme, they had giant soft pretzels for the runners. Only problem was that they tasted awful - the texture was not like any soft pretzel I've ever had, and I tossed mine in the trash after one bite. It seems that most people felt the same way, which was disappointing - soft pretzels would have been wonderful after that race! They also had some sort of bratwurst hotdogs available, but we all held out for our regular breakfast at Blue Baker.
We were ready to leave when we realized that Brian, who was the only one of us to run the half marathon, probably should check his results, considering he's gotten an age group award for every race he's run lately. Good thing he checked, because he got first in his age group! So we waited for the awards - first they did the 10K awards, and then they had a little delay before the half marathon awards. Jeff and Brian made themselves comfortable:
The emergency call station is also good for propping up tired runners.
And then Brian got his award - another hat!
He has a new nickname: "Podium Brian"
We took one last group picture:
I love how the ledge gave Karen, Julia, and I a chance at being the same height as Brian, Diane, and Jeff.
I have to say, this race far exceeded my expectations, based on the previous year, and we will most likely register for it next year. The race director, Dan (former co-owner of the running store) really did a great job with making this a unique experience - I didn't think getting to run on Kyle Field was all that big of a deal, but as it turns out, it was a very neat opportunity - and a rare one, at that!