Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver weekend report: day 3, half marathon

I was a little worried that I might be gimpy after the previous day's less-than-prudent 10K (not that it was fast, but...) .... but my legs actually felt pretty loose. We got to the start just before 7:30. At Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver the last corral starts first -- giving the slower runners more time to complete the course. I had asked Suz what time they would be starting, and she said she thought the race started at 8:15. But as we stood there, I thought I heard the announcer say "this is for the runners who will take more than 3:30" ... and then we both heard a countdown. We looked at each other and Suz said, "I think my corral is starting!" A quick hug for luck, and Suz hustled down the road to the start.

**I just checked; last year the early start was 15 minutes ... in 2015 it was 45!!!**

Suz told me afterward that they had already put the rope down, but a race acquaintance spotted her and held it up so she could scoot under it.

That left me with 45 minutes to cool my heels. I bumped into a former coworker, which was fun -- always nice ro run into an old friend!

One very awesome thing: the announcer said that there were two very special people running with us, and reminded those who were there that last year a man collapsed during the race and a doctor who was running near him saw it, stopped, and performed CPR. The man survived and the two of them were both running the race together. Awesome.

Eventually the corrals filled up, we heard another pretty rendition of O Canada, and the elites set off.
Non running aside: I think I have often confessed that The Star-Spangled Banner" makes me tear up EVERY TIME. Ever since I learned about the history of the song -- Francis Scott Key was actually in enemy hands, watching the British bomb the fort -- I get really choked up when the "Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave?" line comes. Every. Single. Time.

Well, oddly enough, there's something about O Canada that also makes me weepy. Not sure why. Must be the swelling music, somehow?

Anyways, soon is was our turn, and I found myself rather awkwardly at the front of my corral. How does this happen???

We set off down the road -- and I remember little else. And I took NO PHOTOS. Again. No idea why not; I guess I just wanted to keep pressing on. 

Half marathon course took us all around downtown, including through Gastown and the International District, through some more industrial areas, and then in what appears to be a loop that I didn't even notice. Ha. At some point we passed a rapper freestyling about running, marathons, and Rock 'n' Roll. Cool.

I caught up with Suz, running strong and steadily, somewhere just after mile 6... we chatted briefly, but then I lost her in the chaos of a water stop. I figured we'd both be better off if we just kept moving forward.

Eventually we approached Stanley Park, where I was a little sad not to be able to just run along the seawall again (so pretty!). I had been trying to discipline myself to run 100 breaths, walk 25... but when the rolling hills started up in the park, I dropped to 100:33 ... and on the longer inclines, I just walked.

As I neared the end, I passed Elvis again, though this time he was singing "I Believe" -- at least, um, I believe he was... Regardless, it was "Proud Mary", and no high-fives were exchanged. Suz reported that he was singing "Sweet Caroline" when she passed him. A travesty!!!

As I entered the last stretch, I was happy to see that this year they roped off the spectators, so there was plenty of room to run -- I even managed to pick it up a bit and finished in 2:23:12 ... much faster than I expected.

I picked up my "World Rocker" and "Rock Remix" medals, and started out of the park. I hadn't planned on going into the beer garden... but I knew I had a bit of time, sooo...

more bling, more beer...
Had a nice chat with a gentleman who was waiting for his ladyfriend to finish; turns out she's also a Half Fanatic and a Marathon Maniac who completes all the challenges like a crazy woman. Also turns out that they live in Ballard less than a mile from our house. :) AND that Suz met her last year at a race. Small world, innit?

Then back to the hotel to get cleaned up, and then out for some well-deserved brunch. With boozy drinks. Frozen slushy boozy drinks. With plastic animals.

you see the pink animals, too, right???

It was fun to go away for the weekend, and the races and courses were great -- and, of course, there was LOTS OF BLING!

why, yes, I do it for the bling...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver weekend report: day 2, the 10K

How civilized to start a 10K at 9:30a.m.! We could have walked half a mile to catch a shuttle to the start, but Google Maps assured us that it was only .9 miles to the start from our hotel anyway. (It was.)

We stopped in at Whole Foods, where I picked up a miserably dry, crumbly, joyless, and essentially cheeseless "cheese scone". I made a mental note to go to a Safeway later and pick up a decent bagel for the next morning. 

We got to the start nearly an hour early, probably because neither of us were 100% sure we were really so close to the start. Sorry, Google Maps, that we doubted you! But the morning was pleasant, the sun was out, and we had a great view. 

ready to run!
Did I mention that I was wearing purple?!?! I love these capris. 

Eventually we got into our "corrals" -- which were really just some numbers on sticks, and no one really looked at th anyway. But I did have the chance to chat with a few ladies and show off my NYC Adrenaline GTS 16s. 

Ooh, flashy!
I LOVED this woman, who had accidentally put on two different GTS... one 14, and one 15!

The starting chute felt pretty crowded, but they sent us out in small waves, so it actually wasn't bad at all. 

When it was our turn, we all headed out with a little whoop. I didn't have a plan -- at all -- for this race, except perhaps to save my legs for Sunday. 

The course (marked in blue, above) was simple: just follow the seawall around the edge of Stanley Park. Not really knowing the route, I kept underestimating -- then overestimating -- how long was left. But boy oh boy do I like a 10K. By the time I really relaxed and got into a rhythm, the race was halfway over, and I never felt tired. And, yes, I know, that means I could have run faster. Whatevs. 

I didn't take ANY PICTURES, even though the day and the course were gorgeous. I just kept running. I loved running past the big rock formations, running under the soaring Lions Gate Bridge, and passing the lighthouse. It amused me to have a running path without guardrails, even if I had a little scare when I was moving to pass some on on the sea-side of the path, at quite a high point, and he swung out slightly. I inadvertently gasped and backed off, he said, "Oh! sorry!", and I said "No worries -- it just put me on edge."  We then both said "Literally!" at the same time. Someone behind me said "well, that'll get your adrenaline pumping!"  Indeed. 

Later on, not far from the finish, we were approaching an Elvis impersonator (tribute artist?) who was singing a high-powered version of "Proud Mary". I honestly cannot hear "Proud Mary" without busting out Tina Turner dance moves. Seriously. So imagine me, doing the "arm chugging" and "diving" and general shimmying. While running. Towards an Elvis impersonator. Who starts doing some of the dance back at me. As I passed him, he held up his hand for a respectful high-five. His orange, self-tanner stained hand. But did I high-five him? Oh yes, Gentle Reader. I did. With gusto. 

photo courtesy
I crossed the finish line in 1:05 and change; better than I expected, really. I picked up my handsome medal and a few snacks, then made my way to the beer tent.

big, honkin' 10K medal!
There was a HUGE LINE outside, but then I realized that there was someone waving anyone past who had a wristband already. RESULT! (Life lesson: spend the 3 minutes at the expo getting the wristband. Really.)

Being in Canada, this race featured LOCAL BEER, not the Ultra stuff they usually offer. Stanley Park Brewing was pouring three different beers, including their new Winter ale. I'm not a big beer drinker, and clearly no connoisseur, but it was really tasty. 

bling AND beer
I chatted with some of my fellow runners, including a student from Mexico who couldn't believe I was running the half the next day ("one day is enough for me!") and a couple who are RNR junkies. I half expect the see Oscar (??) **Suz is correct, it's Albert!** come through the expo in Philly, since he needs one more race to get his "7th Heaven" medal...

Suz arrived, more beer was consumed, and then it was time to head back to the hotel. We took it easy the rest of the day, doing a little shopping (candy, Lush, crisps, and a bagel for the next day), having lunch at Red Robin, dinner at Cactus Club, and getting weirdly sucked into the The Voice, a show neither of us had ever actually seen.

Then to bed... We had a half marathon to run in the morning!

P.S.: I really enjoyed this race -- it wasn't too big, and the wave start meant I never felt too crowded. The weather was perfect, the course was spectacular, and did I mention the tasty beer at the finish line? I really recommend this race to anyone, whether they are running the half or not. 

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver weekend report: day 1

I worked the expo and ran the Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon last year, and figured that I didn't really need to run it again. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the race in 2024, and I love Vancouver, but with so much else going on, and so many other races to run, I had decided to skip it in 2015.

But then a representative from Competitor visited our offices with a great discounted offer... AND the news that RNRVAN would qualify me for a "World Rocker" medal... and that I could run the 10K on the Saturday and earn a "Rockin' Remix" medal. Oh, and the half marathon medal? Well, it featured a sparkly orca. #SPARKLYORCA!!!!

I asked LSF Suz if she was up for a girls running weekend in the Great White North, and she readily agreed. 

We headed to Vancouver on the Amtrak Cascades -- always a lovely trip. 


Low tide!
After arriving in Vancouver we checked into our digs at the Hotel Listel, an artsy little place on Robson. There was a little confusion -- I had booked a room with two queen beds but had been assigned a room with one -- but the manager stepped in and quickly sorted everything out. 

We had a couple of hours to kill before the expo opened, and rumbling bellies, so we had lunch at the Winking Judge, which for some reason still sounds to me like something risqué. 

Then expo, which was a little nutty. I expected it to be pretty quiet, opening at 3, but a line stretched down the hall. Also, neither of us had remembered to print out our waivers... And we needed one for each race... So there was some frantic scribbling. 

the line to get in to the expo...
But we got in, had a little adventure getting our bibs (okay, we just lost each other for half an hour... with no phones...) but eventually caught up with each other in the Brooks official merchandise booth. 

Stuff was cute, but I resisted buying. I did almost buy a tank with an illustrated map of the course on it, but the print was yellow on midnight. Had it been white, I probably would have bought it. 

I did buy my usual pint glass and medal pin. I still have MASSIVE REGRET that I accidentally bought the magnet rather than the pin at RnR St. Louis!

Waiting in line to pay was funny -- lots of chatter about different races, apparel items, and running in general.A friend of someone else in line kept making runs for various people in line -- "Can you get me a medal pin?" "Can you pick up a pint glass?" etc.

We wandered the expo, getting our post-race beer garden wristbands (we were glad we did, later!), checking out new sunglasses, and such, but we didn't linger. 

After leaving the expo we wandered over to Gastown, ending up at the Blarney Stone at a really nice table next to the open  front windows, where we were really just going to have one drink... But the table was very nice, as was the cider... and they had a nice menu... did I mention that the baseball game was on, and all of Canada was rooting for the Blue Jays?
Then back to our hotel to sleep... we had a 10K to run in the morning!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Newport Half Marathon race report

Good morning Newport, Rhode Island!!!

Woke up this morning with the same stiffness in my leg... boo. But it was a GLORIOUS morning for a run. 

I ate my roll and drank some water and then we walked the couple of hundred yards to Easton's Beach. The organization of this race was pretty good for a smallish event; packet pickup was offered two days ahead of time, and they had plenty of volunteers helping. We even got small goody bags, including, oddly, a can of fizzy water. (Which I Very Happily guzzled.)

One other nice piece of organization... Look at that giant row of porta-potties, gleaming in the morning sun. Seriously -- this race had TONS of porta-potties. (See? I couldn't even get them all into the picture.)

Because we were staying so close, we arrived about 15 minutes before the start.  (Thank you, Sea Whale Motel, for being so perfect!) We made our way to the start...

Found a little space for ourselves, listened to the national anthem. (A recording? No local singers to take it on?)...

Then a very quick obligatory pre-race photo...

And we ran. Up the biggest hill of the course. I already felt like I was dragging my right leg, but we somehow held on to a 10:05 per mile pace for the first two uphill miles. Crazy!

We ran up the hill on Memorial Drive, past the entrance to the Cliff Walk (the site of my self-induced, clumsy misery!), and into town, running past the awesome bar we had popped into yesterday, avoiding the cobbled, touristy part of town. 

Then out past a marina and, eventually, onto Ocean Drive, which was breathtaking. 

We were so lucky with the weather -- it was sunny but not hot, and there wasn't even any breeze. Perfect running weather!! 

I was feeling less lucky with my leg. In trying not to hurt my inner thigh (or whatever muscle that is!), I must have been doing something pretty stupid to my Achilles' tendon. (It's several hours after the race and it's still swollen and weirdly colored and very tender to the touch. Boo.)

So in the midst of all the pretty, something ugly had happened to my leg. And I simply couldn't run on it. 

Sadly, Wil was feeling great, and I felt (feel!) bad about slowing him down. And slow him down I did, as my quick limp dropped us from 10:20 (after the initial miles) down to 14:22s. 

Luckily, the course stayed pretty, as we turned into the main "mansion district", including two quick peeks at the Cliff Walk... or entrances to it, anyway. 

I love how this shot looks like we'll be running into the sea.

We also passed in front of The Breakers, where there was a water station set up... and some anxious-looking staff standing outside the gate. 

One amusement: we were passing through a quiet area on the course when a runner passed us. And trumpeted out a couple of very loud, enthusiastic farts. I looked at Wil, wondering if *he* had been the guilty party, but he just smiled, which sent me into silent giggles. 

Wil said, "See the pleasure that you got from that? And that you would have me deprive your fellow runners of?"

(And, well, farts *are* funny...)

Eventually we made the turn back onto Memorial Drive and headed down the hill. I tested a tiny little run.... nope. It was strange to be walking against the stream of people -- finishers and their friends -- walking up the hill. Very few people cheered or offered encouragement. I tried to paste a grin on my face -- may have had a whiff of the rictus to it -- and just kept moving. 

When we reached the bottom of the hill and turned into the beach walkway, pride overcame pain and I managed to hobble across the line with Wil's help in 2:46:48. 

It has been a long time since I have felt quite so back of the pack, but I will say that the support (water stops, road crossings) was still excellent. 

We picked up a bottle of water, our handsome finisher's medal, and some decent post-race food (hooray for vegetarian lentil soup!) before going back to the hotel to shower and head out. 

All in all a nice race:

- the sights on the course. Okay, we didn't love the big hill at the start (or finish), but I liked running through town, along Ocean Drive, and past the mansions
- the candy stop along the way! Always great to take candy from strangers
- handsome, quality race shirts
- a very handsome, big honkin' medal

the colored lighthouse and sails are "stained glass" - very pretty!
Tiny room for improvement:
- the bibs were personalized, but the print was small and there wasn't enough contrast in the ink colors to make it legible

The one thing I really didn't like:
- not to get all personal, but I didn't like the announcer. She seemed a little dismissive of slower runners (aka, the bulk of the participants). "If you're walk in', stay outta the way" can be much better stated (and more helpfully stated...) as "If you're walking, stay to the right."

(Also, she was giddy that someone came "all the way from JERSEY" to run... Not noticing that we were from Seattle. But that's neither here nor there...)

But -- and this is the most important part: I ran a half marathon in STATE #33 today!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hartford Half Marathon race report

Up early this morning for the drive to Hartford... A million small highways and one tall toll bridge, but we arrived without a hitch, found one of the designated parking garages (sorta) and even had a little time to kill before making our way to the start village. 

The village was large, with vendors and charity tents and a not-yet-open beer garden. And, of course, banks of porta-potties. I thought this setup was interesting: by grouping them into little sets of four, there were obvious points for people to line up, and none of the awkward "is that mine or yours?" shuffle. Very clever. 

Other great things about this race: we had the option to have our packets mailed. Sure, they dinged us $15 each for the privilege, but it saved us a trip waaaaay out of our way. Also, the shirts were nice and the branding was consistent and handsome throughout. 

We eventually made our way to the starting line and got our race faces on: 

Loved these banners scattered around downtown -- nice to see a city get behind their big event!

The start was pretty crowded; with some 14,000 marathoners and half marathoners all going out together, without corrals, it was easy to see why. 

The national anthem, handsomely sung by a local gentleman (and apparent regular); some nice shout outs to a couple of 50-staters completing their quest, and to the three people who had run all of the event's running a over the years; and then the wheelers were off. 

We started a few minutes after that, but it actually took us nearly 6 minutes to cross the timing mats. 

We found ourselves running in a sea of people, and it didn't really feel like it thinned out much the whole race. We split from the marathoners pretty early, which I liked, because it meant we had our own support system and fan base, rather than feeling second best. 

We ran well, at first, smoothly passing the 2:20 pace group and making our way through the crowds. But the nagging pain in my leg, which I can only think was from my less-than-graceful slip and fall on the Cliff Walk the day before, really woke up and let me know it was there. 

I'll be honest, I don't remember much from the course, other than the fact that a lot of folks along the route were sitting in their front yards, cheering. Nice. 

I do remember winding in and out of a pretty little park with a gorgeous dahlia garden and a cute little "candy stop" with candy and club soda. So fancy! (Also, adorable little boys handing out the cups of club soda!)

By this point I had had to start walking quite a bit, which may have been why a medic on a bike rode over and asked if we were all right or needed some gels. (Maybe I had my "so strong, and so brave" face on...)

More winding, more hills. I focused on high fiving any kids we passed, imagining I got some energy from each one. We passed Mark Twain's house, which was amusing, because I had seen his grave last week. Then, happily, we neared the finish, running through the big arch hand in hand. I can almost always summon up a little trot at the end, even when I am in pain. We finished in 2:36:48. 

this medal is absurdly heavy.

(This pain was weird, because it wasn't in my running muscles... In fact, my quads weren't even tired... Just a weird strain of some sort. Boo.)

Good organization at the finish area: we got medals, space blankets (not necessary, but we knew they would be useful the next day!), and -- and this is genius -- a branded "finisher" reusable bottle full of water. I LOVE this. 

We were then handed a nice reusable bag of snacks, AND pointed toward a runner-only food area, where we had very tasty vegan, gluten-free chili. Thoughtful!

We then attempted to go to the "mile 27" beer garden, which featured a local beer. But the crowds were too big, possibly because non-runners were also allowed in to buy beer. But we didn't really need or even want a beer -- it was more for the idea of it, as usual. So we found a quiet spot in the sun to eat our breakfast, and then made our way back to the car to drive back to Newport. 

This race gets so many things right that I'm going to start with the two tiny things that could have been better. 

1. The pre-race announcer was very marathon-centric,  forgetting, perhaps, that probably half the field was running the half. He also referred to people running their first marathon as "bucket-listers". Umm, maybe they wanted to start running marathons and not just check it off a list?

2. This is super minor, but... The organizers had sent out a very handy parking map, highlighting the different garages that runners arriving from different areas should park in, and showing their prices. We (and lots of other runners) parked in the Constitution Plaza garage... And (after finally finding a staffed exit), were charged $9. (See, I told you it was minor!!!) It was a weird perfection in an otherwise exceptionally run race. 

Now to the awesome:

- the branding was top-notch (and you know how I feel about branding!)

- great pre-race communication

- fun offer: arrive before 6am at the garage, get free gloves. Such a clever idea to encourage early arrivals! 

- did I mention the porta-potty setup? Genius!

- a band was standing outside a bar playing Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison" when I ran by; and there was lots of good music along the course.

- all but one water stop was super well organized and well staffed... And there were TONS of them.

- two words: CANDY STOP

- great support from the locals!

- handsome medals, distinctly different depending upon your distance

- well organized post-race food. I wish more races did "bags" or boxes to speed things up

- loved having a hot vegetarian food option

- and I can't stop raving about that water bottle at the finish

It is unlikely that I will find myself in Connecticut again around the time of this race, but it was fun, and if I lived closer, I can imagine it becoming my standard fall race. And that's saying something!

Oh, and ... STATE #32!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Wineglass Half Marathon race report

spray-painted route marker

Wineglass has been on my dream races list for a long time -- in part because it's a new state -- New York -- but mainly for the beautiful glass finishers medal. Plus, net downhill, point to point course, and the Museum of Glass. So perfect. 

So when this year's Summit was in not-crazy-distant Philadelphia the day after Wineglass, well, the die was cast...

LSF Suz joined me on this trip, since she has family in New York and it all seemed to make sense. 

After a delayed flight to Philly, we didn't hit the road until nearly seven from the airport... And drove in darkness through construction and a little mayhem, arriving at our Holiday Inn Express at nearly midnight. I was exhausted but jangly and couldn't sleep right away, but the room was comfy and eventually I slept. 

The next morning we slept in a little, then had breakfast before going to the Museum of Glass, where the expo was. We saw some 5Kers returning victoriously, and congratulated them. They were bemusedly holding bowls: the race was sponsored by Corelle, and every participant had received a bowl. Funny. 

Then we headed over to the museum, where we were both TOTALLY SUCKED IN BY THE AMAZING GIFT SHOP. Did I mention my obsession with glass pumpkins? Well, they had pumpkins. Thousands of 'em. 

Some were handsome and surprisingly inexpensive, but made overseas. I managed to resist those. But I did pick up two small pumpkins, one made in the museum hot shop, the other made by a Corning-area studio. Fingers crossed they'll make it home to my pumpkin patch!

Then, expo...

A well organized affair, where we were separated into half and full, and then given a nice bag with a champagne split, our long-sleeved shirts, our bibs, some bumpf, and our wineglasses. 

The vendor selection was small but well chosen - nice for an expo like this. 

We exited the expo via the official merchandise area -- lots of wineglasses, pint glasses, and shot glasses, along with a wide range of printed race gear. Not having an official shoe/apparel sponsor meant they had a lot of nice pieces from a bunch of different manufacturers -- definitely a win for the runner. 

I managed to resist everything but the sticker...

**Quick non-running interlude: we poked around the sprawling Museum of Glass, which was amazing:

Taxidermy crows pecking at a glass chandelier!

Glass crows hung from the ceiling!

Okay, maybe I just love crows? But the glass was very, very cool, if a little overwhelming...

Then we drove out to see Mark Twain's grave (while failing to find any food for lunch):

And then found our way back to Cornimg where we had a nice dinner at Holmes Plate 54. (A big chopped salad with eggs, and a side of marvellously gooey macaroni and cheese, plus a pint of Harvest Jack Pumpkin Ale, if you're curious. ) 

We also wandered around the very large Wegmans in search of better cider than the 7-11 could offer, so by the time we got back to the hotel, I was beat. I think I collapsed into bed at 8pm. Not normal, but I think the driving had really exhausted me!

And now, back to the running. Ish. 

Up at five-something, then down to the lobby for breakfast. (Thank you HIE for opening early!!!) we drove into town, got parking near the finish line (and where we wouldn't have to cross the course to leave), and then went to the shuttles. 

Oh, the shuttles. Look, it wasn't mayhem, like the scenes in Close Encounters where people are forcing their way onto trains. It was very orderly.. Except for one of the volunteers, who for some reason, kept taking people from the back of the line to load buses, rather than the front. The volunteer at the front of the line was more lackadaisical, not even trying to organize her people to prep them to get on the bus... Or counting them in advance. 

We kept watching people walk up and get put on buses, while a lot of us waited for more than 30 minutes. It was one of the weirdest things I had seen at a race. It was especially weird when there was a lull between shuttles. The clock was ticking, we'd been in line for 20 minutes, and the next shuttle that did arrive... was loaded with people FROM THE BACK OF THE LINE. 

Luckily, we made it to the start with 35 minutes to spare, which gave me the chance to make a quick stop in the stinkiest porta-potty in America (Suz: "I can't go in there.") before hightailing it down the road to the start. 

Which way?


The drop-off / muster point was a couple of hundred yards "down course" from the start, so we were all told we needed to get to the start area by 7:35 so as not to delay the start at 7:45. I liked that they were strict about it -- delaying the start would mess things up for all of us ... and, eventually, the marathoners!

view from the starting area

I do love that the half starts exactly halfway along the course... and that we get a half-hour head start on the full marathoners! (Even if it means standing in a cornfield...)

Suz headed farther back, while I considered my race. I wasn't trained enough to go for a fast one, but I also didn't know if I was disciplined enough to keep running ony own. So I slipped in with the 2:30 pace group and hoped I could make myself hold on.

To attempt to bond, I took this terrible photo with Rachel, the pacer. This is what happens when someone who doesn't see well attempts a selfie. 

Then, running. Rachel did a good job of keeping us on pace, even if it meant a lot of weaving in the first couple of miles. I suddenly realized that I could still hear her if I ran right in front of her group, too -- mind:blown -- especially since she did a call-and-response after every water stop. 

Where my 2:30s at?
Right here!

She also played games ... Find the letters, in order; then find numbers 1-10. This passed a few miles. 

At some point I realized that I had separated from the pack after a water stop. I figured I could be re-assimilated later if I slowed back down, but would just keep running in the interim. 

To be honest, I don't remember that much about the course. There was a park we ran down into; a newly-widened bike trail we ran along; lots of water stops; and lots of flat countryside. 

One cute person had set up a small beer stop -- so small and subtle that I almost missed it, except I noticed the PBR box. I slid over for a sip (because tradition) and was amused, as always, to hear chatter about how they could never drink beer while running. Seriously, folks, the ounce of beer isn't going to get you drunk. It's just funny. And carbs. 

I started to flag around mile 11, and started adding walk intervals based on counting my breaths. 100 breaths running, 50 breaths walking. That really helped. But I was still THRILLED to run across the bridge (high fives!), see the Wegmans, then the home stretch. 

I love this (blurry) pic: always high five anyone who offers!

I passed the 13-mile marker (the sign of a good race!), said "God save the queen!" And hustled as fast as I could go down the home stretch in 2:26:38. 

The finish area was a little nuts -- I almost missed picking up a medal because a lot of finished runners were standing by the finish line. (Ya gotta move those folks along...). There were long lines for food, but I got a bottle of water and a slice of pizza by sniping in at the end of the table. 

I then stood along the finish chute for a little while, which meant I got to see the marathon winner Bryan Morseman come in, urging the crowd on, and all by himself.

Speedy Bryan Morseman for the win

It also gave me time to notice that they had divided the finish areas by flowerpots, which I had totally failed to notice while running past them. #gladididnttrip

I was cold, and thirsty, and I needed to use the bathroom. I also knew I had a little time before Suz would finish. So I popped in to Homes Plate 54 again to take care of a few things. Ahh. 

thank you, Harvest Jack...
Refreshed, I headed back out to find a spot in the sun to cheer Suz home. I saw her and shouted "there's my girl!", at which point she perked up and sped down the line. 

We headed back to the hotel, had quick showers, and then headed back to Philadelphia. (Yes, it *was* a pretty drive...)

Overall the race was very good, with nicely branded swag, good post-race food, and nice community support. But to be honest I didn't think the course was especially pretty (though, to be fair, I live in an extraordinarily pretty place!), and there are some organizational hurdles to beat. 

But, oh, this beautiful medal!!!

this picture doesn't do the medal justice ... it's a pale purple-blue glass disc, really gorgeous

And, umm, STATE #31!!!