Friday, May 2, 2014

Tulip Festival Half Marathon

This race had everything! Uphill, downhill, gravel, dirt, pavement, a red brick road, tunnels, waterfalls, tulips, a deer or two, a bridge, golf course, dinosaurs (alright a dinosaur museum), and super excited volunteers. 

Thanksgiving Point’s Tulip Festival Half Marathon has a perfect route if you get easily bored during your runs. It was so beautiful and changed so much over the 13 mile course. I can’t decide what the most beautiful part of the course was; the tulips or the waterfalls. I think that if it wasn’t pouring rain for the entire race, I would have said the waterfalls, but that day I had quite enough water!

The communication from the race directors was fantastic. Their emails contained all the information we needed for packet pick up and race day. It even had the forecast, which unfortunately as I mentioned was rain. It was amazing how well everything still went considering the downpour. The race started on time, the volunteers were happy and helpful, and the course was in relatively good condition (the part on dirt got a little slippery but it was thankfully very short). 

I picked up my packet the morning of the race. There was no line, they had no problems locating my bag and it was filled with goodies. Not just the flyers for other races and from the sponsors, but actual things! It was so nice to get a bag with stuff that doesn’t automatically go in the trash.

The course support was fantastic. Tons of aid stations that included not just water and PowerAde, but bananas, oranges, and GU. I especially want to mention the volunteers doing traffic control on the last mile-ish. There were two men who were so enthusiastic, giving high fives, yelling encouragement with smiles on their faces (did I mention it was pouring rain?). It was a great pick up on the last little bit and something that was much needed. 

After race support was in line with the rest of this race. They had a wide variety of items to help get you fueled back up including my favorite chocolate milk. Trader Joe’s was there handing out free bags and granola bars. 

Now for the bling, the medal is cool. What do you think? 

The shirts, well at least they are running shirts. And it did save me from freezing all the way home in my currently soaked running attire. 

My new found running friend, who happened to be the pacer at my last race, gave me some advice for this race. She said that you will feel great in the beginning and push harder because of that. But don’t forget to save some energy for the rest of the course. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember this advice until it was too late. The first three miles I felt great, I conquered the “big” hill in this race and was on my way. Don’t let that big hill fool you, there are tons of ups and downs and different surfaces that can affect your stride. This is a tough course and I look forward to redeeming myself next year, in hopefully dryer conditions.

This race gets a 4.5 shoes and our recommendation not to change a thing (well maybe the weather and the shirts).

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