Race Report

Nice day for a run.

Yesterday I ran the Grand Island Half Marathon.  This was my second HM of the spring and my 9th overall.

It was a small race with 520 runners participating.  In a smaller field it is easier to gain some perspective on where you are in the pack.  Me?  I’m in the back.  I placed 391.

Participating in a smaller race means you can show up on race day and pick up your race packet.  You can even sign up for the race that morning.  In bigger events, this is not the case.  Generally there two or three days to pick up your race packet.  Some races allow you to sign up the day before, but many are so popular they “sell out”.  That means they can only handle a certain number of runners.

The Grand Island Half Marathon had packet pick up available at a local running store the two days before the race.  It was close to my work, so I opted to stop by and pick up my packet ahead of time.  I was told that I could activate my chip on race morning.

For the non-runners out there, a race chip is a little electronic device that clips to your shoe to give you official race times as you pass certain mile markers by running over a mat.  Many races have a mat at the start line because it can take you several minutes to move through the start corral.  (Think about that light turning green and waiting for the cars ahead of you to gain momentum to go through the intersection.)

In larger events you will have two finish times: an official time, from the time the gun goes off until you cross the finish line and a chip time, from when you actually cross the start line to the finish line.  In those races you might not be sure if you earned a “PR” or “Personal Record” until the race directors publish the chip times online.  You will only know your official time which is probably off by several minutes.

This race did not even have a mat at the start line.  This was an “out and back” course.  There was a mat at the turn around point and at the finish line.

Start line at 10 am

The gun signifying the start of the race took everyone around me by surprise.  There was no singing of the National Anthem or countdown to the start.  It was fun to hear the gun and then be able to start running almost immediately.  No shuffle at the beginning waiting for the people in front of you to get going.

The race course started at Beaver Island State Park.  It ran along the Chippewa Channel which divides Grand Island, NY from Canada.  The temperature was 50 at the start of the race, but rose to the upper 50s.  It was a gorgeous day with sunny skies.

The entire course was along a single lane road, called West River Road.  There were trees along the side and, obviously, the river.  The course was very flat.  There were water stations every few miles.  Volunteers at races are ALWAYS nice and encouraging people. This was no exception here.

I remembered to wear sunscreen.  I thought it might be chilly along the water, so I dressed in a long sleeved shirt and a running vest.  I was a little too warm.  There wasn’t much of a breeze, so I could have done with just the long sleeved shirt or even a short sleeved shirt.

Throughout the race I was pleased to see that the people around me actually looked like they were running.  Nothing fast or speed demon-ish.  I always wonder what I look like while I’m running.  I was thankful no one around me looked like shuffling slowpokes.

At the start there was a tent with about 10 bikers from a Triathlon team.  I heard people around me wondering what they were doing, as I was wondering the same thing.  I figured they were meeting there and doing a group ride together.  I saw some of their teammates running in the race, so I thought the cyclists might be supporting their teammates.

Stop! Turn around here!

Around mile 5, I saw why the triathletes were there.  A group of them came riding toward us, leading the front runners.  The runners still heading out, like myself, moved to the right and the front runners came along the left passing by us.  As usual, there was a smattering of applause from us as they passed by.  I’ve noticed people generally only applaud for the first two runners and later the first female runner.  I’m kind of inclined to clap for about the first 10 people, but they don’t appear to care whether people are applauding or not.


I noted that the woman in fourth place was wearing a UT shirt.  My sister and brother-in-law live in Austin and are UT grads.  I smiled and gave the woman the “hook ’em horns” sign.  She smiled back and called to me, “Lookin’ good.”  Those Texans.  So friendly.

There weren’t too many spectators along the way.  The second half of the race there were two people on bikes who were cheering us on.  It didn’t seem to me that they were following any particular racer.  They would ride ahead and stop, cheer for a few minutes, ride ahead, cheer and move on.  They, and a woman with two cowbells who was driving her car ahead every mile and would jump out and cheer, really perked me up toward the end.  I hope they felt as good as I did.

"Come on, Island Boy!"

There was a nice little crowd at the finish line.  I thought I spotted The Major waving to me as a approached the finish line.  I began waving back.  I was glad to see it was him.  He and Island Boy came to the race prepared to play disk golf as I ran the race.  It has been an incredibly wet Spring, so IB had on snow boots.  IB had a bouquet of flowers for me.  I grabbed his hand and we ran across the finish line together.  People laughed and smile to see us running together.  I wanted to tell people, “He ran the whole race in these boots, can you believe it?”, but I didn’t.

I was pleased with my finishing time.  It is certainly not my fastest race, but I was pretty consistent throughout.

Halfway I was running a 10:08 pace.  I finished with a 10:10 pace.  My official time was 2:13:13.

My cool medal.

Race shirts for 5Ks and 10Ks are usually cotton shirts covered with race sponsor insignias.  Half Marathon and Marathon shirts are usually technical shirts.  These are good to wear when you are running.  They wick away the sweat, which means no chafing and they dry quickly.  This race t-shirt was a cotton t-shirt.  It is red.  Sadly, I look terrible in red.  I gave it to The Fashionista.  She will wear it.  It has sparkles on it.

Due to the lackluster t-shirt, I did not have high hopes for the race medal.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I have hung it up and am going to enjoy basking in the glory of my latest finish.  Until next time…May 29th.  Buffalo Half Marathon, here I come!

–Running Girl


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