Sunday, July 26, 2015

Spectator Report - ACE Sunset Half

Last night I got to do something for the first time ever - I spectated a half marathon! I've spectated a 5k for my husband before but usually he goes to his races with his best friend or tells us to stay home. Last night though I told him no and we were going, he spectates for me all the time and I love it, so I wanted to do the same for him.

The race was in Hoffman Estates, and started at 5:30. Race day registration ran from 4:10 to 5:10 with a kids dash at 5:20. We got there, very easily found parking, and headed off to register him and then register my daughter for the kids dash. (It was free and each kid got a ribbon, which she liked.)

Registration was pretty easy although we got to hear some very angry complaints - the website had said there'd be gear check, but apparently, they didn't actually have gear check. If I needed gear check I'd definitely have been fuming, although parking was SO plentiful and close that it didn't seem necessary. At the same time, if they said it was going to be there and you planned a race assuming it'd be there, that's not cool!

My daughter did her kid's dash (after a false start because someone set off the horn at 5:15 and all the kids took off - derp - she actually made it to the finish line!) and did awesome. It was longer than the other ones she's done at ACE races, and she got to cross the actual finish line which was cool.

 




















Ready to go - and them zoom! Blurry zoom, even.

And then it was time for the half! I was so excited, we were ringing our cow bell like crazy. I wanted to cheer, although it was super hot and sunny. I was really hoping there'd be shade the first few miles until the sun hit twilight zone and wasn't so hot - my husband was worried the first few miles would fry him and he wouldn't be able to recover once it cooled down. The 10k and half were supposed to start at 5:30 with the 5k at 6:00 but the announcer kept screwing up and saying 5/10k at 5:30. I got my husband into the start corral because I knew the 10k was mooching off the half pace groups, so if they were going the half was too, but the announcer was just a hot mess. Quite a few runners had no idea if they were supposed to start or not. 

Unsurprisingly, he found a girl to chat up in the start corral. I swear he'd
 hang exclusively with the ladies if he had a choice!

But he got off, and we got to spectate him about a mile or mile and a half in when the course looped back past the start line. He was already looking pretty red and he told me there was no shade at all yet. But he slapped our kiddo a high five and kept going. We had set up our picnic blanket in the shade near the misting station the kids were all playing in, so we were okay, but I knew from my run that morning that it was going to be a tough race for everyone. With no shade I couldn't imagine what ACE was thinking when they set up the course - with starting temps over 80 that seemed like really poor course planning with the options available in the area!

This is his "why did I decide to do this???" face.

The course looped past us again around mile 4 and I say this with all due love - he looked terrible. Everyone did. Apparently there was still no significant shade, and the misting station that was by us was so off the way most of the runners didn't even see it. If I had thought about it I would have had him pop in to cool down - he looked wiped! :( 

Not a good course to run in full sunlight and 80*. :(

And then we wouldn't get to see him again for a while. But he did text me periodically so I wouldn't worry - I'd already figured out his finishing in 2:50 wasn't going to happen, the heat and sun was just too intense and safety came first. He told me his worry had come true and the first few miles in the sun had just sapped him completely; he was doing a lot of power walking just to keep moving and had honestly considered stepping down to the 10k. I wouldn't have blamed him even slightly - full sun is just really, really hard. Apparently the second half of the course picked up a lot of shade, which was good, but he was already done and couldn't pick it back up. I felt so terrible for him but I kept cheering him on. He was going to finish it - he's badass! Around mile 8 he told me he was for sure going to finish and gave me a rough ETA; it jived with the pace I'd pegged him for, so I sent him encouragement every half an hour or so.

Finally he sent me a text he was a mile away - the kids and I packed up our junk (they'd been playing blanket games and running up and down the sidewalk...the two year barefoot, because I can't keep shoes on him to save my life...mom of the yea, and we'd finished up our picnic dinner hours earlier) and set up at the finish line. Our daughter was going to jump in and run him to the finish line, which was a surprise to him - he told me later that was the best memory of the race and he was honestly considering buying the finish line pic. 


Beelining for the finish, with little girl in the left hand corner ready to run him in!

And then he was done! He told me it was the hardest race he'd ever run, and it was poorly designed. In a sunset course it made no sense for them to have the first half of the course in full sun and the second half shaded, and the water stops were over 2 miles apart - which is okay for cooler days, but in 80+ temps he thought they should have been more frequent. A lot of people dropped out along the way. At the moment, he says he's never running an ACE race again - it would have been a lot safer if they'd reversed the course. 

For us, I felt bad it was so hard, but we did okay spectating for a few hours. We cheered runners, we ate pbj's, we drank lots of water and drank some juice pouches, we read, we played, the kids got wet and muddy in the misting station...I hope to spectate a race for him again some day when conditions are better and he gets to run a stronger race. 

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