We got to the venue about 7:15, and wandered around. Saw a few runners, but there was not much signage where we parked....honestly, if we didn't see people walking on main street in between the buildings, you wouldn't even know there was a race. But, once we got to main street, it was evident. We wandered around looking for the porta-potties and the packet pickup. Neither was in an intuitive place. I think the main street merchants ensured that the porta-potties were placed far far away from everything else, which is odd....after all, the merchants were closed during the race. As for the packet pickup/registration table, we definitely needed to ask for guidance to get to it...it was a bit rainy, so maybe the table was moved from a better location to this location last minute (as it was under shelter). When we got to it the lines were all over the place and not clearly defined. If there was a way to put signage over the tables (rather than on the front where visibility is hindered by people standing at the tables), that would have helped tremendously. That being said, I simply don't know how overhead signage could be accommodated given the location of the tables. I don't want to make it sound as if this was stressful at all...these are two minor things that could be improved upon and did not detract from the race at all.
Now, once everyone gathered their items, they walked back to main street. There were announcements, tables to check out, drinks, an array of tables from the restaurants that were closed this early. Plenty of space and plenty to wander around to waste time until the race started. The race actually started 10 minutes late due to a police issue on the route....details were not provided, but then again, definitely not needed. So, the announcer took the opportunity to thank the volunteers and let the charity organizations speak about their efforts...all worthwhile minutes.
The starting line and finish line were clearly marked with blow-up tunnels. So, I was able to get pretty close up to the starting line. I absolutely didn't want to have an experience like I did at my last race, so I ensured that I was up close away from any pets and strollers! Now, that being said, I know I wasn't as fast as many up there, so as soon as we started the race, I made sure to move to the right side to avoid hindering others run. I saw the kids and Joe, and the kids were clearly excited to see me run :)
I started out too fast, for sure. After I saw the kids at the corner of Main Street and Lakewood Ranch Blvd, I saw I was running under an 8min/mile...absolutely too fast...I slowed down, but not fast enough...I was still running under a 9min/mile pace. I continued doing this pace too long though. The first mile ended in 9:11. Great if it was a 2-mile race, but I knew I was headed for trouble doing the first mile faster than I should. Second mile was 9:55...so I was right were I should be, although a mile too late. The last mile, I stopped 4 times...a total of 1:30 minutes...crazy, eh? Well, I should have been able to predict it, since I started out way too fast. Last mile (due to the stops) ended up at 10:19. My total race time, per garmin, was 30:56 (official time on digital timer at finish line was 30:58, I think. Official postings forthcoming.
About the race...pros:
- Great layout....widest path was in the beginning (the way it should be) and by the time most crossed Lakewood Ranch Blvd, it went down to 1 lane...which was perfect for the size of the crowd. Nobody was riding anyone's behind!
- Course clearly marked....honestly, hard not to do so as the road was the perfect layout for this. It was a simple out and back, which is fine.
- Police were great holding back traffic. I did hear coming back one woman yelling at an officer because they had to wait. Seriously, I'm assuming that there was signage before they got to Main Street telling them to bypass the area due to race (or expect delays). Granted, this is my assumption...but sounds logical.
- Nicely sized event...the venue could easily double the number of participants and it would be fine, so this event can easily grow over the years without much change.
- Water stop was about 1.3-1.4 mile out...you could grab water outbound or on the return...more than sufficient
- Chip timed, which is important to me
- Final 1/10 mile I was able to see the digital clock which definitely encouraged me to kick it up a notch at the end and finish with a strong sprint.
- Takes forever to get the official race results online...and when the results were taken they were a tad off due to the line waiting to get scanned. Not significant, but I really was hoping to see an official timing under 31 minutes. The digital timer said 30:58 when I crossed the finish line, but my recorded time was 31:06. Also, I don't think the results are posted to Active.com, Athletes.com or Coolrunning.com for posterity.
- Weather looked unpredictable and started to sprinkle near the end....seriously, didn't Mother Nature know we had plans????
- Would have liked clear markings from parking lot to packet pick-up. We arrived in more than enough time, but if you were a late arriver, I can imagine this would have been stressful if there wasn't that police-dictated 10 minute start time delay!
- Wish the bathrooms were closer. When you have kids along with you, its quite a trek...would be nice to see bathrooms at the start line area and the finish line area
- Packet pick-up table should have overhead signage if at all possible. Maybe a pop-up shade tent would alleviate weather issues AND allow for display of this?
As for my time, I was quite pleased with it. I will have to work on balancing my energy and not starting out too fast, but at least I was able to give a final kick at the end to finish in under 31:00. So, a PR for me. Sure, I'm a new runner and still have a ways to go, but I'm pleased with this performance, even if I did have to stop more times than I otherwise should have!