I met up with the wonderful CKE from Fun with the Super Munns before the race, and although I outpaced her at the beginning, she had caught up to me by mile 7. She was my lifesaver on miles 7-10 at which point she really pulled it together and picked up her pace with a smile and a wave she took off and finished the last 3.1 miles a full 2 minutes ahead of me! In all honesty, I can't imagine how much worse my race would have gone without her sweet encouraging companionship from miles 7-10! And lets not forget about her wonderful husband who hitch-hiked all around the course to cheer for us. It was so great to see his smiling face and hear someone yelling my name mile after mile!
The race expo was pretty lame, and the post race lunch was a mini bagel, hard boiled egg, apple slices, cheese and peanut butter, which would have been great except you could smell the BBQ the resort was cooking poolside, and somehow that delicious smell made the bagel and peanut butter much less palatable.
The race itself was in a beautiful setting with the bluebonnets in full bloom as we traversed around the central Texas country side. It was also lots of fun to see the great quotes that the Zooma people set up along the course for encouragement.
They didn't make any attempt to group you by time, or even suggest that you self-monitor by expected time at the start. What that meant was that we got stuck behind lots of people who were walking within the first 1/4 mile. So there was lots of zigging and zagging for the first mile and a half or so. The race was very, very hilly. The only flat miles were the last half of mile 2, mile 7 and mile 8. I looked at the elevation map before the race, but didn't really understand how hilly it was going to be, trust me this race is very HILLY! Also, the last 3.1 miles were on their golf course paths, which meant that there was this long line of runners zig zagging back and forth in front of you for 3 miles. At that point in the race it was pretty discouraging to see all those people just zig zagging back and forth. It was also incredibly boring!
There were water and gatorade stations at almost every mile, and Gu along mile 8. It didn't seem to me like they were in danger of running out of anything which I hear can sometimes happen at larger races. And at the finish line they announce your name as you run across which is fun (they might do this all the time -but since this was my first it was new to me).
I had a challenge with mileage measurements. First of all they advertised that the aide stations would be at the mile mark, but in reality on the first mile the aide station was just after the mile mark, and then for each subsequent mile the aide stations were about a 1/4 mile before the actual mile mark. I know its not that big of a deal, but for some reason it bugged me. I wore my polar foot pod which is what I've used to train to track my mileage and I got pretty discouraged because my polar had me running 1.1 miles for every 1 mile that zooma measured. So overall my foot pod said I ran 14.4 miles, where zooma of course says I ran 13.1. I'm going to re-calibrate my foot pod later this week to see if it was off, but so much of what I focus on to get through long runs is thinking about my pace for every quarter mile, and it really threw me off mentally when my foot pod didn't match the mile markers. It also made me doubt all of my training, because all of my training has been done based on the foot pod mileage. Either way I'm happy with my pace which was a 10:42 mile.
They also handed you a necklace for completing the race as they collected your timing chip. Just after the finish line they had bagels and bananas and oranges and gatorade and water. Again it didn't seem like they were in danger of running out of any of this. They did give out towels, but by the time I got there they had ran out.
Parts of the race were really well organized, and parts of the race were not. All runners and spectators were asked to take a shuttle to the resort where the race was being held, and from Austin the last shuttle left at 6:30, and runners were encouraged to take the 6:00 am shuttle, which meant we had about an hour and half at the resort to kill before the race started. And it also made it really hard for people to come watch the race... I know at least for me personally a lot more people would have come out to support if they could have driven out at around 8:30 and caught the last few miles or the finish, instead of having to leave Austin at 6:00 and hang out for more than 3 and a half hours to see the finish.
Overall, the event was a fun one but I don't think I would repeat it, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for a first half-marathon if you are like me and have serious mental roadblocks around running hills!
I was 99th in my age group, 584th out of 2964, and my time was a 2:20:57.
I will post some pictures later this week when I get around to uploading them from my camera! Go here to read CKE's review of the race, she gives a lot more detail than I do, and since she has ran one before she has something else to compare it to!