I headed out around 5 am on Saturday morning and even with a coffee + bathroom stop and a gas + bathroom stop, I arrived with more than enough time to spare. Parking was really easy, and I found a spot a block from the start/finish/registration area. I walked the block to get my bib and shirt and then went back to the car because it was cold (temps in the 30s with 15-20 mph winds) and waited until about 8:45 to make my way back over to the start. The park has bathrooms, so I made one more stop (3 bathrooms stops on race morning is usually a good sign, so I was optimistic that the workout was going to go well).
I met a girl who was planning to start out in the mid/high 8s, which was right around my planned warm up pace, so I asked if I could tag along with her for the first 2 miles. It was weird lining up for a race start having done no warm up at all, but since it was built into the workout, I didn't do anything prior to the gun. And after what felt like a long wait because of the cold, we were off.
I ended up running my first two miles with Kristin and Kaz (the director of the Tobacco Road marathon, which I've run several times and is my early season A race), and the miles went by pleasantly and quickly, even if they were a little faster than advertised (8:15-8:20). As we finished the second mile I wished them luck with the rest of the run and took off to complete my workout (2 x building 400s on 400 recoveries + 12x800s on 400 easy).
|Nice conversational warm up miles|
|Up the bridge and into a headwind at mile 11|
(It looks like I'm walking, but I really wasn't)
In the finisher area they had the usual bananas, trail mix, and peanut butter sandwiches, but also oreos, fig newtons, twizzlers, sour candies, jelly beans, animal crackers, etc etc etc. Plus two tickets for free beer and food at the post race party, which was thankfully out of the cold at a bar/restaurant about 2 blocks away.
My prize was 50% off entry for next year, and I have already registered for 2018. The post-race party was well attended, and people who didn't like the free beer (Goose Island IPA) were giving away their tickets, so by the end we had a pile of them on the table. Unfortunately I had to drive, but next year I will probably stay at the host hotel so that pile of free beer tickets does not go to waste.
I spent the night in Atlantic Beach, and though it was too cold to spend much time outside, I was treated to a beautiful sunset and a nice relaxing evening, so all in all I am really pleased with the last minute decision and may have to work on turning more of my workouts into adventures :)