Thursday, December 18, 2014

Race Recap: BCS Marathon + Half Marathon

Full disclosure:  I already knew I would love this race well before I lined up in Corral 2 on Sunday. 

For one thing, the race was held in the same town where I went to college.  I was really looking forward to running through campus, by my old apartments, and down the streets where I spent many a night with a Miller Light in hand.  What can I say?  I guess I'm getting nostalgic in my old age, but it's always fun to visit where you "grew up."  We get back to College Station about once a year for football games, but then we mostly just stick to the stadium and never get to really look around town.  Doing it on my feet over 13.1 miles was something I was looking forward to.

Second, and probably the biggest reason I knew I was going to love this race, was all of the pre-race communication.  Almost daily, the organizers updated the race Facebook page.  Sometimes with free giveaways, sometimes with random running facts, sometimes with sneak peeks at race swag, and sometimes just general race info.  Each time I would see an update I would get a little more excited.  It's awesome to feel like such a part of the entire race process, even months out.  It also let me know that the race organizers really care about the race and those running.  If I had to give only one kudos for the best thing about this race, I would have to say it was all of the pre-race updating.

Okay on to the race recap....

Pre-race:  First of all, after telling you that I'd double, triple, and quadruple checked my gear, I still managed to pack the wrong socks!!!  Seriously.  How???  Thank goodness we scored free Swifwick socks (my absolute favorite race socks) in our race bag.  Total lifesaver.  And, only you other runners will know that I'm not exaggerating when I use that term.  Socks can make or break a run.  

Hubs dropped me off for the race around 6:40 a.m.  The first thing I noticed: how awesomely uncrowded (word??) the corrals were.  Often you get packed in like sardines before a race, but this race had the corrals perfectly spaced and perfectly marked with all pacers holding clearly marked signs.  This meant, I felt totally comfortable about where I should start the race and I also had plenty of room for pre-run stretching, warming up, and general nervous tension moves.

Before the race started, the race organizers showed a motivational video on several screens at the start line.  I can't lie, I got teary.  I wonder if this happens to anyone else, but I get so emotional before a race.  Tears come really easily for me in the corral.

The race started off fine enough.  I know I'm always updating you on the weather, so what I can tell you about race day weather is that it was way better than I'd expected.  Yes, it was humid, but the temperature was perfect (meaning all of the spectators were in coats and hats and all of the runners were in tanks and shorts) and it was dry (thank goodness!).  I have no complaints about the conditions in which we started to run (I do think for the marathoners though, it did start getting really warm near the end --- sorry full marathoners. My sympathies are with you for multiple reasons). 
The crowds were great.  Now, this is a "smaller" race (says the girl who is used to running the Houston Marathon, which is HUGE) of only 4ish thousand runners, but still the spectators were awesome.  I've written about it before, but there really are no words I could ever put together to adequately describe how I feel about all race volunteers and spectators.  THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for your signs, your bells, your high fives, and your free fruit.  Races wouldn't be near as much fun without you. You inspire me. 

Running so fast, the picture blurred....ha ha.
Actual running:  I was really focused on running my own race.  I was getting passed left and right as the race started.  So many people were passing me that I kept double checking  the pace runner in front of me, expecting to see that I had lined up with the wrong pace runners.  To say it was discouraging having runner after runner fly by me, is to significantly understate the truth of it.  It was very hard watching so many people overtake my pace.  But, I stuck with it.  I was convinced that I could make up any losses I accumulated in the first few miles.  As people ran by,  I kept repeating to myself," This is your race.  Run it your way. Don't worry about anyone else. They don't know what you are about to do."  It was just before mile 6 that I got sick of being passed  decided then and there that I was going to run the hell out of the rest of the race.

And, run the hell out of it, I did.  I began really kicking it after mile 6. My focus literally shifted from external to internal.  I was laser focused and very determined.  I found myself in a bit of a hole by mile 8.5 and I was willing my legs to keep turning.  By Mike 10, I knew I could get close to my PR, but I knew I had to push to do it (keep in mind, I didn't realize at the time how off my Garmin was). This is when you start playing games with yourself. You start saying, "this is only a 5K, I can run at 5K pace."  With one mile out, I was trashed. My knee was killing me (mom, don't worry. It wasn't injured, just hurting) and I was exhausted. But, still, I kept at it. I was close to my PR pace (again, so I thought based on my Garmin) and I wasn't going to get that close and miss it. Then, came the greatest race gift of all: A DOWNHILL FINISH!!  Thank you BCS Marathon. I have never been so grateful to see downside of a hill in my life. 

I finished leaving it all out on the course and I was greeted by a young man with Down Syndrome who placed my medal around my neck and told me good job. You know what else he did? He hugged me. A solid, way-to-go, awesome hug. And I can't tell you what that meant to me. For 13.1 miles, almost 2 hours, I was running my race. Surrounded by people, I was alone in my head and in my race. To get that physical acknowledgement of what I had done and from such a special person brought tears to my eyes (yeah, I know, more crying. It's kinda my thing). I should also note that the race organizer stands at the finish line and literally greets every single run, from first to last. Like I said, it's a special race. 

Now to the good stuff: the food and drink.  I skipped all of the post-race food. Mostly because we had brunch plans after my run and also because right after a race like that, my body is not ready to chew/digest anything. But it looked good. What was GREAT though, post-race, were the free margaritas. Oh my gosh. The margarita was amazing. Forget post-race beers. Ritas are it for me.  Ritas forever. Thank you BCS. 

And, about an hour later, I say my exhausted legs down with this in front of me: 

The restaurant was along the full marathon route and as I ate I watched them run by. I knew the journey they were on and I was all at once inspired by them and jealous of them and also so grateful to already be in my chair gorging on fried deliciousness. 

As you can tell, I loved this race. I would recommend it to anyone. I can't think of a better ending to racing in 2014. 


  1. ooh Margaritas at the end. HM!
    Good for you for running your own race. That's a simple thing that is hard to do, I think.


    1. Tony, the margarita is now my must-have-post-race drink! PS - great blog.

  2. Congrats!!! You have officially convinced me to run the BCS. I love what they stand for and for such a young race, it sounds like they really know what they're doing! My biggest running accomplishment to date was when I ran the campus loop for the first time. And although I've hit 13.1 since then, the first time I ran 6m and experienced that "runners high" that everyone talks about, will always stick with me. I'd love to get back there and run those streets!

  3. Carly - Yes! I'm so excited you decided to join the race. It's going to be great next year, I am sure. Running Northgate really felt like a full circle moment (from stumbling the streets as a college girl to running them as a grown woman). Can't wait to see you out there.