Saturday, October 31, 2015

Quad City half marathon, Sept 27 (yup, late post)

September 26/27, 2015  
The last weekend of October in Iowa means it's time for our PurpleStride to raise awareness and funds for fighting Pancreatic Cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA and the third cause in Iowa.  As I was volunteering this year/Saturday, instead of running, I also scoped out a half marathon to do on Sunday.  I got up at 5am and headed off to Des Moines, knowing I'd not see The Mike until Sunday evening. He is so amazing, and supportive of Quirky. 

Saturday was gorgeous weather, not too windy, not too cold and not raining (like it did last year).  The event takes place at the Raccoon River Valley park, which has a 5k loop around it. The only bad thing about this loop--if you're off to run it on your own in the summer--is that there is no place to turn off/turn around. Also, since it's along the Raccoon River, it means there could be a lot of mosquitos back in the tree area.  This day we didn't have to worry about those nasty biters!   
A good number of people came out to volunteer, out to run or walk the 5k and to raise money for this great cause.  I also got to see a cousin of mine who came to support a friend of hers, who lost her young husband to this cancer, as well as couple friends from college who came by to say hello :-)  After the race and packing up, I stopped at Wendy's for a bunless burger and baked potato and headed over to the Quad Cities to see if I could still register for the Quad Cities half marathon, or if it was sold out.  The main reason I NEEDED to do this race was to see if I could do it, feel good about myself/my run, and anticipate how I might do at the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October.  I haven't trained/run much this fall at all, not like if I was training for a half or a full.  I know better too, but I also know this is my one chance for doing the MCM. I got in, I paid, and then I had a conflict come up which thankfully I was able to change this year.   
Mississippi River Bridge
As a kid, if we crossed this bridge we knew we were almost to Grandma's house---or a long way yet to go on the way home :-)   
Thankfully, there were still spots available and I was able to register at the expo. Happily, surprisingly, I didn't have to pay a computer fee for registering. It said it was X dollars up to the day of the race and they meant it!  

I was going to call my Cousin R when I got to town, but after the expo I went to eat my standard prerace meal in the 'big city' of Outback's Salmon and asparagus.  (My metro area of  169,000 doesn't have one).  After this I was so exhausted. Being up at 5am and driving, plus volunteering at a race just wiped me out apparently. I decided to forgo calling my cousin and instead went to Target to get a few things for race morning (yogurt, Mama Chia drink).  

At the Express Checkout stand I'm standing there looking at the lady in front of me who reminds me of my mom, who reminds me of her sister, who reminds me of my cousin.  Then I notice the "Pampered Chef" bag on this woman's hip. So I walked to the woman's outerside, as if I just wanted to browse the candy to her side, and I looked. I said, "R" and yes, this woman, at Target, in front of me, in a city/metro area of 383,000 people was, indeed, my cousin!   We decided I'd call her after I was done with the race and we'd meet for lunch :-) 

Really, what are the chances of that happening?
So I'm one of those runners who looks around at the start and sees new gear or wonders about other gear.  This was a "I wonder how that would feel to run with a collapsible flask bouncing against my leg".  I stayed at a hotel not far from the interstate and was able to pop over the bridge to Illinois and find a parking spot fairly near the start. Yeah me :-)   I had some water left in a plastic recyclable bottle and I added some Cytomax to that, which I had pre-race.

At the start we had some music, some prayer and then a Howitzer (or some sort of loud military cannon) went off and we were off to our run: half marathon or marathon.  
Just a few blocks from the start we passed under this gigantic flag which hung down from the bridge that takes one to Rock Island Arsenal.  It might be a military bridge, but those are photographers on the bridge, not sharpshooters. 
The start of the race really reminded me of my last marathon, Detroit 2013.  We started in a business area, and quickly ran on streets with small, old, historic brick buildings, with the next turn being the on ramp to a bridge. In the Quad Cities, it was a bridge to take us into Iowa, in Detroit it was a bridge to take us into Windsor, Canada.   

Before the last big hill of mile 2 or thereabouts, we had our second bagpipe player, pictured below. The first bagpiper we saw and heard was on the river bridge. 
After running up some hills and through residential areas with a nice downhill, we came to the river front of Bettendorf or Davenport. No, I don't really know which one.  I wish the race had signs up that said "you are entering this city of the quad" which would have been really nice to have for visitors like myself.  

View of our first bridge, after running about 4 miles, entering the river front Iowa area.  
I was feeling really good in the race and running a good pace for me.  I was surprised at how quickly it came back, and then I started run/walking about the same pace with an older man.  We decided to run/walk together, have some conversation and enjoy the run.  He wanted to break 3 hours, as did I. We both thought it was possible. 
. . . 

And then we came to the Government Bridge, or how it's known now as Arsenal Bridge.  It's iron/steel/metal through and through.  For the race, they put down rugs the length of the bridge---in single file.  I encountered a bridge like this during my Rock n Roll D.C. Marathon in 2011 and I took it easy and walked it to be safe.  Mr. J and I started off walking this and he decided to start running. Okay, go for it. He ran on the rugs for about ten paces and then 'splat' he fell down. The rugs hid the joiner plates for the bridge sections and he didn't raise his feet high enough for that.  He scuffed up his hand and his knee, but since he landed on the rugs he was thankful for that only.  We took it easy. I mean, I could have left him at this point and said, "I'm on my own race buddy, see you later", but that would have been a bit mean I think on my part.  We'd stuck together for about 3 or 4 miles by this point.  About a mile down the road he looked down and his knee and hand were both bleeding. We hadn't passed a medic station since the bridge (which seems weird).  So I made the decision in my race (which was a training run, which I know people say they hate to hear a "race" being a "training run" but everyone does what one needs to do for him or herself.), to stay with Mr. J.  

We ran a bit and walked a bit.  On this trail I said I was walking it and he walked it too. It was mostly an asphalt trail, with these giant swaths of huge gravel randomly across it.  Also, it was near the river, so there were party boats hooting and hollering at us racers.  
After this we had an out and back part of about a mile each way, then we ran past the Confederate cemetery on Rock Island Arsenal, for those who probably didn't make it in military prisons because of disease, though Mr. J said there were a lot who died in this area because of lack of food. He said there was some sort of hold up on the other side of the river and they couldn't get the food to the prisoners. It is so sad to hear that people may have starved to death because of lack of communication.  It seems strange enough that people died in the Civil War because doctors didn't know about different blood types and blood diseases and they didn't wash hands between patients. 

Anyway, Mr. J and I hung together and his knee and hand stopped bleeding, but they looked horrible with the dried blood on  his skin. He had hoped to get it cleaned before the finish line and his wife.  Oh, did I mention Mr. J was over 80?  Somewhere in our conversation he mentioned that he liked races where they separated the old guys and had an 80 over class, then he did "well" in placing, but if the race director combined the "70 and 80 year olds I don't do so well" he said.  OMG this guy looked like he was maybe 65!  

We came down the arsenal bridge/off ramp, and finished on the same road we started.  We had "pi" time of 3 hours 14 minutes and some seconds. Yes, it was officially my longest ever half marathon time, my longest ever half marathon training run time but I had fun, I ran it, I walked it, and I was feeling better about the 26.2 Marine Corps Marathon in a month. I knew I'd end up walking the last part of that, but I was sure I would have the fortitude to do so.  I met Mr. J's wife and told her he looked worse than he was, while he was twenty feet away in the med tent getting his wounds cleaned. 
Gluten free food = chocolate milk, water and FRUIT!  I've never been to a race before which had fresh fruit, but this was a fabulous station!   

As I walked down the street to my car's parking lot, I saw the Planter's Peanut Mobile!   
Honestly, I had no clue they even had one of these!  I  have see the Hershey Kiss one on the interstate, I've seen the Oscar Mayer mobile up close, but I had no idea there was a peanut mobile.   
I got some peanuts and coupons for The Mike since I don't care for these legumes.  
Back at the hotel I enjoyed my race shirt (the bottom of the back has the bridge on it), and medal. Then I had to change up and head to the Mexican restaurant for lunch with my cousin and her family :-)  I hadn't seen her since mom's funeral almost three years ago.

After lunch I stopped at a second hand store and scored a large rectangular Longaberger basket and liner for under $40 and then headed home.  At home I discovered The Mike had found my CEP orange compression sleeves!  These things have been "lost" since Detroit. Actually, I bought them IN Detroit at the expo. Orange is my favorite color: it's so cheery, and it's the Detroit Tigers baseball team color.   I had gotten size larger there as my pink ones were getting too tight on my calves (muscles) and while I wore them for the race in Detroit because it was sooooo ccccccollld, I could not remember having had them since then.  
The Mike found them in the computer bag for our home laptop.  Seriously??
What the hay were they doing there?  

At the end of the day, 32,095 steps later, I was at home, and ready for bed.  

No comments:

Post a Comment