So this weekend I ran the Woodbury Country Mile half. Without being too snide, they got through putting the race on for 30 years somehow, so take this worth a grain of salt. Also, "running" wasn't exactly what I did, but we'll get to that later.
The race was Sunday morning, so I picked up some packets on Friday. The website just said packet pickup was at Woodbury Lakes, which is a shopping mall, so I was a little bit on my own for that one. I also wanted to pick up a couple friend's packets and nowhere on the website did I see if I needed their ID's to pick them up. Turns out, I didn't. Also, it took me a while to find where packet pickup was; the signage wasn't very good at all, but maybe thats because I came in from the back of the mall and not where I was supposed to.
Sunday morning, we left burgerrunner race HQ (aka my house) at 6:00 for the 7:00 start. We got to the mall at 6:30, and like clockwork I had to go to the bathroom. I saw no porta johns. Zero. Luckily I saw a john around the back of the mall and ran to that one. I have no idea where anyone else went to the bathroom. Turns out that was a common theme. As we moved to the start, I had no idea where we were going. We moved out of the mall, and downhill down some road. We went halfway down that hill, and I passed a "5k start here" sign. I thought we had missed the start line somewhere, but that sign actually was the actual line. We lined up about 15 yards after that line, in front of the PA announcer- seemed like no rhyme or reason to where people started.
As the mayor was making announcements, I moved up to the lead pack. I figured there was a fat guy up there, so why not. The gun went off behind us, and we were off. There was a gentile hill in front of us, so I thought I was good to go. This was my first mistake. I didn't look at the course map- at all, so I had no idea where we were going. We made a sharp left into a neighborhood for a half mile, then up a hill. I was sweating ridiculous, and we were doing sub 6's. Here was my second mistake. I had ran a 8 mile progression run that Saturday, going from 7:30's to 6:20's. We went up another hill, and another. I was thinking that we would have to go downhill at some point, right? nope. We'd level off for less than a mile, then climb again.
Since I hadn't looked at the course map, I hadn't done that much hill training yet, so by mile 2 and a half I was hurting. We were going around a lake, and I had fallen back to running 6:40's and fading fast. I wasn't feeling good. I took off into the woods and threw up. Like I said, I wasn't feeling good. More of the same took its toll, and I took a lot off. I was jogging 8:45's, and it didn't make much difference. I threw up again shortly after mile 3, and thankfully hit a water stop shortly after. I ran with a pace group for a while after that for about a mile or so. It was fairly flat, and I could handle the flat pretty well still, so I passed a handful of people, always keeping the next group in my sights so I didn't get lost.
I was feeling good enough until mile 7 when we hit just an amazingly big hill, or at least it seemed like it. From then on, I had an urge to use the bathroom. I put it off until I was climbing out of the basin of the 2nd lake we went around, around mile 9. I didn't know what to do, since I had to take a poop. I had quite a dilemma on my hands and, pardon the bad pun, but it was about to get messy real quick. I had just climbed out of the woods and was in a neighborhood, so I could either (a) double back and poop in the woods which I had already done once, or (b) hope I could knock on some doors and use someone's bathroom. At this point time was out the window, so either option was viable. I went with option b, and luckily found a nice lady out gardening who let me use her bathroom.
I was dripping sweat and looked like hell, so I felt really bad for her. But whatever, I did my business and was out. What really held me up was her dog though. I stopped to pet the dog, and that woman took a picture of me holding the dog somewhere. I think I spent 5 minutes or so playing with the dog, but like I said time was out the window; I was seriously considering throwing my watch in the lake. So I kind of stood by the side of the course and waited for someone to come by who either would know the course, or told me to quit. Luckily, the 2:20 pace group passed me just then, and I jumped in. Actually it was just me, the pacer, and another guy who was running his first half. He also served a tour in Afghanistan.
Thats kind of where the story ends. The last 4 miles were more of the same: hills and hills and hills. It left me asking if there was anywhere in Woodbury that was flat. So we were just going along and talking, and it turns out that my pacer, Krystal, won her age group in the Paavo Nurmi marathon in Wisco. Candice Schnieder (who has a great blog at breaknthree.blogspot.com) ended upwinning the race, and since they were in the same age group, the age group winner ended up being Krystal because she finished second and you can't place overall and win your age group.
So that was kind of cool, I also saw Jim Parry, who's a fellow Brooks ID member, albeit just briefly. I ran with him for a couple minutes, but then I ended up losing him when I went to the bathroom in that woman's house. So that was pretty much it, lots of hills would have been the death of me even if I hadn't have fallen apart physically- which actually might have been a good thing because I definitely would have crashed hard if I had tried to keep up with the leaders. I mean, at least I'm prepared for the hills at Twin Cities, right?
In summary, there is a lot the race director could do to make this a better race. More communication would be nice, both through email and through their website, there was almost no information there. The course is what it is, I guess, but it would be nice to get an elevation chart before I got blindsided by the hills- and I don't think it was me who got mad at the hills
For anyone running this race in future years- here's the elevation chart and course map- which is more than their web site gives: