Red White and Boom 2016

It was my first time ever running Red White and Boom.  Things went surprisingly well.

Registration: Online.  I was registered for this race as part of the TC Summit Challenge registration.

Packet Pick Up: I did early pick up at the TCM office conveniently located near my home office location.  There was same day pick up available.  Same day packet pick up and bag drop were 1/2 mile from the start line.  I did use bag drop.  The distance was not ideal, but I knew about it ahead of time because I was told at packet pick up.

Weather and Wardrobe: Start temperatures were predicted to be in the 60s with humidity 60-70%.  Temps were predicted to raise into the high 60s or low 70s by finish.  So, sunny and humid.  I wore shorts and a tank, race belt and a scarf on my head to keep my hair out of my face.

Start Line: The start line for the Half Marathon is on the downtown side of Stone Arch bridge.  I lined up with the 12:13/2:40 pacer.  We were far back and there were no speakers.  I couldn't hear the Star Spangled Banner, nor any race announcements. Otherwise, the start line was pretty orderly.  The pacers and pace signs seemed to help people know where to line up.

Miles 0-3: Starts along the river and then goes to Plymouth Ave.  There is some rolling but generally very pleasant.  Plus I had a cheering crew at mile 3 and that was awesome.
Miles 4-6: Hills.  A friend of mine called this Cardiac Hill.  I chose not to listen to her before the race.
Miles 7-9: Victory Memorial Parkway - fabulous
Miles 9 -11: Running in the industrial park - everyone told me this was the new part of the course.  2nd Ave north was partially opened to traffic but there was nothing coming, and plenty of room for the spectators that did come.
Miles 11 - finish: Back along the river, some down hill but not all.  Mile 12 was my pity party.

Pacing done right: I started out with the 2:40/12:13 mile pacer.  My goal for the race was to not start too fast and this seemed the best solution.  He said he'd take breaks every mile and I figured I'd pull away.  He caught me a time or two, with the last time being on Cardiac Hill.  After that, I really did pull away. 
Pacer Problems: In an odd twist, I started catching up on the 2:30/11:27 pacer.  I should not have been catching this guy up.  At mile 5, he shouldn't have been anywhere near the 2:40 pacer.  But he was.  So I let myself slowly reel him in.  And then pass him.  Slowly.  I never saw him again.
Not having problems pacing myself which is new: After two really poorly paced out races, my goal for this one was even pacing and trusting my Garmin.   Which I did.  And it was a pleasure.  I ran an 11:51 for the first half and 11:52 for the back half of the course.  I was aiming for 12:00/mile.  Side note - I'm very glad I wasn't aiming for a 2:30 finish because I would've been ticked at that pacer.
Endurance: I hit a wall around mile 12 and had a bit of a pity party.  I turned off the screen on my watch (it was still tracking), and ran based on feel.  I was somewhat rejuvenated for the last mile, which I knew was downhill and then flat.

Finish: I loved finishing on Stone Arch Bridge.  That said, they should've had the fan barricades sticking out further onto the bridge.  Finishers walking back across the bridge were impeding the course from time to time.  I did like the fans on the bridge cheering for me, but seriously, move out the way. 

Lessons learned from training: 
Endurance: Run Long.  After the fiasco that was Lola's, I focused on having runs that were over 13 miles, usually around 14.  I wanted to get used to being on my feet that long.  It was a good move.
Hills: Practice. Recently I've made a concerted effort to incorporate hills into training.  It gave me confidence going up the big one.  It also taught me common sense.  The race will not be won on that hill but it can easily be lost there.
Pacing: Trust the watch.  Reel in slowly. I learned from the last two races not to start out like a bone head.  I did a very small amount of speed work in this training cycle, but did manage to learn the quirks of my Garmin, including how to trust the pace, and when not to. 

Race Recommended For:
New to Half Marathon -  this race is well organized, well supported, and has tons of pace teams.
Road Runners who like the scenery - I really loved racing on Victory Memorial Parkway.  I'd never done that before.
Experienced runners - because again, this race is well organized and well supported and has tons of pace teams. 
Early risers - start time is 6:30am.  It needed to be that early too.  
Well, um... There seems to be a small contingent of dudes who run this race in underwear.  So if that is your thing, or if that scenery would be your thing, go forth.

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