Monday, April 1, 2013

Flushing Half-Murderthon

"If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium and you are already dead"-Maximus

That pretty much sums up the Flushing Half-Marathon. For more detail, feel free too keep reading.

Not only did I sucker myself into a Half-Marathon, but I also suckered in J the night before. For the record, I've probably gone out to run a bit more, but neither of us have really pushed anywhere near this distance so far this year. My longest was just over 7 miles (I believe) and his was just over 6.

We arrived about a half hour before start time. Registration was quick and easy, as there were 173 participants in the 13.1, and just a little over 330 in the 5K, and most seemed to be pre-registered. After getting registered, we milled around in the high school until about 10 minutes before the race, and I ditched my windbreaker pants for running shorts. At the time, that may have seemed like a bad idea, because it was still just under 40 degrees, but the sun came out and pushed it close to 50 by the time the race was coming to a close.

The race itself was not chip timed at the start, but we went to the back anyway, given our expectations. We figured most people doing a half at this point, especially a small one, were going to be training and in real shape, and the back was where we belonged. We joked about our impending doom and kept bad-talking the idiot that conned us into this race (me) until they gave us the go.

After a few miles in on the partially bucolic roads of the race (minus one McHouses subdivision jot a mile in) there came just one nagging question, "Where the hell was the water station?" If the marks on the roads were correct, we were closing in on 4 miles in and still no aid in sight. Finally, just into the start of what was to be the big double loop...there it was...water! At that point we both just stopped and downed way too much. We had no idea when the next one would be, if there was one.

The big loop was pretty dicey for running. The roads were still open to traffic, and the majority of the cars had little interest in letting you stay on the road. I kept going from the road to the gravel shoulder and back. To do so, you had to make sure to clear the small rise going from the shoulder back on the pavement. Sure, it sounds easy, but when you're running, tired, and dehydrated, it's pretty easy to catch yourself on the lip of the road and do a nice face plant. So we have dehydration, traffic, and head trauma all out there just waiting to be causes of death. They even mentioned that last year someone was actually hit by a car.

When I found water station #2 on the loop, I had to wonder about the location. It was still close to another 4 miles from the initial, and, with the loop in effect, you only had roughly another mile and a half until you returned to the initial station. The placement was just all sorts of wrong, and could have ruined your day if you came into the thing without being semi-hydrated off the bat. Sure you had 4 opportunities for water, but you're over 4 miles in before the 1st, almost 8 before the second, and then the last two end up at 9 1/2, and 12 1/2 (so pretty much done) which is almost useless, except for the fact you're trying hard to make up lost hydration ground from earlier. I understand it's a small race, and it's a cheap one, but another bucket of water would do wonders. Even a little better placement couldn't hurt.
Flushing Half Map
Blue Diamonds = Water Station

I think that's a big part of what hurt J's race so much. He was hurting for water early, and I was too, but he was really vocal about it and he's just not the type to complain. Even after the water stop, he slowed pretty hard, and by mile 6 I just couldn't stay back and coax him along any more. On a normal day, the water thing would have broke me, but stripping off the extra layer was very fortunate for me and for some reason I was feeling way too good that day. So I started trying to catch a few people in front of me. There were only 2 or 3 until I hit a big open patch. The people I passed faded back a long way and the next person in front of me, based on a count out to a similar point, was almost 50 seconds ahead. This held for almost 6 miles (the reason for my opening "Gladiator" quote). It was just me, and the cars whizzing by me at 60 MPH, and a few random songs going in my head (Nirvana's "Turnaround" is all I can remember now, but they weren't really typical or running related).

I was really trying hard to catch that person in front of me, but every time I'd gain on her, I'd lose a bit and she'd get it back. I really didn't think it was ever going to happen. Mile 11 I caught 3 other people that she had also passed, but there she was still the same distance ahead. Coming into the 12th mile I made up half the ground, but there was still no way it was going to happen, and then the seas parted. She stopped at the water station at 12 1/2, while I grabbed a quick mouth wetter and whizzed by, going on to pass 3 more people that were fading and didn't push the last mile. I tried to catch one more, but he had more juice than me, and he wasn't going to allow me to get him with a few hundred feet to go. Good job, sir!

I pulled in at a clock timed 2:17:20 (not a PU, but nowhere near a PR). They handed me a BYOR (bring your own ribbon) medal in a plastic baggy at the finish. I was shocked there was a medal at all, so I'm good with that. I can put it on a strand of yarn. All I cared about was getting to the water fountains off to the left. Then after getting about a liter in me, I came back to the finish to cheer on the other people and wait for J. So I waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually it hit the 2:30 mark and I was getting a bit concerned. I walked out to the road a few times to make sure people were coming. They were, but he wasn't in sight. I probably would have headed backwards down the race at this point, but they were already sending out a guy to go pick up cones. I figured if anything happened to him they'd get there first, but it just seemed like it had been too long. Eventually my mind was set at ease when he came in and was still running. He finished about 2:47 and the first words out of his mouth were "I want a smoothie."

After letting him get some water and talk to the organizers a bit, we went straight to a Tropical Smoothie Cafe to fulfill his wish. It was the least I could do after talking him into this race and almost killing him. He wouldn't give any excuses, but I'm telling you that there's no way it turns out that bad for him based on conditioning. I haven't run that much more. This was all dehydration crash, I guarantee it.

As it is, I can't see myself ever doing this race again. The price is nice, but it's just not worth the risk. I realize it's usually cold during this race, but when it's pushing 50 degrees and the sun's out, you need more water stations. You probably should have them when it's cold anyway. Also, a race being open to traffic in a rural area of a suburb where everyone knows the people drive like idiots just isn't a good idea on roads that are not isolated. Along with that, the terrain is pretty good for twisting an ankle and ending your running year. Even with it only being $15 (no shirt option), I'm not going back, and I know J would never even consider it.

If anyone with anything to do with the race is open to suggestions. I have a few. If you wanted to keep the same route and location, you need to put up some signs warning the cars that there are runners at every intersection where they can pull onto the route's roads. A few cars were obviously surprised by me. I was running pretty much alone, and they turned off onto the road oblivious of a race going on. I could see it in their eyes.

If it's me, though, I move this thing out away from this area. If you don't want to shut down roads, move it out to a place that is even more rural. There are roads in Flushing that you can build a Half Marathon on where you won't see a car, and some of them are not dirt roads riddled with holes.

Suggestion #1. Flushing has a pretty decent trail there hanging out behind the Bueche's store. I believe there's about 6 miles back there, and it's wooded and follows a river. This is easily a better fit. Sure you may run into another walker or biker, but you're more likely to survive that than a car.
Almar's flagship hard cider
Suggestion #2. Move this thing out by Almar Orchard and set it up on the roads out there. Have people working the crossings at the major roads and let people know to watch for traffic, but other than that, you're not going to see a lot of cars. You may even get them to throw up some sponsorship, because there are going to be a lot of people buying apples, cider, hard cider (it's the best!), jams & jellies, etc. They even have milk, eggs, and other stuff that some husband or wife would just pick up because it's there. Plus they can make cider slushies when it's warm, hot cider when it's cold, and have some spice doughnuts. I swear, they could make a killing, especially if they got the hayrides going. Just a few racers with some extra cash could easily bare their shelves. I don't know, maybe it's a selfish idea, because I want an excuse to go there and buy more cider, but I think it could be a smash.

Either way, it would be better than running at a school and then leaving. I want people in communities to love runners, not bemoan our existence while almost running us over. There's a run organizer in me somewhere. I've already had a few ideas. Though, I have to admit that my "Case The Neighborhood" 5K is my favorite plan to date.


  1. Yowzers, sounds like a rough morning for J and a surprisingly decent morning for you all things considered. Congrats on not running a PW!

    Never been out that way but now that you're talking hard ciders I might need to make a trip.

    1. I think you may be able to find it at a good beer store out your way. I've seen it all over within the state. I would think it has made its way down there.

  2. I'm still waiting on the announcement for inaugural "Case The Neighborhood".

    1. If it, by some ridiculous turn of events, actually happens, you'll get an invite.

  3. OMG...that sounds like the organizers were non runners to me! Crazy, glad you survived and did so well! Way to go bud!

    1. That's the thing. I heard two of the organizers talking about marathons they did back in the day.

  4. Nice! Another half marathon in the books. I've run a few races where they don't close the road, it's frustrating, even if it's cheap - why should I have to pay if the roads are still going to be open?!

    1. Yeah, I was kind of thinking that I could have just timed it myself. Of course that's ignoring the fact that if it were a practice run I would have done about half that distance.

  5. Congrats on the half marathon. I give the trail idea a big thumbs up


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