Monday, September 29, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 #womenruntheD Detroit Women's Half Marathon and 5k

The weekend of September 20th, I had the honor of representing Another Mother Runner at the Detroit Women's Half Marathon and 5k, plus I got the bonus of getting to run the race and spend some girl-time with one of my BRF's, Jenn.

Jenn and I arrived Friday night to set up for AMR and connect with the race organizers and fellow vendors.  We were lucky enough to get booth space next to fellow Michigan runner, Heather, of Michigan Runner Girl. It's always great to see a familiar and friendly face :)

Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, ON, Canada
After we finished setting up, we left Cobo Hall to the most beautiful sunset over the Ambassador Bridge.  It hit me that 1 month from the next day, I'd be running across that bridge during the Detroit Marathon.  EEEK!

Rooms are beautiful
We were fortunate enough to stay at the beautiful Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.  The hotel was just a short drive (once we figured out where we were going) from Cobo Hall and the expo.  If we didn't have stuff to transport, we could have walked it.  Our room was one of the newly renovated rooms in the lower tower.  Beautiful and comfy with a pretty view of the Detroit River, Canada, and Belle Isle (where we'd be running) out the window.

Aren't we cute?
Jenn and I decided dinner and drinks in the hotel lounge - Volt - was the way to go before turning in.  I'm bummed I couldn't get a room here for the marathon in a month.  It would have been super convenient for that race. 

We arrived back at Cobo early Saturday morning to put some finishing touches on our booth.  My favorite aspect to being an AMR Ambassador is connecting with the other runners.   So many told stories of this being their first 5k or Half Marathon.  This seems to be especially true at women's only races.  It's inspiring to see so many women, of every shape, size and ability, in varying stages of their running journeys.

Ready to Rock!
Jenn and I were both able to check out the expo throughout the day.  I loved our location - we were one of the first booths you would see on the way to the back of the room to get your packet and Heather was right next door.

Me and Heather!
Heather also contributes to the Another Mother Runner site.  This was her first experience representing her brand at an expo and she seemed to have a great weekend.

The expo was very well run and just the right length (open from 10 to 4).  There was a nice variety of vendors, although I would have liked to see more jewelry.  I would have bought a Detroit charm for my necklace if any had been available.  I was disappointed in options for meals; however.  There was one restaurant which was supposed to be open but it closed by 1 pm (I think).  I was the last person to get down there and get food and their offerings were very limited even at 12:30.  It was also the most expensive burger and fries I've ever had (about $14).  Not the race's fault, but an observation.  If you plan on attending this expo, you might want to think about eating somewhere else.

After the expo ended, Jenn and I got back to our room and got ready for the Pasta Dinner at Coach Insignia.  While every other aspect of the race weekend was great, this one experience could have put a damper on things if I'd let it.  We each spent $20 for this dinner and there were numerous issues (no GF pasta - or much of any food left, no seating, a bitchy worker).  Some of the issues were restaurant-related and some were race-related.  I've addressed them both with Coach Insignia (whose social media presence and response was awesome) and the race directors.  That being said, I would NOT recommend purchasing tickets to the pasta dinner next year unless there is a way to sign up for specific food if you have dietary concerns.  IMO - a total waste of money since we had to go buy dinner again when we left since we had almost nothing to eat.

At least the view at Coach Insignia was pretty.
Race morning started very early - around 5am.  We had looked at the Sbux hours the day before and they didn't look like they'd be open, so we ordered room service for breakfast.  Expensive but worth it for the convenience.  After getting ready, we headed downstairs.  The race had shuttle busses set up with Detroit Party Coach for participants staying at the Ren-Cen.  Super convenient way to get to Belle Isle and not deal with parking.  My friends who drove over said parking was fine though.  Storms moved through the area Saturday night, so we were all a bit worried about the weather for Sunday morning.  Luckily, the rain moved out just before race-time.  The organizers delayed the start about 20 minutes to give all the people in line for the port-a-potties time to get into their start locations.  

The race had a wave start of sorts - 9 m/m pace and faster went off first, followed a few minutes later by us slower folks.  Then the 5k started after the half, again with a wave start such as the one for the half.  This was to help with congestion on the 2.5 loop course around Belle Isle.  I had never run on Belle Isle before, and it's a part of the Detroit Marathon course, so this was a great opportunity to check it out.  The support along the course was great and there were even a few musical performers.  A nice touch for such a small race (only about 1550 finishers between both the half and 5k).  There were also pacers but it seemed they weren't very organized as there were 3 different pacers all lined up together.  

I'm not going to recap my entire race experience.  If you want to read some of the details, you can check it out on DailyMile.  All in all, I was very happy with how I ran this half.  I went in to the race itself with pretty low expectations.  Training for a full marathon means slower paces most of the time, so I knew a PR was not in the cards (I'd need to run a 2:06 half for that).  I just wanted a solid run and a negative split and I got exactly that.  The bonus was I ran half number 13 as my 3rd fastest half.  Not too shabby.

The Detroit Women's Half Marathon was a very nice race to run with quite a few positives.

- Great course support and entertainment
- Free picture downloads (I hated my picture which is why you don't see it here)
- Personalized bibs if you registered early enough.
- A very pretty medal
- Excellent Michigan craft beer from Wolverine State Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor, poured by two very cool dudes.
- Pretty, cotton race shirt.  I've received so many tech shirts that I now like the nicer (read NOT unisex) buttery cotton shirts. A note to future participants - the shirts run VERY small.  I ended up with an XL and I normally wear a M.

Wolverine State Brewing Co.
I'm hoping to make it back again next year!

The best part of the weekend was the girl time with Jenn and her friend, Michelle, who we met up with later.  We all had great races and a very nice couple days to escape reality.

Finishers Bari, Jenn and Michelle! 
(Don't forget to go enter my giveaway if you haven't already!)

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