Race Recap: Women's Fitness Festival 2014 Half Marathon

10:41 AM

I'm a sucker for anything "inaugural"...
...So sue me, I want to be a part of something for the first time. Doesn't it sound exciting to you? Well it did to me a few months back when I finally pulled the trigger and signed up!

This race has always been a 5k up until this year. This year they said screw the 10k distance, we're going straight for a half marathon! This race, which Nike was at once the lead sponsor, has been around the Sacramento since 2009. I thought it was earlier than that, but that's as far as the race results go on their website: W omens Fitness Festival. Fleet Feet Sacramento is always the team behind the race, but once Nike dropped as lead sponsor it kinda went sponsor-less, in the fact that a big name brand was no longer title sponsor. Kaiser Permanente took its place, but it seems like Asics took over at the last minute. Although they weren't the title sponsor, they were backing the race fully. Sorry, this might be the marketing nerd in me, truly over analyzing this! I digress...

As per the usu, the packet pick up was at Fleet Feet Sacramento. Anticipating large numbers (assumption on my part), they set up a tent outside (as they do for Shamrockn') instead of using the back room. You are herded similar to cattle, through the various lines of bib and shirt pickup. Of course, as you leave you walk through a bunch of cute women's gear for sale - Asics and WFF logo'd alike!
New feather logo.
Gear Grid
Wake up call was set for 5:50AM. Gotta get in my pre-race ritual. Eat, poop, run! Probably TMI, but I'm sure most other runners follow the same ritual. Again, I was bagel-less because the  grocery store I went to didn't have individual bagels for sale, just the cheap processed ones. I went with a whole wheat English muffin and PB, a safe bet before a race.
Pre-race fuel
The half marathon had a start time of 7:15AM and the 5k-er's would start a short 30 minutes after at 7:45AM. The course, while as a runner it wasn't too bad, there were tons of twists and turns to get the mileage in, without veering off too far from the grid. It was an out and back of sorts. However, for a spectator or anyone that is a non-runner the course was a nightmare!
Pre race smile [Photo Cred: the Boy]
If you've ever raced in Sacramento (CA), then you've run part of this race - guaranteed! If you were a spectator or any other human driving in a five to eight mile radius of the grid or Sac State, you were screwed. This race, and all it's twists and turns, made it impossible to get to any of the larger freeway entrances. I have a feeling poor FF Sac is going to get some not nice emails and phone calls regarding the race route. Cut them some slack, it was their first year planning, however, I can bet some serious dinero that they will alter the course next year!
Half Marathon Course
The race started at the Capitol, which is like all races on the grid, and you went East. You were officially off the grid by mile 2 and into what locals would call East Sacramento. From mile 2 to 4 you run through a bunch of residential streets, then as you approach 4 you run near Sac state. Just before you hit mile 5 you go up a decently long slow grade that curves, then downhill - which is always fun when you're driving, but a whole different story when running (we did the opposite way in the Sac Town 10 miler). Again, up until mile 7ish, you are just running along a bunch of residential streets.

I will say this, the heat came out to play this AM. Although it was probably anywhere from high 60's to low 80's, it truly felt like we were running in 85+ degree weather. Bless every single soul that came out to cheer us all on, but a serious extra blessing to those who were out there showering us with their hoses or sprinklers. Seriously, I ran to every hose person I saw, it felt amazing. I'm glad it didn't mess with Mr. Garmin!

Mile 7 to 8 are near and around Sacramento State University (CSUS) and then you are back running through East Sac. You've already seen this part of the course, because you ran it in the earlier miles of the race. Once you hit mile 10 you run a slightly different route to get back to the finish line, although a very flat part of the race. From here on out you are just running along the grid of number and letter streets until you finish on 10th street, which is along side the West Steps of the state capitol.

Since the race has two distances, as you approach the finish, at about mile 12.6, there are two lanes - one for each distance, duh! 5k to the left and Halfers to the right, up until about the 0.08 of a mile do they merge together at the last turn before you finish!
Post race collage
Being a hometown race, I am always pleasantly surprised by all the familiar faces I see along and running during the race. I knew my boss, his wife, and another co-worker were race photogs, so I knew where to look for them. Also, due to the heat, I was drinking my water way faster than normal. So, since I knew my co-worker was at mile 9.9, I knew I could hand off my water bottle, which I did. It felt great to shed the weight in my hand.
I was lucky enough to have the Boy surprise me at about mile 7.4ish and run with me for at least a quarter of a mile. Unannounced to him, he showed up at the perfect time. I was struggling mentally, with the heat and tired legs. But seeing his face and having him run with me was a huge boost in energy. Again, I was surprised at about mile 11 with my Bestest screaming my name two blocks before I got to her. Thankfully, although she already worked out she ran with me for about a quarter of a mile. While tandem running, I saw a fellow tribe member, Derrick, cheering for me while wearing his grassroots gear rep'ing our tribe! Thankfully she had a half of a bottle of water, which I took from her to drink and pour on my head. I was thirsty and I knew there wasn't another aid station for at least a mile. Seriously, they both were my race angels this hot and sunny day!!
The Boy surprised me :)
Another pleasant cheering surprise was at about mile 11.6 you run right near FF Sacramento. They had a huge arch, balloons, and people cheering with the thunder sticks (or whatever they are called) as you ran through. I was so happy to see them, because I thought it was the 12 mile marker. Only to realize it was the FF crew cheering, but I got over it and smiled and high fived some family friends as I ran through the cheering tunnel.
I will commend this race for all of it's great amenities in the expo. Unfortunately this year, I had to jet out of the race right after. But everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and all the free goodies. I grabbed two bottles of water (one from a good and fast running friend who was volunteering) and my medal, then stepped in some puke (awesome, I know), and looked around to see if I saw my fellow NP co-leader, Haley. She was racing as well, check out her version of her race
Official race results
Overall, this race was a rough one for me. Just six short days prior I ran a road halfer of 1:57 in San Diego, only to come out here thinking I could run better. I apparently convinced myself I ran a 1:55 in SD, when I really ran a 1:57. I actually came in a few milliseconds faster, which is weird - probably because it was mostly flat. However, this was no where near a progression run like in SD. It felt like I did a regression run in Sac :( I know it wasn't my favorite race, might have been one of my hardest, but I'm happy with a sub-2!

The heat didn't play fair, but it never does...

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  1. Come to the coast and I'm sure you can run faster. Aug 16 my run club has a really low key half marathon along the ocean. No swag, just $5 to run. Beautiful course. You should totally come! :)

    I directed an inaugural race on Saturday and was touched that you like taking chances on first time races. :) People like you encourage organizers to keep the race going!

    1. Hi Karen! Send me the deets of the run, I have swore off running, but the Boy and I are intrigued at your offer! Congrats on directing your inaugural race! Yes, I think its totally fun and exciting to be a part of a race for the first time! That doesn't happen too often!

    2. Hammond Trail Half Marathon, http://6rrc.com/2014.html#aug

      It's really small, has one hill and is really pretty. :) Here's my race report from the last time I ran it (there's a hill profile you might want to see) :http://ariavie.blogspot.com/2012/08/hammond-trail-half-marathon-race-report.html

    3. Thanks, I'll look into it for sure :)

  2. A sub-2 hour half marathon on a difficult course is something to be really proud of! You looked great out there - loved your running outfit. Also, I am a huge fan of the Starbucks destination mugs and am really sad that they no longer make them. Keep running - you are awesome!

    1. Thanks Kristen, I appreciate the kind words :) I didn't even know Starbucks stopped making the destination mugs, what a bummer. That means ours are "vintage" now ;)


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