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April: Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that it’s April already…in my quest to run at least one race every month, that’s four boxes checked already. I’ve contended with some strange weather checking those boxes. January was the Key West Half Marathon which was delayed by an hour due to tornado warnings, gale force winds, thunder, and lightning. February was decent, the weather was mild, mid 60s, and no rain for the Austin Half Marathon. Then, March raged with high winds and rain, pounding at times, for the Shamrock Marathon. Sooo, I should not have been surprised when several inches of snow was forecasted for Saturday’s Garden Spot Village Half Marathon.

I do enjoy traveling to participate in races but it’s nice to stay close to home from time to time. Garden Spot did allow for race day packet pickup but I picked up my bib Friday night so it was one less thing to worry about on Saturday. I got up Saturday morning, after digging out all of my winter weather gear, ready to make the best and have a good time. I left the house with my coffee and chicken and cheese sandwich. We arrived at Garden Spot Village around 7:45 am for the 8am start. One perk of picking up my bib on Friday was being able to see what the parking looked like and where it was in relation to the start. It was very close so I had plenty of time to stop at the bathroom and be at the start and ready. Snow was falling fast and it was cold but not as cold as it could have been. I was wearing a t-shirt, two long sleeve shirts, a neck warmer that I can pull up to expose only my eyes, a hat, a rain jacket, long pants, and gloves. I also had a pair of “Hot Hands” which I would HIGHLY recommend if you have icy fingers like I often do. They are small little packets of powder. They are cheap and heat up when you open the pack and stay hot up to 10 hours. I considered putting them inside my gloves, but it’s really my fingers that get icy numb and start to worry me, so I held the “Hot Hands” and they kept my fingers fairly comfortable.

I had my GPS watch on, however, it was under several layers of clothing so I was not checking it nearly as often as I usually do. In general throughout the race, I was often unaware of how far into the race we were because huge snowflakes were falling fast and covering the mile markers. I also found that I ran looking down at the road a lot because the snow was getting in my eyes. I had to keep cleaning my eye lashes off. You would think that snow would deter spectators, and maybe it did as I haven’t done this race before to know how many people come out to cheer in fair weather, but I was impressed by how many people were out in the snow. There were lots of families at the end of their driveways. One Amish family was even sitting around a bonfire at the end of their driveway.

I mostly just tried to run a pace that felt good. I didn’t keep a constant eye on my watch. I thought I might be able to PR but I didn’t. I finished right in my typical time these days. I was okay with that. I managed to stay pretty warm and dry for the first 10 miles. In the last 3 miles there were either more puddles or I wasn’t doing a very good job of dodging them because my feet were getting wet. I was wearing shoes that are neoprene rather than mesh, purely by the luck of the draw and they handled the water well.

The course was beautiful and actually quite peaceful with the snow falling. There was a fair amount of uphill and downhill. I had been warned ahead of time that there was a huge downhill right before the turn around and then we’d go back up the hill. I was glad I had warning, it was steep but doable.

The Garden Spot Village Half Marathon and Marathon is welcoming to everyone. I noticed last week that someone commented on their Facebook page asking what the cutoff time was and the race had responded that the finish line would be open until the last person crossed it. Garden Spot Village is a thriving retirement community. They have several levels ranging from homes to cottages to apartments. The race benefits the Benevolence Fund to aid residents who, for one reason or another, find themselves unable to pay. The fact that the start and finish was on their premise meant they were able to take advantage of infrastructure already in place. Residents volunteered in many different capacities. They have a great food service on their campus that provided great post run food for runners. Several notches above the typical banana and granola bar (which is certainly appreciated after a run) they had chicken soup, egg casserole, turkey wraps, oatmeal, bagels, cookies, and milkshakes. Runners were even welcome to use the hot tub and shower facilities free of charge.

I felt the race was well organized and the course was definitely among one of my favorites. I am looking forward to registering for next year, even if it does snow!

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