Harvest Half Marathon Race Recap

What? Harvest Half Marathon
Who? 211 runners
When? Nov. 1, 2014
Where? Brentwood, Tennessee
How much? $55 to $75

the bRUNcher at the start line

My Finish? 2:42:17
The Swag? Long-sleeved technical shirt, medal and bumper sticker
The Good? comradery
The Bad? wind chill

Much like the Franklin Half Marathon in June, this month’s Harvest Half Marathon reminded me that I need to get out of the city and enjoy landscapes other than my comfortable urban corridor. The 13.1 miles of rolling hills were an out-and-back course that started at the Brentwood YMCA and took runners on a greenway connecting McMansion suburbia and a public high school.

IMG_7271

It was a terribly cold morning, with the temperature hovering just above freezing. Thankfully, the YMCA was a warm shelter before the race, and the first few miles of the greenway were sandwiched between tall trees. But the middle of the course, especially around Ravenwood High School was wide open, and without the protection of the trees, the wind was brutal.

Since the Harvest Half is a small, community race, runners crossed the start line in self-appointed waves beginning with sub 7-minute miles. I took off with the 11-minute plus wave. Since my runs have been spotty at best lately, I again used a run/walk interval of 2:30/1, which was fine until the last mile, which seemed to take forever. As I was lapped by runners on the “back” of the course, they yelled encouraging words as I slowed to a walk. Not only were the faster runners crazy encouraging but also the slower folks I passed, who also shared motivational words and made it difficult to stay mad at the wind.
signs along the trail

The Harvest Half would make a great course for a first-time half marathoner. You’d be able to enjoy your first half marathon without experiencing heal crushing, crowed water stations and parking problems I’ve experience with other popular, mega half marathons while still being challenged with hills and receiving perks like pizza and medals for finishers. The scenery and comradery are enough to push you to the finish line.

Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon Race Recap

What? Women’s Running Series Half Marathon
Who? 2,292 runners
When? Sept. 27, 2014
Where? Nashville, Tennessee
How much? $90

wrsnash

My Finish? 2:46:12
The Swag? technical T-shirt, medal and tote bag
The Good? bottomless mimosas
The Bad? anticlimactic race

wrsnash swag

Have you ever had a craving for one of your favorite dishes? And wanted it so bad that you could almost taste it? And when you finally got a plate, from the first bite, it didn’t taste as good as you remember it being? That’s how my experience was at this year’s Women’s Running Series Half Marathon in Nashville.

It was my first half marathon in 2012 and let me hungry for more races. I set a personal record on the same course in 2013, and the victory was sweet. This year, full on sangria and paella and running undertrained, I somehow and maintained an average pace of 12:40 for 13.1 miles using 2:30/1 run/walk intervals.

start line

For my three-peat, the race was a noticeable disappointment. There wasn’t a grand send off at the start line or even a pre-race announcer with music blaring from speakers. People just starting moving under the banner shortly after 7. There weren’t any bands along the race course. Speakers played music in a 10K banner oddly placed around mile 9. The water stops were plentiful, yet there was a noticeable warmth and friendliness missing from the atmosphere. It was as if the Women’s Running Series was the neglected stepdaughter of The Competitor Group compared to the beloved Country Music Marathon, which is on many of the same streets in Nashville. My best guess is that registrations were down, limiting the race budget, as the crowd was noticeably thinner than in previous years.

In a letter posted on the company’s website, Vice President Jessie Sebor writes to runners the Women’s Running Series has postponed its remaining races until 2015 to “create the best running event in the world for women.” The promise is that next year’s races will be amazing, and I am looking forward to a Cinderella-like redemption for the “ultimate girls weekend” race.

freshen up station

Despite my disappointment, the race continued to have many post-race amenities I enjoy, including bottomless mimosas, cookies, yoga and an area with toiletries and sunscreen to freshen up while cooling off.

bottomless mimosas

Disclosure: I received complimentary race registration from Women’s Running Series for promotional purposes. All opinions are my own.

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