Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon Race Report

*Blogger Note: Normally I like to stay in chronological order when it comes to race reports. But I feel I need to get Green Bay's out there, since everyone is talking about. I'll get back to Ohio reports in a day or two.*


So question, if I crossed the finish line, saw the finish line clock still running and got a medal, did I just finish my 11th half marathon? Some would say yes. But when you look at the results from the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon, you won't find a result.

Heck, you won't find a result for almost half of the half marathon finishers and only a handful of the full marathon finishers.

So what happened?

Well, a race closure happened. As in stopped the race. Blame Mother Nature for this one. When I crossed the finish line at 9:45ish, it was already 80 degrees, humid and not a cloud in the sky. Oh, and no wind. It was a hot one.

Hanging out with my friend Vince Lombardi before the race.

Heck, it was hot when I lined up at the starting line at 6:50 a.m. I knew all week it was going to be toasty. I hydrated. Stayed off my feet. Did I what I could do earlier in the week to acclimate to the warmer temps by logging some runs when it was in the 70s. But I knew it was still going to be tough on Sunday.

With that knowledge, I threw a race plan for a fast race out the wind. I just wanted to finish with a somewhat respectable time. And midway through the race, somewhere around Mile 6.5, I threw THAT plan out the wind. Instead my race plan became "Don't die and don't get hauled off in an ambulance."


Here we go. Let's just start running, it's getting hot.

The first few miles went well. I was actually feeling pretty good considering the heat. I was taking it easy, walking the water stops. Hydrating. I saw some friends around Mile 2, saw my Mom around Mile 4. And then it started to hurt.

Yes, I might be just a little bit nervous.

My pace slowed. I walked a little longer through the water stops. And I saw a runner or two down on the grass being attended to by paramedics. Not for a bloody knee or scrape. Nope. We're talking ice on their body, IV hanging from a tree.

At Mile 4. Whoa.

Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about wanting to walk those water stations.

I made it through Mile 6, struggling, but still running. But shortly after, that demon came out in my head. Here I was. On a long straight away that was slightly uphill. Not an inch of shade to be found. Suddenly I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do this. I gave in. I walked. And I kept walking. I feel bad admitting this, but I walked for almost three-quarters of a mile. It wasn't pretty.

I got to the turn and turned into a breeze. It felt good. And there was some shaded spots dotting the street. And a downhill. I ran. It felt good. And the best part of this mile long stretch of race on Point Road? All of the residents that brought out hoses and sprinklers and set them up to cool down us runners.

So I felt good for a mile or so, then I turned out of this wonderful neighborhood onto a road that was just lined by fields. Not sprinklers here. Just a lot of sun. But I kept running.

Around Mile 4, right before I started to struggle.

More sprinklers between mile markers 9 and 10. And shade. It was shortly after passing the Mile 10 marker that I noticed the group of runners I was in amongst had turned mostly into walkers. Even with the shade and the water, it was hot. And you could tell it was taking a toll on people. I kept shuffling along though, knowing that the more I ran, the faster I'd be done.

Reaching Mile 11, I started hearing sirens and seeing a few more runners on the side of the road being attended to by medical personnel. And just after Mile 12, where the full and half marathons split, I saw a cluster of full marathoners standing by a police officer. At first glance, it looked like they were waiting for a stoplight to change to green. Odd, I thought. I kept running though, knowing the finish line was just a mile away.

The last mile was hard. I walked some. I ran a good chunk though, including a nice little kick as I rounded the final turns in the shadows of Lambeau Field to the finish line. I remember seeing orange cones set up across the finish line and I thought that was strange, but I also saw the clock was still running.

The bling. Even if I don't have an "official" time.

I finished in 2:39:28. Not what I was hoping for, but I survived and didn't get hauled off in an ambulance. I got my medal and stopped in the med tent to get some ice for my cranky knee/IT band.

That's when it hit me what was going on.

Folks, the med tent was scary. All of the cots were full of runners. Some with bags of ice covering their bodies. Some with ice and IVs. There were people that were being lead into the tent who couldn't even walk under their own power. And in the background, there was the constant sound of ambulance sirens and a line of ambulances either dropping patients off or hauling people off to hospitals for more care. It was scary. And here I was, feeling ashamed asking for a bag of ice when there were people who were so much worse off than me.

I did get the bag of ice and after that I just wanted out of the finish line area. I wanted to get my bottle of water, find my Mom and find some shade. Because I was hurting. Not just from running 13.25 miles (all of that weaving to hit every single hose/sprinkler added up!), but I was feeling a bit woozy myself.

While I'm sitting in the air conditioning of the Lambeau Field Atrium, I learned that they had called the race and closed the course. I figured I would still get my "official" time though since I had finished and the clock was still running.

Not so. A few hours later I learned that they made the decision to close the course at 9:25 and stopped the timing system at 9:35, which means I just barely missed the cut off.

Now, I whole-heartedly agreed with the decision race and medical staff made to cancel the race. It was getting scary out there. The sights I saw in the few minutes I was standing in the med tent alone made me realize how serious things were, and how much worse they could potentially get. Yes, there were apparently some communication issues out on the second half of the marathon course in terms of what exactly was going on. Now, people are making the argument that it was only 80 degrees and runners have to prepare for all types of weather. If this was July? I don't think it would have been as much of an issue. But it's mid-May. We haven't seen these kind of  temps in Wisconsin since last summer. We haven't had the opportunity to acclimate to the weather and while most probably know they need to listen to their bodies, not everyone did and I'm sure some were just affected by the heat suddenly.

I guess my problem lies with the "official" results. Nobody who crossed the line after 9:35 a.m. got an "official" finishing time. I crossed minutes afterwards. Yet, my Mom still got the text messages giving her a one-mile to go update as well as a "Jennifer has crossed the finish line" message. And remember, the clock was still running at the finish line. That tells me the timing system was still running. And then there's the fact that they kept the clock running long enough for the top five female full marathoners to cross the finish line. The fifth woman? Finished in 3 hours, 24 minutes, that's almost an hour after the made the decision to close the course and turned off the timing system.

I dunno. I wasn't in their shoes when they made the decision.

Am I disappointed? A bit. I ran the miles, I crossed the finish line and even got a medal. Yet I have no result. Normally I wouldn't be too upset, but I was planning on using this race as my third half marathon in 90 days in order to qualify for the Half Fanatics. Guess I'll be putting that off until the fall.

Will I be back at Green Bay in 2013? You bet.


Sweet and Savory by Sarah said...

I agree about the timing thing...they know your times and are just keeping them from you. I was "watching" a marathoner. UP until her very last mile I was getting updates. Then right around the time she would have been crossing the finish line, the Cellcom site changed and said that because of the cancelled race, they weren't giving official times to anyone after 9:25am. BUT yet they were still timing that entire time...They did some things wrong with this cancellation...there's no doubt about it.

Joel said...

Totally agree on the communication & official result issues. A lot of problems there. The cancellation was warranted, but could have been handled better. And congrats on the 3 in 90 days. Use that QR code I tweeted to you about and you've got that result you need to get in!

Sarah said...

Way to stick it out! I can't imagine the imagery as you were looking around... It was a hard call for the race directors to make, but according to the EMTS, there was very little communication and that made things harder. I hope the next race for you runs much more smoothly! :)


Jeri said...

Congrats on surviving that race lady! Bummer about the no official time, but it certainly "counts" in my book. Agree it was scary... Med tents were full at 9am.... Scary stuff. See you in 2013. Someone invite the cold front!

Renee said...

I totally get your frustration on not getting an official time. Congrats on finishing. I would totally count this race. You ran it, you crossed the finish line.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP said...

Congratulations. The heat and no wind combination certainly made for a hard morning of running.

Jes said...

I'm proud of you for sticking it out and finishing. In my opinion, you finished and should count it. Sweet medal too!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were able to finish safely! I was running the full so didn't get to officially finish or even get near the finish line...I came across your blog by googling for other race stories to help ease the pain I still feel at not becoming a Marathoner on Sunday ;)

PS, I think your time should still be made official! You didn't even know they were cancelling it until you were past!