Oh, where to start?
In as much as I don’t like complaining, I feel I must give an accurate recap on The Halloween Half. This was by far, the worst organized race I have been to. This was half marathon #23, I believe, and in addition to half marathons, I have run 3 10Ks, 5 full marathons, and countless 5Ks.
I like to think the best of everything, so let me preface this by saying, Texas has had a TON of rain over the last couple of weeks, which definitely affected the course. Early in the week, an email went out about the course change from point-to-point to an “out and back.” No course map was provided. We were told packet pickup should be Friday to get “swag,” but I drove up to Fort Worth to receive my T-shirt, bib, and 4 safety pins. That’s it. I didn’t feel super prepared without a course map, but it was said to be all paved. I’ve done this Trinity River Trail for other races, and that is true... at least it was for those other races.
Race morning had parking options that were all at least .5 miles away and little direction on that as well. My friend and I decided NOT to carry water, which was a mistake. No arch for the start, just two little flags. It was a chip time bib, but no timing mats. Our Moms Run This Town group “won” Top Team and was given promises of a tent, snacks, basically VIP treatment. We were given a sign over a mud pit before the start and a table to with two boxes of granola bars after the finish.
The gun went off without national anthem, announcements, or any music whatsoever. We were to race completely in the dark woods for about the first mile. No one knew where we were going, there was no getting around slower runners, mud, water, and gravel all around. It was actually scary. I guess “Halloween Half” was appropriate. Not only that, but no flashlights, no volunteers, and no direction meant everyone took a wrong turn. I heard people coming back towards us screaming “turn around! Wrong way!” adding anywhere from .38 to 1 mile on runners’ total distances. I was off by at least .5 mile the entire race.
By Mile 2, we were all ticked, muddy, but finally on pavement. The first water stop had Gatorade coolers and no cups or volunteers and it was well off the course. The second had two volunteers, Dixie cups, and no one handing them out. The third stop was also off the course and I ran over to it, shouting, “water!” and was handed Gatorade. I said, “water!” and the volunteer said they didn’t have any. I ran off, ticked to waste time, and hit a 7:20 pace for a hot second.
Miles 3 to the end were fairly lonely. I saw and passed some guys and was passed by just a few, but no other girls were in my sights, except at turn-arounds. The course said “out and back,” but people were coming back as I was at Mile 2, so I was terribly confused. Turns out it was out and back, and then straight for several miles and then out and back AGAIN. Anyways, lonely.
The best part was the weather was PERFECT. Overcast. No rain. 60. Just perfect. I told myself I needed to stay between 8:30-8:45/Mile to PR. When I was already off by half a mile at the start, I was ticked, but hit some 8:25s and wondered if I could make up time, so I kept going.
Mile 7 started the flooded areas. The sidewalks were covered and to go around them meant stepping through a grassy pond of water. There was no avoiding soaked feet. Parallel to the sidewalk path was a crushed gravel path, so I went back and forth between those two (no idea what the actual “course” was so I just assumed that was legal, since they ran parallel). On the last turn around back, I stuck mostly to the gravel path, watching my footing so I wouldn’t turn my dang left foot again. But, from Mile 7 on, I was running in squishy, heavy soaked shoes. No bueno.
Mile 9 I was really getting tired. Tired mentally of the whole race, being lonely, no support and very little water. But, I kept going because I wanted to prove to myself I could keep that pace. Mile 10 my pace was up, Mile 11 I hit a 9:00 flat. Dang it. That made me mad. I was mad at the course and that my body FELT faster than I was actually doing. My effort was hard, but the Garmin wasn’t matching it. By Mile 12, I knew I ACTUALLY had 1.5 miles to go at least. I was so ready to be done. I started feeling chafing coming on and I knew I wouldn’t PR officially because of the course. I decided to check my watch at 13.1 and see what I really did. My previous half PR was set November 2017, at a 1:56:58 in Indianapolis. What a great race that was! This time, at 13.1, my watch said 1:54:30. I crushed it. But, it wasn’t over. The “finish line” was again, super underwhelming (no timing mat there either) and I was the first of my friends to finish, so no one I knew was there to see me cross. 1:58:27. 13.58 distance. Man, that was a hard race to not see the reward. However, I checked my PACE: 8:43 overall. BOOM. There it was. That was the validation I needed. Indy was a 8:55 pace. 12 seconds faster per mile. THAT I can be proud of!!!
The finish line had Dixie cups of water and a tiny bucket of bite sized Halloween candy. That’s it. No food. No bananas. No water bottles. I kept looking around and... nothing. The BEST part was the GIANT medal. I totally love some good bling! The bigger the better, in my opinion. So, even though everything else was sub-par and disappointing, the medals are cool.
When the rest of my group finished, they were kind enough to wait for awards with me. I knew I wasn’t Top 3 female or anything, but thought I might win an age group award. Turns out, I won 2nd for my 30-39 age group (should have figured they would go by 10s ), and they gave me the wrong medal at first and I didn’t even notice till they called me back! Lol. It felt really good to be recognized for the hard effort I put out there, even if I won’t go down as a PR race. I’m glad my MRTT family was so supportive, too. These ladies are the best!!!
Halloween Half, I don't know if I’ll ever do this race again. Too much false advertising, not enough volunteers or safety precautions, and just poor execution of the event from packet pick up to finish line. But, you did good on the medals. If I ever run it again, it would be for fun only, and for the medal. No more going after PRs on a dangerous unmarked long course. Lesson learned. But, no matter what I couldn’t control, I did my best and I’m most proud of that.
Wife. Mother. Runner. Coach. Adoption Advocate. I strive to share HOPE through my journey and help others reach their goals.