Yesterday, November 15th, I ran the Cypress Half Marathon inaugural year. I actually led a pace group. Rachel had paced at the Katy Half Marathon earlier in the year and enjoyed it, so I thought why not?! Let’s pace a group at Cypress. I planned on using this race as a training run. (As you guys know, I’m training for a 50 miler.) So, I decided to pace the 3 hour group. I wanted to take it nice and slow, no injuries, no soreness, no pain.
I was a little frustrated that there was no Houston packet pickup locations. The runners come from all over and Houston is so central; it made sense to me to have one. But they did not. We had to drive all the way out to Cypress on Friday or Saturday to pickup our packets. And if you ever go out that way, you know just how awful and inconvenient 290 is all the time! They offered race day pick up, but at a cost. Even pacers would have to pay to pick up their packets race day. I don’t agree with this, but it did give Rachel and I some girl time.
Race day came and boy was it early! I rechecked the start time just to be sure and woke up in time to drive all the way out to Cypress. Surprisingly, they let us inside the high school that it started at. I was thankful they did so because it was quite chilly outside. I waited for Rachel and my other 3 hour pacer at the front by the signs they wanted us to carry.
Now let me tell you about these signs. They were 5 foot PVC pipes with the pace attached to the top. I don’t know if you guys know how tall I am…here is my pacer and I after the race to show how ridiculous these signs are:
The sign is as tall as me, and taller than her! We carried those the entire 13.1 miles! It was kind of heavy..and unnecessary. Apparently, some ditched their signs along the route, we however, did not.
If there were any announcements or the national anthem sung, we did not hear it. We were lined up toward the back (being 3 hour pacers) and at 6:45am sharp everyone started moving. At that point we heard “GO!” I’m a little disappointed in that. On one hand, it was great a race actually starting on time, however, given the current state of our world, hearing the national anthem would have been nice. And a few words from the race director.
The course was pretty nice though. It was flat, had enough water stations, and cops were great blocking intersections.
Pacing was fun. It was great getting to know and talking with a fellow ultra runner. It was a little difficult staying at the pace prescribed for a 3 hour half, but we did it and came in at 2:59:55!
The instruction given to pacers were this “wear your shirt, grab your sign on race day, and run at the pace.” Nothing else. Neither of us have been pacers before, so we didn’t really know what strategy to go about doing this. I think we did okay, but I’m not sure. There was a 2:45 pacer who we actually passed at one point. His fellow pacer was way ahead to carry people at the 2:45 pace. However, he hung back with some people, he then was only right in front of us, carrying his sign and yelling out “2:45 half marathon!” This was sooo confusing to runners. They kept thinking they were running a 2:45 half, then they would see us and question us, then got mad that they were not running a 2:45. A spectator even made fun of us for “being off our pace.” When we weren’t actually off at all. There is no doubt he was a great motivator during the race and I saw him run a few people into the finish. But he should have dropped his sign and not misled people. Which he may have done, with more instruction. But maybe not. It was just one thing that was frustrating on the course.
The people who ran the 3 hour half were great! They did an amazing job and many pushed themselves out there! It was great to see and know I made a little difference in their race.
At the finish line, I picked up this bad boy:
It is a very nice medal; big and heavy. You guys know how I like my medals 😀
Rachel told me the finish shirts and pint glasses were inside the school and that it was a mess. We went to stand in line for mine. It took forever! And turns out people were just grabbing their shirts off the tables. I had ordered a small, but when I got to the table I was told they were out and given a medium.
According to the race director on the Facebook page, there were actually smalls left, the volunteers just weren’t aware. Again, I think this goes back to lack of communication to those volunteering and participating in the race. It also was noted by other racers the long sleeve finisher shirts they paid extra for ran out. Considering registration is cut off at a certain point, they knew exactly how many shirts (short sleeved and long sleeved) and sizes they needed to have. To not have those, or for the volunteers to not know where they are is unacceptable.
I didn’t take a photo of the pint glass but it has the Cypress logo on it and glad I get to add to our running related pint glasses we use at home!
Complaining about shirt size or not receiving something at the end of the race may seem small to some people. And to some people it’s only about completing the 13.1 miles. That’s great. I love every race I do and learn so much about myself. And feel great after. However, when you are paying a premium and told you would receive specific items after, you expect that. As you should. So for those things to not go smoothly is very disappointing.
Also, if you have ran a race in Houston, then you probably have ran one put on by the same race director. He knows exactly what he is doing. For little things like this, standard in every race, to fail is even more disappointing.
Like many people do, some racers took to Facebook to air their grievances, as a way to get out their frustration and as suggestions for next time. The race director however does not take suggestions very well. He was very defensive and rude to these people who didn’t get items promised. I don’t like that at all. Not once did he apologize to these people. Instead he made it their fault or the fault of the volunteers. I don’t like that. People paid him to run this race; people volunteered their time. Everything was his responsibility. I was okay with everything (even the huge shirt on me) until I saw how he reacted. I am reconsidering running any of his races.
That being said, I had a great training run and glad I was able to get in 13.1 miles this weekend. Now onto the Wild Hare 50k on Saturday! Eek!