Thursday, May 1, 2014

Crossroads of Northwest Indiana Recap

Sunday morning dawned like both my prior marathons did - cold, windy, and raining. My prayers to the gods of all that is dry had gone unanswered. Despite a weather forecast as contemporary as the previous night calling for a low of 50 and high of 70, we got something entirely different.

It was easy to forget just how cold it was on the half hour drive to the race start. It was also easy to forget while laughing at a minivan that tried to drive through a closed weigh station. Nice try, bro, but that's not an exit.

The race was in the middle of butt nowhere, and there's no way we would've found it without directions to the exact street address. Freedom Park was a spacious park with bathroom, fields, and playground equipment, as well as a giant barn because Indiana, I guess.

Someone else's picture because I was busy being cold.
After missing packet pick-up the day before, we got in line for race day pick-up. This quickly became one of the largest clusters I've ever had the displeasure of being part of. They had people switch lines no less than three times, and the volunteer manning the marathon bibs stared at me for a good 30 seconds before asking me my name.

After finally getting my bib, I was forced to crash through another line to get to the shirt pick-up. They hadn't printed our shirt sizes on our bibs, but I knew I had ordered a small. When I told the volunteer passing them out I would like a small, I got the bitchiest response ever - it boiled down to her accusing me of lying because she had no smalls left (even though people registering same day were getting shirts, and I assume some of these were smalls). I ended up with a medium, but I couldn't believe how rude she was. I heard her yelling at other racers as well, so it wasn't just me, at least.

It even has a little key pocket, I'm bummed it doesn't fit.
After that debacle, I added my jacket, rain jacket, and gloves to my outfit and waited in the longest bathroom line ever, since the Albert Einstein in charge decided four port-a-potties was enough for 400+ people. Nope. It's not.

After that we went to the worst organized start ever. (Can you see a theme yet?) The marathon and half started at the same time at the same point but in opposite directions - we had the same start line but were facing each other. This isn't a terrible idea, except this was only ever communicated by an announcer over inaudible speakers. Michael and I only got in the right spot via word of mouth.

While we were waiting, the lead biker came through to get to the start line. It was loud and chaotic, so a few people didn't hear him say excuse me. His response was to forcefully shove these two women away as hard as he could. I'm not sure where this race got their volunteers, but clearly none of them went to preschool to learn how to be nice.

Finally, fifteen minutes late (inexcusable for a marathon with 90 people), we were off. The first part of the course took us through newly built subdivisions surrounded by farmland. The wind was almost unbearable with nothing to block it. We also saw the best religious sign ever, which was especially refreshing after seeing a variety of "HELL IS REAL" signs the rest of the weekend.

Best phone number ever.
We continued and around mile six and seven came to some lakes. I'm not sure if they were man-made, but I sure never expected to run by lakefront cottages in northwest Indiana.

Michael also took the opportunity in the wind to take a picture of me looking "puffy". He assured me this was hilarious.

However, despite how nice this part of the course was, I started to get worried. The lake we were running by was definitely around mile 20 on the course map, even though we had gone less than eight miles. We thought we had followed all the arrows painted on the ground properly, but it was still a little nerve-wracking. Thankfully we did find the eight mile marker, at which point we realized this poop show of a race had also significantly changed the course without telling anyone. This was really hard mentally in such a long race.

One fun part of the middle miles was having people yell "Go, Maniac" at us. It made me feel great about all the time I put into training for my first two marathons. 

The next major event was our bathroom break. This race had zero bathrooms, despite there being several marked on the course map, but we just saw how inaccurate that was. After having to go since mile one, I finally broke at mile 17. I felt terrible peeing on someone's private property, but it was literally the only tree big enough on the whole course to go behind. 

It was also around this point we had some volunteer firefighters ask from their vehicle if we were having cramping issues, even though we were running comfortably. Bizarre.

This was the point where the race started to really get painful and uncomfortable. I expected it, but it still didn't suck any less. Michael was amazing and lent me some extra sports beans to keep me from bonking. I think I neglected to fuel well enough in the week leading up to the race.

One of the many other problems this race had was a lack of aid stations. We sometimes went as far as four miles without seeing one and, again, without an accurate course map, we had no idea when the next one would come. Around mile 20 two little girls handing out water bottles gave us one each, and these seriously saved our lives. (Especially because there was no medical aid present at the finish, if we had become seriously dehydrated, we would've had to drive ourselves to the hospital.)

I stopped taking pictures at this point because there was really nothing of interest, and we were running on roads without shoulders into heavy traffic. I'm glad Michael was with me, or I think I would've been run down. 

Finally, we saw the giant barn and knew we were near the finish line. We had made it!

Time: 6:04:35

I guess when I said, "Please take our picture in front of the sign," I should've been more clear that I wanted the sign in the picture as well.
There was quite a bit of food left at the end, despite our late finish, though the Race Director had parked her fat butt in front of it, so we had to awkwardly reach around her to get stuff. What a fitting way to end this terrible race.

I also had to ask to have the race results updated, which hadn't been done for hours. (No wonder most of the age group awards were unclaimed!) The website had advertised age group awards five deep, and there were only three other women in my age group, so I was excited to default into an award. But this was yet another lie - they were only three deep. Michael got one, and I was insanely jealous.
Where else would be better to put my default AG win pint glass from Sleeping Bear on?
The medals themselves were pretty cool though.
Photo: State three is in the books!

After finished we rested in the car for awhile, just to be out of the wind. It had warmed up significantly from the start, but I immediately felt chilled after finishing. I was so tired from the sun and wind and stress of the poor race that I just wanted to curl up and sleep.

It was anti-climatic, but state three was in the books.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I stumbled across your blog while looking for more information on this race. I'm signed up to run it in a couple weeks, I wish I had read this before signing up! Like you, I am on a quest for all 50 states, and this looked like a good way to mark Indiana off the list. It looks like we have several of the same races planned and I have done a couple that are on your list. I really enjoy your blog, maybe I'll see you on the road.