Monday, December 13, 2010

Thunder Road Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, December 11
Half Marathon #17/50
Weather - Cloudy, 33 degrees

I booked the Thunder Road Amica Insurance Half Marathon as the first race of a double header weekend. There are not a lot of races in the winter, and getting some of these more "mild" weathered states out of the way in cooler temps seemed ideal.


Wednesday night I finally have a chance to check my email. Remember, I've been out of town, and actually being swamped at work, I've really had no chance to be on top of things. I open the email from Orbitz "Plan for your trip" and notice something... our flight leaving Charlotte on Saturday is at 10:30 am. Um.... HUH??? I pulled up what I actually booked and paid for. A 3:30 flight. I never EVER would have booked a flight for 10:30. The race didn't even start until 7:45, and there was NO way I could make a flight that early.

I do NOT do well in high stress situations. When we saw this at a drug store in Vegas, I absolutely HAD to have it.

I asked L to pretend to be me and she called, spent an hour on the phone, and got our flight switched. She thought I had said the race started at 7, and had selected a flight for just before noon. Still not a comfortable time window, so she called AGAIN and after another 45 minutes got us on a 1:10 flight.

Now I was going to be able to relax and enjoy the weekend. Got up on Friday morning, dropped the kids off with our parents, and then headed to the airport. Go to check in at the kiosk (my printer at home was out of ink) and the machine tells me I need to pick up the phone and call the operator. I really think nothing of it and spend just a few minutes on the phone, answer some redundant questions, and then out print boarding passes. Off we go through security.

For those of you that have never been to Denver International Airport... there is only ONE Starbucks in the whole airport. And it is a good ten minute walk from center court in the middle concourse. We had some time, so we walked over, got our coffee, and boarded the plane. No problems. Flight to Kansas City was short, we watched two episodes of "Two and a Half Men." Land in Kansas City, and we have to exit the secured area to get to our gate. Seems annoying, but we have over an hour until our next flight. Also, all the food is on the wrong side of security. There were only two options, and we selected Quiznos. It was FABULOUS.

We walk over to the area where our gate is. Security is shut down. Nothing is happening. There is no one at the TSA desk checking tickets. Everyone is standing around. Ten or so minutes later, the line starts moving, and we find out that there was some sort of security breach. Lovely.

For whatever reason, Orbitz had not booked our seats together. I told L that I was going to go to the counter to ask if the flight was not full if we could sit next to each other. The lady said only two adjoining seats were in the last row. Fine.


She was having trouble pulling up our tickets. She asked the other lady at the counter to come over. We are informed that we have only a paper ticket and we need to go back out through security and get a ticket or we will not be able to board the plane.

Uh. What? I've never heard of a paper ticket. I've never had one issued. Why on earth is this one not electronic? How do I have a boarding pass? How did I get this far without anyone saying I need a ticket? All good questions.

40 minutes until boarding.

We are told to go to the United desk and they will be able to print it no problem. Only they claim that they have no record of our tickets and it is a US Airways flight so we need to talk to them. I'm getting stressed. My stress doll is NOT working.

36 minutes until boarding.

I rapidly and urgently express the situation to the lady at the US Airways counter. She says she can't help me because I'm "not very nice." As calmly as I can I say "can you and the guy at the United desk please communicate because I'm not understanding what is going on with our tickets."

30 minutes until boarding.

US Airways lady is certain we will not be on this flight. Finally I tell her to just sell me a ticket and I'll get a refund later from Orbitz. She tells me it will be $542. Each. I nearly black out with rage. WTH?! Then she says she doesn't think she can even sell me a ticket because we are within the 30 minute window of take off. My head is literally going to explode.

At this point I tell her and the United guy to just do whatever they can. I'm stressed because there is NO race day pick up, and I didn't take the time off from work and spend the money to get stranded in Kansas City.

Guy from United insists we were on the wrong flight. He claims our connection was in Cincinnati and that we were supposed to be on a much later flight to Charlotte and we never should have been in Kansas City in the first place. WHAT?? I show him a copy of all my boarding passes, my itinerary from Orbitz. He does not care. He prints out what HE claims my itinerary is - and it is TOTALLY different. On the verge of crying. This makes NO sense.

20 minutes until boarding.

We still have no tickets. US Airways lady "thinks" she has it figured out, tells us we have to go back through security with our old tickets and "hopefully" there will be a REAL e-ticket for us at the gate. As we are walking, I realize that I never gave her my credit card. This can't be good.

Long LONG story short. Somehow, and no one can figure out who or what caused it, but something went terribly wrong with our itinerary. We get to the counter, they are able to print out our e-tickets. Coincidentally in the same seats on our other boarding passes. We boarded late, but they held the plane for us. I didn't feel comfortable that we were going to make it to Charlotte until the plane was in the air.

Land in Charlotte. On time. Walk outside, hail a cab, and head into the city for the Expo, which is being held at the Convention Center.

Downtown Charlotte

Like any decent sized race, the Expo is completely packed. There were some cool running skirts, but by the time we got there all the small sizes had been picked over. We were totally exhausted by now and just wanted to check into our hotel and get some dinner.

Hilarious - Saw this on the way out
Thunder Road!

L and Me
We walk to our hotel, the Hilton, just a few blocks away. Since I wasn't renting a car for this race, I booked as close as possible so we wouldn't have to walk too far on race morning. The Hilton actually hadn't sold out, and I'm betting part of that is the $20 a day parking charge. Crooks!!

We hadn't seen anywhere acceptable to eat on the walk to the hotel, and a flyer in the lobby claimed the restaurant in the hotel was having a pasta special.

Totally 70s!
The waiter was an idiot. Their "pasta special" was a separate menu. I made the mistake of asking the waiter to clarify the prices and what I actually got. Dude did not even know the menu! I finally ordered Ziti pasta with Italian Sausage and a side of asparagus. Forever later, this is what I got:

Spaghetti with Chicken
I mention that this is NOT what we ordered (and he couldn't blame it on being busy, there were only two other tables of people) and he did not even offer to remake it. By now I'm starving and I don't want to wait for something to be remade. I'm not totally opposed to chicken, I just wanted something different. What.Ever. Ten or so minutes later, the manager comes by and asks how our food is. I tell her it is not what we ordered and she says she will comp our food. Fine. Not going to argue. I've had a terrible day, free food sounds fab.

We risked ordering dessert, sharing a piece of red velvet cake (which took more than 15 minutes to get).

The manager came by again, and we asked her for a bill for the dessert and she refused to bring us one. I left money for a tip.

Headed upstairs, and I'm still feeling stressed and anxious. Now I'm worried about tomorrow's flights. We hadn't even changed anything with the first leg, and look at the problems we had. So I decide to check in for our flights and then we can just print our boarding passes when we get to the airport. I go to, log in, and my itinerary pulls up.


There are no flights listed for Saturday. A random flight for 6:00 from Kansas City to Charlotte and some flights for Sunday. You have GOT to be kidding me. So on the phone with Orbitz. Again. He assures me it is a confirmed flight. Yes. I *KNOW* it is a confirmed flight. The problem is that Delta doesn't seem to think I'm ON it. An hour long phone conversation later, I'm still not able to check in, but I have an email from Delta with my itinerary. I guess I'll take what I can get.

L thinks I need a beer. I had wanted to be in bed early, but I'm angry and agree beer is a better choice.

L is not a beer drinker, but with the specials, she decides to join me and orders a Pomegranate Margarita. What could go wrong??

M is for Margarita
I had planned on ONE beer, but they were soooo cheap, so I had two. Michelob, not usually my beer of choice, but it did the trick.

Got back to the room, laid out my gear and tried to get some sleep.


We got up around 6:20. Actually, I woke up ten minutes before the alarm went off. Had breakfast, got dressed and ready to go. I checked the weather as we were leaving. Just as I suspected. Cold.

We had a general idea of where the start was, but again we were planning on relying on herd mentality to get us where we needed to go. We decided to hang out in the lobby of the hotel as long as possible. It was cold.

Got our pre-race pictures out of the way. I'm sporting a new Christmas headband from Razzy Roo - I love it!!

Then of course, I need a full outfit shot... in front of the GIGANTIC Christmas tree in the lobby.

Me and L
Finally we decide that we have put it off long enough, and head outside, with only about 20 minutes until the start. The herd leads us in the right direction.

Random fish statue on the way to the start line
The corrals of course are full and crowded, and we can't get in until the gun goes off and people start moving. No big deal, we are close.

I had mapped out the elevation the night before, and knew that there was going to be tough hills between miles 1 and 2, 4 and 5, and pretty much the whole last mile. The plan was to start out slow and coast through the first half.

I didn't, however, know where the course was running. I assumed that it would be like every other big city race I've done, where you weave up and down boring areas of downtown, pass the occasional park or pond, see a cool statue or two and end up where you started.

This course was NOT like that. Only maybe the first mile was in the city, the rest of the course weaved through some really nice (and elite looking) neighborhoods. It was surprisingly scenic. I kept watching my splits and was a bit nervous at my pace.

Around mile 1
I was monitoring my splits and getting a bit nervous. They were too fast for the type of course I thought this was - hilly.
Eat pasta, run fasta - around mile 4 
I hit the 10K split ridiculously fast. I knew that if I could somehow keep up this place that I could PR. But not on a flat course?? Did not seem possible. But I felt like I had to push. I was definitely getting tired. I willed myself not to walk.

I hit the ten mile marker just after 1:30, and I knew as long as I could run 3 more 9 minute miles that I would have it. So much pressure!!!

I kept going, kept going, and was pleasantly surprised at the last mile not being nearly as terrible as I imagined.

I crossed the line (without sprinting really, I had NOTHING left) and yes!!! A new PR by almost a minute, and on a long course!!

Official Time - 1:58:54
10K Split - 55:22
Overall - 1195/3229
Divison - 73/346
Garmin  Time - 1:58:55
Garmin Distance - 13.23 miles
Overall Pace - 8:59!!!!!
Mile 1 - 8:19 (Way too fast!!)
Mile 2 - 9:13
Mile 3 - 8:27
Mile 4 - 8:45
Mile 5 - 9:11
Mile 6 - 8:52
Mile 7 - 9:18
Mile 8 - 9:25
Mile 9 - 9:04
Mile 10 - 9:03
Mile 11 - 9:06
Mile 12 - 9:19
Mile 13 - 8:49
Mile 13.1 - 8:47

Cool Medal!
Victory Lane
I found L almost immediately, we grabbed our free food, and headed right back to the hotel. We were on a tight schedule still, needing enough time to shower, pack, and get back over the airport.

NASCAR Hall of Fame
I'm a winner! :D
After showering, I called down to get a taxi. They said it was the same price to take a town car, and they were just waiting out front.

L looks excited :D

And so... our trip to North Carolina was... memorable.

At least I don't have to come back. Now. On to Virginia!

**As a funny little story. I got this message from one of my friends on

"so I had to tell you that you have a twin out there. on Saturday as i was approaching mile 1 I saw a girl who looked just like you and was wearing the green plaid running skirt from w/ a red tank top and knee high socks. I caught up to her but she stopped to get a drink at first station so I passed her. We played cat and mouse w/ each other throughout the race and at one point we were running side by side. I wanted to be like "I'm Lisa from Daily Mile" but I was trying to conserve my breath. so at mile 12 she picked up the pace and broke away... beating me by 45 sec or so. I told my gf Becca that I saw you but I was too exhausted to talk. Later that night when I checked the results I realized it wasn't you- crazy. Your 'twin' motivated me, so semi thank you haha. Also congrats on breaking 2 hours and then some!"

I thought that was the coolest message! And funny... because my "twin" was of course really L, and so many people think we are twins anyway.

I just LOVE the running world :) :) :)


  1. Okay - WOW! I feel so stressed reading about your airplane disaster. And you know what? Pretty much the same sort of thing happened to me in Denver once! I avoided Denver for a couple of years because it was such a nightmare with the tickets and different airlines and security. Ugh.

    But you made! And you finished! So congratulations!! I'm reading your mile times and am in awe. That is for a half marathon ... I've never run a single mile as fast as any of those times!

  2. Nice re-cap & AWESOME PR! BUT - I can't believe how f'ed up your tickets were?! How strange? Did Orbitz or the airlines make it up? It seems way out of line that things could be that screwed up! I'm totally curious now how the heck you got out of NC and over to VA!? Next re-cap please!

  3. BTW - You got any ideas for a nascar-themed running outfit for the Indy Mini Marathon in May? So far, I have a turquoise sparkle skirt to work with. Need to do some research...

  4. Great recap- its awesome that under that much stress you were still able to run so well- way to take it out on the course!!! And obviously love the shout out as well ;)

  5. OMG: that sounds like the worst trip ever! I would have freaked out!

    Congrats on the PR! :)

  6. OMG that is craziness!! I would have had a nerve break down! After all that you PRed!! WOW!! Congratulations!!!

  7. Wow - what an adventure. Guess all the excitement and stress made you run faster though! Congrats!

  8. First of all - congrats on the PR!!!!!

    But your trip?!? Holy crap - I'm a huge stressball just READING that nightmare!

  9. Wow, what a stressful trip! At least you got a great PR out of it! :)

  10. Way to get your PR! I think all of the stress would've gotten to me. And, I have a shirt that says "13.1, I don't go all the way"! I love it! Looking forward to part 2 of the double header.


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