On August 29, I ran the Team Ortho Women Rock 1/2 Marathon in St. Paul, MN. This event included a half-marathon, 10k, and 5k, as well as a 2.5k race on Friday night. There were special medals for runners who participated in three events which was called the Starlet Challenge. To earn this honor, you could run a combination of the 2.5k on Friday with 10k and 5k on Saturday, or 2.5k on Friday and the half-marathon and 5k on Saturday. I only participated in the half marathon, but I will consider the Starlet Challenge for next year!
Packet pickup was a bit of a challenge for me, as it was only available on Friday from 11-7 pm in St. Paul at the River Centre. It was hard to get to St. Paul after work during rush hour traffic. There was the option to pay $30 to have my packet mailed to me ahead of time, but that seemed like a lot of money. You could also have a friend pick up your packet for you, but I was participating in this race alone. Packet pickup was definitely a “con” of this race for me, but it was my own issue; I understand why Team Ortho has their packet pickup at that location.
The packet pickup at the River Centre included pickup for the Monster Dash events that are happening in October, so it was kind of nuts there! I was in kind of a crabby mood, and I just wanted to get my bib and get out. However, if you had more time to check out the expo, there appeared to be a lot of great vendors (including Gear Running Store!)
The race started near the River Centre on Saturday at 7:30 am sharp. Parking in a nearby ramp was $10. I arrived around 6:45 so I could do a few miles to warm-up. The actual start line was “organized chaos;” there were a LOT of people but it was easy to figure out where to go. There were plenty of porta-porties at the start. Team Ortho seems to have good volunteers who help the runners get where they need to go. Do note that team Ortho races are a bit on the expensive side. The half marathon was around $80 (plus $30 if you want your picket mailed.) All runners did receive a nice fall running jacket (pictured below)…
The jacket is nice, though I would have preferred cheaper registration and the jacket as an option to purchase at the expo instead. That’s just me. It’s clear that the higher registration fee goes toward all of the “bling” and the after-party.
The race starts at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul. Look at all those porta-potties!
For the race, I wore my favorite lole hat, but afterward switched to my Sound Probiotics hat as the other was quite sweaty! I wore my black Oiselle distance shorts, Gear Run MSP tank, Moving Comfort Sienna bra, Brooks Ravennas, fitsoks, and Garmin 220.
I took two salted watermelon flavored GU’s during the race- one at mile 5 and one at mile 9. I drank small amounts of water at most of the water stops.
Any race in August in Minnesota could be incredibly hot and humid. This race wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The temperature at the start was in the mid 60’s. It did warm up quite a bit and it was still quite humid, but much better than the MDRA 15k a few weeks before.
Everyone received the jacket pictured earlier and a medal.
The course ran out and back on Shephard Road, like most of the Team Ortho events do. It has a few noticable hills and some rolling hills. It is run on a concrete road with a bit of a camber, which can be hard on the IT band. I liked seeing the winning women on the out-and-back, but it wasn’t the most scenic course. But it got the job done. There were more spectators than I expected for a half marathon- some people even had signs!
It was actually kind of fun to run an all-women race. People were very supportive of each other. However, my coworker brought up a good point: you never see all MEN races. In fact, if there was an all-men race, people would freak out about the injustice, right?
Why is it okay to have an all women-race then? What do you think?
My one complaint about the course was that right at mile 10, the half marathoners met up with the 10k runners. They had started the 10k half an hour later than our race, so I was coming up upon the walkers. I have no problem with walkers at a race- it is great to see so many people out being active at any pace! However, I have to be honest that it was pretty frustrating to be on the final stretch of my own race and have to swerve around rows of walkers 4-5 people wide. It definitely made the last 3 miles a challenge (not that they wouldn’t have been challenging anyways!)
There were plenty of water stops along the way manned by enthusiastic volunteers. Definitely a “pro” of this race on a humid day!
After you crossed the finish line, shirtless firemen put your medal around your neck.
This race was all about the finish line party. They had a band, champagne, food, and more. Apparently, you were supposed to bring your ID in order to get your complementary glass of champagne. I went with the ginger ale in a champagne glass instead. It was probably for the best as I needed to do a mile to cool-down. The cold ginger ale actually tasted pretty darn good!
My training for Richmond hasn’t been that great. I have struggled to hit the paces my coach is giving me. I have raced a handful of 5k’s that didn’t go that well, and then the 15k a few weeks ago that was a flop. I know that I don’t perform very well in the heat and humidity (just like a lot of people) but I didn’t go into this half marathon feeling all too confident. My coach told me to run the first 6 at an 8:10 pace and see how I felt after that. I was really happy that I was able to do what he asked of me.
This was nearly a 5 minute PR, so that made me happy. However, if I enter this time into the McMillan calculator, it says I am capable of a 3:41 marathon, which is exactly what I ran at Grandma’s in June! Don’t get me wrong, I am really excited to have a half marathon time that is more in line with my full marathon performance, but I would like to start improving and demonstrating that I am going to be able to run a sub 3:40 (BQ time) in November. BUT- I’m going to focus on the positive. I ran a 5 minute PR, I felt great- I even felt like I was holding back most of the race so I’ll consider it a “win!”
Overall I think Team Ortho puts on a good race. Sure, I mentioned a few complaints, but when it comes down to it, I think the more, the better. What I mean is that the more races, the more opportunities to run; the more reasons for people to experience running and racing and perhaps spark a love for this sport. The more, the better!
Will I run the Women Rock next year?
Sure, if it fits into my schedule. I would probably pick the City of Lakes Half-Marathon if I can over this one, mostly because its so close to where we live, but if the Women Rock fits into my schedule next year then I will be there. And next year, I’ll be sure to bring my ID for a glass of celebratory champagne!
After the race, we spent an hour or so at the dog park with Matilda the vizsla and our friend’s golden that we were watching. It was finally enough exercise to get them both to take a little nap. I have to admit, I also took a little nap after the race!
A great race day and a great Saturday.
You go girl! Mega congrats on the PR!! Just remember – “Autumn races never lie about how you spent your summer!!”
Ha, nice! I like that saying…but it applies for spring too right? Spring races never lie about how you spent your winter 🙂
Yeah! Congrats on your PR, Jessie! You’re gonna get that BQ… I know it!
Thanks Erin! Good luck this weekend in Madison!
Well done! Sounds like a great event.
You make an interesting point about women only events. We actually do have a couple of men only races here, but there are definitely more that are just for women. A tricky debate and one I can understand from both sides!
Interesting- I don’t know of ANY men only events locally here in Minnesota, but LOTS of women only ones. I totally agree that there are two sides to the debate. I have enjoyed the women-only ones I have done so far.