When I first heard of the Vista Beer Half Marathon I was intrigued. I like beer, Vista isn't too far away, and there's something fun about inaugural halfs. After the Vista Strawberry Run I was sold. The race was so well run, and the beer garden at the end was the best I'd ever been to. I figured the half would be the same, but bigger!
Now, the thing about inaugural races is they usually are a bit of a mess. A lot of logistics to work out, so expectations on the part of the runners needs to be low. And with that in mind, I'm going to keep this review as constructive as possible, because although the race was a disaster, I think it has promise.
Before the race began, the first signs of trouble began. There was no information anywhere about hydration, which is worrisome on it's own, but even moreso given the fact the race was taking place during a serious heat wave. I logged onto the event's facebook page where there were several questions regarding whether there would be water stops along the route, with no answer. The morning of the race I packed as much as I could carry on me comfortably, unsure as to whether anything was going to be provided.
The morning of the race is also where I picked up my bib and hoodie. One of the perks people were excited about with this race was the promise of a hoodie. Most races give t-shirts, but few give sweatshirts and they are in high demand. Except "hoodie" didn't take on its usual meeting and in this case just meant a t-shirt with a hood. Which further solidified my belief that you should run races for the race, not the stuff you're going to get.
So let's talk about the race. It was a small and informal start line. Although not as small as the planners anticipated given that there were only 3 portapotties. Right before we started, it was announced that the medals hadn't made it on time. We were really running this one for the glory. This race was almost the opposite of the Strawberry Run, which meant that trail I loved at the end of the 10k was where we started with this race.
My gps alerted me that I had run a mile just a smidge before the first mile marker. Which isn't all that strange or unusual, but it ended up being a big deal as those little bits continued to add up until I was almost a full mile ahead.
It's probably not good from a psychological standpoint, but I had pretty much decided this was going to be a miserable half for me. The course was hard. Both the Craft Classic half marathon and the Vista Beer half marathon had courses that ran by local breweries, and there must be some correlation between hills and hops, because both courses are incredibly hilly. I knew that going in, and just figured I'd sit back and run it, without worrying about time. Especially since my training was ridiculously subpar.
At mile 9, the impact of the hills became evident when my IT band decided it was done. This was especially bad because although my tracker had me at 9 miles, I had just passed the 8 mile marker. Which meant I had 5 more miles to go. I'd been keeping a fairly consistent pace, but I dropped it down. I told myself if I could make it to 13 miles, I'd walk that last mile in.
But with all the hills, I ended up walking a lot more than just the last mile. Especially the long hill down to the trail, which I had to walk down backwards.
Right before the finish, Thatkid was waiting for me, he ran me in, joined shortly after by Thatbaby. We crossed the finish and I headed right to the medic tent, who told me there was nothing they could do or give me to help with my injury.
So I headed to the beer.
I wasn't terribly disappointed by the misleading "hoodie" or lack of medal, but after running a long hard course, on a race centered around beer, I was frustrated by the lack of medical assistance and beer! The good news is, most of my complaints about the race are easy fixes (minus the challenging course, but really, I'm not complaining about that, I knew about it going in!) so hopefully next year's race will have all the kinks ironed out!