The Iron Girl Half Marathon was my final traveling race. It was a mere 2 hours away in Santa Rosa which is known for its famous wineries. I highly anticipated this race because it was hosted by Athleta and strongly supported and recommended by my fellow Black Girls Run team members. I planned to spend a weekend in Santa Rosa to enjoy my last and final non-local race of 2013. Yet, it was the same weekend of the Annual Green Festival in San Francisco. My heart wanted to be at both but being that I’d already made a financial investment and goal commitment to the race- I did what I always do when I cannot make a decision. I chose both.
The first half of my Saturday I walked around the Green Festival trying samples, listening to lectures, and meeting new people. I had so much fun that the one hour time limit I gave myself turned into 3 hours which meant I risked missing the Iron Girl race expo and packet pick-up. Traffic was a stand still to Santa Rosa but somehow I made it in the last 10 minutes in time to get my race bib and chip YAY!!!!
I had high hopes for the race expo and immediately started to feel bummed that I might have missed it. The race was expensive so I foreseen a lot of vendors, samples, massages, the works. But sadly, the race expo was very intimate there were only two vendors and only 300 runners were registered and projected to run (one of the smallest races I’ve been in). The race location was at a local community center with onsite bathrooms which was a plus.
The next morning bright and early at 6:00 a.m myself and 299 other women were ready to run like an Iron Girl. There were 6 pacing groups which I love 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, and 3:00. I was debating if I should run with 2:15 or 2:30. I decided to be adventurous and begin the race at 2:15. Yet, by mile 4 I was with the 2:30 group and by mile 11 the 3:00 group was gaining on me. Once again my knee was killing me and gradually slowed me down. The race was full of Black Girls Run runners. It was so encouraging to see other women who look like me striving toward a common goal. We smiled, high-fived, and pushed each other to the finish line.
The race course was beautiful. It was by far one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever run. The water stations were lightly stocked (for being an expensive race), the volunteers were friendly, the course markers were legible and well placed. But, the post-race expo was the major disappointment. The food was minimal, stale, and dry. Most of the runners left so it was a large space of empty chairs and a dj speaking to a partially empty audience.
Thank goodness for Black Girls Run who truly made the event a success. We had the largest turnout of any running group. We had our own tent with post-race snacks water, oranges, bagels, and even cake. We took post-race photos, congratulated each other, hugged, and said our goodbyes. Some women were planning to run another race that very day, while others were racing again next month together.
Black Girls Run made my Iron Girl Half Marathon experience fun and worthwhile. I am honored to have been amongst women of different ages, sizes, and athletic levels who were courageous enough to take on 13 miles both for themselves and as a team; representing to a city that is void of color and culture that Black Girls Run and we love it.