Relay and Run for 21k – St. Louis, MO (2016)

I’ve been traveling a lot for work this year and was hoping to take advantage of this to get a run in some new cities. In January, I took a lunchtime run around Cincinnati, but, until last month, I didn’t have the opportunity to actually run a race in a new state. With my meeting on a Thursday, I started looking to see if there were going to be any races that weekend. I thought I was going to be able to run one of my bucket list races that had been rescheduled, but since the race is in a mine, they were waiting to see if the water level would decrease to a safe level and unfortunately, they had to cancel the race a second time. Instead, I chose to do the Relay and Run for 21k

When I was packing for St. Louis, I was keeping an eye on the weather and initially it was supposed to be in the 50’s for the race. As we got closer, the weather got cooler, but when I left, it was calling for rain on Saturday and then just cooler weather on Sunday. By that Friday, they were calling for snow, so I had resigned myself to having to do some shopping while in St. Louis so that I wouldn’t freeze on the run, but Saturday came and they weren’t calling for any precipitation anymore. It was calling for high 30’s, but other than that, it was supposed to be dry. I had packed knee-high compression socks, shorts and an extra long-sleeve shirt, so I thought I would be able to manage the race with what I brought with me. Sunday morning came and when I woke up at 6:00 am, I checked the weather again… and it was now officially snowing and was calling for 2 more hours of snow before the snow would change to rain! At this point, I was thankful that Walmart is open 24 / 7! I managed to find a pair of running pants for $9 an hour before the race started and I couldn’t be more thankful. I was also excited that I had remembered to pack my Asheville marathon buff from the weekend before. 

Even though my GPS tried to tell me that the streets were already closed for where I was trying to go to get to the start line of the race, I made it there easily from my hotel and was able to stay in my car until a little bit closer to the start of the race. I couldn’t believe the weather when I got out of the parking garage, and it was clear from the shaking / muttering people around me that they weren’t ready for a snowstorm either.

It was one of those really pretty fluffy snows with huge snowflakes sticking to everything. Unfortunately, that didn’t make it easy to run in. The problem with snow is that once the wind kicks up and those snowflakes make their way into your eyes, it hurts! The course was 3 loops, but you did the first loop twice. 

The first loop had a lot of small hills in it and was concentrated through neighborhood streets. There were a ton of volunteers on the course directing people at the various turns and cops directing traffic when we had to cross the larger roads. About 2 miles into the race, I was really hurting. I hadn’t done any running since the marathon the weekend before, so my legs were virtually dead when I started the race. After another couple of miles, I started to feel better and was going along pretty good until I got back to the main streets where the wind was just whipping through the buildings, making it very cold and very hard to see whenever I would pick up my head.

Because of the loops, you go past the start / finish line twice before you actually finish the half marathon. There was an option for a relay for this half marathon, so it was an easy way to coordinate everyone from a central location. I actually found the second loop harder than the first because it had a lot more flat sections where I wanted to run faster, but I just didn’t have it. I was glad to get back onto the first loop for the last 4 miles and take advantage of some of those downhill sections again. By this point, the runners had really spread out. I have a feeling that there were a lot more relay runners than individual runners for this race, just based on how many people were at the start line vs. how many I saw after that second loop. 

Despite feeling pretty rough at the start, this ended up being my fastest half marathon this year and I finished at 2:19:43. I’ve been coming in around 2:20 – 2:30 in my half marathons lately and have been running most of them for fun or as training runs, so I was excited to see that time yet again after all the running I did the weekend before. I really liked the shirt from this race since it’s got the St. Louis Arch on it as does the race bib and medal!

After the race, I didn’t stick around very long, mostly because of the weather, but I also had to get back to my hotel, shower, change and then head to the airport to get back to Charlotte that afternoon. It ended up working out well and was a fun way to end the weekend in a new city. Getting up and ready for work on Monday was a little rough, but definitely worth it to cross state #21 off my list!

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