Yes, I am back from my hiatus and I did get to run the Missoula Half Marathon. Whoo-hoo! The race started a 6 am, so Mom and I were up at 3:50 am. She dropped me off at the bus shuttle area and I took a bus to the half marathon start. Overall the whole race was well-organized and planned out. There were plenty of signs and volunteers directing runners where to go (the marathoners started at a different start than the half marathoners) and there appeared to be plenty of buses read to carry runners to their correct starting destinations. The only thing I (and others) noticed was the mile marker signs along the course for the half marathon and the full were flipped. They were only a short distance from each other and it was not a big deal after word made it around that all of our GPS watches were indeed not malfunctioning and it was just that the signs were flip-flopped. Whew! Garmin do not fail us now!
Once at the race start, I had some time to kill before I needed to start warming up. I ended up chatting with some other runners about Michael Wardian (winner of the 2017 World Marathon Challenge (7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days)). We were discussing how much it must cost to complete the World Marathon Challenge; I remembered reading in Runner's World that it was at least $30,000. Yikes! It was neat that Michael was running Missoula again this year, plus a couple of Guinness World Record attempts occurred during the race and Jeff Galloway and his wife were running the marathon as well. Though I did not see any of them (Mom saw Andrew Drobeck cross the finish line in full firefighter gear in his Guinness World Record attempt), is was cool that these runners all chose Missoula to be their race of choice.
After a while it was time to get warmed up and empty my bladder for the unknown-th time before lining up at the start. I really liked that walkers had their own start area/corral. They crossed the start line right after the runner corral emptied. Since the race was chip and gun timed it was not a big deal for the walkers to do this. I thought it was a great idea that other races could implement as well.
Once the race started I kept my eyes on the 2 hour pacers (and the subsequent group that surrounded the pacers). The race was flat and the beginning had some nice scenic views before we ran our way into more residential areas. There were lots of home owners who came out and watched the race in their lawn chairs. A lot of these kind souls set out sprinklers and water hoses for the runners along the course. This made for some great refreshers during the race. I stayed around the 2 hour group until I was 7 and a half miles in; then my quads locked up on me (that's never happened before) and I let myself slow back down to my regular long run pace and maintained that for the remainder of the race. It started to get pretty warm and I was grateful for a woman who had her water hose out along the course to spray off runners. I encountered her around mile 10 and spread my arms wide and let her hit me dead on. It was great!
Soon after I crossed the finish line of my 5th half marathon. Yay! Mom and I met up at the finish and later that day we left Missoula and headed to Glacier National Park. I was pretty sore, but we still saw some beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife.