“Get Me Over The Finish Line” is a race recap by guest contributor: Donny Ray
The 2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon was my second time to run this race and the 5k. It was actually my very first 5k in 2013 and my very first half marathon in 2014. As always, it’s a well-organized event with great swag and with a fun course with the highlight to be able to see the balloons fly overhead (weather permitting). The race is in mid-September, which gives a slight break on the Texas heat, but can warm up towards the end of the race.
Here is a recap of my 2016 half marathon experience. I trained last summer for the Chicago Marathon and this race was the perfect distance and race to do prior to Chicago so I could taper before that race. I arrived to the event early to be well prepared and not rushed. As always, there is plenty of parking and volunteers to get you where you need to go. There are many port-a-potties in the area and lots of room in the start line area.
Prior to the start, the balloons are being lit up on the field and it is definitely something different that a lot of races do not offer. It was very windy that day, so no launch was made due to safety reasons. The start began without any issues and lots of excitement in the air.
The first few miles were through the countryside and well condensed with runners. There was always elbow room even at the start of the race. There are some rolling hills for the first several miles, but none that are crazy. This is a good race for the beginner or the expert. I saw several friends throughout the first few miles, which is always a nice sight to see. The course has multiple water stations, hydration stops, and support for the participants from start to finish.
About half way the half marathon course becomes smaller, but runners have spread out by then and well on their set pace. I was able to keep a comfortable pace without any crowding throughout the entire race. I see the relay participants handing off for the 2nd half at mile 13.1 just when I’m setting into my pace. Around this time I start seeing clouds in the sky and just hope that they keep us dry in time to finish. Around mile 8, it starts to drop rain very slightly. It wasn’t bad at all and actually felt nice. Again, I was wishing the weather would stay good for us. At mile 10 it starts raining harder and I realize that it isn’t going to let up. Immediately after 11 miles it starts to downpour and gets interesting. No one can control mother nature.
At one point I had a mental thought that I was in the “hunger games.” It was a thought that I needed to get me over the finish line. I remember turning left on the final stretch and the rain was pouring so hard and water was up to my ankles. I’ll never forget that feeling at the finish line and the sense of accomplishment that came from finishing. There was a volunteer out in the pouring rain making sure everyone that crossed received their well-deserved medal. I see in the distance a group of my friends under a tent yelling my name. It was an awesome feeling.
The 5k participants received a t-shirt and half marathon participants received a tank. Both are great quality and I wear them around constantly. The medals are awesome. Each year, they add an additional balloon to the medal to commemorate their anniversary. The finisher medals have never disappointed.
Personally, the real race of a half marathon begins anywhere from mile 8 to 10 all the way to the finish. This is when you have to really dig deep and what makes running so fun. This race did have a lot of rain, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it if I could. That’s what makes running great. Snow, rain or sunshine!
The Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon and 5K are two fantastic races. I’m happy to give my personal review and help spread the word. www.pbfraces.org #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon