GET ME OVER THE FINISH LINE – RACE RECAP BY DONNY RAY

Donny Ray
Donny Ray

“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.

#PBFRaces
#PBFRaces

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.

Donny Ray running the 2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon
Donny Ray running the 2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon

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.

2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon & 5K Finisher Medals
2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon & 5K Finisher Medals

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!

Donny Ray running the 2016 Plano Balloon Festival 5K
Donny Ray running the 2016 Plano Balloon Festival 5K

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

PBF RACES: ALL ABOUT THE BLING & BALLOONS

Guest contributor:  Mike Kohl, Race Coordinator and Board of Directors, Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.

Plano Balloon 2015 logo
Plano Balloon 2016 logo

The Plano Balloon Festival Races (PBF Races) include a 1k, 5k, Half Marathon, and Relay that match a runner’s love of a challenging course and family friendly environment, complete with hot air balloons.  We are proud of the races this event offers for runners and it shows in the participation numbers.  Over the past six years, the race has grown from less than 1,000 entrants in 2010 to over 4,000 runners in 2015.  The PBF Races now represent one of the largest in North Texas and we estimate 1,750 half marathon runners this year.

T-shirts and medals for 2016
T-shirts and medals for 2016

With the coordinated efforts by the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. and DFW Runs, Eric Lindberg, the team provides the experience, knowledge and passion to continue with a well-organized and competently executed Race Series. The success of PBF Races can be attributed to the total focus and value offered to runners and family members.  This is reflected in the custom finisher medals, race shirts, capes for kids, catered food, tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, age bracket awards, water stations, volunteers, and the immense attention to detail provided by race coordinators.

The race course was changed in 2014 for three reasons: 1) Finish closer to the start to make it a true loop course, 2) Maintain close proximity to Runner’s Village, and 3) Better running experience.  The Half Marathon Relay was added in 2016 as a direct result of the survey of runners from last year. PBF Races truly values the input and feedback from runners and this is one result of many in our collaborative efforts.

PBF Races attracts many first time half marathon runners within the metroplex and we are honored to have them at our starting line and proud to cheer them across the finish line.  For those training we suggest that you join a running group from Run On!, Cooper Fitness, Frisco Running Club or any place that has others also training for PBF Races.  Stick with the program and if you can’t do a short race during the week, make sure you extend to longer runs on the weekend.  Don’t over-train.  It’s just as easy to over-train as under-train and this causes injuries.  Listen to your body and if you do become injured, avoid pushing yourself further until fully healed.  Hydration is key because the Texas heat requires replenishing your body with a lot of fluids.

PBF Races Course Elevation Map
PBF Races Course Elevation Map

Incidents during the PBF Races are minimal because this is our #1 goal.  Annual briefings are held to discuss the safety of the runners during the event and have an established evacuation plan in case of inclement weather.  Plano Fire and Plano Police Department are onsite during the race to provide immediate assistance.

Prior participants have come from Ireland (a race team came over specifically for the event), Canada, Mexico and every contiguous state.  PBF Races has become a part of people’s stories shown in race selfies, marriage proposals at the finish line, cancer survivors, Olympic Qualifiers, company sponsored teams, super heroes, tu-tus, and even a hot dog once ran in our race – truly a festival atmosphere.  Lastly, we have award winning Finisher’s medals, which are given to all racers who complete the course.  This year, the half marathon medal will be no exception – large, colorful and the center spins around making it a dazzling piece of bling.

Registration for PBF Races is available www.pbfraces.org and you can follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pbfraces/ for updates and conversations with other runners.   Saturday, September 24, 2016 the 5K run will start at 7:30 a.m. and the 1K fun run will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the awards ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m.  Sunday, September 25, 2016 the Half Marathon and Relay will begin at 7:00 a.m. and the awards ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m.  More information about the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival “Dazzling Autumn Skies” being held September 23-25, 2016 at Oak Point Park, may be found at www.planoballoonfest.org.