Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Missoula Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
On Sunday I ran the Missoula Half Marathon. It was also state #41 in my goal to run a half marathon in each state. I am hoping to be done with this goal next year.
I left Saturday morning on a direct flight to Missoula. The airplane was small. The Missoula Airport is also small, definitely different from Midway or O’Hare. I was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Missoula and they had a complimentary airport shuttle so as soon as I got my luggage, I called the hotel and there was a van waiting for me in about 10 minutes.
My flight arrived early and luckily a room was available for me. I went to the expo at Caras Park to get my bib. There were a few vendors but I did not buy anything. Well I did buy a small bag of donuts.
Then I tracked down a friend of mine and met up with him and a few others at Big Sky Brewing Co (they were one of the race sponsors). I had a flight (they were all delicious) and then went to dinner at Kobe Seafood and Steak. Then we parted ways since we had to wake up early the next day.
Sunday morning I got up at 4am. A friend of mine, Rebecca, was also running and she said her boyfriend could pick me up at 4:40am and take us both to the shuttle bus. There is no drop off at the half marathon start so you have to take the shuttle bus. We didn’t wait long for a bus and soon we were on our way. It was about a 15 minute bus ride to the start line. It was chilly but not cold. I knew it would warm up later. There were plenty of port-a-potties and I must have used them about 4 times before the race.
There were no corrals but I lined up close to the start line. I don’t remember hearing the National Anthem but soon it was time to start running. Sure enough by then it had warmed up a little bit. It was definitely perfect running weather.
The course is gorgeous! You run through the country side and along the river. I saw cows and horses. The course is flat with some downhills. The views were spectacular. About a mile into the race I saw the 2:20 group and ran with them for about 2 miles. I was feeling good but then took a break and then couldn’t catch up to them.
I saw a guy playing the piano in his yard!
I kept running but eventually I was tired. My left leg began hurting. I also felt some discomfort in the bottom of my left foot. I was frustrated because I had trained for this race (and did really good). For about 2 months on Saturday mornings I ran the hills at The Arboretum to get ready for this race. I knew it wasn’t a hilly course but figured training on hills still wouldn’t hurt. I couldn’t understand why I was struggling.I decided then to just keep running and enjoy the race. There were water stations about every 2 miles. The volunteers were wonderful in motivating us.
By mile 9 I was done with the race. I was tired and sore. By this time I was focusing on each mile and each one was slower than the previous one. I saw the 2:30 group but had no desire to run with them. It was sunny but I never felt very hot. I did sweat a lot though.
I saw a group of spectators with a table outside their house full of various adult drinks. Mimosa? Sure, why not? At about mile 10.5 is when the first marathon runner passed me. He was flying!!
With less than a mile to go I asked someone how much longer I had and he told me less than 1/2 mile. At that moment even 1/2 mile seemed like a long time. I told myself that it really wasn’t and tried to focus on my morning runs and exactly where 1/2 mile was from my house. It helped a bit. I remember then turning left and then right and then a bridge (downhill) to the finish line. I ran as fast as I could and was finally done. I think about 5 or 6 marathons runners passed me up by the time I was done. 😉 I did not stay long because I wanted to get back to the hotel to shower, get something to eat, and head to the airport. My flight was at 12:30 and I wanted to be there by 11:30. I know I had plenty of time but I hate rushing when going to the airport.
I was at the airport by 11:15am. I checked in and sat down to relax. At 12:00 there was an announcement that the flight was delayed because of the bad weather in Chicago. Later we were told it would leave at 2:30, then 1:30, then 3:30, then 5:30. It finally left after 4pm. However, the plane arrived at 9:10pm in Chicago but we didn’t get to the gate till 10:45 because there were other planes that were also delayed and were waiting for a gate too.
My coworker picked me up at the airport and she sent me the information she got from the website which of course is different from what actually happened.
I didn’t get home till almost midnight. Lola was happy to see me!
• I should have done a better job of researching hotels because I regret selecting that hotel. It was a nice hotel but not close to Caras Park where the expo was held nor close to the Adams Event Center where the shuttle busses were to take us to the start line (it is a point-to-point course).
• Uber/Lyft is expensive. Once I figured out how much it was going to cost me to go to the expo and and come back and also to and from the Adams Event Center (this was before Rebecca asked me if I wanted a ride), I realized I should have rented a car. I checked online and of course no cars were available at the airport. I will confess or runfess that I cried. How could I have been so careless about this whole trip? When I made my hotel reservation for Michigan, Kansas, and Georgia, I picked one close to the start and finish line. I booked the first hotel I saw on the race website but I should have looked for one closer to the start line. Oh and to top it off, the hotel was $300.
• Missoula is expensive. My flight was almost $600. I did book it at the end of May so maybe it would have been cheaper if I had booked it earlier? A few people did tell me that it is expensive to fly into and out of Missoula.
• I had high expectations for this race. Many people raved about it. The course is very pretty and flat. There are also great views but I wasn’t that impressed with it. I thought the course was nicer at the Delaware Marathon Running Festival. Sure it was hilly but there was more to see in DE.
• It is a well organized race. I liked that there were plenty of water stations and volunteers. There weren’t too many spectators but the ones that were there did a wonderful job of cheering for us.
• Gear bag drop off and pick up is a breeze. There was a bit of a line at the start line, but it still moved fast. When I was done with the race I went to get my bag and one of the volunteers saw me walking towards the truck and quickly retrieved my bag.
• I like the shirt but hate the color. The marathon runners’ shirt was blue.
• Finish time is 2:40:56. I am disappointed in my time. The weather was perfect and the course was flat. I was aiming for a 2:30 finish time but wasn’t even close. The last time I did a half and got a “decent” finish time was the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in 2015. I finished in 2:19:51 and that is my second best time after the Hartford Half Marathon. Oh, and the course in VA was hilly.
Would I do it again? Maybe but for sure I would pick a different hotel. I would also plan to stay longer and do more things in Missoula.
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Sorry to hear you didn’t have a great experience in Missoula! It was such a quick trip and maybe you would have enjoyed it more if you’d stayed to experience some of the area? Destination races are always hard for me–I never do as well as if I slept in my own bed. Congrats on another state!
Thanks Wendy! I wanted to stay longer but due to time and money I couldn’t do it. Hopefully I have a better experience in my next races in August.
Destination races are hard. I try to plan way in advance which helps but then again with running all 50 states, there’s bound to be some difficult ones. Look at the positives. One more state done. The next one will be better based on lessons learned.
Thanks Darlene! I’ve had my share of good ones and not so good destination races. The good thing is that yes it is one more state done.
I’m sorry that the race didn’t live up to your expectations. Sometimes it’s just not our day. And wow, who would’ve though it would be $300/night in Missoula?
You finished though, and that is always good! I’ll do fewer races but stay longer, but I know that’s not always easy.
I can see that Lola was really happy you were home — I’ll bet you were glad to be home, too!
Thanks Judy! I tried to make the best of it but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But yes I did finish and another state done. After waiting hours and hours at the airport, yes I was very happy to be home.
Bummer the race didn’t go as planned. Sometimes, things just don’t align on race day. What an ordeal getting back home!
Thanks Kim. Yes sometimes things don’t align on race day. It happens to everyone. It was a long and frustrating day trying to get home but I am happy I did not have to spend the night in MIssoula.
So sorry you didn’t have a great race experience. I’m so surprised at how expensive the hotel was! Definitely sounds like travel home was tough. But – on the good side, one more state down! Congrats!
Thanks! I don’t know if all hotels were the same price but I was surprised mine was that much. I should have stayed at an AirBnB and I am sure it would have been cheaper. Yes, one more state done and happy to be home too. 🙂
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you cried! That’s awful 🙁
I find it’s a lot more expensive to fly into those smaller airports. You can sometimes hit it at the sweet spot but not always
I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned either. It’s hard when these trips don’t go as planned. I’m blown away that you were able to get to the airport so quickly after the race end! I would have been so stressed out about making it on time.
Thank you. Now it sounds so silly thinking back that I cried. I did feel better after I ate and I ranted to a friend. Sometimes getting it off my chest and some food makes us feel better. 🙂
Downhill and flat sounds like a good race course to me! Hah! I’m so sorry about your foot/leg pain. That’s such a bummer, especially when you’ve trained hard for a race. 🙁 Great job on finishing, though! The adult drink spot sounds like the Rock n Roll New Orleans race course! So funny!!
Downhill and flat is definitely a great combo for a race! That is how it was in Utah but the elevation made it tough. I’ve learned that the training can go very well but then race day doesn’t go as expected. It happens to everyone. At least it is a hobby for me and not a professional job.
definitely a plus to stay as close to the start of the race as possible. Down hill sounds good! Wow already 41 states that’s amazing.
Haha, lesson learned about paying closer attention to the hotel. 🙂 I should have known better but oh well. On to the next one.
Wow! I had no idea that it was so expensive there!
Me neither. But now I know in case I do end up going back.
I’m sorry you had a frustrating race & travel experience.
I find the western states super expensive for travel too – I think they don’t have the volume
Well some of the states are expensive to travel to because of the distance. Missoula has a small airport (6 gates) and very few airlines travel there. At least with the race I got it done and can now focus on my next one.
Sorry for the not so good experience but now you have another half under your belt!
Bummer your race didn’t go as planned. I travel on those small planes a lot for my business. Some of them hold less than 50 passengers. Flying into those small airports are usually pricey because many of their customers are business travelers and will fly no matter what, so they set their prices high. The good news is you are one step further towards your 50-states goal!
Thank you! I wa actually surprised to see how small it was. But yes I agree that I am one step further into my goal.
Sorry your race didn’t go as planned. I think I would have cried when the flight got delayed so many times!
Thank you. I wanted to cry too but I guess I was too tired to even do that. 🙂 I was just happy I did not have to spend the night there.