It was Saturday afternoon. I stepped off a small plane at Dallas Love Field airport and was immediately hit with hot, dry air. I checked my weather app. It was 102 degrees F. Typical end-of-August temps for Texas — the kind of weather that would make the Hottest Half live up to its name. Lucky me.
Day before the race
I got my rental car (funky looking Fiat) and headed to the W Hotel, which was less than 10 minutes away. After checking in, my first stop was the hotel’s infinity pool (where else would one go on a 102-degree day??), with awesome views of downtown Dallas.
I spent an hour there, before meeting my cousins who live in uptown Dallas, a cute urban neighborhood about 5 minutes away from downtown, with chic shops, diverse dining options, and art galleries and museums. We decided on a great little Vietnamese place called Bistro B for dinner. Portions were large — perfect for my pre-race meal.
The evening was spent eating and catching up with family. My cousin and his wife and their new baby girl (super cute Cambodian-Egyptian mix) have been living in Dallas for about year. His job will relocate him soon, so I was happy to get in a visit before his reassignment. His parents were also in town from France that month (for the baby), so it was fun hanging out with them, too.
I woke up at 5 a.m. feeling pretty great — I slept well, felt fully rested, and was comfortable (no soreness or anxiety or anything). After I ate and got dressed, I called down for the valet to bring my car to the front.
The race began and ended at the Community Beer Company in the Dallas Design District, which was only 5 minutes away. It took me about 15 minutes though because I got lost (it was dark — hard to read the street signs!)
There was plenty of parking, and already a bunch of people there when I arrived. It was still pretty early, but almost everything was ready. Music was blasting, tables were set up with snacks, water, and protein and energy drinks. The race was looking to be one of the most organized I’ve seen yet. It was great.
The course and post-race
Start time was 7:30 a.m. Temps were already in the mid-80s… and rising. I don’t normally care where water stations are located on the course, but given the heat, this was something I took note of in advance. There were 6 stations, and since it was an out-and-back, runners ended up crossing each one twice.
The Community Beer Company is on Inspiration Drive, near downtown Dallas. The course ran through part of the city, over a bridge, and along the Trinity River. Most of it was pretty flat, which I loved. What I did not love was the lack of shade. I felt the sun beating down on me the entire time! SO hot. To cool off, I would stand behind the porta potties — the only bit of shade I could find.
I was doing fine until about mile 7, when I felt like I was going to pass out from the heat. I decided to give myself a little break (a few minutes) at a water station. I drank three cups of Gatorade, two cups of water, and stood around petting someone’s dog. Those few minutes really helped. I felt refreshed for the next few miles. And then the wall came. A little self motivation, and the fact that the course was super flat, helped me get through the final miles.
Side note: My Garmin watch, which I think sucks, was totally off by about a mile! After I passed what I thought was mile 12 (because my watch SAID it was mile 12), the mile marker read MILE 11. I was so sad. I even asked another runner if the sign was correct. She laughed and said yes.
Because I was going at a fairly slow and steady pace for the last few miles, I crossed the finish line with ease (as opposed to huffing and puffing and looking like I was about to die when I crossed the finish line in Frederick, Md.). Someone handed me my medal, and I immediately went inside to stand in front of a giant fan.
Post-race festivals weren’t too extravagant — no music or games, but plenty of snacks, drinks and complimentary beer for runners. I got my beer, but didn’t stay too long. I had to get back, check out of my hotel and meet my family for lunch.
Despite the heat, I enjoyed the Hottest Half. I thought it was very well organized, loved the location (starting and ending at a brewery is genius!), and loved the flatness of the course. The heat made it challenging, but challenges are good… and it’s Texas. Heat is a given.
Name: The Hottest Half
Date: August 24, 2014
Race day weather: Hot. Start time was around 80s. Finish time was in the mid-90s.
Race start time: 7:30 a.m.
Course description: The course went through part of downtown Dallas, over a bridge and along the Trinity River. Most of it was paved, but around miles 8 to 10, it was packed dirt and gravel.
Race organization: This race was very well organized. Almost everything was set up when I got there at 5:45 a.m. The course was well marked. There were plenty of snacks and drinks before and after the race. And the race director was helpful when I asked him via Twitter about hotel accommodations. Would definitely recommend this race to runners that can stand the heat.
Personal finish time: 2:44:25
Hotel: $288.00 (yes, I know. I splurged on this one… I really wanted to stay at the W)
Other transportation: Rental car = $26.00
Food: Because I had family in area, I was lucky I didn’t have to spend any money on food