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Oct 1, 2012

Brooksie Way Half Marathon Race Review

Rest day on the schedule today!

Brooksie Way Half Marathon Race Review

Short Version:

Finished in 1:39:52(chip time)
Overall place:  244/2773(top 10%!)
AG(M40-44): 37/241
Men overall:  198/1406
10k split:  46:15(7:27 pace)
Average pace:  7:38/mile

Missed by PR by 34 seconds....on tired legs!!! Yahoo!

Nice and flat...oh wait, not this course.  Hills, hills, hills on this tough course.  Perfect weather in the low 50's to start.  Overall, had a really nice time.  Half marathon #10 for me.  This was also my very first half two years ago.  This is one of the most popular half marathons in Michigan.


Registration/Packet Pickup
This was a very simple process to register.  You just went online and registered and you were all set.  The race has a website(HERE) which makes things incredibly easy.  Fortunately, for me, I won this entry through a contest that Renewal By Andersen of Detroit sponsored so I did not have to register as Brandon over at Renewal By Andersen of Detroit did everything for me.  I was really happy to run for their team again for another race that they sponsored.  In fact, they are always looking for runners so go to their Facebook page and find out how.

In regards to packet pickup, the Brooksie Way has a huge(in comparison to other half marathons I've been to) expo that you go through and pick up your packet early.  You were able to pick up your packet on Friday afternoon, all day on Saturday or even the morning of the race.  I really enjoy going through the expo to see if there are any deals.  In fact, I purchased a former year long sleeve tech T-shirt and Mug for the year I ran it last time in 2010($5 each!)

The race also gave you an information packet, called the Brooksie Bugle, that explained everything.  I think this is great for any race that is a half marathon or longer just so you know what's going on in case you missed something on their website.  In addition, you received a virtual goodie bag which I think is perfect since most of the stuff in race packets ends up being thrown out.
Part of race packet
Taken from the Brooksie Way Facebook page - expo
I completely forgot my camera on Friday after work.
I even got to see my favorite race director, Alan Whitehead, director of the ShamRock N Roll, Kona Run and the Wicked Halloween Run.  He was there as one of the exhibitors for the expo promoting is great races.
Got a free hat and sticker from Kona Running Company
at the expo
The race also offered a pasta dinner on Saturday evening and you had a chance to meet Desi Davila from the Hanson's team but I ended up picking up my packet on Friday evening and did not go back for it.  The packet pickup/expo was located on the Oakland University Campus in their athletic facility.  Parking was easy and it's a great place to have an expo.

Start Area
The start area was well organized.  The start was located on the Oakland University Campus.  I got to the start at about 7am and there was plenty of parking for everyone.  There were two areas available to park and I was able to park near the start.  Even the other parking lot was not that far off as well so it made it very easy.  There were tons of volunteers directing traffic so you has no issues getting lost.  I heard it took people a bit of time to get out of the parking areas but when I left, I didn't have any issues.

There were plenty of port-o-potties and they were located right next to the start line.  I got in line about 7:30am and took maybe 10 minutes to get through the line.
Taken from the Brooksie Way Facebook page
My running buddy, T. and I were able to get a picture before the race so I didn't have to carry my camera for the entire course.  You can kind of see that it's uphill at the finish.

In addition, I was able to get a quick picture of most of the Renewal by Andersen of Detroit team running but unfortunately, the picture did not come out that well:

I also got a chance to say hello to Josh from Clippin' Along, Matt from Faster than a Turtle and his wife Janet as well since we all started in the same area.  Matt, Janet and I were looking to pace(Matt was helping pace Janet to a PR) around the same but I started feeling better than I thought and decided to go a bit faster.

Race start was at 8:05am and the race was on time - thankfully - since it's my biggest pet peeve.

As I have said in the past, this is a pretty tough course overall, at least for courses in Michigan.  It's quite hilly and a great challenge.  As you recall, on Saturday I ran 10 miles so I could then run this and see how I would do on tired legs.  I think it worked out pretty good overall.  Here's a look at the map and elevation of the course again.  The course is really a beautiful course going through the neighborhoods of Rochester/Rochester Hills.  You also get to enjoy a couple miles on the Clinton River and Paint Creek Trails and a short section on Dutton which is a dirt road.
A little bit of hills in there
Great course with some nice trail parts as well
Just as you start to get tired on mile seven is when the hills really start coming.  The real hills start at Tienken and really go all the way to the finish from there but it's hard to tell from this map.  I'll say this as I did when I did my first half here - there needs to be much more support on Tienken.  You really need loads of people here to help get you up this street.  There were some people cheering but not nearly enough.  A huge group of high schoolers and/or cheerleaders from all three high schools lined up the street would be perfect.
Great splits overall except mile 8 is over 8 pace(tienken hill)
Forgot to turn off the Garmin at the end too.
There's also a final push at the end just before the finish that's uphill.  Some race directors are really sick! Ha!  I did notice was there was much more entertainment on the course.  It was nice having the groups out there.  There were several that I really liked and helped keep your pace.

Aid Stations
Holy cow!  There was certainly plenty of aid stations along the course.  They had one every mile.  They had two,(two!) GU locations at about 4 and 8 miles.  Who needs that much GU?  I guess it's better than not having any at all.  Some of the aid stations were better than others in regards to support for the runners(in regards to cheering) but overall, there was plenty of water, gatorade and GU.

Finish Area
The finish was located right where the start was on Oakland University campus.  Again, everything is well organized in this area.  They had an announcer there calling off names of runners as they crossed the finish line - always a nice touch.  After finishing the race, there there several volunteers handing out space blankets to help keep you warm and giving out medals.  You then came into a runner area which had half bananas, orange slices, Sobe flavored water and Doritos/chips.  I was disappointed they did not have any bagels and/or cookies.  Most races I attend, especially half marathons, have one or the other or sometimes both.

I was also able to say hello to Stephanie over at In Steph's Shoes after the race.  For the first time in my running career, I beat her in a race.  Haha!  Ok, it just so happens she recently had a baby, and frankly, she was right behind me but I had to comment about it because I'm sure it will be the first and last time I beat her.

I had a few minutes to wait for T to come in(he placed 12th in his AG - an incredible finish) so I took a few pictures at the finish area.  They even had a play area for kids which is a nice feature if you have family waiting for you at the finish area.
finish area
Runners area
Finish/start area
Play area for the kids - nice feature
I was able to catch up with Josh, Matt, and Janet after the race as well, and found out that Josh and Janet both PR'd in the race!  Awesome job!  We also were able to get a finish line picture.
Josh, Matt, me & Janet - everyone happy with their race
I also got a nice picture of T and I at the finish as well.
T was joking with the girl that took our picture that it was our first medal! Ha!
After this, I went back to the Renewal by Andersen of Detroit booth and took a picture with them after the race as well.  It's the least I could do as I really appreciate their support in the running community.
I was sponsored by Renewal by Andersen of Detroit!
From the runner area, you made your way over to either a warming station(which was a covered tent) or you could go into the post race celebration.

The post race celebration had music going on and they also had some vendors offering food or drinks.  In addition, they had "Brooksie Way" shirts, jackets, etc they were selling as well.  It was nice and warm in there and a great place to get out of the cool weather after being all sweaty from the race.  The race also had computers and scanners so that you could find out your race times.  There was a QR code on your race bib that you could scan with your phone and it would give you the results - a great idea - and the first I've seen this at a race.
Brooksie merchandise
Post celebration tent
Bummer but everything in here you had to pay for.
Saw this jacket I liked but $75 for a half marathon thanks.
For your entry fee, you received, of course, entry to the race, access to a great expo(although anyone could go to it), aid stations, police support, e-mailed results to mail, Facebook and/or Twitter(I really love this feature because you can see your results immediately), medals, a long sleeve Brooks tech shirt, and food after the race.  I wear my Brooksie long sleeve shirt in training all the time so I know I'll get use out of this one too.  Because it was their fifth anniversary of the race, they also had a special medal made to commemorate that year.  Great idea and a really unique design on the medal to make it look like stained glass(even though it was plastic).
Great Medal with Ribbon
Front of medal
Hanging in my window
Back of medal
Front of shirt - bright green!
Back of shirt - love that there are not tons of sponsors on the shirt
Because I have ran this race in the past, I figured things would continue to be organized and the organization did not disappoint this year as well.  In fact, I had an issue a few days before the race trying to get Xact timing to e-mail my results to work and the race director e-mailed me back my answer very quickly.  A nice touch considering this race(including the 5k) was expecting 5-6,000 people.  Looks like there ended up being over 4,600 finishers with the half and 5k.

Would I run the race again?  Yes, overall it was a really nice race, great challenging course, good swag,  and well organized.  Actually, I'm sorry I missed it last year since it's so close to home.  It's one of the few races that I don't have to get up at 4am to get there.  I'm sure I'll be running this race again in the future.  If you have not run it and are looking for more of a challenge, you might consider signing up next year.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Nice job, especially on a hilly course!

  2. Nice running, I think the extra miles are paying off...

  3. Great job Jeff!! You are fast! I thought about you when we made the turn on to Paint Creek trail. :-) That is your stomping ground and was my favorite part of the race.

    Let's try to meet up at some point in Grand Rapids.

    1. Sounds like a plan. Send me your e-mail, will you, so we can get a pic before/after race or at expo Sat.

  4. Sounds like a great event...good job on your top 10% finish!

  5. I loved it this year, agan. The medal is the best one I've ever received for a Half. It's easily one of my favorites here in the state. I actually like the challenge of the hills.

  6. So close to a PR, but still a great race nonetheless!

    1. PR was not the goal(although it would have been nice); Goal was to gain confidence for a faster marathon in less than three weeks.

  7. Great recap, awesome race and awesome pace!!! Would one day like to run a race with you Jeff. Me & you are at about the same pace.

    You will do great come marathon day!!

  8. It was great to meet you! My pic of us was blurry too, but maybe not quite as bad? I posted it to my f/b and tagged you in it. I'll post it on my site too in a few. I love this race too. It was such a pleasant rather last minute addition to my race schedule. It is a fun race, and I had a great time. I absolutely LOVED the medal. Super cool and unique. I took about 10 pictures of it trying to capture it best. I am glad to know it is plastic, so I won't break it :) No PR for me, but I did run about 20 secs faster than my last Brooksie (2010), so that is good, right?