So let me preface this post by saying I’ve never run this race before so I don’t know what it was like in previous years but I do know that the weather has always been hit or miss and is one of the reasons I’ve hesitated to sign up for it in the past – along with having to run up two dreaded back to back hills between miles 11 and 13. Today’s weather was pretty nice – although I wish it had been a few degrees warmer. It was 33 degrees at the start and I don’t normally enjoy wearing capris but the real feel was 27 and I just didn’t want to risk it with shorts. I also wore gloves which I’ve never done for a race either but it turned out to be a smart choice as my hands were cold for much of it. The course itself was great with very few “off-road” spots – my ankles were appreciative of that. For a small race, there was great support and water/gatorade stops were evenly spaced throughout. Everyone got finisher medals and the tech shirt was very nice quality! All in all, it was a great experience and I would love to run this race again – it gets bonus points because it is local! The smile on my face says it all!
This course is mostly an out and back that starts at the top of a decline that you have to run back up during miles 11 -13 to get to the finish. I tried not to let my pace get too out of hand running down the hills at the beginning because I knew what was to come at the end. As I ran up the first of the last 2 hills I said to myself “this is straight torture!” while watching my pace creep up. I inevitably knew that would happen but it still sucked to watch knowing I couldn’t control it. Thankfully, I was able to recover from that hill pretty nicely and my pace remained consistent with the other miles during the last hill.
In the past I had run quite a bit of the race route on my long weekend runs so I was familiar with much of the smaller hills and I think that helped me a lot with overall pacing. I had so much fun seeing the miles tick away and watching my pace remain fairly consistent. It was my first race (longer than a 5k) back from injury and I was nervous that I would start too fast or too slow but I think I found my comfort zone pretty quickly. I spent a few of the middle miles trailing someone that I knew from running other local races and who has always been a little faster than me but around mile 10 I was having to consistently slow down to keep from tripping us both up so I decided to pass her before the hill and then work myself back into my own race groove.
Can you guess which mile Hospital Hill was a part of? Haha. Once I reached the top of the final hill knowing the end was in sight, I ran as fast as my legs would carry me to the finish line. My official finish time was 1:41:01 – a 1 minute 33 second PR from last years Anthem Half Marathon in Richmond, Va – and good enough for 2nd in my age division woohoo! The difference between last year’s PR and this one here is that I am currently training for the Myrtle Beach Marathon so there was no taper and I actually ran my highest mileage week the week of this race. I’m so impressed with what my body has been capable of lately and cannot wait to run another – slightly more flat – half marathon so I can try and get yet another PR. I am really wanting to push for a sub-1:40! It will probably have to wait until after I run my marathon though. Prioritizing my goals is very important right now!