Sunday, October 19, 2014

Runner's World Half Marathon: Race Report

I woke up at 6am this morning and immediately took a shower.  I usually shower before a full or half marathon, not to get clean necessarily, but to loosen myself up and wake up a little.

I had no idea what the parking situation would be like, so I arrived around 7am and found parking easily about halfway between the start and finish lines.  I spent the next hour huddled with the masses inside the ArtsQuest building to avoid the cold.  It was 48 degrees this morning, and somehow I didn't think it necessary to bring a long-sleeved shirt.  I had no choice but to run in just a short-sleeved shirt.

The starting line was about a half mile from the finish line where everyone was gathered, so about 15 minutes before the start we all walked over together.  David Willey, Runner's World's editor-in-chief, addressed the crowd, we heard an amazing rendition of the National Anthem on the violin, and we were off.

I started the race right by Mark Remy and thought I might try to run with him for a bit, but before long I decided to speed up a little and he ended up finishing a few minutes behind me.

This was probably the toughest half marathon I've ever done due to all of the hills (and the biting cold and wind didn't help either).  I knew the hills were coming after reading race reports from previous years, not to mention the biking I did yesterday, but I told myself I would be ok because I train a lot on hills.  But training on a few hills once or twice a week does not compare to the rollercoaster that was the course today.

The course took us down Bethlehem's main street, out by a golf course and beautiful houses where we were cheered on by marching bands and cheerleaders in addition to the random spectators.  For a small-town race, the spectators were amazing.

The hills calmed down a bit in the latter miles, and when we crossed the bridge and I could see the steel stacks in the distance, I started my kick with a few miles still to go.  Just beyond mile 12, the course came within a hundred yards of the finish line, only to veer away for the last mile.  This was a bit of a tease.  I pushed hard and headed into the homestretch with the usual feeling of euphoria I can only experience through physical exertion.

My time was six minutes off of my PR, but I was happy with it due to the tough course. Around this time last year I ran a 1:30 half, and last June I ran a 1:33, and now a 1:35.  It's tough to think about just how easy it is to lose fitness after painstakingly building it up.

But it was a gorgeous day, and Bethlehem really is a beautiful town, and the spectators were amazing, and the aid stations plentiful.  At the end of the day, Runner's World puts on a hell of a festival and race, and I'm happy I finally got to come out and participate this year.  I'm sure I'll be back next year.

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