Trailer Trash

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Nittany Valley Half Marathon - RR (Read 196 times)

FTYC


Faster Than Your Couch!

    On Sunday, December 2nd, I ran the Nittany Valley half marathon in State College, PA. This is my "annual benchmark race", and it was the third year that I ran that race.

    And this year, I was determined to finish under two hours.

     

    The course is considered somewhat hilly for a road race, about 800 ft elevation gain, which sounds virtually flat to a trail runner. The hills are steep for roads, but definitely less steep than any hills in trail races, and short, all less than half a mile long. While the first 7 miles include only one noticable hill around mile 4 and offer a lot of running on flat terrain, the last few miles have some nice uphills and downhills. The last 1.5 miles are mostly uphill, with the steepest quarter mile right before mile 13.

     

    The race itself is very laid-back with a friendly atmosphere, and around 700 or 800 runners participate each year. There are two or three water stations along the course, and a beer station around mile 10. All in all, an enjoyable race, and definitely one that I recommend for anyone attempting their first half marathon.

     

    As I have run the Tussey Mountainback 50M in late October, and the Stone Mill 50M mid-November, I was not sure if I had recovered fully to finish sub-2hrs. In my first year, I had run the Nittany Valley HM in 2:10, and last year (after suffering bear attacks and thus being forced to run an extended detour through the airport bathrooms) I made it in 2:08. But I knew that I was still in good shape from all the training for the 50-milers.

     

    On race day, I woke up early, had some oatmeal for breakfast, and checked the weather. 38 degrees, overcast, slightly windy, and it was going to warm up into the mid-40's until noon. Perfect for a run. The race started at 10 a.m., which I find very generous and convenient.

    So I decided to wear tights, a long-sleeve shirt, and a thin fleece jacket on top, a hat and mittens. If it had not been for the pockets in the jacket to store a few candies and tissues, I would have opted for just a short-sleeve shirt on top. However, the fleece has a two-way zipper, so I can open it up nicely if it gets warmer, so I knew I'd be fine. I like it a bit warmer anyway on my runs, but I also realized that I might tell Santa one last-minute wish: a short-sleeve shirt with pockets on the back (like a bike shirt)!

     

    I figured I wouldn't need to carry any water or food, as on such short distances, especially on road and in cool weather, I usually don't eat or drink, and there would be water stations, so no need to burden myself with a handheld.

    What I forgot in this assessment were my car keys: bulky, big, clanky, and with a tendency to get lost easily.

     

    Off I was to the race, I still had to register, so I wanted to be there early. The line for race-day registration was much shorter than the line for chip pick-up. And I still got the race shirt! Attached the chip to my shoes, tucked the car keys in the back pocket of my tights (so that they hit my tailbone with every step), did bathroom duty, and walked around to meet friends and socialize.

     

    I saw my running buddy and several other runners I know, and I joined up with "the new girl", Alison, who joined our running club a few months ago and who turned out to be a speedy fast young runner. We talked, then lined up, and when the race started, I decided to tuck in behind her for the first two or three miles. She had run her first 50k just a week ago, so I figured I might be able to keep up with her for a little while and bank some time.

     

    The first 2.5 miles are run in the "backyard" of Penn State buildings, two loops of a little over a mile each. There is no traffic on these gravel roads, and the runners have an opportunity to settle into their pace without too much pushing and shoving. I stayed right behind Alison and her fast running buddies, and together, we were cruising along, making our way through the crowd. When we were "allowed" to leave the backyard and go out onto the roads, the field had spread out, and small "pace groups" had formed. That was where I decided to fall behind Alison and rather run my own pace.

     

    I had started way back in the pack, so I had a lot of catching up to do. I passed Mike, the RD of this race, and we chatted for a while. I knew I was still fairly back because usually Mike is a bit slower than me. But on the other hand, Mike was engaged in intense talks with some young girls, so I was not sure if he was running a bit faster today than usual. Either way, I decided not to let the youngsters, and Mike, beat me. After about half a mile, I took off and continued to pass more runners. All along, there were people with signs and cowbells, cheering us on and taking pictures.

     

    The first hill went well, and on the flat stretch toward the airport (which is the halfway point), I joined a small group of runners which appeared to run my pace. I did not ask what time they were aiming for, I just ran along.

     

    One of "Mike's young girls" came up, a tall, toned young lady, I recognized her by her bright orange, ruffled running skirt. OK, time to speed up, I did not have any intention to let ruffles pass me today, taller than me, or not. She turned out to be quite tough and kept leapfrogging with me for some 6 miles or so, and I only dropped her on the last hilly stretch. Yay for that 50-mile training!

     

    After the airport, there is a nice downhill, then the road winds through a valley, along a creek. Beautiful views, and I enjoyed the run. Things were going easily, I did not push really hard, but I also made sure I kept up a good pace and did not slow down.

    On the following uphills and downhills, runners kept leapfrogging, and it was fun to watch. One big guy had tried to keep up with me, but he fell behind on one of the hills. That was when I noticed my endurance was still good, although on some uphills, younger runners (looked like college kids) occasionally passed me, and I started fearing I would not meet my sub-2-hr goal.

     

    The beer stop at mile 10 was crowded, so I opted for plain water instead. It had warmed up, and I was getting thirsty. I popped a few candies for the last hill and the home stretch and washed them down with the water.

     

    The last hill was tough, and I had to work hard to stay with the little group that I had been running with. Someone in that group mentioned the sub-2-hour limit, and I just hoped that we would make it. I didn't have a watch with me, but the runners in the group were wearing Garmins, so I decided to trust them and stick with them for the last mile. We passed runners who had not saved any power for this finish and who were panting and fighting hard, some of them walking, some talking to themselves, some listening to loud music on their i-pods.

     

    After the hardest climb, there is a short flat stretch, just good enough to speed up for the finish, then the road climbs again, just gently, but still noticable. I stayed with my group, which had sped up quite a bit, and I had to get into sprinting mode to keep up. And I wanted to keep up with them, as I thought they were speeding because it was getting close to the two hours.

     

    Last turns, sprinting fast, and then I saw the clock: 1:57:something. Hey, I beat the 2 hours! Crossed the line around 1:57:37 or so.

    I got some water, then waited for my running buddy to arrive. He made it in 2:06 and set a new PR for himself!

     

    I walked around a bit, met some friends and chatted a bit, but then I got cold, and I drove home. My kids were all anxious and excited when I told them I had beat the two hours and met my goal. After my shower, we had a late lunch, then finished the day off with Christmas shopping (which eventually made the day feel like I had run a 50-mile run again!).

    Run for fun.


    Occasional Runner

      Well done! It sucks about the beer stop though. I would have been severely deflated by that.

      7/27- Virtigo Night Run 41M

      8/2- Jupiter Peak

      8/9- El Vaquero Loco 50k

      8/16- Leadville 100

      9/5- Wasatch 100


      Uh oh... now what?

        Big grinApproveBig grinBig grinApproveBig grinApproveBig grinApproveBig grinApprove

         

        I miss our dancing elephants.  Congratulations, good story, better running.

         

        Uh oh...

         

        animals Smileys


        Le professeur de trail

          A road race? How dare you! Just kidding.  Nice job.  That's a great effort on the pavement after the longish races you have had.  I almost did this race a few years ago when I was in my HM phase.  I still might someday.  I remember reading somewhere (probably on their website) about some years they are trying to run these roads in snowy conditions.  Sounds like fun to a trail runner - probably no so much for a primarily road runner.

           

          So what are your plans next? Thought about 2013?

           

          My goal for 2013 (other than get healthy which is numero uno since no other goal will matter if I do not) is to  beat you in a race.  And since we won't be running in any 100 meter races, I gots lotso work to do. 

           

          Congrats!


          Wandering Wally

            Nice job on the sub 2:00!

             

            That's a beautiful area and I'd love to do a trail race in that vicinity some day.

            Run!  Just Run!

             

            Trail Runner Nation Podcast


            sugnim

              Nice time!  Also, smart move on opting for water over beer, in my opinion.  Thanks for sharing!


              Occasional Runner

                Nice time!  Also, smart move on opting for water over beer, in my opinion.  Thanks for sharing!

                 

                You're clearly out of your mind.

                7/27- Virtigo Night Run 41M

                8/2- Jupiter Peak

                8/9- El Vaquero Loco 50k

                8/16- Leadville 100

                9/5- Wasatch 100

                  Great report, and congrats on breaking 2 hours!

                   

                  I run in cycling jerseys, jackets, and vests all the time--I love the back pockets. Perfect for food, small bottles of water (those little flat ones that go on belts? snug perfectly in the middle pocket against the small of your back), keys, camera, whatever. A windbreaker-weight vest is a good starting point--it's cool enough to not overheat you in warmish temps and can layer over other things in colder weather.

                   

                  I also ran a few times with my whole key ring, got annoyed, and started locking all my keys in the car except the one that opens it. 

                  LB2


                    Nice run, FTYC. But what is a road race?Smile

                    LB2

                    FTYC


                    Faster Than Your Couch!

                      Thank you!

                       

                      Jamie: You have beaten me in a race once already, the 2011 On The Rocks 25k. I was suffering from heat exhaustion, while you were having a blast and beat me by 30 minutes - and that on just 25 k! I don't dare to imagine what you can do to me if you're in good shape and not injured on the longer distances!

                       

                      smith: We also have nice trail races in the area, e.g. the Rothrock Trail Challenge in early June (30k, more or less).

                       

                      LB2: A road race is where hundreds of runners take over the whole road lengthwise, not across, like in trail races. I think that's the most significant difference.

                       

                      Update:

                      Chip time: 1:57:06

                      124th out of 335 female finishers,

                      9th out of 31 in my age group

                      350th out of 693 finishers overall.

                      Just for the records.

                      Run for fun.


                      Wandering Wally

                        FTYC - Rothrock looks like fun!  Looks like the RD has a real sense of humor.

                        Run!  Just Run!

                         

                        Trail Runner Nation Podcast

                        toyger


                          Congrats on sub-2! Sounds like the race was a lot of fun and with yummy beer. Smile

                          Jen

                          Watoni


                            Sounds like a great race, even if it is on roads. In a HM I would opt for beer!

                              Congratulations on the sub 2 half!!!!!! That's awesome. 


                              Irish Luck

                                Update:

                                Chip time: 1:57:06

                                124th out of 335 female finishers,

                                9th out of 31 in my age group

                                350th out of 693 finishers overall.

                                Just for the records.

                                 

                                Way to go!  We absolve you of your sins for running a road race.  Joking

                                BT survivor since 2003. Trail runner since 2009.

                                I think brain surgery stimulated my running nerve and made me into a trail runner. I'm grateful for both.

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