Half Marathon Trainers

Race Reports (Read 1719 times)

    Grasslands Trail Half – Decatur, TX – 23 March 2013


    This was my first trail race. I usually run the bigger Half/Full Marathons so my usual transportation concerns are typically; have I left early enough to avoid the traffic and find myself a parking space? Grasslands is small trail half/full/ultra about an hour NW of DFW so this time round the concern was, did I leave early enough to find the start?


    The directions provided were great but it was D-A-R-K and raining when I was approaching the area where the race was held. You know you’re in for a good day when the small sign for the Country Road you’re looking for is lit up by a timely flash of lightning! I honestly thought I was lost until I spotted a string of small headlamps snaking towards me… the “50 Milers” heading out in the rain, along the trail adjacent to the road, from their early start… those guys n gals are serious!


    Got checked in at the very efficient race HQ (kudos to NTTR), listened to the race briefing – “HMs follow the blue trail, only blue and always blue, only 2 aid stations, race starts in 25 mins, good luck!”


    Spent the 25 mins in the line for the portajohns and going backwards and forwards to the car adding then removing layers of clothing. It was 43F and raining, but there was no wind and the rain was easing up…. At one point I was in t shirt, long sleeved top over it, hat & gloves. By the time we started I was in t-shirt only. Severe indecision on my part but turned out to be the right call. Also decided to leave my ipod behind. I usually run with music in the road HMs but figured I would need a bit more concentration on this one – Also a good call!


    The rain had pretty much stopped by the start and with little to no fuss we were off and running/walking. At this point I ought to mention that all of my good intentions to buy trail shoes and get some practice in over the preceding months had come to naught and this was pretty much the first time I had run on trails… ever! The trails are a combination of what people were calling “horse trails” (about 6’ wide almost sandy) and “jeep trails” ( two 2’ wide tracks of compacted mud, where the tires go, with a strip of grass running down the middle). We stared off on one of the horse trails and it was pretty packed for the first mile. First mile pace was also slowed significantly by the whole race getting lost! Yes, the whole race!


    I had heard of people getting a little lost on trail races so my aim at the start was stay back and lean on the experience of the leaders to get us out onto the course. I was not the only sheep! When the lead group missed the left turn at the 0.5 mile stage everyone followed them and probably about 2/4 of the field had passed the turn before we were met by the leaders coming back down the trail! There was a few seconds of general confusion before somebody shouted “It’s this way”… and everyone charged after her. Fortunately she was right!


    These early miles were the easiest. I kept the pace easy as I was already aware, just after mile 1, that my quads and ankles were complaining a little early. I kept a look out for the trail markers and got more of a feel for the trail. Kept my HR at a reasonable level and tried to pace myself, a little unsure of what was to come. The rain started up, lightly at first at mile 3. I had a nice chat with a much more experienced trail runner called Bob for a mile or so and hit mile 5 (mental checkpoint) feeling OK.


    The weather took a turn for the worse at that point and the light rain turned heavier with the accompaniment of thunder & lightning that lasted for much of the rest of the race. We were starting to spread out by this point and I was a bit neurotic about trail markings. Every time the trail split/forked I spent the next hundred yards or so fervently searching for anything “blue” to confirm that I was still on the right path. At mile 7 it started hailing. I was soaked by this point anyway but hail is not something that I have ever run in. Not the most comfortable but I suppose in a psychological attempt to run away from it Mile 8 was one of my fastest splits! The hail gave way to driving rain and the trail became a bit of a mud slide for a couple of miles. It really slowed me up and more than once I nearly took a tumble just because I had no grip at all. This was definitely a mental low point as I hardly saw anyone else, I was cold, wet and slow! I hit mile 10 (second mental check point) thinking that the last 5k would be a slog.


    Fortunately at that point, I hit aid station number 2 and caught a bunch of people, the rain let up and trail became less slippery. Using the tried and tested 5mi-5mi-5k mentality (luv-ya-Andy!) I knew I had enough in the tank for a bit of a push at the end and I picked a few people off between miles 10 and 11.5. At mile 11.5 we made a left turn through a gate and the course opened up so you could see for just under 0.5 mile down a hill and back up the other side. I could see about 15 people stretched out in front of me many walking and I thought… that guy walking up the hill, in the bright yellow shirt, I’m going to catch him by the end. I started to kick it a bit and passed more people, I kept running up the hill and into the woods for the last mile… except it wasn’t a last mile. Mentally a bit foggy at this point so I had forgotten about the little detour at the start and the fact that my garmin would not read 13.1 at the end. Turned out to be a mile and a half… I managed to hang on for a 2:19:00 finish.


    If you would have told me 10 mins before the race started that I would have finished in 2:19:00 I would have been really disappointed. Given the same info at mile 8 I would have bitten your hand off for it! I wayyyy underestimated how much harder/slower a trail HM can be.

    These were some of the worst conditions I have run in…. Loved it. Would do it again. Thanks for pushing me to do a trail race HF!

    2017 Goals
    1) Run more than 231 miles
    2) Be ready for  HM in the spring

      Matt, thanks for sharing your experience of the 1st trail half. There was one here local that I wanted to do a couple of weeks ago, but after working a 12 hour night shift I decided to pass. After reading this, I will definitely be looking to do one. Thanks again for sharing.



        Yaaay Matt!!!! EXCELLENT RESULT in challenging conditions!! You're a Star!!!  Trail racing is a completely different beast than a road race - no question. You more than proved that! It's the kind of experience you really take in and can draw on for strength in future runs when it's tough going. The unpredictability of how things will go is part of the attraction, I think, and adds to "the fun." Big grin  Thanks for posting such a great report for us - great fun to read - felt like I was there (albeit much dryer!)


        I'm with ya on leaving the tunes behind. I can't race or trail run with tunes because I find the music distracting and I need all my focus and concentration. Even on a relaxing trail run, there's an element of body awareness/focus needed to negotiate the changing terrain. I listen to music or podcasts on most of my everyday runs though, especially treadmill.


        Congratulations again on a milestone HM, Matt!

        Go as long as you can, and then take another step.

          Awesome job, Matt!  Didn't know it was this weekend.

          Doesn't sound like you had the best running conditions.

          When I first started reading your report, I thought it was this morning, and when you said "no wind" I called "BS!".  But then I realized I was a day late reading this.



          2017 Goals:

          #1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours). 

          #2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

          #3: Prepare for 2018

            Here's a little 5k RR. I had a blast being a pacer for someone.


            Event:Rumpshaker 5k

            March 30th, 2013

            Birmingham, Alabama


            Benefits Colorectal Cancer Awareness


            Short: 26:46, 8:37 pace, 13/29 AG, 305/910 OA



            After working 12 hours Friday night, and getting off a little early, then hurrying home to change and pick up my wife, then driving 75 miles, we made it to the 5th annual Rumpshaker 5k with 20 minutes to spare before the start. Not the setting for a PR attempt due to lack of time for a proper warm up, plus I needed to find Jimmy that had picked up my packet. Once I found him and got by bib pinned on, it was time to hit the porta potty. Just 8 units for over 1000 people, someone didn't plan this too well. After standing in line and taking care of business, we had about one minute before the start. As we started scurrying to the start line, it was evident that we could not get to the proper location (coral) based on our anticipated pace. There were hundreds of people crammed into one lane of a street. It took us about 2:30 to get to the start mats.

            I had 2 goals, or objectives for this run, well, actually 3. First, was to run with another friend, to see if he could help push me to a sub 23, but I didn't get there in time to meet up with him. Second, was to pace Jimmy. Third, was to have fun, and support something that's close to me since I'm a 7 month post op colon cancer survivor. I ended up running with Jimmy and pacing him.

            As we started the shuffle to get going and dodging a bunch of people, I asked him what he wanted to run, and he said, "8:50". I asked him several times if he was sure, double checked with him after the first mile was 8:52, he assured me that he would try to keep up. I kept us on pace and was dodging and passing people the whole way. When we came off this last overpass, we were about 1/4 to the finish, did a check on him and we kicked in the overdrive. I was having so much fun right here, hooting and hollering, smiling and laughing, come on Jimmy, lets go! Follow me! As we run by this young lady, she said," since you have so much energy left, do you mind carrying me?" That just made my day Smile. We crossed the finish line in 26:46, for an 8:37 pace. He  was gasping for air like there was no tomorrow, I give him a big high 5, and a hug, and told him how happy I was for him.

            I had a special bib (blue, compared to everyone else's white), so people new I was a survivor, and I was able to share my story with some of the volunteers. Overall, under the circumstances(working all night), this has to be one of the best race experiences ever! There will be other days for my own PR.


            Thanks for reading                    

            Oh, and since this is Easter weekend, I had to post this pic. There should be other pictures and maybe a video in Jimmy’s RR.



              2013 Oak Barrel HM in Lynchburg, TN

              Short and sweet version;

              Time: 1:55:13

              AG: 18/56

              OA: 190/1026


              Longer with pics;

              This was my second time running the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, and my 4th HM. Last year’s time was 2:01:27. This is a small (~1200 registrants) race in rural Lynchburg, TN. It is the home of the Jack Daniels’s Distillery, which makes and produces all the Jack Daniels whiskey and they offer free tours that last about an hour. They are also the main sponsor of the HM. This is a beautiful course run through the country which offers some spectacular views of some large farms, but also has the occasional pungent smell of a farm, think cow poo. This course also has a big hill with its own FB page, the hill is called Whiskey Hill. Here is the elevation profile of the race course (most people walk the steepest part, including me, ha)

                                  and here is my training hill profile



              As you can see, I have almost a mirror image to train on. I typically run my training hill 1-4 times per week on my regular runs, and there are times that it kicks my butt, just like Whiskey Hill did.

              Since I’d run a big PR in February of 1:51:33, I didn’t have any real goals for this race, except to beat last year’s time. At the start of the race, I had this silly notion that I could run a 1:50, but soon realized that this would not happen today. I started out doing okay with the first 3 miles on target, but then just wasn’t able to hold the 8:23 pace I wanted. I lost quite a bit of time on Whiskey Hill as you can see in my splits.























































              So after Whiskey Hill whipped my butt at mile 5, I was able to find a decent pace and hold on for the rest of the race.


              This is a very nice race that is well organized and I highly recommend it. Is a matter of fact, I will continue to run this race as long as I’m able. Now for some pics, this is the finisher’s medal that is made from a retired whiskey barrel.


              And here is another souvenir that I picked up, it's the Single Barrel blend.



              The Nike Tech Tee


              Me after the race. The blue bracelets on my R arm are for colon cancer. And if you look closely at my L arm, you can see my orange "running for Jenny" bracelet near my watch.


              Some of my thoughts post race;

              1) I had a very good training cycle for the February HM, with a lot of focus and concentration on getting in the quality runs, using the Ryan Hall Plan(10 week).

              2) After the February Half, I had 6 weeks until this HM. I thought that I could just pick up on week 5 of the same RH plan to have another good race, hence the sub 1:50 thoughts.

              3) I worked 12 hour night shift the entire month of March leading up to this race, and barely done the miles, much less the speed work.

              4) As a whole, I think my fitness is pretty solid, and with a decent work schedule, and another solid training cycle, I honestly think that I could get close to a 1:48 time in the half.

              5) FM in the future, ???

              6) 7 months post op from my colon cancer surgery, priceless.


              Thanks for reading,



                I am cross posting my report here.  Hope that's OK!


                Race Report- Corvallis Half Marathon – 4/14/13


                Executive Summary: Debut half marathon complete in 1:56:00, beating my original goal by 4 minutes, but a minute slower than my “revised” goal.  I finished 28/134 in my age group.  I have some training questions in my “post race thoughts” for anybody who is interested.


                Background: In April 2011, I weighed 236 pounds and struggled to walk a 20 minute mile.  In April 2012, I weighed 155 pounds and was just finishing C25K, running about a 12:00 pace.  In April 2013, I weigh 130 pounds and just finished my first half marathon.


                I started training for this race at the start of the year, following Pfitz’s HM Plan B in Road Racing for Serious runners.  In general, training went very well.  It was a challenging plan for me, and I had to adjust it a bit at the beginning because I couldn’t quite hit the miles he was calling for.  But I caught up with the plan about midway, peaking at 50 MPW like he called for.


                My original goal was sub-2, but already by February I was hitting my training paces fairly easily and starting to think that goal was soft.  In March, I ran a 10 mile tune up race at what I thought was an aggressive pace (8:38), but ended up feeling great and having enough left in the tank to run the last two hard.  So I revised my goal to 1:55, but honestly wondered whether that was still a pretty soft goal for me.


                However, my training in the last two weeks has been a bit off.  I’ll write more about that at the end.


                Pre-race: Since the race didn’t start until 9:30, I had time to do a 1 mile shakeout run at 6:30.  I figured that way I could do a shorter warm up pre-race.  At 8:45, the runners from my local running club met for a group photo.  I’m in the purple.  And yes, that is a gorilla and a guy in a loincloth.



                Then I ran another mile with some strides, ditched one layer, and went to line up.  The weather was about 44 and damp but not really raining.


                Start: The start was really well organized.  They had pace signs along the side with enough room for everybody to fit at their anticipated pace.  I lined up at my best estimate of 8:45.  The plan was to go out at 8:45 for 2-3, then adjust from there (hopefully faster).  It was feeling pretty cold.  I thought my sock was bunched up around my toe, but when I went to fix it realized that my toe was just numb.  That was not an issue at all during the race, though.


                I got off and found my pace without too much trouble.  We looped around campus a bit and even passed within a block of the house where my daughter was born.  I was feeling good, but even then was noticing that the pace wasn’t as easy as I felt like it should be for those miles.


                Mile 1- 8:47

                Mile 2- 8:48

                Mile 3- 8:40


                One nice thing about the course is that they have signs with friendly sayings at all the mile markers and in a few extra spots as well.  Here are some examples:



                The next few miles were like old friends, because they are part of the running club’s winter route for the social run, and also part of my usual LR route.  We crossed back over OSU campus, through the covered bridge, and head out past the agriculture buildings and towards the hills west of town.  Luckily, the course takes the path *around* the hill, not over it!  We passed the artist that painted the signs along this part of the path.  She was walking around cheering for people.


                I had been expecting to inch down into the 8:30s here, but honestly just was not feeling it.  So I figured even pace and even effort was a safer bet. I did sort of expect to warm up and fall into that pace eventually, but it never felt right like it did in my 10 miler.


                Mile 4- 8:44

                Mile 5- 8:53

                Mile 6- 8:34

                Mile 7- 8:36


                The next mile was all uphill, but a very gradual slope.  It’s about a 2% grade for a mile and a quarter.  I decided to maintain effort and ignore my pace.


                Mile 8- 9:07


                I knew I had some downhill coming up and that the rest of the course was easy.  Finally things would start to click, I thought!  I saw my DH’s aunt and uncle out at the 9 mile marker.  Their grandson was running, but they had stayed out to cheer after he went by!  Later I realized he’s actually in the group photo, but I don’t know him very well, so I had no idea!


                Instead of gradually picking things up and running it home, instead I started to fade.  I kept asking my legs for more, and they said, “NO!”  I don’t even think it was cardio as much as my legs just hurt.  The pavement just felt super hard and I was just working really hard to turn my legs over.  There was one steep little downhill block and I realized that I had to go very slowly down it because I felt like my quads would just lock up!


                Mile 9- 8:41

                Mile 10- 8:53

                Mile 11- 9:00


                At this mile marker, there was somebody calling out “you’re doing great, just 10 more miles to go!”  Funny!  Actually, one thing I haven’t mentioned is that crowd support the whole way was fantastic.  There were tons of aid stations, it was well marked, traffic was stopped, and several local runners who weren’t racing today came out to cheer!  That’s a really nice thing about a local race was all the familiar faces along the way!


                Now the fade really started.  I had known pretty early on that I wasn’t going to run much under 1:55 today, but still had thought that I had 1:55 pretty much in the bag.  But I was watching that slip away from me and even knowing that, I just could not make my legs move one bit faster.  I will say that I was never tempted to stop or walk.  It wasn’t that kind of fade.


                On the other hand, there was a woman who was running near me for most of the second half that spend most of her time grabbing her side and groaning.  Now that was dedication!  She clearly hurt more than I did, and I’m pretty sure she beat me, too!


                We were headed back towards campus and I could see the stadium roof!  But it was still hard to imagine ever getting to the finish line.  For some reason I untied my jacket from my waist and then it was a real PITA to hold it with my water bottle in my hand.  WTF was I thinking?


                Mile 12- 9:20
                Mile 13- 9:22


                We were coming in to the stadium!  The ramp down to the field was another one that I had to navigate really carefully to make sure that my legs didn’t lock up.  But then I got onto the field and right away saw my daughter cheering for me!  That cheered me up and I did my best to turn on a little bit of speed.  I felt like I had a bit of a kick, but I look like hell in the video DH shot of the finish!


                Yes, I had a smile on my face.  I did my best to smile, wave, and thank the volunteers the whole way.  But look at how hunched my shoulders were.  No wonder I was tired if I was running like that the whole time!  Or maybe it was carrying that damn jacket.


                Finish video is here.  You can hear DH and his mom laughing as the poor announcer tries to announce my name.


                My pace for the last split was 8:06.  So clearly I had something left, but not much.  Final chip time was 1:26:00.


                Obligatory swag photo:


                I got my medal and some water, and went to say hi to my family.  I forgot to ask them to take a picture, though!  I was pretty out of sorts, actually.  Then I went up to the finishing area to have some tomato soup and bread.  Just about perfect for the weather!

                I hung out and talked to a few people, but it started to rain, and I was getting very cold.  So instead I went out for a nice lunch and dessert with my family.


                Post-race thoughts: All in all, I think that I ran the best race that I could today.  I ran it hard, and I did my best.  I also have to say that I am just thrilled that sub-2 gets to be my “starting” half marathon time.  Considering that my main goal last summer was to get a sub-30 5K, and that it took me several tries to get that, I feel very fortunate!


                But I do sort of feel like if I would have run this race on the day of my 10 miler, that on that day I would have had a better time.  Since I really like the plan that I used in theory, I do want to take a look at what happened to see if there are any modifications I would want to make if I used it again.


                Probably the biggest thing, though, is that I’m a beginner, since I’ve only been running for about a year.  Adapting to the stress of racing, especially at distance, probably takes time.  So next time I will go into it with this cycle already under my belt.


                You can see in my log that my last “real” LR was back on March 27.  We had a trip planned for the end of March, so I shifted all of the quality work to the beginning of that week.  But that meant I ended up with back-to-back quality workouts of 14 miles, 7 miles with hills, an 8 mile progression, and 12 miles.


                Honestly, my running has been “off” since then, so I’m thinking that last 12 miler was just too much.  Pfitz even says better to skip the quality workout altogether rather than try to cram too much into consecutive days, but I was being stubborn and thought I could handle it since my taper was coming up.


                I also took some extra time off because my hip was bothering me last week.  The hip wasn’t a problem at all for me today.  But it just added to the fact that I hadn’t had a really good run at any sort of distance in far too long.  But I needed the time to recover from pushing just a little too hard in late March.


                But this plan does hit peak miles a full month before race day!  Is that too far out?  Or not so much, since it maintains intensity?  I just felt like I peaked in March rather than in April.


                The other thought is that maybe there was a mental aspect to racing a “goal” race, or to the HM distance in general.  In March, I didn’t have any real expectations at all.  I spent the whole time just about giddy that I could maintain that pace.  Today, I knew I could run that pace, it wasn’t exciting like it had been.  But it also just never felt fluid like it did before.  Does that make sense?


                In any case, I’d welcome any training-related thoughts or feedback, for those of you who have hung in there this far!

                  Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal April 28, 2013


                  Sorry this is mostly in metric. I'll try and convert where I can.


                  Exec summary: one of the flattest I've ever seen. Especially after St. Louis with its "Holy Hill." Warm but with a slight breeze. I'm pink today.

                  Total time: 2:47:28.1

                  10k time: 1:17:39


                  My husband and I flew to Montreal on Saturday. We headed out for lunch and then I met a friend from RA from ages ago who is studying here now. She took me up to the running shop where the race packet pickup was. She did a good job of running over the winter (especially because she's originally from Florida) but in February fell on some stairs and tweaked her ankle. Then she was away for auditions and stuff and just hasn't gotten back into it. But there was something about going up and getting the race kits and maybe a little of my encouragement she decided to run.


                  The race started at 10 am. Holy it was nice to sleep in a little (7 am) I had breakfast at the hotel - a crepe with apples and cheddar. And coffee. Then up to the room, changed and headed over to the metro to meet my friend R. Her friend C came too. C is 20. My birthday whisky was 20 years old. (FTR I just turned 40)


                  They had to wait while I ran back to the hotel though 'cause I forgot my garmin! The concierge was great and both times I left wished me well at the race. The second time down in the elevator I was with a family from Boston. The parents were very nice and wished me well. Back to the metro station and off to the start. C was going for a 2:00-2:15 time so she went to the start of the corral. And we went to the back. We did really well to start. Kept to around 7:45 / km. (I think that's 12 minute miles) We did the first 10k (6.2 miles) in about 1:17.


                  R wanted to stop for a pee break right after the 10k mark which I normally don't but I figured I would because we were stopping anyway. Made me feel like I was hydrating better than St. Louis were I didn't pee at all until hours after the race! Even with the pee break we were only at about 1:22 or so for the first half which was awesome I thought. R needed to stop around 15k or so because of her knee and we walked a little but she sent me on.


                  Around 17k or so my shuffle died. Up until then it was pretty fun 'cause I never knew what was coming up next. I had asked my friends to send me their favourite running songs and with all of that and some of my own I had about 4 hours of stuff but it only lasted about 2 and a bit Sad (I only run with one earphone in in races so I can hear everything and I ignore it completely when going through cheering sections etc)


                  It was hot (19-20c - about 70f) and mostly sunny - not a lot of shade on the race track or around the rowing lake but it was a little breezy which helped. I killed some time nearing the end trying hard to do math - how fast do I have to go to get there by 2:50? The last km or so I was doing 40 paces running 20 paces walking. I was about to start a walking again but two ladies behind me said something in French in a very encouraging tone. I replied in English "I don't know what you said but ok" they laughed and said "that was easy". We turned a corner and I saw the end all of a sudden. I hate that. I said thank you to the ladies and booted it as fast as I could. But I wasn't sure I did it early enough.


                  My garmin said 2:47:34 but also that I ran 21.25km so I had to wait for the official time. 2:47:28.1 a PR by 2 seconds. TWO! I'll take it. My PR is from 2009 when I was about 20 pounds lighter and kept to my training for my 1st half religiously. Makes me kinda happy about how the rest of the year will turn out as I lose more weight and run more consistently.


                  I waited for R and she made it in under 3 hrs and was pretty happy with that as well. I'll try and post pictures later.


                  First or last...it's the same finish line

                  HF #4362

                    I just realised that I have not read this thread in many months and so have missed a bunch of great race reports and the photos you posted!

                    Sorry I missed them and did not respond in a more timely fashion, but I really did enjoy catching up.

                    Congratulations on your accomplishments!

                    PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                        10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.



                      St. Luke’s Half Marathon (Allentown PA)


                      Short version:  This was my first HM.  My training over the winter went well as far as building up my mileage, but there was not much speed work.  My soft goal was under 2:30, my stretch goal was 2:20.  I finished in 2:26:28 and had a blast (except for the last couple of miles – they hurt).  I’m planning on doing another HM in the fall.


                      Long version:


                      Training:  Last fall I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the discipline to run consistently through the winter if I didn't have a goal, so I registered for the St. Luke’s HM.  I knew I couldn’t get lazy over the winter if I had to run my first HM in April.  The field size (4000) at St. Luke’s seemed like a good fit for me.  I don’t like crowds, so runs like the Broad Street run in Philadelphia (40,000 runners) don’t appeal to me.  But as a slow runner, very small races are tough because finishing in the last 10% means there’s only a few people around by the time I finish.  Hence the medium-sized HM for my first.


                      I worked on building my base through December and January, then in February started a twelve-week plan loosely based on a Ryan Hall HM plan.  It had me running 5 days/week with one LR, a MLR, and one day of hills/speedwork.  As I got to the second half of the plan I found it difficult to keep up the speedwork and the increased mileage, so many of my speed days became easy runs.  By race day I knew I could cover the distance, but didn’t know if I could go much faster than my training pace.


                      Pre-race / Expo:  I wanted DH to be there for my first HM, and to drive me to the race and home (about an hour).  He decided to run the 5K on Sunday so he would have something to do for part of the time he was waiting for me.  We drove to the packet pickup / Expo on Saturday.  I had never been to a race Expo, DH didn’t even know there would be one.  He was shocked at the number of people there; I thought it was cool to see so many fit people in one place.  We got our race packets and shopped a little.  I didn’t buy anything but DH got a good deal on a new pair of shoes.


                      Strategy:  My soft goal for this race was under 2:30, my stretch goal was 2:20.  I liked the idea of a pace group so I wouldn’t have to think.  So much about this race was new for me (the distance, the number of runners, the route, having spectators) that having someone else help with the pace sounded beneficial.  The 2:30 pace group would be running at my typical LR pace, the 2:20 group would be going about half a minute faster than my easy run pace.  I decided to go out with the 2:20 group and adjust as necessary


                      Race day:  Up at 5:30, ate my usual oatmeal breakfast, out the door by 6:00 with coffee in hand for the ride.  Got to Allentown, parked, and walked to the HS gym to wait for the start.  I got in line for the bathroom right away, it was a short wait (timing is everything…the wait got much longer later).  The 5K was to start at 8:00, the HM at 8:10.  The race directors announced that they were going to start moving the 5Kers to the start at 7:30, so DH and I made our final preps and dropped our bags at the truck for transport to the finish line.


                      Once DH left I went looking for Aprilrunner and lilac_jive and found them (the goldenrod shirts helped).  My first FE!  We talked a little, got a photo, then I went off to hover near the 2:20 pace group.


                      The race:  Lined up at the start line waiting, I felt the urge to pee.  I told myself that it was just a nervous bladder and ignored it.  I couldn’t hear any of the announcements or the start, but soon the pack started moving.  Wow, this was it!  The race started on a downhill portion, so as I crossed the start line I could see 3000 runners spreading out in front of me.  The band is playing, people are cheering, and I’m just soaking it all in.


                      In the first mile we start passing the 5K runners coming back to the finish.  I worked my way over to the right side of our pack, hoping to see DH.  I see him and give him a high five.  Then I look around and realize that I’m in front of the 2:20 pacer, and as we cross the 1-mile mark my pace is 10:21.  That’s faster than my plan so I slow down some to let the pace group catch up.


                      Somewhere in mile 2, I end up running next to a lady in a Yankees hat.  I never did get her name, but let’s call her Yankeefan.  I notice Yankeefan glancing around to check on the 2:20 group so I asked if she’s trying to stay with them and she says yes.  We talk a little about our strategy, it’s her first HM also and she plans to stay with the 2:20 group for a while and try to pick it up with about 3 miles to go.


                      Miles 2 – 6 are run next to Yankeefan, enjoying the signs and spectators.  There are a few more bands, and we all cheer for the leaders that have made the turn and passing us going the other direction.  Yankeefan and I are just in front of the 2:20 pacer, I’m feeling strong.  Except there’s two little issues.  I still feel the need to pee, and my left foot is starting to fall asleep.  We pass a porta-potty at ~5 miles but there are five women in line.  No way am I waiting for five women to use a porta-potty in the middle of a race.  As we approach the halfway mark, I notice a PP tucked off to the side with no line.  I decide to make a quick pit stop.  It was occupied, but not for long, and I think I lost about 45 seconds but I’m more comfortable.


                      Mile 1  10:21 (downhill, excitement)

                      Mile 2   10:57

                      Mile 3   10:54

                      Mile 4   10:42

                      Mile 5   10:52

                      Mile 6   11:02

                      Mile 7   11:39 (pee break)


                      By the time I get out of the PP I’ve lost the 2:20 pacer.  I don’t want to expend the energy to catch her (I can’t even see them) so I try to settle into the same pace.  My left foot is tingling, so I stop to loosen the laces.  It helps a little.  We’re in the park now, and the path is about 3-4 people wide.  I’m passing a lot of people but because of the narrow path I have to do some bobbing and weaving.  Just before the 9-mile marker we go through a covered bridge, and as we come out there is a string quartet playing Mozart.  Very cool.


                      After the 9-mile point I’m passing a lot of people walking.  The vibe in this section was not good – a lot of struggling people.  I’m not struggling yet, but my foot is asleep again and my legs are tiring.  We pass a singer doing Tony Bennett.  Somewhere after the 10-mile mark I catch up to Yankeefan.  Her knee is hurting and she fell off the 2:20 pacer.  We fall in together now, and by this point I am struggling.  My breathing is fine but I can’t make my legs go.


                      Mile 8   11:01

                      Mile 9   11:12

                      Mile 10   11:04

                      Mile 11   11:35

                      Mile 12   11:19


                      At the 12-mile marker I see DH and give him a thumbs up.  We can hear the finish line in the stadium, but there is still a mile loop to do before we get there.  A little after the 12 mile mark, Yankeefan sees her family and runs ahead for hugs from her two little girls – maybe 5 and 3 years old?  She ends up ahead of me, and I notice her turning around to look for me and slowing down for me to catch up.  When I catch up we have about half a mile to go.  I don’t have much left but I sense that she does, so I say “I’m going to give you some incentive.  I just saw your little girls.  My youngest daughter is 21 years old.  You really don’t want to get beat by an old lady like me, so you better go.”  She thanks me and pulls ahead.  While I was very glad to have someone to run with out on the course, I didn’t want her to feel some misplaced sense of loyalty that made her stay with me to the finish.


                      To enter the stadium we have to climb a short but steep hill.  That’s just rude at this point!  But I run up, recover for a few strides on the track, and kick into whatever faster gear I have left.  I can’t sprint, but I do pass a few people.  I notice that the stadium scoreboard says “Home of the Canaries”.  Really?  Who wants a canary as a mascot? I cross the finish line at 2:26:28 chip time.


                      Mile 13   11:26

                      Last 0.1   I don’t know…do the math if you want


                      YES, I just finished a half marathon!!! Yankeefan is there to give me a high five.  I get my medal and some water, then wander to a less-crowded area so DH can find me.  Hugs / smiles / pictures…it’s all good.


                      Post-mortem:  That was fun, let's do it again!  I was prepared to finish this race, but not ready to really push for this distance.  Like many of you assured me, I was definitely more prepared than many of the runners.  I never got winded, the limiting factor for me was my legs --they just got tired in the last few miles.  I was stiff yesterday (the car ride home contributed to this) but not too bad today.


                      I need more running under my belt, and I'm going to get more consistent with speedwork this summer. Now to find a HM for the fall....


                      Photos courtesy of DH:






                      Much of the run was in this pretty park





                      Firemen running in honor of fallen comrades.  They ran the entire race in full gear, carrying the flags.  (They beat me).





                      12 miles done





                      Almost to the stadium


                        Sounds from your report, and looks from the photos, as if you had a great time.

                        Well done!

                        PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                            10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.


                          Steeple Chase 8k 2013

                          This is my 4th consecutive year running this race that is sponsored by the Neighborhood Christian Center at one of our local churches. It is the 6th year for this event, and my very first race 4 years ago in 2010. It's a road race running by a bunch of church steeples.


                          I almost pulled a DNS on this race, because when I woke up at 5:30 am, it was raining, lightening, and 42 degrees outside. I decided to get up and mull around for a few minutes, and eventually decided to drive over. By the time I arrived, the lightening had stopped, so the race was a go. I decided to wear a LS compression tech shirt, SS tech over that, shorts, tight fitting socks to help with blisters, older shoes, and my usual ball cap. I don’t have a running rain jacket, so I left the house wearing my camouflage hunting rain jacket. I brought along a couple of towels (this was smart), but I overlooked bringing a change of dry clothes (this was dumb). When I got out of the truck, it was of course raining, and immediately, I was freezing! I went inside the community center to stay dry and warm, and just mulled around in confusion as I tried to figure out how I was going to run this. I pondered several questions, should I warm up, should I take my jacket off, how wet am I going to get, how should you race in such awful conditions? After bumping into some friends, they mentioned that the middle of the packer wins a free Garmin watch, so after hearing that, my mind was made up. I was just going to run easy, try to survive, make it an easy run, and have fun (well not really). I decided no WU and to keep my jacket on, I even moved my bib to the outside of my jacket


                          I initially had a goal of sub 39, and possibly finish ahead of one of my coworkers in my AG, but I didn’t get either one of them goals. I really just wanted to get this over with so that I could go home. I finished with a time of 40:57 which was good for 2nd in AG (coworker got 1st), for a pace of 8:15. I got one of them little finisher medals and a $15 gift card to the LRS.


                          I started out the race running side by side with my friend through the first mile, and then I started pulling away from him. He finished in 43:30ish and won the Garmin. Dang it! I shouldn’t have sped up. My splits were 8:30, 8:08, 7:58, 8:10, and 7:54.


                          The rain jacket didn’t make one bit of difference in staying dry, but it did help with staying warm. I was completely soaked inside and out. I hope never to run another race like this; I don’t know how you can psyche yourself up to run in such conditions. Another friend of mine told me after the race that she had a blast, and had a lot of fun. When I told her how much I didn’t enjoy myself, she reminded me that I should always be happy that I can run. After all, my life could be a lot worse with having a different outcome from my colon cancer. She is right, so, I had fun too.


                          Year- 2010; time- 56:01; pace- 11:56/m; 10/10 AG; 116/169 OA

                          Year- 2011; time- 45:52; pace- 9:14/m; 6/7 AG; 108/194 OA

                          Year- 2012; time- 39:36; pace- 7:58/m; 6/11 AG; 22/162 OA

                          Year- 2013; time- 40:57; pace- 8:15/m; 2nd AG; will update the rest when posted


                          Thanks for reading,


                            I love reading these reports. I'm new again in here so I hate not being able to comment on them all!


                            Mitch - good job in soggy conditions

                            Philliefan33 - nice work!

                            Zelanie - can't help with the questions 'cause I don't really know what I'm doing. But that's a great time. I hope it feels better for you next time.

                            First or last...it's the same finish line

                            HF #4362

                              Congratulations on your debut HM, Phillie! The pics are great too!


                              Mitch - congratulations on another fine race. Glad you were able to get warm finally. I find rainy and wet is not that bad; but mix some COLD in there and it can make things a lot more difficult.

                              Go as long as you can, and then take another step.

                                I ran the Goodlife Fitness Half Marathon this morning, my 3rd time at this event. It used to be a fall event but was moved to spring because of a crowded fall calendar.

                                The course is slightly different too, a point to point, net downhill course, certified by Athletics Canada and a Boston Qualifier if you run the full.

                                The course goes into a valley (Hogs Hollow) then up the other side about 4kms into the race. This is the only significant uphill and it is pretty steep.

                                I was planning a positive split as the first half is faster , and reached 10k feeling good in 47:29. I felt I would lose a minute in the second 10k then just have 1.1k to finish in a little over 5 minutes.

                                I reached 10 miles in 1:16:44 but was starting to feel tired already. Normally I finish strongly but not today.

                                20k was 1:36:03 by my Garmin, and I had had to stop and walk once already. The 1:40 pace bunny had not only passed me but gradually pulled away out of sight. About this time a girl wearing a backpack stepped off a sidewalk between the runners just ahead of me, which might have been alright if her friend had not yelled at her so she unexpectedly stopped right in front of me. I had just time to put my hands up defensively and yell then whacked into her backpack. How I did not flatten her is a mystery but both of us survived unhurt!

                                The race ended without any sort of sprint, I really had nothing left and felt a bit sorry for myself, but my time aws not too bad- officially 1:42:40.7 and 463rd place of 4456 runners. (Walkers are counted separately.)

                                In my age group M60-64, I was 4th of 61 runners. My time age grades to 71.3% and is equivalent to a 30 year old running 1:23:37.

                                Not my best, but not a disaster.

                                PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                                    10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.