Yesterday, I ran my first official half marathon of the year, the OUCH! Half Marathon. This was another of the LiveUncommon Race Team events, and it was awesome. This was the second year for the event, which actually consists of three races (a 5k, a 9k, and half marathon). In my opinion it’s pretty ambitious to put on a half marathon – this distance requires lots of support, volunteers, and hard work to do it right. I like to think I kind of understand this, for a few years I have worked on the race committees for two local 5k events, and I know how hard it can be to adequately support and staff a 5k course with volunteers, let alone three separate races, one of which covers 13.1 miles. But they did, and overall it went fairly smoothly.
The race started and ended at a hospital, and all money from the race went to their wound care/diabetes care center. They raised over 18,000 dollars for the center, which I think is amazing. Especially considering that this was a very small race – about 60 half marathon runners participated. I have no idea how many runners did the 5k or 9k races.
At the beginning of the race, I started running with Emily, one of my LiveUncommon teammates, and a fellow Deere employees. She mentioned that she had already run 7 miles (she had 20 on the schedule). Note: she is a ROCK STAR. She asked what my goal was for the race. I told her my goal for this summer was a sub-2:00 half marathon, but that I wasn’t sure this was the race for it. Emily volunteered to try and pace me, so I figured I’d go ahead and try for it. We took off at what felt like an easy pace, and turned out to be sub-8:30’s for a while. Against my better judgement, I figured I’d go ahead and take it, and bank a little bit of time for the finish, knowing there were crazy hills coming up.
There were plenty of water stations, I forgot to count to see if they actually had the advertised 7 on the course, but it felt like we hit one every 2 miles, so I think they were all there. Since this was a half marathon course through neighborhoods, there were several turns (which is always good to keep from getting bored). The good: it seemed they had a volunteer at every cross street to help to stop traffic and keep the runners safe. The not so good: Several times on the course we weren’t sure which way to turn, and oddly enough there wasn’t someone there to direct us. Luckily there were a few runners ahead of us within sight so we were able to figure it out. I’d recommend for next year that if they can’t have a volunteer at every turn, that they put up a few signs at the turns just so we can see which way to go. It would have been easy to make a wrong turn in a few places. Even a simple yard sign with an arrow would have been plenty. A few times also, the police (there were so many officers on the course, this was GREAT!) had to tell us which way to go. I am so thankful for everyone who was out there on the course, and I told each one of them thank you as we ran by. (I hope that wasn’t too annoying to those around me…)
Emily and I actually talked and sometimes laughed the whole time. Even the Belmont hill (which was as steep and painful as advertised) didn’t seem too bad once we were up it. Several times I could hear fellow teammate and coach John in my head telling me that if I had the energy to talk and laugh, that I wasn’t running hard enough. Thanks, John…
During the race Emily kept asking how we were doing, and I was checking my watch. Oddly enough, each time we’d pass a mile marker my watch was showing that we were 0.3 mile or so behind (when we crossed the 11 mile marker my watch said 10.7, for example). But also each time, I would see that we were well under the 2:00 pace. In fact, when we hit 9 miles, I looked at my watch and realized that even if we ran the last 4 at 10:00/mile pace, we’d be done under 2 hours. That was a pretty good feeling. Emily’s legs were starting to tire (undoubtedly!) and so were mine.
We came in to the finish, and I was thrilled to see a 1:52 on the clock. Later when I checked my Garmin, I realized it said I had run 12.77 miles. A few other people also had a similar result on their watches, so I think it’s probably unanimous that the race was short of a half marathon (13.1 miles). But…even if I had walked another half mile, I could have still finished under 2:00. So I’m taking this as a PR, and hoping that I can repeat or do even better at the QC half marathon in a month.
I’m pretty proud of myself, and so thankful to Emily for talking with me for two hours. Had I been running alone, I’m sure I would have slowed down. I guess it’s just further proof that I am a social runner.