Sunday, May 17, 2015

Steel Rail Half Marathon race report

Today I ran my 8th half marathon. I had registered for this race back in January and a bunch of other running friend were also registered. It was in the Berkshires in Massachusetts and it was about 45 minutes away from my house. It was advertised as flat and mostly downhill - and it lived up to that.

Going into this race, I did not feel as trained as I would have liked. I did not do as many long runs as I wanted to. I found it hard to train as most of March was crappy, and that was when I started upping my mileage.

Anyway - I was as trained as I could be and race day had arrived! It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the low 80's. Great temps if you are sitting by a pool. Not so great if you have to run 13 miles. The race started at 9:30 AM - which in my eyes - was a huge drawback. That is very late for a race to begin. An ideal time would be 8 AM. By 9 AM, the sun was blazing down on us as we waited to start. I slathered myself with sun lotion and anxiously waited to start.

At 9:30 we were off. The route brought us around the Berkshire Mall twice. Then we were on the bike path for the remaining 11 miles. It actually was a great course. The bike path was mostly shady, and it had amazing views of the Berkshire mountains, and streams, lakes and creeks. In fact, I felt like I was running on our own Albany bike path - but with much prettier views.

My plan was to run-walk the race. And so that's what I did. Starting at mile 1, I walked for one minute. This definitely helped me keep my pace. I was actually going way faster than I wanted to be going. But the walk was helping me get that much needed break. At around mile 4, I was hot. Really hot. I had my water bottle and I was trying to stay hydrated. The water stops were every two miles, and I was really glad I had my water bottle. I was finding myself filling it up at every water stop, which meant I was drinking most of my water in 2 mile increments. (I personally feel they should have added more water stops given the fact that the temperature was so high.)

By mile 8, I was hot and tired and my legs hurt. In fact, I kind of was feeling like I had never run a half before. This race was pushing me to the limit. I decided to start taking a walk break every half mile. That seemed to help. At mile 10, the path started to wind along a lovely creek. Suddenly the air felt cooler, and the course became more of a downhill. I tried to pick up the pace to make up some time. Glancing at my watch, I knew this would not be a PR for me.

I hadn't seen any of my running friends for most of the race. All of a sudden, at mile 12.4, my friend Jen came out of nowhere and whizzed by me. That made me pick it up a bit and I ran with her for a couple minutes. I was having trouble with my breathing, so I slowed it up and she kept going.  I ended up crossing the finish line at 2:11:17. (Jen crossed 10 seconds before me and had a 4 minute PR! I was so happy for her!)

All in all - it was a race I would consider a "character building" race. The course was easy but the heat made it hard. I would definitely run it again and hope for lower temps. (Or an earlier race time).

No matter how many half marathons I run, it definitely is still a challenge. And crossing that finish line can still bring tears to my eyes. I worked hard for those miles and the feeling of accomplishment is always amazing. And that's what keeps me running...

My stats:
10:01 pace overall
328 out of 606 people
170 out of 384 females
45 out of 95 in my age group

The "Strong Running Mamas" before the race.

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