RWHalf recap: Hill is a four-letter word

If I’d made a checklist of preparations for the Runner’s World half marathon I ran this past Sunday, it would look like this: pick up my first-ever named bib (check)…

… nearly-six-hour drive down to PA, to log race #5 on my 50-states list (check)…

…visit to the expo to try on Altra zero-drop shoes and mingle with Runner’s World editors (check)…

…listen to hilarious, inspiring tales from Bart Yasso’s presentation, feel like a weirdo milling around while Olympian Shalane Flanagan stretched her hamstrings on the floor 10 feet away from me, and generally enjoy myself in the jam-packed weekend of events (check).

What’s not checked off from this imaginary list? Pay ANY ATTENTION AT ALL to the elevations on the course, which organizers had warned us repeatedly was very, VERY hilly, and modify my expectations accordingly.

1,002 ft of total climb, aka 500 ft more than I’ve ever done in a single run

The result: I seriously considered a DNF for the first time ever in a race, and posted my slowest finish time ever (2:04, the first over-2:00 halfathon time I’ve had, even if we discount the 2-minute potty break). So how exactly did that all go down? Head past the jump.

I know turn-by-turn race recaps are only slightly more interesting than reading about cleaning grout, so here’s the Cliff Notes. I lined up at the start, bright & early, grumbling bit about the long walks from the parking area to the bag drop and then back to the start.

I had it in my head that I was going to shave a couple minutes off my PR, so I lined up with the 1:50 pace group.

I stuck with them through the first 4 miles, but then Schoenersville Rd (rather, the HILL on that road) happened and I pulled up. Somewhere around mile 5 I was seriously considering a DNF, I felt so awful. But I keep plodding onward, pushing through to mile 8 (which marked the end of the majority of uphills) and then switched to a run-walk. I rolled under the flaming arch (seriously) and over the finish line a few minutes after 2 hours.

Despite this hilariously not-PR effort, this was a really fun race. The atmosphere was one big party the whole way, with cheering sections everywhere and Runner’s World editors hoofing it alongside all of us. If I heard right, roughly 3,000 runners representing 46 US states and 11 countries participated, and it was cool to be part of this inaugural crowd.

Not much time to dwell on it, anyway – I’ve got this week off from any training schedule, then next week marks the 1st of 16 in training for the ATX marathon. And yes, I will be studying the Austin elevations more closely than I had originally planned ;)

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