Got back to the US on Friday, after almost 6 continuous weeks of being abroad, in 5 continents and 6 countries...
24 hours later, on the starting line of the Seneca Half Marathon. I had signed up for it earlier that week. All week, I was looking forward to it. I had hoped to do a trail race, but its date was advertised incorrectly, but I found this HM instead. I had been wanting to do it for a couple of years (this is the 3rd annual), and this was my chance.
Because the previous week, I had run very little in Brazil, I was decently rested. Unlike in many races, where even 10 minutes before the start my legs feel heavy, my legs felt pretty fresh. I had 2 chocolate-covered expresso beans 1 hr pre-race, and 1 25mg caffeine Powerbar gel 15 min pre-race. The gel had worked really well during the Cowpens Run for the Grasshopper 5K, and I was wanting the boost again. Once again, it worked well.
Started pretty well. No doubts about whether my legs would be able to hold the pace. Just kept shuffling. It sometimes felt somewhat shuffly because the course was hilly, and you can't do much more than shuffling. But it was alright. I've been doing much more incline work in the months following Nov 2012's Philly Marathon, so I'm used to hill running strategy now, and I'm more comfortable and confident with it.
At the start, as many as 4 women were in front of me, but I caught back up with all but 1 within the first half mile. At mile 6ish, there was the first of three turnarounds, and I saw that the #1 woman was about 3/4 a mile ahead... 3/4 a mile, only 6 mi in!!! Also, the #3 woman was about another 1/2 mile back. I knew there probably wasn't that much I could do to catch up, and I didn't have to worry about being caught, so it was all just about putting in a good race effort and enjoying it. No pressure to push, which is good from a pressure standpoint, but not as good from a PR standpoint.
2 more turnarounds, and not much changed with the relative standings. Water stops every 2 miles. I was glad that I brought a gel for the course, since only 1 stop, hosted by the American Legion, had Gatorade. That blue gatorade tasted so good. I had 3/4 of the gel at about the 1/2 mark, and I didn't end up needing/finishing the rest.
I finished 2nd, as expected. I didn't need to bend over at the finish from being exhausted... just finished strong, that's all. 1:39:17. Not a PR by any means, but I'm happy with how it went, considering how relatively hilly it was, and how it's the longest I've run all year, I think. A good way to force myself to do a long run.
The race organizer and the volunteers were all super, super friendly. It's a nice small-town race, and I'm looking forward to going back next year.