You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Harpers Ferry Half Race Report

Harpers Ferry Half Marathon by tracyrunning at Garmin Connect - Details

Disclaimer: this long race report is filled with tales of woe and pain. I write it more to remind myself in case I want to run this again next year. More training will definitely be in order if I do!

Today I ran a ridiculously tough half marathon. Sure the course description said it was one of most challenging in the area and it's very hilly. But until your feet are on the road, you don't really have an appreciation for what that means.

It was also a mixture of road, grass, trail and sand.

for some reason this picture cuts off around the 10 mile mark

I had A, B, and C goals, all of which promptly flew out the window. My FB friends know that I've had a head cold for over a week. While I feel better, I'm still coughing and even gagged on post nasal drip a couple of times. whoops sorry, didn't realize you were eating.

I also enjoyed the great pleasure of getting poison ivy from my littles who got it while fishing at the river. Just little spots here and there - I must have gotten it from their laundry - but itching at your waistband, inner knee, and under your bra band are not places you want to have to scratch while running... Body Glide really helped with the itching though.

Before the start,  race director Mark Cuccuzella, reminded us of the insane hills and suggested that we think of this as an 'event' not a race because only a crazy person would try to race this course. I was already ok with having a less than stellar race, but this really helped me as I was walking a whole lot more than I was running in the latter parts of the 'event.'

The first part of the race was a loop on road and grass around a battlefield. Then we headed back past the start and into the woods on a very steep downhill - which meant it would be a really steep UPhill for the return trip.

Through an RV park (crazy!), and then an out and back on a packed gravel trail through another battlefield. Both of these sections of the battlefield were really pretty and the weather couldn't have been nicer.

We did a mile or so on some pretty trails. Nothing too technical. Just nice and peaceful....getting us into the right frame of mind for the upcoming sufferfest??

We then headed down a looooong downhill towards Old Town Harpers Ferry followed by a brief stint in the woods again where we got to run through sand. But again, nice and peaceful.

I had a wonderful surprise when I looked up and saw the son of some friends. I asked him what he was doing here, "I'm here to cheer for you!" So sweet! He took off yelling to his parents that I was almost to them.

It was super seeing friends and having them cheer for me, but this is also where the pain began. The first huge uphill. Just under a mile long and nearly everyone walked all of it. I saw a few people run/walk it, but the majority were leaning way forward and trudging uphill. This is where the wheels fell off for me.

I reached the top, ran a little but then stopped, leaned against a tree and just prayed for the strength and courage to keep going. I don't know that I've ever felt that defeated in a race before. It was weird especially since I was ok with whatever time I finished with.

But I was trashed. My calves hurt like heck and I had a side cramp that I couldn't shake. I walked every uphill from that point on.

We did a couple of miles around town and then headed DOWN that mother of a hill. My friends were still at the bottom of the hill and were expecting me to zip by, but I stopped to chat. Told them I was fried and in pain so they walked with me for quite a ways which was really nice.

I began the death march up the next long hill. Reached the top and enjoyed a brief respite through the peaceful woods - only this time the turns felt sharper and the step up across the wooden bridge taller. I practically crawled up the hill out of the woods onto the road.

By now, I was less than 2 miles from the finish, but it may as well have been 100. Back through the RV park and into the last bit of woods. Downhill for a little ways and then essentially straight up.

Bill, Hank and running mom friend who had already finished were waiting for me near the top. I was so happy to see them but so done that I started feeling sick to my stomach. I stopped a couple of times and put my head down because I wanted to throw up. My legs felt like granite pillars as I walked up that hill.

Thankfully. Blessedly. Wonderfully, it was downhill to the finish where I crossed at 2:33:12.

Considering that's 6 minutes slower than my last official Half which was almost 2 years and 15 pounds ago, I should be disappointed. BUT I'm really not.

This course was exponentially more challenging than Freedom's Run - which is no lightweight itself, and I ran an unofficial half a few weeks ago with an excellent time so I know I can go faster on a 'normal' course.

If I lose my head and decide to run this next year, I'll read this report and know that I need to spend most of my time training on hilly trails to minimize my pain and suffering.

Thanks for reading along! I'll add photos once they're loaded onto the race site.

Once the times for the 4 mile race are posted, I'll tell you about Hank's race.

1 comment:

abbi said...

Congrats on the half, sounds like it is a brutal course! You should be very pleased with that time on a really tough course!


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