The packet pickup was easy as the field of runners was 1791. The entire expo consisted of three vendors and a bar serving Lean Horse, the official race beer. Other than drinking a beer, I picked up a couple 13.1 race stickers for my group, because this would be their first half marathon.
We couldn't have asked for a better weekend. The weather was perfect. It was in the low 60s the morning of the race and no humidity. This was welcome weather for the locals too, because it had still been chilly earlier in the week.
We had to catch a bus to take us to the start of the race at 6:15am. What's great about being so far north is the sunrises much earlier in the morning and it was already daylight by 6 am. The start of the race for the half marathon was 14 miles up the Mickelson Trail, an old rail line, about 4 people wide and covered with crushed rock. We would be running down the trail back into town.
|My sister and I at the start|
|The four of us before the race|
It was an absolutely beautiful trail with fabulous scenery! I have not run a prettier route! At the start of the race runners were organized by pace. Andy and I lined up in 9:30 minute/mile group. This is the first race I have been in where runners were honest about their pace. I think only three people were in the wrong pace group. That was amazing and helpful since the trail was narrow which made passing more challenging.
From the start I wanted to keep a 9:15 pace so I could make a PR. The course felt fast, I started off strong and decided I would go for it. The first six miles felt great and I was loving it. When we hit the uphill mile #7, I slowed down a lot and it tired me out. Thankfully knowing I was halfway through motivated me.
My calves began feeling tight around mile 10. I never experienced that before and don't know if it was the course surface, the hills or the altitude, but ouch! The last 2 miles were the toughest. It was getting warmer and it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer to the end. I gave it all I had and was thoroughly exhausted at the end. I left it all on that course. I didn't enjoy it at the time, but I knew I would be glad afterwards. I finished with a new PR of 2:03:24! Eight minutes faster than my previous PR. I was psyched!! I don't know if I will ever do better than that, so I am happy to have achieved it. Actually all of us had PRs on this race. How often does that happen?
Andy, who has never run a half before finished 1 second before me. I have been running for over 3 years and he started training in January. How can guys do that?