I wish I could say that I’m excited for how well I ran, or how strong I felt. The truth is, I probably shouldn’t have run this race, and feel guilty for thinking of the positives from this day. The Buehler’s Heart and Sole Half Marathon was a race I wanted to do last year, but because we were moving that day, I was out. This year I knew I was going to run it, so I pre-registered to ensure I wouldn’t back out. The race took place in Wooster, and I was familiar with most of the course. It was an out and back with a loop on the side and I knew it would be hilly. I originally planned this race as a training run, to see how well my legs could handle the hills, but also, how evenly I could keep my pace for each mile.
With the race slated for 7:30, I woke up at 5am. I was feeling a little off, but figured it was just nerves. How I still get nerves before a half marathon is beyond me. My foot didn’t hurt, so I figured I’d make the drive down to Wooster. I left the house around 6:20 giving myself about a half hour to get ready once I got there. On my way there, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the sunrise was, it definitely made the 40 minute drive a lot easier.
I got to Wooster at 7am and headed to the start to get my bib and shirt. I jogged to and from my car and didn’t have any pain. I figured I’d give the race a shot and see how I felt. Once I got back to the start I took my place in the very long bathroom line. Time was running out and it was 7:26 once I got inside the porta potty. A few seconds later, I got out and stood in my coral of the 2:10 group. Yes, they had pacers, which was such a great feature for such a small race. With a minute to go, I remembered that I forgot to put Body Glide under my arms, and knew I’d pay for it later.
We started off on our way out of town and were quickly met with some incline. We went off to a side street and made our way to Christmas Run Park and met one of the biggest hills on the course. We were still within our first mile, so I tried to keep it easy, knowing more hills were on our way. Our pacer had us a little quicker than the 9:55 average pace we were supposed to keep, but knowing it was a training run, I tried to focus on my own miles, and not the ones she was setting for us. Over the next few miles we were on Oak Hill Road keeping a steady pace at around 9:38. I was still feeling good, but realized I’d need to use the bathroom at some point. There were no actually race porta pottys, but luckily there were two construction spots along the course that had some available to us.
Mile 3 we were making our way to a development that has a pretty decent hill. I could feel the incline more in my legs and noticed that my foot started to hurt. I was still feeling strong, pushing up the hills and keeping the same pace of 9:38. The development was over a mile long, so the entire time I debated if I should stop or keep going. One the way out, I found the porta potty, made a quick stop and began running again. This time the force on my foot hurt a lot worse. It still wasn’t as bad as it has been, so I continued to go. Mistake. The next two miles were a slight incline up Oak Hill and over to the park. I was still keeping a great pace, and event started to move down towards 9:30.
The halfway point of the race was a loop in the park. Driving past it seems pretty flat, but the back has some pretty quick inclines that can be a little tough sometimes. As I was approaching the park, I knew I needed to take some Sport Beans, so I slowed down just a bit, to conserve energy. But as I turned in, I felt something pull in my foot and knew that it wasn’t a good sign. The closest water stop was back around mile 5, which would be mile 8 on the way back to town. I decided to just slow things down a bit and keep going until I could get to the water stop.
The next two miles, the pain was off and on and I wasn’t sure if I was feeling better or worse. I knew I needed my Sport Beans and salt tab, but other than that I still felt strong. I attempted to slow my pace, but even when I was going “slow” I was still at 9:44. I filled up my hand held, stretched and tried to decided if I should keep going or stop right here. I probably should have stopped, but I didn’t. I just kept going, knowing that it would mostly be downhill, so hopefully less pressure would be on my foot. And because we were on our way back, we had to run through the hilly development again. I struggled this time, and walked a bit after mile 10. It was at this point, that I knew I had made a huge mistake. I shouldn’t be running and I may have just thrown my entire training for the marathon out the window. At this point, I didn’t care about my pace, or what time I finished. I decided it didn’t matter if I didn’t reach 100 miles in August. All I wanted was to be at the finish line and off my foot.
So I started running again, this time at a much slower 10:15 pace. I took advantage of the water stops and all of the downhills, hoping to coast on whatever pull they could give me. I started to feel better after mile 11 and knew it was an easy coast in. At the 11.5 mark a huge group of spectators were cheering and it definitely helped to boost my spirit. As I turned into the development, I realized for the first time that I was alone. I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me. I tried to remember where the course was on our way out, and hoped I wouldn’t get lost. The last mile was quick and I started to pick up speed. The sooner I got through the course, the sooner I’d be done. I finally saw the finish, and let my legs go at it. I opened up my stride and sprinted in to the finish line of half marathon number 14.
I had a mix of emotions when I finished. I felt so strong, and so prepared for the half that I knew I could have gone faster. But I was also aware of the pain in my foot and how much of an impact this could have on my next 6 weeks of training. After I came home, I checked my stats and realized this was my 4th fastest half marathon, which is great. Knowing that I hadn’t given it my all and I was still in the top half of my halves was surprising.
Overall this was a great half marathon. The race fee is only $30 for the half, less for the 10k and 5k options. The course was marked out well for the most part, but I knew my way around so I didn’t focus on the markers as much. There are rolling hills and a few steep ones, but that’s what makes it challenging. The support on the course was great and the finish had a ton of support and vendors. Overall winners won custom metal plaques and age group winners won custom drinking glasses. The weather was perfect this year, which was a surprise, with an abnormal 57 degrees at the start, it couldn’t get much better. I’d definitely recommend this race and hope to do it again in the future.
Overall Place: 122/150
Female Overall: 44/63
Age Group 25-29: 7/8