Saturday I ran the Buehler’s Heart & Sole Half Marathon down in Wooster. I ran this race last year, so I knew what to expect from the course. I also ran the race with a pretty bad case of PF, which ended my Akron training, so knowing I had healthy legs, I was excited to see what I could do.
I had an early wake up call of 4am to make sure I was ready and out the door before 6am. The weather was absolutely perfect hovering between 49-50 degrees and the morning had every intention of being the perfect race.
I was on the road by 6am, headed down the back roads, and could feel the excitement of the race. Even with a long 45 minute drive, I can’t help but sign up for races in Wooster. After spending two years running almost every other weekend around town, I can’t help but have a sense of home when I go there.
I got in town and found a parking spot by 6:45 and made my way to the start line to get my bib, shirt and get in line for the bathrooms. I met up with some MCRR ladies before the start and was ready to go!
I lined up between the 2:05 and 2:10 pacer, knowing that I could probably keep up with the 2:05 pace, but the hills would slow me down a bit. Just as we were about to start, my Garmin turned off. I restarted it, but unfortunately lost between .10-.20 of the course, so none of my splits or mile marks were correct. So I decided to just run by how I felt and see where that led me.
The course was exactly the same as last year, so we made our way out of downtown from Market to Bowman to Christmas Run Park. We made our way through parts of the development and out to Oak Hill Drive. I was feeling pretty good and finding a pace I felt comfortable with. I took a sip of my water at every mile (marked on the road) and tried to keep a steady effort as we started with a gradual incline.
We had a couple of hills coming up soon, so I didn’t want to use up all my energy so quickly, but also wanted to get the hills over with. At about 2.5 miles in, we turned in the hilly development. We went up and turned and continued to go up some more. We were met with some flat ground at the third mile marker, but turned another corner to face more hill. Finally on the way out we have some decline, but it was at this point I needed to use the port-a-potty that was conveniently located by the water stop.
I got back on my way and felt better, knowing I was behind, I started to pick people off one by one as we made our way up Oak Hill. The incline was ever so slight, but surprisingly my legs were still feeling great. I took Sport Beans around mile 4 and continued past Oak Hill Park.
We turned onto Oldman Road and it was about this point that the first runners started coming back. I saw a lot of MCRR and Jess and Ryan, which was a great confidence booster. The road also had the only section of flat course, so my pace started to pick up to take advantage of it.
Next we turned onto 83 and headed to the park around the soccer fields. This was our half way point and we reached 6 miles just as we headed into the park. I took some water, a salt tab and Honey Stinger Chews. I was still feeling pretty good and was navigating the rolling hills of the park pretty well. We were almost on our way out of the park, and that’s when I started to feel sick. I had almost a mile until the next water stop and port-a-potty, but luckily we were on our way back. I stopped for a bathroom break and then got back on the road.
I felt better and continued along. Most of the course would be downhill now, with the exception of the hilly development. I tried to pick up my pace and make up for lost time. Despite the hills and the stop and starts, my legs weren’t tired, which I knew would be good for the upcoming hills.
I made my way around the development, which was without a doubt harder the second time. Last year I walked a bunch, but this year I kept it steady, even if I had slowed down by some. I started to pick up speed in the final downhill of the development and made a last minute stop at the port-a-potty, more of fear for “what if”. After a waste of a stop, I was back on the road with 2.5 miles left. It was here that I started to beat myself up for the time I wasted.
I kept my pace steady, picking it up ever so slightly. I was frustrated that my legs felt so great, yet my stomach, and partially my head got in the way of my race. As we made our way back towards downtown, I took advantage of all the downhill I could. In the last mile I really tired to pick up my pace and wanted to give it all I had. With my Garmin not matching up, I really had no idea what time I’d come in. I rounded the last corner and started the finish down. I kicked in my finish and gave the last quarter mile everything that was left in me.
I crossed the line at 2:08:16. My 4th fastest half. And three minutes faster than last year.
Overall, I love this race. Both times I’ve run it, I haven’t run my best, but I still keep coming back. Wooster is hilly, and the development is the absolute hardest part of the course.
However, the course is clean, it’s well marked, and the support has been great. I also may be a little biased because I have an absolute love for Wooster. Even though I didn’t have my best race, I was impressed with how great my legs felt on course. It may not have been my day, but Saturday was a great way to see how far I’ve come this year with my training. As long as I’m available, I plan to be back at this race again next year.
Official Time: 2:08:16
Age Group 20-29: 15/21