Sunday I ran the River Run Half Marathon for the third time. I ran it in 2011 and 2012, my second and eighth half marathon. This year would be my third time running it, and ever so slightly monumental, my 20th half marathon. I couldn’t help but be excited, considering I knew the course by heart and I was hoping for a little redemption from the Wooster Half.
I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, got ready and was out the door by 6:45. I decided to park at the start because it was closer by about 15-20 minutes. The views on the drive up were absolutely beautiful and I wish I could have taken some more pictures. Just imagine, back roads, old farms, sun rising and major spots of fog.
Anyway, I got to the start and was able to find a close parking spot. I got in line for the rest room and ran into a few MCRR members. We chatted for a bit, went off on our own ways and pretty soon we were ready to start.
Going in, I knew I wanted to finish better than Wooster, which meant aiming for a 9:30 or under pace and no bathroom stops. I started off at a good pace, weaving in and out of the crowds to find a comfortable pace. I settled into a 9:20 pace and made sure I’d have enough energy to last me the entire race. My legs felt fresh and I was in my comfort zone, running the parks I spent miles upon miles on my feet.
Within the first couple miles, I could feel my pace picking up. I made sure to keep it somewhat conservative, but I couldn’t help but be excited for how great I felt. During the second mile we passed the leaders as we made a loop in the nearby development. It was definitely a confidence booster to see so many people I knew.
Over the next couple of miles I could feel the downhill, which meant my pace was picking up. I kept bouncing between 8:35-8:50, but knew I couldn’t keep up the quicker pace. So I kept telling myself to dial it back, because I wasn’t sure how long I could keep this up. I I stuck with my normal fueling plan of taking water every mile, and a sport bean every 4 miles. So far, so good, and no stomach issues.
It was probably around mile 5 that I started to really focus on what my plan would be. I was well above my goal of 9:30, but I was also a little nervous that at any moment the adrenaline would wear off and I’d be on the struggle bus. I was still feeling strong, my legs were feeling good, and I was cruising down the course.
I could tell between mile 5 and 6, my pace was slowing just a bit, but by this point the crowd had spread out, and I was with the same group just making our way through the race. Typically I would take salt tab at mile 6, but this time I waited, curious to see if it was behind some stomach issues. I still kept an eye on my pace and at 6.3 miles, I was coming in at 53:xx, far better than I expected.
Just as I had expected, my legs started to slow down between mile 7 and 8. I took my second sport bean at mile 8 and could feel a small twinge in my hips with the little rollers on the course. I knew the hill was coming up around mile 9.5, so my goal was to give a little more until I hit the hill.
I made it about half way up the hill and my legs started to crumble. I took this as an opportunity to take my salt tab, which means I had a few moments to walk. Once I was settled I picked up my pace and focused on the fact that I had a 5k left. But just as I suspected, but stomach started to bother me, but luckily not enough that I would need to stop along the way. I made a mental note to revisit the salt tab on my last long run.
I could feel that I was starting to wear down and that I couldn’t get enough water, clearly an issue of taking my salt tab too late in the race. I took advantage of the water stop at mile 10 to fill up my hand help and continued on at a slower pace.
By this point in the race, I didn’t have the momentum I had earlier in the day. These last few miles were always the hardest on me, and mentally this was something that wasn’t going away. I counted down every half mile, just wanting to be done with the race.
I finally came up to the last water stop at mile 12 and made sure I stopped for water. I felt like I had just finished a 5k, I was so exhausted and run down. I mustered up what I had left and continued my way into the last mile. What felt like a half hour, I kept my eye close on my watch. At around 12.6, I was at 1:55 and knew there was a possibility I could hit sub 2 if I picked up the pace. I tried, but instead I felt a heavy pressure on the top of my stomach that just wouldn’t go away.
And so, following tradition, right before the 13 mile marker, I had to go to the side and clear my stomach. I stood there, hands on my knees for what felt like a long time. I knew I had to continue, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I finally was able to get going and got myself to the finish. I crossed the line of my 20th half marathon, with a time of 2:01:45.
Last .17-9:58 pace
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t break 2:00, but really it wasn’t my initial goal. The night before, I told Darren I wanted 2:02, and I got just that. If I hadn’t of thrown up, or stopped to walk while filling my water at stops I probably could have gotten it. But really, I’m excited about my time. My first River Run was completed in 2:21, my second in 2:08, and now 2:01.
Probably the best part of the race was the medal. As part of the Hermes Distance Journey, I received my medal for River Run, and the third for completing the 10 Miler earlier in the spring. It was an awesome concept, and I hope this is something that continues in the future.
And considering this is my third time running this race, I definitely have a soft spot for it. This has by far become one of my favorite races and no doubt my favorite fall half. I’d certainly recommend the race if you’re looking for a PR.
Official Time: 2:01:45
Age Group (25-29): 39/112