Sunday morning I ran the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon, my first half since May. I didn’t have a goal in mind, especially since I had really only “trained” for the past five weeks. I knew I just wanted to get back out there and complete the distance. I decided to aim for a 9:30 pace and see where it went. If I felt it was too hard, I’d back off, if it felt too easy, I’d push it a bit, but no pressure to to PR or try to come close.
We had a group of MCRR members running, and most of us met up at 6:15 to make the drive to Massillon. We ended up arriving early, but it gave us plenty of time to stay warm and use the port-a-potties a few times. The race started at 8:00, with some sun on our back, it was the perfect weather for a half.
We started next to the Tuscarawas River and had a slight downhill. We were on a back road that twisted and winded around some houses, industrial buildings and woods. I was definitely nervous and hoped I could find a good pace to stick with. I started a bit too fast but was able to slow myself down by the first mile.
It was within the first mile or two that I realized I had to use the restroom again. Race nerves? I tried to focus on my surroundings and fellow runners, which seemed to help a bit.
Mile 1- 9:16
Mile 2- 9:21
The road had some rollers, but nothing too big to handle. Surprisingly I actually enjoyed having some uphill and downhill rather than an absolutely flat course. The trees hadn’t lost all of their leaves yet, so it was somewhat pretty when we were surrounded by woods.
The biggest hill came in mile 3 and I felt confident climbing it. I was a little worried my hip wouldn’t approve and I’d have some pain, but luckily my legs felt great. My stomach on the other hand didn’t. I kept my eye out for a port-a-potty, but nothing.
Mile 3- 9:34
Mile 4- 9:30
Around mile 4 we got off the road and turned onto the towpath. I was excited for some flat land, beautiful scenery and hopefully a steady pace.
We continued along and my pace was still decent, along with some pain free legs. My need for a bathroom was growing, and I even thought about dodging behind a tree. Instead, I kept my eyes focused in front of me, praying a port-a-potty would appear after each bend.
Mile 5- 9:32
Mile 6- 9:46
I should have taken my honey stinger at mile 6, but I was too nervous it would cause me harm, so I waited, focused on the runners around me, and zoned out for a while. I noticed my pace dropped a bit, but every time I tried to speed up a bit, my stomach would rebel. Back to focusing on the runners and the scenery.
Mile 7- 9:49
Mile 8- 11:57
By mile 7 I was starting to struggle. I had gotten to the point where I was getting a bit bored of the trees and desperately needing that bathroom. I trudged along, no longer caring about my pace, but contemplating dropping if I didn’t feel better soon.
But then, magically a port-a-potty appeared right before the turn around. Finally! I lost about 2 minutes, but I felt like a new person and was ready to run! I also took the time to eat a Honey Stinger to get my energy up for the last 5 miles.
Mile 9- 9:39
Mile 10- 9:50
We pass the turn point and headed back toward the start. The sun was in and out of my eyes so I focused on the ground. It was a little uneven, and I didn’t want to trip or slip on leaves. I felt much better and even my legs felt great. Thankfully up to this point, my legs were handling the half well.
Mile 11- 9:55
Mile 12- 11:24
I continued along and would bounce back and forth between zoning out and trying to pass runners. My legs were beginning to become sore, which I knew would happen eventually. I started to stop at each mile marker to stretch my legs and hips, hoping they could keep up with the final miles.
My back started to cramp up in the last mile and a half, so I started stopping every half mile to stretch, walk a bit, and get my body to a comfortable pace to finish. I kept getting pulled in with the other runners paces, so I tried to imagine myself on a short run on my own trail to get me to the finish.
Mile 13- 11:01
With a mile left, I knew I could make it, because I certainly questioned it earlier on. I kept a pace I was comfortable with, without stressing my hips too much. We made our way to the finish, and I was excited to see the MCRR group at the top of the bridge before the finish. ( I swear I was excited to see you guys, even though my face didn’t show it.) I pushed what I had left, and crossed the line of my 23rd half.
Las 0.20 – 9:23 pace
When you cross the line, you’re given your medal and a blanket, and offered water, food and the option to get beer. I grabbed my stuff and met up with the rest of the group. We hung around for a while and then walked back to our cars. Shuttles were available, but why not walk some more after running 13 miles!
Overall, this was a pretty good race. Despite my own personal stomach issues, the course was pretty well laid out, 4 miles on rolling roads and the rest on the towpath. Everything seemed well organized and from what I’ve read, the race has improved a bunch in it’s third year. I don’t know if I’ll run it again soon, but I recommend trying it out. And for $30, you can’t beat such a great deal.
Age Group 25-29:12/20