This race recap is pretty late going up, but I wanted to go ahead and get it out there. I’ve actually had a draft of this post on my iPad for awhile, so it’s about time I finished it off and shared it. I think it did take me so long to get it up there because 1) I’ve been crazy busy and 2) I wasn’t too happy with this race, therefore writing about it, wasn’t that great. Even since, I always want to talk about the good, the bad and ugly and this recap certainly touches more on the bad and the ugly.
I knew about this race for over a year now as Kristy has run this in the past and said it wasn’t that bad of a race. The Run to Read Half Marathon was also only about 90 minutes away, so being able to drive there and back on the same day was also a key reasoning I signed up. Lastly, one of the goals I had this year was to try and run a half marathon every month as I want to get my half count up and this race was about my only chance.
The Run 2 Read Half is in Fairmont, WV, which is just outside of Morgantown. With a start time of 1pm, I decided to drive down that morning. However, with a 1pm start, I really had no idea how to eat that day and that ended up really hurting me. I had a decent breakfast, but didn’t eat much after 11am, which proved to be a mistake.
The race start was in Fort Prickett, which looked pretty cool. In fact, if it was a nicer day and not frigid cold and snowing, I’d actually would have liked to spend time enjoying the park. When I got there about 12:15pm, I headed down toward the parking lot by packet picket up. Somehow I snagged the very last spot in that area, which I was thankful for. The bathrooms were pretty close and I certainly took advantage of that as well.
Picking up my bib was beyond easy. I walked in, gave my name and had my bib, the hat and gloves we got with registration within minutes. Since the weather was just looking worse and worse by the minute and snow was coming quickly, I actually spent more time trying to finalize what I was going to wear. I ended up meeting up with Gloria and Jason through all of this and I am sure just deep down they were laughing at me. Finally I picked the layers I would wear and in the end, I was happy with the ones I went with.
As the 3 of us were heading up to the starting line, I actually ran into some 50 state Club Members. I have really enjoyed meeting other members and this time I met a family from Philadelphia. It was the husband’s first half and their middle child (I think she was 9?) was running the half to. Needless to say, they were one awesome running family!
The course consisted of two out and back trail sections. The first maybe 5 miles was a paved trail that consisted of going through a tunnel. The race director mentioned a few lights were out in the tunnel and if there were any more out, I probably would have tripped over myself or something. The second part of the race was on more of crushed limestone/dirt trail along the river. Seeing that the weather hadn’t been great, there were some muddy points.
Just as the race started, a nice snow squall started. The winds were really picking up and I knew this was just going to be brutal. There was no start line timing mat, so when they said “GO”, I really had no idea where the “GO” mark was. I took a guess and started my GPS where I thought it might be. I didn’t look at my GPS watch until mile 2 and then I realized I had gone out WAY TOO FAST. This was not the best way to start this race.
In addition to knowing Jason and Gloria at the race, where was actually a handful of runners from my Elite Runners & Walkers Training group and it was great to see them on the course. In fact, many were a huge help to me, especially in the later part of the race. Everyone as you passed them waved hello and cheered me on. This was pretty crucial at times.
During those first 5 miles, I chatted with some runners and just tried to pull back some. At the turn around point, there were volunteers putting out some water, but the wind was so darn bad that they couldn’t keep the cups out. It was also just so cold, I found it harder to grab water, even though I knew I would still need it.
During the return trip through the tunnel, I came up to a runner wearing some Altra’s. We started chatting about the shoes and other races and before I knew it, had easily gotten through a good mile and a half. Once we passed the start line, we headed down a small hill, turned right and headed toward the second part of the course.
This is where all of the wheels just fell off. I was still cold and starting to get bored. If this was the summer months or even sometime in spring or Fall, I think this part of the course could have been beautiful. In the winter, in the frigid temps and 20 mph+ winds, it wasn’t so pretty. I got around mile 7 and just wanted to stop. I mean literally, if I was on a road with people and cars, I would have probably flagged someone down to take me back to the start line. I was losing the fight and just mentally done.
Based on mileage, I knew the turn around should have been somewhere around mile 9, but that mile 9 never seemed to come. At some point around mile 8.5, I asked a runner where the turn around was and she just said up ahead. I honestly just wanted to start crying. I was miserable and in a way, kind of starting to get angry at myself for doing this. Finally the turn around came and the lone volunteer stood there like the angel I needed.
At this point of the race, I had not taken any walk breaks. Well, once I turned around, the wind hit me so hard, the snow squall got worse that I literally said “fuck it” out loud and just started walking. Honestly at one point, I actually even got pushed around on the course because the wind as it was that bad. My face and front side was just covered in snow and once again, the level of misery continued to just grow.
I got to the last water stop around mile 11 and asked for Gatorade as they were suppose to have it. Well, of course they didn’t God forbid they actually keep it out for some of the slower runners. Oh, this just added fuel to the misery level.
The only nice thing about this part of the race, is that I played cat and mouse with another Elite runner until about mile 12.5 when he finally took off. We chatted some, but really it was just seeing him out there struggle not as bad as me, but still struggling just reminded me that I wasn’t alone and if he could do this, I could do this.
Somehow, someway, I got closer and closer to the finish line. In all reality, finishing was really the only option. There really wasn’t any other way to get back to the finish line if say something did happen. I got the small bridge just before the finish line (maybe around mile 12.9) and there were two amazing and brave spectators. They were cheering every runner on and that last cheer was enough to help me get to the finish line.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw Jason, grabbed a water and immediately walked to the finish area. The packet pick up building became the finish area and although they looked to have good food, all I wanted to do was get out of these and go home.
I dropped Jason off at his car and hit the road. I stopped at the first place I could to change and it was great to peel off all of those wet, sweaty layers. Of course as soon as I got on the road though, the snowing started coming down. Twice did it get bad enough where I just wanted to pull over and wait it out. I was pretty tired at this point so honestly I just wanted to get home and eventually I did.
This was probably the worst half marathon I’ve ever run. There are so many things stacked against this race for me. The late start, the weather, not eating correctly and probably a few more. However, I am still not sure how I did it, but I finished.
Even though I had a horrible experience, the race itself was well run. Despite not having a starting time mat (I mean seriously, does it cost that much to rent one of those too?), it was a well put on race. The race director was thorough in communication and what you got for such a cheap race registration was great. Will I run this one again? Maybe. But only if I see that the weather is going to be above 50 degrees. Never again in that weather.
Official Finish Time:
8/8, F 30-34