I won’t lie. When the alarm went off on Sunday morning, I was a little afraid to test the legs. It’s not like I was running fast, but I certainly had put some miles on my legs in a short time frame. Luckily though once I got going, all felt pretty good. As I was getting ready the night before, the one thing I realized I did not bring for Sunday was breakfast. Typically I have a bagel with peanut butter and/or jelly. However, I had nothing. I was certainly a little worried about this. Luckily though, I had a huge honey crisp apple so that became my breakfast along with some honey stinger chews.
For the second morning, we parked in the far lots and shuttled to the ArtsQuest building. There were definitely more people taking advantage of the parking lot on Sunday morning, but nothing crazy. This was an easy option and one I would recommend for this race.
Upon arriving at the ArtsQuest building, I immediately headed to the bathroom. I had eaten my apple on the bus ride over from the parking lots so I was hoping it would hold me over. I was pretty nervous about this as I usually eat something a little more before the start of a half. When I got back from the bathroom, I was hanging out in the front of the building and happened to run into Beth and Heather. They were rocking some awesome throw away jammies, which I was certainly jealous of.
Since we had a little walk up the half marathon, we headed out around 7:30am or so. I had originally planned to run the half marathon again with my run/walk but once I chatted with Beth and Heather, I figured I would just hang with them. They both seemed great with pacing the day before so why not! Plus it would be nice to have some company out there.
As we were getting ready to start the race, we chatted with this one women had had run the half before. She warned us it definitely holds up to its reputation with it being hilly and the worst hill was around mile 5. I had looked at the elevation map but it was nice to get it first hand from someone else. Then before you knew it, it was 8am and we were headed across the start line.
We really wanted to hold up and take is steady. We kept a close eye on the 2:30 pacer and did not plan on going ahead of her. Unlike the 5k and 10k the day before, when we got to the bridge crossing, we had plenty of space and had no issues with space. We also headed left like we did for the 10k but kept going straight instead of turning toward the creek. As we came to this point though we saw the lead men on the far road already headed toward to the back half of the race.
During these first few miles, we just chatted a bit as we went along. There were a few small hills in the early miles but nothing crazy. The first major hill came just after mile 3. There was a really bad placed water stop and we all turned left up a hill. I had been pretty steady at this point but eventually decided to just walk up the hill. I have to give it to Heather who was just amazing going up all of the hills. The nice part was we had a great little downhill but then had a sharp turn uphill going into town. This was probably one of the biggest areas that had spectators. There was even an aardvark out there cheering us on.
Going through town was a nice pick me up. I was certainly feeling tired and my legs were heavy. I truly believe if I wasn’t with Heather and Beth I would have given up in those early miles and said screw it and would have been so much slower. They were awesome and secretly just kept me going!
Late in mile 5, finally we got to the major hill of the race. Yes, it’s bad. And it’s deceptive. I ran as much as I could but then said screw it and walked up the rest of it. Well as I thought we were cresting the hill, the darn thing went right a little right and showed us we had more to go up. Not cool. I totally thought I was at the top and ready to go. Once we did get up the hill though we had a nice flat part of the race before a nice downhill followed by the next big uphill at mile 7.
Along the flats though we passed a golf course on the left. It was interesting that there was no barrier so close to the road so I yelled out and thanked them for not hitting me. They clearly looked like they were having more fun since they were drinking beer. As we hit the next uphill we could see runners up ahead and thought it was a quick turn and we’d be on the same road as them. Well, we were wrong. We had a loop in a neighborhood area.
I was definitely hurting. I won’t deny that. I was certainly wanting this race to be over with by this time but still had about 5 miles to go. The nice thing about the last 5 miles is that you were headed into town so there were more people out there cheering. The other nice thing is that it was actually mostly downhill except for one or two small rollers. Nothing crazy though, so it was nice to have those behind me.
Around mile 10, Beth and I made a comment that this was usually when we’d see some beer on the course and there was none. I definitely would have taken it too. Well, then like a miracle I saw this girl on the left with a small beer sign. Luckily I was on that side of the road and I grabbed two small cups for us. Boom. Beer on the course.
Then came mile 11. Now, if you recall my recaps of the 10k, I mentioned seeing Jesus out on the course around mile 3. Well, at some point through the half, we all recalled seeing him and regretting not getting a selfie. We said if we saw him again that was happening. Well, just like the beer miracle, in mile 10, we had a Jesus miracle in mile 11. Low and behold there was Jesus and our selfie was pretty Epic. Even Bart Yasso was jealous.
Again, once we got to the bridge, we had the same route to the finish line from the day before. I was definitely tired. I so badly just wanted to walk, but Beth and Heather were a great push. I am sure they had no idea how much they were helping me at the time though. With the finish line a quarter mile or so away, I was trying to give it a last kick but there was just nothing.
Crossing the finish line was a fantastic feeling! The Grand Slam challenge is no joke. My legs were tired for sure. Heather, Beth and I all congratulated each other and grabbed a quick picture. Unfortunately I had a very quick flight to catch at PHL so I had to book it out of there. I do wish I could have stayed around for more of the fun after the race.
This was certainly a challenging half in and of itself. However, add on the 13.1 miles between 3 races the 2 days before, and it was probably one of the toughest races I had done in awhile. Even with that said, I could not recommend the Runner’s World Festival enough. I had been struggling with my races lately and finding the fun in running again. Well, I finished with a smile for every race and this truly helped remind me of why I run. Overall, it was just an amazing weekend and I’m very proud of myself for finishing the challenge. It helped that I got to meet new friends as well and hope to log some miles with them at home some day. If you have been thinking about this race, don’t think anymore and just do it. You won’t regret it and I say go big, sign up for the Grand Slam.
Official Finish Time:
110/147, F 30-34