Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon Race Report

10 Sep

On Saturday I ran the Bird-In-Hand (BIH) Half Marathon. This was a great race experience. If you are a runner that has the opportunity to run this race I highly, highly recommend it.

Friday evening we got into Lancaster and picked up our packets. After picking everything up, my dad and I decided to drive the course.  It was a little bit difficult to follow the map, since the course goes through the country-side, and little roads weren’t well labeled. However we got the jist of it – it was going to be a hilly one. It was going to be a little different from the Hershey Half though. Hershey was a lot of small rolling hills, where as BIH was some steep uphills, followed by steep down-hills, flats, and repeat. After seeing this I made the decision to walk the uphills and run the downhills and flat parts. I did not want to burn out after only a few miles.

After driving the course we got some pasta + Cesar salad for dinner (this is becoming my go-to night before meal), and I iced my shins before falling asleep.

5am came early, but I woke up feeling refreshed and ready. After getting dressed and eating a quick breakfast we made the 10 minute drive to the race site.

The parking lot was a big grassy field dotted with “road apples” (horse poop) – we had to watch where we stepped! 🙂 After using the port-a-potties a few times and milling around, we walked to the starting line.

bird in hand half marathon starting line

My view of the start line

There was one wheel chair competitor so we cheered him off the start line and then it was our turn. It was a small-ish race (about 900 runners for the half) so there were no corrals or anything. Just line-up-based-on-pace common sense. As we were waiting to go I snapped this picture of the rising sun coming through the clouds. Just gorgeous.


Shortly after I took this photo, we were off!

Of course went out a little too fast (I had an 11:20 first mile – oops). But the scenery just sucked me in. I didn’t take any photos of the Amish families (I’ve heard they don’t like their photos taken) but they were standing along the road as we started and some of them were even running. The hills were long and steep but I just stuck with my strategy. Walk up, run down, run the flats.

Around mile two I got passed by a buggy – that’s a first. 🙂

Amish families were out along the road and manning the water stations. Many of them were also sitting outside their houses with sprinklers spraying us as they ran by. They were so friendly, though not your typical sign/cowbell/clapping/yelling spectators. Instead they were more reserved, waved, said hello, asked how you were doing. I honestly didn’t mind missing out of the spastic crowds this time, the more reserved approach really fit with the entire experience. The course was so gorgeous, with views of pastures dotted with Amish farms in every direction. I felt myself getting lost in the landscape, and thinking about how vast the world is… pretty deep thinking for a race. But I felt very zen-like. The other runners were so friendly too – I quickly learned the names of a few who I kept passing and we chatted and said hello as we passed each other.

The water stations were fully stocked with water and powerade, and they even added a few additional water stations towards the end of the course (it was getting hot and the sun was strong). For a back-of-the-pack runner like me, I appreciated that they didn’t run out of water by the time I got to the later water stations. I took a cup of water and a cup of powerade at every station. I took a Vanilla Gu at 45 minutes, 1.5 hrs and around 2.5 hrs. This worked perfect for me. I felt energized and strong the entire way. Another thing I loved – they had buckets of ice out on the course. This was great – especially since it was so humid. Every time I saw a bucket I took some ice in each of my hands and rubbed it on the back of my neck, my face, my chest, and in my hands until it melted. It felt great.

Mile 10 was the best water stop though. The family there was filling up small dixie cups with mango flavored Ritas Italian Ice! YUM. It hit the spot at that time of the race. I joked to one of the runners who I was more or less running with that this race had better on course refreshments than Disney. 🙂

I felt really strong, and really happy all along the race course. It’s hard to be grumpy when cute Amish children are handing you your water. But I also think I went in with the right attitude and expecting it to be tough with the hills. That’s not to say there weren’t times late in the race that I was exhausted and ready to be done. There definitely were, and my pace towards the end reflects it. But this was my first race where I was really sort of bummed when I realized I was getting close to the finish.

Here’s the elevation chart from my garmin, just for fun.Bird in Hand Half Marathon Elevation Chart

I crossed the finish in 3:27:53. It definitely took longer than I had hoped – the last half really zapped me. I finished the first half around 1:20 (which is a great 10k time for me) but unfortunately couldn’t keep it up. But I really had a great time regardless.

I crossed the finish sprinting my heart out (I hope the race photogs got a good picture!), grabbed my medal and met up with my dad (he had run his own pace).

After I met up with my dad I saw Bart Yasso from afar! I knew we had to go meet him! Ever since he gave me that high five at Pittsburgh, I’ve been chatting with him on twitter (as much as you can at least, ha) and I’ve been wanting to meet him for a while. We walked right up to him, talked a little and asked for a photo. Unfortunately my cell phone was acting up – probably because I ran with it and it was a little sweat covered. Bart offered to take the photo with his phone, and told me he would post it on facebook/twitter for me. What a class act right?! I was so happy to get the opportunity to meet him, and when he posts that photo you better bet I’ll be sharing it here.


9 Responses to “Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon Race Report”

  1. mizunogirl September 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    COngratulations! I have to say I kind of want to do that race now. I’m from about 30 miles west of there, so it would be a different experience for me. I always forget how beautiful PA can be, and you just reminded me of that. I’m glad you had a great time and a good race!

    • Becca October 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Definitely check it out if you can!

  2. Mark DeNio March 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    How do you think a walker would do? I’m thinking of doing the Garden Spot Village as my first half so I could do Bird-in-Hand and get the Road Apple Award. I would come close to the time limit of 4.5 hours. Is it worth a shot?


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