Last we left off, we left Philadelphia and drove up to Slatington, Pennsylvania (near Jim Thorpe) to a local high school to pick up our bibs and shirts for half marathon number two of the weekend!
Packet pickup only went until 3pm but luckily we made it there with plenty of time, despite hitting some traffic leaving Philadelphia (typical, ha). My dad and I were starving so after we grabbed our bibs we went to a local pizza place to eat a few slices for a belated lunch. Then we went to the hotel and recovery/preparing for day two commenced. I spent the next couple of hours setting out my clothes for the next morning’s race, rolling my legs a ton with the stick and forcing myself to take an ice bath (and subsequent hot shower).
We ate a local italian place so we could get our pre-race pasta and then went back to the hotel and relax more. My dad and I were both asleep by probably 9:30 and with the time change we got a TON of sleep which was awesome.
The next morning we woke up around 6 and my dad told me he decided not to run the race. His knee was really bothering him and with a another race this month (Rock n Roll Savannah) and plans to do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January it wasn’t worth potentially injuring himself more for this race. Instead he promised me he would drive to various points on the race course to cheer me on.
The race started at a local high school at 8. We got there around 7:15 and had plenty of time to use the real(!) bathrooms before the race started.
I was honestly feeling pretty nervous for this race. Even though my legs were feeling pretty good thanks to all the stretching I did the previous day, I had no clue how it was going to feel to start running again. I knew I would make it to the finish line, but with the faster times I’ve been finishing in I felt a whole new type of pressure. I didn’t want to completely give up and come in significantly slower than I have been.
Since this was a smaller race (about 900 people) that also had special accommodations for walkers (including walker-only awards) they provided pace groups and encouraged runners to line up accordingly. I lined up in between the 2:20 and 2:30 pacer. I don’t enjoy having to keep up with or chase someone – it makes it feel much tougher for me. But I figured I would stay ahead of the 2:30 pacer as long as freaking possible and then try to keep her in my sight if she eventually passed me. I also decided that I did NOT want to see that 2:45 pacer at all, so I would try my hardest to stay as far in front of her as possible.
The race started right at 8 and I took off, planning to run the first mile and then settle into my intervals – the same strategy I had the day before. Unfortunately for this race there was a huge steep hill towards the end of mile one. The RD had warned us about it and promised that it was the only hill on the entire course (the rest was flat or slightlight downhill). So when I felt myself pushing too hard up the hill, I slowed to a walk. Everyone around me did as well. My mile 1 spilt was 11:33.
Once we crested the hill and started heading down I sped up a lot, miles 2 and 3 were in the 10:30 range. I was feeling good but also could tell that my legs were by no means feeling as fresh as they did during yesterdays race.
I saw my dad at mile 3 which was a nice boost.
From there we started on the D&L Heritage Trail. It goes right along the Delaware river, which is gorgeous, and it’s crushed limestone which felt nice on my legs, compared to asphalt. My pace slowed a bit but I was feeling good. I took my gus at my planned times and tried to focus on running as fast as possible to stay ahead of the 2:30 pacer.
I opted to wear my Camelbak for this race because there were only four water stops, and I need to be able to drink more often than that. I was pretty impressed by the water stops they did have though – there was always water, gatorade and gus from the very first one on. The volunteers were very friendly too. There was a lot of crowd support for such a small race – a number of folks were driving to various points on the course to see their runners like my dad did.
Around mile 6.5 I heard the 2:30 pacer behind me. I was determined to stay ahead of her as long as possible, and I did. Until she passed me at mile 7.5. Mentally that kind of hit me a bit – I saw my dad at mile 8 and remember saying to him “the pacer got ahead of me.” But I also tried to focus on the fact that I was probably still in a great place to finish under 2:45, and 2 months ago I would have paid a million dollars to finish that quickly.
Miles 9 through 11 were pretty rough. My feet started hurting, I started to chafe on my arm, and mentally I was pretty shot. I kept reminding myself that I was basically on mile 23 of 26.2 in two days, and that in and of itself, was something to be proud of. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I saw my dad again around mile 11 and knew that we would soon be moving off of the trail and onto the road for the final stretch. I did the math and knew I would be well under 2:40 at this point.
Once we got off the trail and entered a neighborhood and then a park I knew we were close. I turned the corner and saw the finish I pushed myself as much as I could to completely empty all the energy I had left. I crossed the finish in 2:35:20. A mere 4 minutes and 30 seconds slower than RnR Philly the previous day! I was thrilled I managed to come in as fast as I did.
My #2halfs1wknd challenge was a complete success. I completed both races faster than I thought possible, managed to PR during race #1 and overall my body felt pretty good!