On May 28 I ran the Path of the Flood Half Marathon in Johnstown, PA. The half marathon is one of three races offered as part of the Path of the Flood Historic Races. I ran the half marathon last year and looked forward to running it again, and even managed to convince a group of my running buddies to do it too! A huge group of us carpooled to Johnstown the morning of the race, and we had people running the 5k, the 12k and the half!
We arrived in Johnstown around 6:45am which gave us plenty of time to pick up our bibs and shirts, snap a few group photos and get the busses to the various start lines. The course is point to point, so it is recommended that you park at the finish area (in downtown Johnstown) and take the complimentary busses to the various start lines. It’s very well organized and there were no issues getting to the start on time.
The course is mostly downhill and mostly along the dirt Path of the Flood trail. Last year I PRed at this race and hoped it may be possible again. I remembered feeling like I was flying down the trail for most of the 13 miles.
Right at 8am the race started and we were off. I felt good and really pushed the pace to see what I could do. The first 2.5 miles of the half are through a little town and then you are on the path for the next 8 miles.
I felt really good for the first 6 miles (1:09) but as the temperatures rose and the sun started beating down, I new I couldn’t sustain the paces I was running, and I was going to have to start incorporating more walk breaks (I had just been walking the water stops). From that point on I knew a PR was out of the question and I just wanted to get the thing done.
In 2015 in was cooler and more cloudy, so the four water stops they offer during the half marathon course were sufficient. This time around though, it wasn’t enough. I wished many times that I had prepared better and brought my camelbak, but I just hadn’t thought it wouldn’t be enough water.
I walked sporatically when I felt I needed to for the next 8 miles, until we left the trail and entered downtown Johnstown. I knew by this point that all of my friends were waiting for me (the other person doing the half was faster than me and everyone else did a shorter distance) and honestly that kept me going even though I was feeling pretty bad. I am so glad I had that motivation in the last few miles.
The last 2.5 miles going through Johnstown are tough. There is little shade, and the sun feels like it’s reflecting off of the buildings and roads and blasting you. I started incorporating 3:1 run walk intervals to occupy my mind. I caught up to another runner doing something similar and we talked and ran/walked together for about a mile, until I felt well enough to pick up the pace for the last mile or so.
(Many thanks to my running buddies for these photos!!)
As I turned the last corner and could see the finish line I saw all my friends cheering and taking photos and I was so happy to see them in that moment. They gave me just the push I needed to finish strong despite the heat.
I finished in 2:44:46 – a time I am not super proud of but is over 10 minutes faster than my finishing time last year, so I can’t really complain.
We hung around to drink beers (I opted for gatorade because I could tell I was depleted) before getting back int eh cars and heading home. I was so glad I brought clothes to change into because I was incredibly sweaty and soaked.
The race is a good one, and I’ll probably be back next year since it’s semi-local to me. I’ll just make sure to bring my camelbak if they don’t add more water stops.