I hoped I would be able to write a raving review of this race (after the Greenwood debacle) and I am pleased to say that I will indeed be able to write a raving review.
Everyone that participated in putting on this race did a fantastic job! I had a feeling yesterday when I went to pick up my packet that this was the case. Mom and I followed the directions given by my phone. Whoops. :D Once we realized our mistake we saw obvious and numerous signs directing us to packet pick up. Everything was so well marked.
This morning Mom and I leisurely made our way over to the start. The hotel was less than 5 minutes away. As we walked from the overflow parking I ran into one of my dailymile friend, Jenny B. Shout out to Jenny for running the 5k at 26 weeks pregnant!
Quick side note about the weather. I’m not complaining because the weather was absolutely perfect for the race: 50 degrees and only 60% humidity. That being said, just a few days ago it was 10 degrees warmer and over 90% humidity. That’s South Carolina.
A couple minutes before the start I saw Jen but she and her husband moved forward before I could say hi. She was aiming for a pace almost a minute faster than I planned so I stayed where I was. (Edited to add: she hit that pace too and won first in her age group!)
As is my new habit, I also avoided looking at my pace on my Garmin. (I’ve considered running without but I love to look at the data afterwards too much.) This turned out to be an excellent idea since tree cover and other factors made satellite reception unreliable.
This course is by far the hardest and most unique half course I’ve run so far. The hills kept coming but I kept plugging away. I wondered in the first couple miles if I should slow my pace a little. I knew without looking at my Garmin that I was running either right at a 9 minute pace or just under. Turns out I was pretty close. (Maybe there is something to running by feel?)
Things got a little interesting when we got to the dike. I wasn’t expecting trail but it didn’t bother me. In fact it made me want to run more trails. (I think I’m a little ADD when it comes to running.) I at 4 Gu chomps around mile 5.5. Next time I run a race at this pace I’m sticking with the gels. Breathing while chewing was a bit difficult.
I’d hoped for Gatorade at the water stop at mile 5.6 but only water was available. Since the weather was cooler I was okay. At a hotter race I might have regretted that because the next water stop wasn’t until mile 8ish.
I loved running along the dike. So pretty. There weren’t any mile markers through this section and it was around this point that my Garmin (and mapmyrun app) and the mile markers were way off. I kept hitting the course mile markers at .65 according to my Garmin. (Edited to add: my Garmin definitely lost reception along the dikes. Hence the differing distances.)
After leaving the dike area we hit several long slow hills. I knew they were coming but that didn’t make it any easier. I kept pushing though, just trying to get to mile 11 when I would eat the other 4 Chomps. I would walk this time.
That last slow hill (2 miles!) was torture. I kept telling myself “I run this body” (courtesy of Dorothy), “I can do anything for a mile” and “I can die after I get to the finish line”. Yup. It was that bad. :D
Thankfully the final hill ended and I tried to increase my speed gradually through the last mile run through the beautiful Botanical Gardens. I even managed to pass a guy with a quarter mile left.
Mom was prepared for the finish line photos this time. Unfortunately the trees blocked out a lot of the light.
I powered through the finish and immediately faced a dilemma. Do I count my time as a PR or not?
That’s right. I covered this course in 1:51:38, more than minute faster than Hilton Head. The total distance on my Garmin? 12.78 The total distance on my phone 12.90. I’m torn.
Even though I’m not sure whether I should count this as a PR I am more than pleased with this race. I took on one of the most challenging half marathon courses I’ve ever run and conquered it. I ran this race better than I’ve run any of my other races and I am super pleased with it.
Edited to add: I’ve learned since I first posted this that Garmins were unreliable across the board. My official time was 1:52:39. Thankfully, that’s still a PR, albeit just 4 seconds. I’ll definitely take it!
(It didn’t help me figure out my race plan for New River but I’ll cover that later.)
Up next? Greer Earth Day Half Marathon!