Can’t Catch Connor Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Race #108
Half Marathon #33
SC Half Marathon #25
Can’t Catch Connor Half Marathon #1

When I first heard of this race, I knew that I had to run. This race (including a 5k) was run in honor of Connor McManus, one of 11 people who died in July of 2013 in a small plane crash in Alaska. Another one of those killed in the tragic accident was Mills Antonakos, a former student of mine.

I remember when I first heard of the plane crash and read the names of those who died. I hadn’t been in front of the classroom for two years but it still felt like I had just finished teaching Mills.

I knew that this race was unlikely to have any of the other accoutrements that come with most races. I set my expectation accordingly. The entire course was on the Swamp Rabbit Trail so I decided to treat this race as a long run with a bib attached. Only 13 people ran the half so it ended up being almost exactly like a long run, complete with seeing my high school PE teacher. (She runs regularly on the trail, on Saturdays at least.)

Although the registration page stated that the half marathon would begin ten minutes before the 5k, we all ended up starting at the same time. There was no actual start line, just a few instructions, prayer and then “Go!”

Those first few miles were the toughest for me, mentally. My legs felt a bit tired and my mind magnified that tenfold. I wondered how I would possibly get through the rest of the race. The thought briefly crossed my mind about turning and finishing at the finish line when we passed it again after mile 4 but I didn’t seriously consider it. I was in it for the long haul, no matter how long that haul ended up being.

Mile 1 – 8:32
Mile 2 – 8:54
Mile 3 – 9:04
Mile 4 – 8:58

At mile 4 I at two chews, hoping for an energy boost from the sugar. It worked, thankfully, and helped snap me out of the mental funk for the most part.

As we neared the street crossing by Sunrift and Tandem I could see Mom (thanks to the matching green shirt) and managed to ask her if she could use the burst feature when she took pictures of me at the finish. This was after I had asked her how she had done. She ran and had just finished the 5k which, like the half, was about a tenth too long. Unlike other races, since this one was entirely on the Swamp Rabbit trail which lacks significant turns, there aren’t many ways that I could have failed to run the tangents.

The next section of the race was fairly uneventful. We saw plenty more people, most of them were the 5k walkers finishing up the race. As we neared downtown TR and then Furman, I finally saw the regular trail users. The first portion had been fairly sparse, just the handful of half marathon participants for the most part.

Occasionally through this section my left leg felt odd, nothing significant but some of the “off-ness” that I felt following my accidental run in way too old shoes last Friday.

Finally we reached the turn around point, about a mile past the parking lot off Duncan Chapel Road.

Mile 5: 9:35
Mile 6: 9:04
Mile 7: 9:00
Mile 8: 9:31
Mile 9: 8:59

(The slower times come from when I walked to eat fuel.)

The off-ness and occasional painful sensations in my left leg continued through the next few miles which ramped up the mental battle. I would start to wonder about the leg and then everything would feel “normal” again. I honestly wonder if it’s some sort of sciatic nerve thing. (I’ll have to do more research on that.)

When I got back to the water stop at Duncan Chapel Road I decided to grab one of the cups of Gatorade and drink that instead of the water from my handheld so that would last until the end of the race. Wow…someone did not get the ratio of powder to water right when they mixed that up. It was incredibly thick. I could taste it for the next mile or so until I took my next set of chews.

I plugged away to the finish, more than ready to be done.

After crossing diagonally through the intersection by Sunrift I entered the parking lot and headed towards the finish.

Can't Catch Connor Half Marathon and 5k 2016
Mom got plenty of pictures. 🙂

I made the conscious effort to avoid looking at the Garmin. I did not really have any time goals, although I really wanted to come in under 2 hours. When I saw the finish line clock already at 2:01:xx I was a little discouraged.

Mile 10 – 9:21
Mile 11 – 9:17
Mile 12 – 9:35
Mile 13 – 9:11
.26 – 8:42

There was not much fanfare post-race, just a group of high school kids, likely friends of the race organizer, hanging around. I have a suspicion that this race was the Eagle Scout project of one of Connor’s friends who would likely be the right age, three years on from the tragic accident.

Mom had hung around after just in case they did a 5k awards ceremony but nothing happened. We didn’t hang around after I finished and instead headed to the car managing to forget to take a post race picture until we got home.

Can't Catch Connor Half Marathon and 5k 2016
My mouth looks ridiculously giant here.

Can't Catch Connor Half Marathon and 5k 2016
We are normal some of the time.

It is highly unlikely that this race will be run more than one time. I am glad that I participated. However, it just confirmed to me that I am definitely a big-race kind of runner. I thrive on competition and well-executed organization.

Now for the race review portion:

Registration and packet/bib pick up:
Registration through go-greenevents was painless and easy as always. Packet pick-up, from what I heard, went well as well. All seemed fairly generic for the race, nothing stood out either way.

Race shirt:
The race shirt is comfy. In fact, I’m wearing it as I write this review. (Yes, I did write that exact same sentence last week.) Many people wore the shirt during the race. While I really like it, I don’t think I’ll run in it. It’s definitely an excellent day-off t-shirt. (This whole section is almost identical. I feel the same general way about this race shirt too.)

Pre-Race/Race Morning amenities:
Everything except the actual start of the race (as I described above) flowed smoothly pre-race.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a really good resource, especially for small races. I’ve run it many times so it was nothing new. Although, I have to mention that for the first time I saw an actual rabbit on the trail. 🙂

Course support:
I was actually impressed by the number of volunteers this race recruited for water stops which were placed approximately every two miles. I felt bad for them a little because the water stops on the half marathon portion of the course had very little to do. For the most part the street crossings were well manned as well. A couple of them had some police officers and most of the remaining crossings had volunteers from the troops who would step out into the road and stop traffic when a half marathoner came by. The mixing ratio of Gatorade powder to water could have been improved at that one stop but that was the only stop in which I partook of the water or Gatorade.

Finish line and post-race amenities:
There was a finish line and a table with some water. That’s about it. There did not seem to be an adult around to ask about any logistic information. I also did not see the high schooler in charge of organizing the race either.

Race photography:
I highly doubt that any pictures were taken at this race. If in fact there were some, I will update this section.

Social media:
The Facebook page was updated as frequently as I would expect the page of a race this size to be updated.


1 Comment

Filed under race recaps, running, Uncategorized

One response to “Can’t Catch Connor Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

  1. Pingback: Rebuilding Week 7 Training Recap | Stepping Out

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