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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon

To be honest, I was just happy to be running this race, after all of the weird setbacks I'd had over the last few weeks. I wasn't sure what to expect and I knew that the weather was going to be less than perfect, so I figured I would just get out there and see how I felt. I apologize for the lack of photos, but since it rained today, I didn't want to bring the camera along.

So, yesterday, we drove the 2 1/2 hours up to Allentown, Pennsylvania and went straight to the expo. I was trying to get there in time to see Born to Run author Chris McDougall, who was signing books until 2:30. We slid in the door at 2:25, and I got my copy signed. I talked to him a moment about barefoot running and the book (including being very honest in telling him that I'm not quite done yet). I'm super-shy, so I felt funny talking to him. It was good, though.

The expo was good, a lot of the usual players, but some that you don't usually see at a race of this size. The Stick, etc were there, and Runner's World's Amby Burfoot was signing books there, too. I got myself a copy of The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life. I'm excited to read that one after I finish Born to Run. We got our goody bag, including a sweet fleece vest and a little stuffed kangaroo that was wearing a Lehigh Valley Half Marathon shirt. That's a new toy for my desk at work.

After the expo, we were hungry and just happened to stop at the first place we found, which was Nino's Pizzeria. Good stuff! We headed to the hotel after that. We were staying at the Hilton Garden just outside of town, which was inexpensive, but not the best choice. I chose it based on cost, and the fact that we'd have a microwave and a fridge, as well as free wifi. However, it wasn't one of the hotels on the race's shuttle route, so few runners were staying there, and others staying in the hotel came in very late making a LOT of noise. Next time, I'll stay at one of the main race recommended hotels.

We spent some time goofing around in Target, getting some supplies (garbage bags, mostly, and I forgot to bring a spoon for my oatmeal), and then headed to the pasta dinner.

The pasta party was at Allentown Brew Works, which served us a delicious dinner. We also tasted some yummy beers. Probably shouldn't have the night before a race, but oh well. Chris McDougall was speaking at the pasta dinner, too. He was the main reason I was there, but he really didn't speak very long at all, which was sort of a disappointment. After that, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep (except for the lots of noise that I mentioned above).

This morning, we were up at 6am, and I had my oatmeal, got dressed and headed out. The weather was calling for 47 degrees at the start, with rain. I debated and debated and ended up wearing capri pants, my Annapolis Ten Miler long sleeve shirt, and my Annapolis Ten Miler jacket with the sleeves taken off. I was excited to match! We headed to the starting line, parked at the nearby fairgrounds, and walked the couple of blocks to the start. They had opened up the high school gym there, so we had a warm and dry place to hang out while we waited for the start.

At the start, it was not too bad. There was a drizzle going on, and that would continue all the way until maybe mile 7 or 8, but there were only a couple of instances where it was really and truly raining. The drizzle does add up, though, when you're running through it, and I was constantly wet. I did manage to keep my feet relatively dry through most of the race, finally deciding to slosh through a puddle instead of going around it during mile 11 or 12 or so, and getting soaked that way.

Todd stayed with me, and I followed Jeff Galloway's instructions and stuck with a 1:1 (one minute run + 1 minute walk) interval. I was supposed to switch to 1:30 and 1 if I wanted to at mile 8, but I didn't. I was keeping a good pace without switching intervals.

The course started out through city blocks, and at the mile 1 marker, I looked down at my watch to see 11:24. My PR is 2:37, or a 12 minute pace, so I was very pleased. I decided to go with it and see how I could do with that pace.

I had started ahead of the 2:30 pace group, and managed to stay ahead of them for about a mile, but unfortunately they caught up with me. This totally stunk. We ended up sticking right with them, which is good from a pace perspective, but HORRIBLE considering that Todd and I were leapfrogging with them. I'd run ahead of them, then when I would walk, they would catch me and pass me again. I could not shake them, and they were hogging the whole width of the course. With puddles to dodge, this was not a good scenario.

Still, there were lots of bands on the course, and they were awesome, and then the course took us through a nice wooded park, where we stayed for several miles. I was keeping up with a sub-12 minute pace and very pleased with how it was going. After a while of 11:20-11:30s, I was eventually passing up into the 11:40 range, and with that, I lost the pace group. I was sad that if I was losing them, I was behind them, but I was happy to have them out of my way.

As far as the course went, it was a series of small hills. Overall, there were no large hills, but lots of little bumps. Todd kept my spirits up as I started to get tired towards the end. The little hills did add up. There was this guy that we saw along the course wearing a jacket that said "Vertical Assault." I was like, Hey! Vertical Assault! I need some of that. I'm going to start using the phrase "Vertical Assault" when my group is running hills. I've since googled it and discovered that it's a pole vaulting club in Bethlehem, PA.

I was tired by the end of the race, and I can definitely say that I gave this race my all. Those last 2-3 miles were tough, and it was only really because I was just running out of gas. My stomach was starting to hurt, but I was afraid to eat. The rain had stopped, but there were lots of puddles. Todd kept me going, he is awesome to have along for a tough run.

Finally, there was a pretty steep uphill and then we were in the stadium for the finish. This race finishes on a track, but unlike the Maryland or Frederick halfs, it's not a horse track, it's a running track, which is really nice. We crossed the line in 2:33, a new PR by about 4 minutes.

Medal, and then food. They had a very nice selection of food after the race, including bananas, oranges, chocolate chip muffin tops, a vegetarian sausage sandwich (made with black beans), and a vegetarian pirogies vegetable soup. We ate in the stadium, but it was chilly and windy once we'd stopped running, so we high tailed it up to catch the shuttle bus to the parking lot (another great benefit of this race).

We headed to the hotel to take a quick shower and wash all of the grime and mud off of our legs from running in the rain, and then headed home. Tonight, we went out for a delicious celebration feast at our local hibachi restaurant. Good times. :)


marathonmaiden said...

yahoo on the new pr!! that's so awesome. congrats :) you ran one heck of a race in some icky conditions :)

Lacey said...

wow!! i need to run a half-marathon like this. sounds like a great time- before, during, and after!!!! and CONGRATS!!!! :) i absolutely love the term "vertical assault" for hills :) i may borrow that for my mantra hehehe. bring it onnnnn :)

hooray for signed books. those are priceless. fun times!!

Kitzzy said...

Congrats on your new PR! Maybe I should try 1:1 for a half. I usually do 2:1 for a half and have only used 1:1 for 16-18+ miles

Kim said...

I think you'd be happy with 1:1s. Your pace is similar to mine and I haven't been disappointed. I'm planning to try to go below 2:30 in September at the Rock & Roll Philadelphia half doing 1:1s.

onelittletrigirl said...

2:33 has been my 1/2 time three times!!!! YEAH FOR YOUR PR!!!

I want to read Born to Run and you are the third person to blog about it this week! It is sitting on my desk but I haven't a chance to pick it up yet!

Jill Forsythe said...

Kim, congratulations on a great race! The day actually turned out to be quite perfect for racing.

It's good you had a chance to talk to Chris McDougall. What a nice guy, huh? Did you get a chance to chat with Amby at all? He is so down-to-earth. You'd never know he had so many amazing PRs tucked in his pocket.

So you found Nino's. They have some great pizza! I knew you were headed up here (you also know me as sneakersister) and wish I had a chance to meet up with you while you were here. It was really crazy for me on Saturday as I was working the Kids Race during the expo. Maybe if you come up here next year for the race we can arrange a meet up.

Just an FYI, I linked to this blog entry on the Lehigh Valley Running Scene website:

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