Oops! Guess I forgot to hit 'publish' on this one awhile ago!
After tackling my first full marathon earlier this year, I figured it was time to backtrack a bit and run my first half marathon. I chose the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon mostly because it was the only half that didn't conflict with our Fall parade of weddings. It also happened to be close to home, mostly on a trail, and perfectly timed for crisp Autumn weather (October 20). It was also small, capped at 1000 runners, compared to my Pittsburgh Marathon experience. A nice change of pace.
Packet pickup was on race morning at Lernerville Speedway, which is also where parking was. The hubs dropped me off here and picked me up at the finish line, but parking was easy, plentiful, and free if you needed it. Check in started 7, with the last shuttle at 8:30. We arrived at 7:15 to no lines, so I hopped back in the car to warm up a bit before shuttling to the start.
I got to the start a little after 8 for a 9:00 start, and took advantage of no lines at the porta-potties. There was space to wait inside at the VFD; probably not enough for everyone but it didn't seem to be an issue despite it being a bit frigid. I stretched a bit, ate a Clif bar about 45minutes before the start, and headed back to the porta-potties around 8:30. Lines were long and cold, but I still had time to warm up inside before heading out to the gun start. I chose a spot about 75% back.
My goals for the half were pretty simple. The plan was to settle into whatever pace felt comfortable in the first mile or two and then hold onto that pace as long as I could. I wouldn't be disappointed finishing under 2:30, really wanted to finish under 2:24, and would be thrilled to finish under 2:15. I quickly settled into a 10:15 pace, and....
I held that pace for the entire 13.1 miles! I even had a little kick left at the end. I walked through 4 water stations but only long enough to sip a little, and I then I quickly jumped back into my pace. I started to feel that dreaded hip tightening in the later miles, but it was nothing like what hit me in the full. I finished feeling... amazing. In hindsight, I now know that body was capable of faster and it has me itching for another half-marathon!
The course was an overall decrease in elevation, but there was a short climb near the end that was a killer after so much down, down, down. There was also a relatively steep downhill just before the finish that I thought was certainly going to launch me into a tumble down the road.
No stumbles though, and I very happily crossed the line in just over 2:16. I thought I was on pace to finish under 2:15 with my kick at the finish, but my GPS or the course were off... and I'm guessing it was my GPS. It recorded 13.4+ miles. Oh well- I was going to be happy regardless.
I did do bag check at the start (toss your bag in a van), and it was very quick and organized to retrieve at the finish. I also grabbed bagel pieces, pizza, fig newtowns, a banana, and multiple helpings of hot apple cider. Yes, HOT apple cider. Cider has never, ever tasted even close to that good!
The finish line area was far from crowded and after chowing down I started to walk a few blocks back to wear the hubs had planted himself with the camera. And then it was off to chow down (again!).
And now, looking for an early-Spring half!