Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Harbor Heights Half Marathon

April 2, 2016

I decided to run this race a few months ago, when my boss at Fit2Run said she could get me an entry. Since I'm working on adding half marathons this year, I jumped at the chance to run one for free! Since I've been dealing with issues with my left hamstring and hip, I decided I would take it easy for this race. Ariana volunteered to pace the 2:15 pace group, so I told her I would help her with it. It was the first time pacing for both of us. I felt like it was a good opportunity to see if pacing would be something I would enjoy.

Race Morning: Ariana and I met up with Gina, who volunteered to drive us down to Harbor Heights, which is east of Punta Gorda. Just under an hour from where we live. The days leading up to race day had been hot and humid. Race day was even hotter and more humid than it has been since the summer! It was in the low 70s and very steamy! So glad I wasn't trying to set a personal record out there. It was NOT the day to do it! We arrived with plenty of time to get a good parking spot, pick up our race packets and then sit in the car for a bit. About 20 minutes before the start of the race, we picked up the 2:15 pace pole and got a photo with the other pacers. We then headed over to the start. It didn't look like a very big crowd. With the half and 5K combined, it was under 500 runners. A recorded version of the National Anthem was played, with some children present to sing along. Once that was done, we were off!

All the runners spread out pretty quickly. We had a small group near us, but I wasn't ever sure if they where pacing with us or not. Gina decided to hang with us for a bit, even though her goal was much slower for the day. We did some loops through the neighborhood, which was very quiet at this time in the morning. The sun wasn't all the way up yet, so the first few miles were bearable. Both Ariana and I had a hard time keeping to the slower pace. As a result, some of our early mile splits are a bit on the fast side! Ariana held the sign for the first few miles, then passed it off to me. We passed it back and forth every few miles, to give each of us a break. It was a little on the heavy side.

The course was pretty boring. We would run down one street, make a turn and then run down the next street that was parallel to the last. And continue on with that. Once the sun came up, it got very hot. There was no shade at all. On the roads we headed south on, we got a nice breeze, but then we would turn a corner and head back up the next street, with the breeze at our back. The runners we had with us, started dropping off. We had one guy until mile 10, who was doing great, but pulled ahead to soon (around mile 10) and lost steam before the finish.

Hard earned finisher medals!

We were both very glad to have each other during those last couple of miles. It was hard going! I really wanted to slow down, but we needed to keep our pace, in case other runners who we came up to, decided to pace off of us until the finish. We would catch up to people walking or running slowly, they would see us and then they would pick up their pace!

We ended up finishing ahead of schedule. One, the course was short! And two, we did run those first few miles about 10 seconds per mile faster than we should have. All in all, I enjoyed pacing. I would like to try it again at a bigger race, where I might actually have people hang with me for the entire time! :)

I am also very surprised that I ended up placing third in my age group! Shocker, since it's such a slow pace for me normally. But, that's what happens when you run a small race. :)

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