I ran the Inland Trail Half Marathon this morning. The start was just about 10 minutes from my house. Not only that, the race was on the same trail that our Tuesday night running group runs on every week. Kevin D from work and my brother-in-law Ken were also running the half, while nephew Keith, brother Greg, and friend Randy were all running the full marathon.
We got bussed out to the start in Kipton, where the main activity was waiting in line for the port-a-pots. The race used chip timing but only for the finish times. There was no mat at the start so there was no recording of exactly when each person crossed the start line.
The weather at the start was chilly. I was wearing shorts, a long sleeve lightweight shirt, a short sleeve t-shirt, and a bandanna covering my head. I had decided to pin my number to my shorts in case I decided to ditch the extra t-shirt.
The half-marathon was actually started by phone. A girl was on the phone communicating with the finish line, and they were telling her when to tell us to start. She started counting down from 10 and several of us joined her until many of the runners were chanting together "5" "4" "3" ... and we were off.
Being a long race, my intention was to start easy and pace myself. I thought I was doing ok. Shortly before the 1 mile, 2 girls came up behind me. One of them said "Hey big guy, how fast are we going?" I was amused because, at 6'3, I'm pretty tall, but I'm wouldn't usually call myself big.
"I'm hoping for 1:45" I replied, which would have been about 8 minutes per mile. "Good," one of the girls said back, and they settled in beside me. We crossed the mile mark and one of them said "7:30." I was a little faster than my pace should have been, but the pace was easy and I didn't feel as if I could run much slower.
Shortly we were passed and one of the girls went with the guy who passed us, but the other girl ran beside me until almost 3 miles.
At that point I started looking ahead and passing people. I didn't count but I'm sure I passed at least 6-8 people in the next 5 miles, while nobody passed me. I was moving up through the race and feeling pretty good.
From mile 4 to mile 6.5 we were on the section of the trail that we usually run on Tuesdays. Around 6.5 we passed Keith's family (Tiffani & Kora) cheering for us, and also we started meeting marathon runners on their way out.
Around mile 7 I saw that the next person ahead of me was Kevin D from work, who I didn't really expect to beat. I stayed about the same distance behind him until somewhere between 8 and 9 miles when my legs started to get heavy.
A guy who I had passed around 5 miles caught me at that point and passed me. I then decided it didn't hurt any more to run fast than slow, so I picked up the pace and got even with him. We chatted a little and I found out he was from Cincinnati.
Then just before 10 miles we were caught by 2 other guys. They said their 10th mile was 8:02, so I know mine was slower than that. They joked that since we couldn't see anyone ahead of us, we must be leading the race and should finish together.
After running with them for a bit, once again I realized that I should try to give a harder effort, and I pulled ahead of them.
Then just before 12 miles, I was passed again, this time by an older woman who was moving right along. At this point I didn't have the energy left to respond at all. She went by me with ease. "Very nice" I called out to her in encouragement.
During the last mile, I was struggling to keep any pace, and hoping nobody would catch me. One of the 3 guys I had left around 10.5 did catch me, I tried to hang with him but my legs just didn't have anything left. Besides having run over 12 miles, we now went off the bike path and onto the road, and up a slight hill.
I fought my way to the Murray Ridge School parking lot and turned in. The finish was somewhat disheartening. Even though it was less than 200 yards away, it was behind the school and you couldn't see it until about the last 40 yards.
The guy from Cincinnati caught up with me on the driveway but I was able to stay ahead of him and crossed the line in 27th place with a time of 1:44:00. I had met my goal. Not only that, I was surprised to be handed a medal for 1st place in my age group!
There were 128 finishers in the half marathon. Interestingly, there were 65 men and 63 women.
After the race I got a sweatshirt and long pants on, and then went in to the food area, where I chatted with Kevin D and Ken, both of whom had also won their age divisions. Kevin D left, but Ken and I waited around to cheer on the marathon finishers.
Keith had some IT band trouble and dropped out around 19 miles. Randy ran well but missed his goal of qualifying for Boston by just over a minute. Greg made his goal of qualifying for Boston, but probably won't go by himself. Today was Greg's 33rd marathon finish!
This was my first time running this race, but I doubt it will be my last. It was a very nice "smaller" marathon & half marathon.