I was really looking forward to this race for a couple reasons. It’s in my home town, I knew lots of friends and family who also signed up, and the half marathon was a new course/ event in the Marion Arts Festival of Races. I also helped our with course set-up, so I was familiar with the route and ran it a few times for training runs. The downside to setting up a course is the lack of sleep you get the night before and all the time on your feet pre-race when you should be kicking back and relaxing. Nonetheless, I was still pumped and ready to run Saturday morning.
The start was 7:00am but already a “hot” 70 degrees for Iowa in May. The first mile was nearly all downhill. Good thing too, because there is a foot bridge in the first mile and it was a race to get there and avoid the ensuing bottleneck. Some runners complained about the congestion, but in the spirit of racing, I thought it was a nice “challenge” to beat the crowd to the bridge. Mission accomplished and I made it over without slowing down, probably around 30th place out of 820 runners. I’d hate to be number 500 and waiting in line to get over a footbridge! Maybe they could have a wave start next year to alleviate some crowding? The next two miles seemed slow compared to the fast, first mile. They were slightly uphill, so I knew not to worry about the pace. My body was still getting warmed up and I wasn’t into the groove yet. This is mostly due to the fact that I do 99% of my training around 1:00pm. So, racing in the morning creates havoc on my routine; my body is not use to early morning exercise. I don’t think I’ll change though, midday, sunny training runs feel so good, albeit tough sometimes.
The next mile featured Lowe Park and was a nice change from the road. Being a big fan of nature, my eyes wandered more and I started to forget that I was running and enjoyed the view. Next up, was through Linn Mar’s campus and surprisingly, lots of cheering supporters. As I approached the crowd, my pace naturally quickened and I was past the half way point without realizing it. The second “out portion” was a little lonely for some runners. It was a straight mile out to Hunter’s Ridge Golf Course. Because I had ran the course before, I knew this was going to be a tough stretch (mentally), with no fans, not much scenery and knowing the fact that I was running in the opposite direction of the finish line.
Once, we hit the last turn up 35th street, I could feel the finish line. I had a 5k left and was ready to kick it up a notch. Yet, my legs wouldn’t go. My mind wanting to catch the guy in front of me, but my body said no. I credit my lack of finish to the course preparations the day before. Normally, I have a decent, strong effort at the end. Today, nothing. I also had forgotten my watch, so I had no idea what time I was doing or any idea of splits. There were volunteers at each mile yelling out splits, but I had headphones in and didn’t really want to turn down the music. And to be honest, running by feel was so much more enjoyable. At that point I guessed a finish around an hour and 30 minutes. Good guess too, as I crossed the finish line in 1:30:42!
Overall, not my best half but definitely a solid run, all things considered. The best part of the race, wasn’t the time, but the enjoying the event with friends/ family and feeling good at the post race party. Great race again, Arts Fest!