This past Sunday, Oct 25th I ran the Blarney Stone & Screaming Banshee Mashup Half Marathon which was a reschedule of the Blarney Stone Half Marathon that was cancelled in the Spring and combining it with the Screaming Banshee Half Marathon scheduled for Oct 25th. 3 friends and I from our running group had originally signed up for the spring Blarney Stone Half.
The race had 3 start windows; 9-9:40am, 9:40-10:20am for the Half Marathon/10K/5K and an additional start window of 10:20-11am for the 10K and 5K. We had go online and enter our name on one of the start window tabs of a Google spreadsheet a week before the race or be randomly assigned to a start window. There was also a tab to sign up as a virtual participant. Due to health restrictions there was no packet pickup, no bibs, and you were to self report your time when you finished, or you could check in with a race official just to before your start and at the finish and they would record your start and finish times.
The race took place in Pottersville, MI which is a little south of Lansing, about 1 and half hour drive from our homes in Metro Detroit. We all signed up for the 9:40-10:20am start window with 3 of us running the half marathon, and one (who had knee surgery this summer) running the 10K. We decided to meet at one runner's house at 8:30am Sunday morning. We caravanned with each of us driving solo up to the race. Sunday morning traffic was light and with one bathroom stop we arrived at the start area in a park a little after 10am.
I had been gradually increasing my mileage after recovering from a hip injury/strain, running 4x per week including 10 miles on Saturday for the previous 3 weeks, averaging 20-25 miles/week. I have been running most of my runs easily, with 3-5 pickups during my runs to incorporate a little speed work, averaging 9-10 minutes per mile. My hope was to break 2 hours for the Half, averaging 9 minute miles. I decided to run this race based on effort and not look at my watch until I finished. The half marathon is probably my favorite race distance as I find I usually can maintain a consistent pace and can recover a lot more quickly than after a marathon.
At the start of the race the temperature was in the upper 30s with partly sunny skies, I was running in shorts and long sleeve zip top, and had consumed a gel just before the start. Our group of four runner started running on a mostly flat dirt and gravel road around a lake for the first mile. I quickly went ahead of my friends but was then passed by one of them (who is usually a little faster than me) at about the 1 mile mark, 9:04 for the first mile and establishing an effort-level that I hope to maintain for the rest of the half. The second mile took us onto the side of the main highway, up a hill and into the small town of Potterville; 9:05 for the second mile. The third mile took us through town and up a hill over railroad tracks and onto a asphalt path with rolling hills into a subdivision where a young lady in a red long sleeve top and shorts shot pass me (I later learned ran under 1:40 for the half). I ran 8:46 for the third mile. The fourth mile took us out of the subdivision onto a two lane paved road with a mostly downhill grade; 8:46 for mile 4. The fifth mile was mostly a long uphill grade that felt a little grueling, especially watching other runners coasting down the other side of the road; mile 5 in 8:51. Mile 6 started off flat with the turn-around and water station at about 6.5 miles. Water and Gatorade were available in 8 oz bottles. I gratefully grabbed a bottle of water at the turn-around and headed back now on the downhill grade,recovering from the long uphill and sipping water; mile 6 in 9:10. Mile 7 was mostly downhill and I opened a gel and gradually consumed it; mile 7 in 9:01. Mile 8 was a gradual uphill. I felt I was maintaining a consistent effort; 8:59 for mile 8. Mile 9 took us into a park initially on a dirt road. I was a little uncertain about where to go after the dirt road and ended up cutting off a little bit off the route before I found the marked grass path that went around a lake. It was then back on a dirt road out of the park and onto the two-way paved road; mile 9 for 9:19. Mile 10 took us uphill on the two-lane road and back into the subdivision road with some rolling hills, mile 10 in 9:14 and only about a 5K to the finish (yeah!). Mile 11 continued through the subdivision road and onto the mostly uphill asphalt path; 9:13 for mile 11. I still felt I was maintaining a consistent effort although I was focusing more to maintain it. Mile 12 took us up some hills, back up the bridge over the railroad tracks and into town; 8:54 for mile 12. The last mile took us through town to a asphalt bike path that entered the back of the park (where we started) and onto the dirt gravel road. I passed a few people and could see my running buddy (he had passed me earlier) but he is too far ahead for me catch him. I finished the race about 25 seconds behind him in 1:56:53 with 13.01 miles on my watch, averaging 8:59/mile, and with mile 13 in 8:27. I feel tired, but good with a little soreness in my left foot. Our other friend who ran the 10K greeted us at the finish and I gave my finish time to the race official, got a food bag, and shirt. Another friend who was using the run/walk method of 4 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking finished about 15 minutes later in 2:11:27. He and another friend had run a marathon virtually the previous weekend using the same run/walk method finishing in 4:25. It felt really good to get out and race, pushing myself for the first time in a long time, and be to able to maintain a fairly consistent effort and finish strong.
Edited by Run2BFit