So here we are once again. Today’s adventures will take us to the 2014 Marine Corps Historic Half. If you recall, I signed up for the HH while I was in Disney for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge. Like the previous races, this one will come with its own set of lessons learned and whatnot. Sooooo let’s get started!
Out of all the races I have done, this one may have been the most complicated driving-wise. The Historic Half took place in Fredericksburg, VA, which is about an hour from Washington, D.C. Once again, Adriane (my cousin) had come to the rescue and provided me a place to stay. However, since I was still in school at Edinboro at the time (far NW corner of PA), there was going to be a LOT of driving to do in a short amount of time.
About 7 hours’ worth in one day. But I finally made it!
I left Edinboro early, didn’t die on the way down, and made it to the Expo to pick up my race packet and other goodies, then took off again for the city. I arrived around sunset, and my cousin-in-law, Robert, decided to take me out for dinner and a little nighttime sightseeing. The Washington Monument had just reopened the week prior due to the 2012 earthquake that left the structure a little no-so-sound for tourists. (This provided a perfect topic for my Crisis Managemnt class on geologic crises and D.C. tourism later that week.)
I finally got to bed around midnight, and I knew I was going to be hurting in four hours when I had to leave for the race. I got up around 4:00 AM, and got on the road shortly thereafter. I was pumped as I was driving down, jamming out to some tunes and eating EnergyBits. I was a little shaky about where I was going, but the traffic was VERY tame and rather sparse. I soon found other cars with their various race stickers on them, and followed them to the starting area. I parked over in the Wegman’s parking lot, caught a couple more zzzz’s, ran in to buy some breakfast, and waited patiently for more time to elapse before exiting my car.
Lesson 1: Parking lots at the start/finish area, with a Wegman’s RIGHT THERE, is like heaven for a runner. Get there early for prime parking.
The race started at 7 AM, and by comparison to the PHM, the field was tiny. Maybe 7,500 runners at most. This was fine by me; I could actually run without getting trampled!
I blazed my first 5K in 38:36. For me, a 12 mpm was relaxed, steady, and fast by my standards. As the course began to weave its way through the little suburban towns, I couldn’t help but notice that EVERYONE BRINGS THEIR PUPPIES. CUTEST RACE SUPPORT EVER.
Lesson 2: Take time to pet the puppies. And shake the hands of the veterans that cheer you on. Your time may drop a bit, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.
Around the halfway mark, I started feeling incredibly fatigued. More Energybits were consumed and more miles were checked off with more walking than running, of course. Thank you, Jeff Galloway, for ensuring us turtles that it’s okay to walk during a race without feeling lousy about it.
Lesson 3: Seriously, if you need to walk, go ahead and walk. You’ll save your legs and prevent injury.
Then…Hospital Hill came.
What is Hospital Hill? Well, I’m glad you asked…
This feature is the crowning glory of the Historic Half, and it is constantly talked about online in the months and weeks leading up to the race. At the HH expo, there is a treadmill you can jump on that simulates its 12% gradient. The hill lasts slightly over half a mile, but let me tell you, it seems like an eternity. And there are no trees for shade. This hill makes or breaks runners, but you have to conquer it in order to get that medal!
Lesson 4: Do NOT shy away from hills and stairs during your training. Running these will seriously help your overall fitness and your VO2 Max levels, plus you can make it up Hospital Hill without dying (as much).
I sloooooooooooowly made my way up the hill. I was so tired and achy at this point, all I wanted to do was sleep. But I was almost finished, so I couldn’t just crash in the middle of the street for napnap time!
I finished in 3:10:04, and got medal #5 for the collection! (This medal is made of pewter, I believe, and it is heavy!)
So, remember that fatigue I was talking about earlier? Yeah, all of the Energybits in the world couldn’t quell it. I ran into Wegman’s, bought lunch, and sat down for about an hour eating it. On my way back to D.C., I could barely keep myself awake. It was warm outside, I was exhausted, and coupling those things together meant that it was prime sleepytime.
Result: I almost rear-ended a car on the beltway. I swear, I was about an inch away from its back bumper. Squealing tires and all.
After this, I knew I had to pull over somewhere. So I found a parking lot and parked under a big shady tree, where I proceeded to nap for about 1 ½ hours.
Lesson 5: DON’T DRIVE WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. BAD THINGS MAY HAPPEN. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your backseat nap-ready.
If you’re looking for a serious challenge, do this race. The variations in elevation make the course really interesting. The course support is wonderful, from spectators, Marines, and puppies alike. The field is NOT as large as other mega-races as aforementioned, so it’s nice to attempt a PR at. To this day, this race is my second-fastest half marathon time, and still reigns first for 5K and 10K splits. (38:36 and 1:20:15).
I’m still aiming for a sub-3 hour half marathon, which has eluded me thus far in my running endeavors. I guess my new theme song should be, “Someday My PR Will Come”.
Thanks for reading! All past race recaps are now complete. Until next time…