Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012 Parkersburg Half-Marathon Race Recap

And like that, training for the Parkersburg half-marathon is over and I'm looking ahead to the River Run (it was my first HM last year). But I can look back for a second or two.

Originally I was going to run the race with a couple of friends. Life happened, and they couldn't do the race so it was just me and Aaron. Of course, Aaron and I don't run together, but at least we start together.

We arrived in Parkersburg around 9, and my friend had made us a delicious pasta dinner. After dinner, a single beer and some hanging out, I went to bed around 10:30. I read for a while (got totally hooked on Gone Girl, which I finished yesterday while we all recovered from Saturday night) and probably put the iPad away around 11.

We totally lucked out with the weather. It's August in Parkersburg - it could have been awful, but it wasn't. I guess the humidity was high, but at 60 degrees at the start, it wasn't bad. It was foggy/overcast for more than the first hour. The sun came out around mile 9 or 10, and there was still a little cloud cover. VERY nice racing temps.

We also lucked out because our friends live about a mile from the start *and* our friend offered to drop us off. Thanks to that, we didn't need the super-early wake-up call typically required. We got up around 6:30 and took our time getting ready, eating breakfast, etc. We left the house around 7:40 for the 8am start, and it was perfect. We got there with enough time to stretch, and then the gun went off.

From the beginning, I felt pretty good. Miles 1-3 were definitely the slowest miles. I probably should have started off a little faster, but at least I felt okay. There was a long hill in mile 3, I think. Not too steep, but it slowed me down a bit. Then we got off the highway, so we had a nice gradual downhill there, followed by a stretch of road with pleasant rolling hills. (I prefer rolling hills to flat ground anyhow.)

Mile 11 had a kind of steep hill, but it was short and I knew I'd see my friend waiting at the top of the hill. I didn't lose pace at all on the hill. And after that, I knew it was essentially all downhill to the finish. It was awesome.

Everyone warned me about how hilly the race is, but I think it was overstated. Elevation gain of 858, but Cleveland's was 720 (seemed like it was all on one hill too).

The best part of the race was the support. There were 18 aid stations, so tons of water and Gatorade stops. Ice and cold sponges. Crowd support along the entire course. Each mile was marked with someone calling out the time.

I finished in 2:17:something, officially, which brings me to my only complaint: The chip-timing wasn't working correctly. If you look at the results, some people have the race start time and their actual chip time from when they crossed the starting line. Aaron and I both don't, so it's kind of depressing. There was about a 40-second delay from the race starting and from us crossing the start line. I don't know if that'll be fixed or not.

This wouldn't have been a PR for me anyhow - although it WAS a PR for Aaron! 2:09:something officially - but it's a shame that the time is off. (BTW, the course was well-marked and seemed to be accurately measured. My mileage said 13.18.)

Another interesting thing in Parkersburg: There is a strong walking community here. They are fast and they are serious. I am happy to say that I beat all of the walkers, but that was by 2 minutes or so. It's really an impressive feat to see how well they perform.

This was one of the best races I've done. I'm definitely doing it again next year if at all possible. It was affordable, the support was awesome, the post-race goodies were nice, people were generous, etc.

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