Longer race, longer race report… buckle your seat belts! Lots of details!
Start and conditions:
9 am start, 11:30 awards (which I missed, oops).
High-30s to start, with a “feels like” temp in the mid-high 20s due to 25-35 mile per hour winds, with gusts up to 50 mph! Windiest race I’ve ever run!
1:40:13 (7:39 pace; 7:35 on Garmin which clocked course as 13.2)
Started off with packet pick-up once my teammate/running buddy extraordinaire Caroline and I parked in Wilmington. The race-day pick up was one of the reasons we picked this race (plus the low registration fee; I think we paid just $65!) so we wouldn’t have to deal with a there-and-back drive to a race expo the day before. We grabbed our packets and went back to the car to stay warm and pin our bibs, etc. Then we headed to bag check around 9:00, used the potties twice before 9:15 and hopped into the starting huddle around 9:20. Everything was easy to find and accessible as it was all central to Caesar Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington. The race started a minute early, and off we went!
Gear and fuel
With the wind, Caroline and I both fretted for days over how to dress. I tend to run warm in the arms/hands but cold in the legs/knees, so I decided to go with Oiselle knicker capris, my team singlet with another tank underneath for double core warmth, arm warmers and a headband to keep my ears from freezing off. I brought a Honey Stinger gel with me, but I didn’t use it, and I only took water once on the course. I typically don’t eat or drink anything during a half marathon race. I just had my usual pre-long run oatmeal before we drove down and drank coffee during the drive. Worked like a charm!
Flat Kristine was super stylish!
The race itself went much better than I had braced myself for. I’d expected to have to really grind against the wind, but I dropped my mileage last week from ~60 miles to 42 (including the race miles!), so my legs were feeling oh so fresh! The course is a tactical challenge: the first mile is downhill, then it’s pretty pancake-flat miles 2-5, then an gentle up and down for mile 5, but then a big climb that’s almost non-stop from 6.5 until about mile 9. After that it’s mostly downhill with one more sneak attack hill from about 10.6 to 11. Oh, and then a .2 mile super steep hill RIGHT before the finish. That one is cruel, to say the least.
Map and elevation chart from halfmarathons.net
Mile 1: 6:56 I decided in the days before the race to let myself run the first mile as fast my legs wanted to go. I was shocked that I went sub-7 to start, but it felt easy and controlled, so I went with it.
Mile 2-6: 7:21, 7:15, 7:26, 7:24, 7:38 I was mostly alone between two packs during this stretch of the race, so I just jammed to my race tunes and kept on pace. I wanted to do the first half of the race sub-7:30, and I think I averaged somewhere between 7:15 and 7:20. Some of the gusts of wind here though were quite strong cross-winds that made me kick myself a lot which was annoying, but other than that though, I hit the hills feeling strong!
Miles 7-9: 7:54, 8:25, 8:02 THE HILLS!!! They were rough. And mostly against a gusty headwind. But I did my best to keep the effort steady rather than focus on pace. A lot of people sunk or soared on this part of the course. I passed a lot of people and was, myself, passed by several. It was definitely a tough part of the race for all!
Miles 10-13.1: 7:26, 7:47, 7:31, 7:38, 7:55 pace up the hill to the finish The last miles were a mixed bag. I felt really great for miles 10 and 11, but then around mile 12 I started to feel my left calf give its tell-tale signs of being ready to cramp… just give it a reason! Playing it safe, I wasn’t able to push to the finish quite as hard as I had planned, and then coming up the hill to the finish line we had a huge gust of wind that had me more or less running in place. But my calf didn’t cramp (yay!) and I finished feeling strong!
Obligatory celebratory Garmin snapshot!
My goal for this race was to go sub-1:40, anywhere from 1:38-1:39:59. I knew it would be a push and a challenge, but I was ready to meet it! I had braced myself for being happy with any PR however after taking a good hard look at the weather forecast. I finished with a chip time of 1:40:13, and I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed. Could I have run 1 second per mile faster? Maybe, sure. But did I give it my all on a challenging course under tough conditions? Heck yes, I did!
Finish and feelings
The finish line party area at Caesar Rodney is AMAZING. The array of food was worth price of admission by itself: hot soup, pizza, pie and danishes, coffee, school lunch cartons of lemonade, orange juice and iced tea, bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, animal crackers, bags of chips… and I’m sure I missed a few things!
Caroline (who also snagged a huge 6.5 minute PR and exceeded her expectations by over 2 minutes!) and I got cold and left the finish area around 11:20, right before awards started (unbeknownst to us!). We shouldn’t have left though, because while we were sitting in the car warming up and I was posting to instagram, she was checking our race results… and I had won an age group award! We hiked back the two blocks back to Rodney Square to pick it up before we hit the road.
I had assumed, looking at past years’ results, I wouldn’t have a shot at getting an age group award, but I had come in 2nd! I was totally shocked, and it erased any feelings of “should’a, could’a” in not coming in sub-1:40. Who cares about 1:40… I got an award! 😉
Awesome medal + awesome award = one happy Kristine!
And, well, in summary…
Overall, I really enjoyed this race. The organization was A+, the course was a challenge but really pretty and fun to run, and the post-race refreshments were top notch. I would love to run it again… hopefully in more pleasant weather!
General format is borrowed from this article in Women’s Running: