The temperatures were in the mid-50s when 8 members of the Buckeye Striders lined up for the US Air Force Half Marathon at 8:30 Saturday morning. The half marathon now starts an hour after the full marathon. Despite the later start time, I still felt cold and was glad I had a light jacket with me.
Barbara and I started together and had a hard time getting any speed because of the crowds. Our first mile was a horribly slow 15:35! We had intended to walk the first two miles in about 14:30. (The second mile was 14:27.) We started picking out people ahead of us to catch and easily caught each and every one of them as we picked up the pace.
Somewhere around mile 3 we hit a great shaded street near the firing range on the base. The shade felt wonderful, but the street was a little narrow for all of the people at our pace. We did a lot of shifting to get around groups of walkers. At the same time, the full marathon wheelchair athletes were supposed to be using the right lane, and there were just too many people for that to be successful. Oblivious people kept easing over in that lane. I felt sorry for the wheelchair athletes.
Around mile 4, Barbara and I separated. (I tried to stay at around 14:00 and she needed to slow down a little.) For the most part I was successful. During mile 6 I made a pit stop, but was still able to finish that mile in 14:27. I had planned not to stop this race, but I was drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and it was unavoidable. I slowed in miles 8-9, which is probably because of the hills in those miles. I also made a point of talking to other walkers along the way which occasionally slowed me slightly.
As planned, I tried to pick up the pace from mile 10 to the end. However, this is where my watch memory was full, and I can’t retrieve those split times. I also missed the 11-mile marker, so I have no idea if I was successful at speeding up. That late in the race, pushing as hard as I was, I just couldn’t tell.
Ahead of me was a woman walker wearing pink who I had tried to catch for several miles. I finally passed her somewhere in the middle of mile 12. Imagine my surprise when at mile 13 she passed me back! I tried very hard to pass her again, but the harder I tried to speed up, the harder she tried to stay ahead of me. I was about two steps behind her until we got right to the final stretch where I started running out of gas. A spectator approached the woman and convinced her to start jogging, and she did! Darn! That same spectator approached me and tried to encourage me to run, too. “I’m a walker,” I said. “I walked the entire distance.” “Well, OK then,” he said sadly.
After that encounter, I rushed as much as I could rush to the finish beneath those great war planes where I received a fantastic medal. My chip finish time was 3:05:37 and a PR!
At the finish we received a sweat towel and were directed to the food tent. The after race food was great! They had all of the basics such as water, bagels, bananas and oranges. In addition, there was Nesquick chocolate milk (fantastic!), cheese crackers, granola bars and La Rosa’s pizza! There was plenty of grass to sit and relax while enjoying the after race food.
This year was the first year I also went to the pre-race pasta dinner. The dinner was held in the Air Force Museum. The food was delicious and the evening included a very inspiring speech by Dave McGillivray, director of the Boston Marathon. (I’ll blog on him later.)
In the past, parts of this event seemed lonely because there are not many opportunities for crowd support. But this year, there were so many entrants at my pace, I had people around me the entire event and everyone was friendly. (OK, everyone except the one guy who glared at me when I tried to start a conversation with him. He didn’t even have headphones on.) In fact, there were so many walkers, it looks as if this race could easily support a walking division.
I’ve entered this half marathon several times, and it is one of my favorite races. It’s well organized, the shirts and medals are always great, the “hydration stations” are enthusiastic, and I always finish feeling proud to be an American! I highly recommend it!
My mile times
Mile 1 – 15:35
Mile 2 – 14:23
Mile 3 – 14:05
Mile 4 – 14:06
Mile 5 – 13:50
Mile 6 – 14:27
Mile 7 – 13:51
Mile 8 – 14:12
Mile 9 – 14:38
Mile 10 – 13:44