I toed the line at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon at 8 a.m. yesterday morning with Deb. (Elaine, Peggy and Laura were much further ahead of us.) The walkers started with the runners, which was new for me at this race. (Up until last year, walkers started 30 min earlier.) The temps were mild, though I forgot to check what the temp was exactly.
Deb and I walked the race together and got off to a good start with our first mile at 14:43 — in our goal range of between 14:30 and 15 min per mile to start. Our second mile was also 14:43 and we started passing a few slower walkers.
Generally when we walk together, I set the pace. In this race, Deb kept pushing us the entire way! She did a great job!
As we climbed a big hill around miles 3 and 4, we actually sped up! I loved it when we did mile 4 in 14:12 and Deb said she couldn’t go any faster. Still, we did our next mile just a tiny bit faster.
As the day went on, the skies cleared, the sun was high and it got progressively warmer. Luckily, there were more than enough water stops (17) and many had ice which was fantastic! The water stops were great with very encouraging volunteers. I don’t do Gatorade on a course, but plenty of stops offered Gatorade.
Though I’ve seen a little more crowd support in previous years, there were many people sitting in their front yards cheering us on.
Between miles 9 and 10, Deb did something I have NEVER seen her do before — she stopped at a Port-a-John! I took advantage of the opportunity and we made a record-breaking stop of only 1:10 (hence the over 15-min mile).
The day before the race, we scoped out the hill in the middle of mile 11. Funny how it didn’t look too bad from the side, but in the middle of the race after 11 full miles it was a pretty big hill. In fact, Deb channeled our friend Chris and refused to look until we reached the top. The hill is not so bad for the first three quarters. It’s a block long hill that slopes gradually. But the last quarter angles up dramatically making the entire hill horrible!
After that very memorable hill, we had a pretty steep decline on the other side which strained our knees in a different way.
With less than a mile to go I realized we had walked for exactly 3 hours. My half marathon personal record was 3:07 in Parkersburg and I thought I had a shot to break that record and left Deb. I did my best to speed up. In the meantime, I caught up with and passed Elaine who is ALWAYS faster than I am, but was slower than usual because of the heat. (She started closer to the front of the pack than I did.) Unfortunately, I was farther from the finish line than I thought, and it took 9 min 54 seconds to reach it. Darn!
Still, my finish was about 4 min faster than my last half marathon! Not bad! On top of that, I have Deb to thank because she pushed me for 3 hours.
So, my finish time by my watch was 3:09:54 and my official time was 3:10:26 with a 14:32 average! I would have liked to be faster, but that average is good for a hilly course.
Official Finish Times for Others in My Group
Laura – 2:40:05
Peggy – 2:52:55
Elaine – 3:10:28
Deb – 3:11:19
Deb’s and my per-mile pace
My Watch Total 3:09:54 (101)