For starters, this race was night and day as far as organization and such from the OBX 1/2 Marathon I did in November. Maybe it's partly because the OBX race had a full marathon attached to it and this one didn't, but still. There was no "expo", the website never stated where the water stations would be, and there were no pacers. My friend picked up my race packet for me, and we got stuck with these weird blue men's size small shirts. She was told that was all they had, even though she picked up on the very first day, but at a satellite location (not from the convention center where the race started). We saw a lot of women on race day wearing a white version of the shirt and we asked one where she got it. She said she got it when she picked up her packet and was told that the women's shirts were white. Nice. We got stuck with the men's.
Since I had no idea of the water stations, I brought my handheld water bottle. I am glad I did. There were maybe 4 or 5 water stations along the course, and as we were passing the first one, they were filling up the water cups with a hose from a nearby house.
I also don't remember seeing any mile markers past mile 8. I had my Garmin, so I was good to go.
But still, I am very appreciative of all the volunteers and the police guarding the course as well as the bands that played. The crowd support was sparse, but it was cold that morning, so I understand.
A mile by mile breakdown:
Mile 1: 9:59
I had my Garmin (luckily, at first I thought I left it at home and frantically called Ray then realized it was in the van the whole time) and I tried to keep our pace slower. My friend is speedy, and I knew I would die at the end if I ran the first few miles fast. We started in the shade of the tall buildings in downtown Raleigh, and we started sort of towards the back of the pack. We did some dodging, but it wasn't too bad. Mile 1 pace was right on target.
Mile 2: 9:53
We wanted to keep a 10:00min/mile pace and this mile kept right on that. We were headed straight down Hillsborough street, and I think it was slightly uphill, but it didn't feel like it.
Mile 3: 9:47
We turned off Hillsborough street onto a side street and past the first water station. Right after Mile 3, we were heading across Hillsborough onto NC State campus, and I saw my friend Wendy, the one I did OBX with. She was crazy, jumping up and down and taking pictures.
Yes, the pace got better and better. And honestly, it didn't feel too fast. We were going up and down hills, but nothing major. We saw Ray and the girls between Mile 3 and 4. The girls were cute yelling for me.
Mile 5: 9:33
Another speedy mile for me. And there were hills in there! I saw Ray and the girls and my friend Wendy again before Mile 5. My friend I was running with was having shoe issues, so we pulled off to the side and she retied her shoe. I also started to nurse my Gu I had with me.
Mile 6: 10:08
Still a fast mile considering we had stopped for the shoe thing between Mile 5 and 6. This mile was pretty boring, running under a major highway, but we did see a cute kids' band playing 70s rock. That was funny.
Mile 7: 9:53
I was actually getting nervous. I was beginning to realize that I could beat my previous time be more than a few minutes. I saw Ray and the girls again during this mile. I also knew the hardest mile as far as hills was coming.
Mile 8: 10:10
My neighbor, who I didn't know was coming, was cheering me on right at the start of this mile! She had a poster and everything and was braving the chilly temps (it was in the 30s at race start time). Mile 8 had this huge downhill which messed with my knee, then a huge uphill (as in switchbacks it was so steep), but we made it. This part of the course was actually on a paved trail behind the art museum, so the new scenery was interesting.
Mile 9: 10:34
We crossed over the beltline on a pedestrian bridge, and there was another downhill and uphill as we came up to Meredith College. At the top of the hill was a bagpipe player which was cool except that it sounded like he was playing a death march.
Mile 10: 10:17
Back on the streets that we came in on, I took a Gu chomp and between that and my nerves, I thought I was going to lose my stomach contents. My friend told me "mind over matter" and I got through it.
Mile 11: 9:58
Back on track with our pace. I was super stoked at this point.
Mile 12: 10:10
Between mile 11 and 12, my friend asked if we could walk for a minute. I could have kept on, but I think that minute of walking helped. And our pace stayed pretty much the same anyway.
Mile 13: 9:20
We knew we were near the end, and we kept trying to pick up the pace.
Mile .18: 8:28
Obviously, we were a little long, but with all the dodging and stuff, I expected this.
81/133 for my age group
It was a good race despite the things I had an issue with (like the lack of water stations). I was shocked how easy those faster miles were. I was actually able to talk to my friend during those fast miles (I know, I am saying fast and most of you are probably thinking what a turtle I am), and I didn't feel overwhelmed. I am still a little sore today, but nothing like I was with my first half.
My next goal? A sub-2 hour half marathon. If only LMC would coach me....:).