I got up early Sunday morning and hit the coffee shop and began my pre-race routine. I always do the same thing in the exact same order. Not sure why, but I guess i'm just a little quirky like that. I finished my routine and made the nice trip up to the race.
Garmin routed me straight to the event and the start finish line sat in a brand new strip mall located just off I-90. Registration was at the new Panini's. If you are ever in the area, definitely check it out as it was a very nice place with a beautiful patio. So, I got my bib and timing chip and headed back to the car to consume my last few carbs and do my final preparations.
I noticed while registering that in the course description that it mentioned "4 miles that would challenge your fitness". I thought it may be some incline to the course, but I had no idea how bad it was. Until I saw the elevation chart that was sent with my registration confirmation - nice. I also got some information from fellow runner @JillMEarle. She had ran the race last year and described the course as pretty rough. At this point, I decided that I wouldn't focus on time and would use this as a gauge of what form I had returned to from the marathon. Also, I will be running the Akron Marathon in September and it is a hilly course as well and I figured this would be perfect training.
So, this race consisted of Half Marathon walkers, 5K, and the Half Marathon. The Half Marathon walk started at 7:30 and then rest started at 8. They separated us and we actually began first and ran a lap around the strip mall. While we were doing that, the 5K started. This was pretty interesting and I was laughing to my self as I am a bit of a nascar fan and couldn't help thinking I was on a pace lap. When I came through the start the second time, I couldn't help but here the nascar spotter saying green green green. The race itself continued through a pretty affluent neighborhood. I was surprised that there were a few people out to cheer us on. As we wound around neighborhood. You could see a few golfers who were stuck in their driveway waiting for us. The only issue, was one idiot lady in a Lexus who decided she was going to drive right through the running traffic. I'm not sure what the hurry was, but I guess she could wait 5 minutes for the running traffic to clear. Next, we headed to a bike path. It was at a slight decline and was very shaded. This was very welcomed as the humid was rapidly climbing. Which ended up being a major fail. The weather forecast was for temps in the 60's, but the race ended up being in the upper 80's. At this point I was running like I had never ran before. I had an average pace in the low 8's and I felt strong and my stride was free-n-easy. The only problem? I had to pee and I had to pee now. I couldn't go before the race and the 5k'ers where all in line and I had no time to go before my start. So, I dove into the woods and took care of business. It was kind of funny as I burst out of the woods and surprised the runners on the path. I looped around behind them and quickly made up the time lost.
The climbing was at the end and I was holding back, but still running a great time. Even with the pit-stop I was over 7 miles in an hour. The climbing began just before the 6 mile mark. I should have known I was in trouble as there were signs everywhere that said. The first 5 is the warm up and the next 5 is the real race. I reached the bottom of the hill and began to climb. The climb itself lasted from just before 6 and lasted till just after mile 10. The climb started off in levels. I attacked the first three levels and felt great, not losing any time. The next 3 levels began to hurt a little and at this time I felt like I was working harder than how fast I was going. I reached mile 9, which was 80% up the final climb. At this point, the wheels came completely off. I was done. The heat and humidity had cooked me and it hurt just walking up the hill. Of course there was a camera man at the top of the hill to take my picture walking. I wanted to yell...REALLY!?! I kept my mouth shut and ran again, hoping he would take another photo. At this point I tried a combination of running and walking as it was all I had left. The heat at this point felt like it was boiling and I labored through the last bit. I got to mile 12 and luckily caught a second wind. I rounded the final turn and was surprised at how many people were there to cheer me in. I finished with a time of 2:16 and I went from a PR to wondering if I'd finish all within a mile. Unfortunately, it is my worst half marathon time. I'm trying to focus on the positive as I was pretty disappointed with how I did. It was a hard course and I shouldn't expect too much 21 days from a marathon. Plus, riding over 60 miles the day before probably didn't help much. The good news is a learned a lot. I need to respect these races more and rest a little prior to the race and I need to drop some weight if I am going to handle these climbs in Akron's Marathon.
I know this course is absolutely insane, but it was a very good race. They had water stops every 2 miles and 2 GU stops. Cops were at every major intersection and there were tons of volunteers. The cost was 40 bucks and it was worth every penny. It's a safe bet that I will be back next year to fight that hill again.