Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for the St. Michaels Running Festival.
Prior to Saturday, the last three half marathons I had run on my own, not pacing, had been 2:14-something. I wanted to see a different — and lower — number after that 2.
On Saturday, May 19, at the St. Michaels Running Festival, I was able to do that, running my fastest half marathon since December 2016. At first, I was a little disappointed, as I had made a mental goal to try to go for under a 10-minute pace, and I ended up with an average pace of 10:01 on my watch. However, I was able to break my recent 2:14 barrier, and I can try for the sub-10 pace for the next half marathon I race.
This was my second year serving as an ambassador for this race. Hopefully, if you’ve been following my social media accounts, you saw me post about my $10 discount code for this race (stay tuned for 2019 — I haven’t gotten my code yet, but I will be sharing it when I do!). This year, we were also provided with postcards with our discount code on them, which I thought was a helpful way to spread the word.
Saturday started out early when some friends and I carpooled to St. Michaels from Salisbury. Unfortunately, the parking at the start area was full when we arrived, so we had to park in a neighborhood, which was a bit of a walk from the start. I would certainly advise getting there early — and the race recommends arriving early on the website.
Since I was assigned to Wave 3 based on my predicted finish time, I volunteered to take everyone’s things back to the car — race shirts and extra gear that wouldn’t be needed for the race. When I was almost at the car, a friend from Twitter recognized me and we ended up walking and talking on the way back to the start. I love it when people recognize me from social media or my blog, and this seems to be happening more lately.
I arrived back to the start after the first wave had begun the race, but since the waves were spaced seven minutes apart, I still had a chance to use a portable toilet and start with the third wave.
I wanted to stay just under a 10 minute pace, but I also wanted to not look at my watch aside from when it buzzed at each mile. Although I did look at it some other times, I did a pretty good job of not focusing on it too much.
There were a lot of water stops on the course, and I stopped at pretty much all of them — I think I only skipped the last one. Even though it felt like a lot, I know my body and that I need to stay hydrated. I would rather have stopped when I didn’t really need to rather than end up dehydrated and find myself struggling later.
At the first water stop, I had a little water and got a second cup to try to wash my hands a little bit at the trash can. I know that is unusual to do during a race, but I just hate not washing my hands after going to the bathroom (doesn’t everyone?) and there was no hand sanitizer in the portable toilet. I apologize if that was TMI. Even with that, my first mile was 9:49 and my second mile was 10:12 (I know that water stop was around Mile 1, but I can’t remember which mile it would have been logged under).
There are some turnarounds on the course, and I got to see some of my friends at different points of the race. I also enjoyed seeing some water views near the beginning. Much of the course goes through residential areas.
A little after reaching Mile 6, I took the UnTapped syrup packet I had brought with me as fuel, and that would be my slowest mile of the race, at 10:28.
While talking to my boyfriend the previous day, he mentioned maybe speeding up at Mile 9-10. I did try to do this, but I guess my perceived effort was different, as my miles were relatively consistent the entire time.
However, I was able to finish with my fastest mile of the day, a 9:37. I was also happy to see, similar to what I noted in my post on the eRace the Stigma 5K, that the last little part was run at a fast pace as well. My watch logged the last part of this race as 0.19 miles, and had that I ran that at an 8:12/mile pace.
My final time was 2:12:05, which was a 10:01/mile pace on my watch and a 10:05/mile pace on the results, since my watch logged 13.19 miles.
I do feel like I probably didn’t need to stop at so many water stops — it’s partially a mental thing, because I’ve had dehydration issues before — but better safe than sorry, and I am glad they were there.
It was raining on Saturday, but I actually prefer rain to heat. Until earlier this year at the RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge, I am not even sure if I had run a race in the rain before, just because that is the way the weather happened to be (I wouldn’t avoid a race because of rain). The heat is my least favorite type of weather to run in — and particularly race in, since I’m trying to go fast.
The rain was very light for the first 3.7-ish miles (I looked at my watch to see when it started raining a little more), and I thought the weather was about perfect at the beginning. The rain never really bothered me. It did seem to get a little humid toward the end of the race, but this race was much hotter last year.
There was a puddle stretching the width of the road that I think was between miles 8 and 9, and there was nowhere to go but through it, so I — and everyone else — ended up soaking my shoes as I went through it. This was also a spot that we had to pass again on the way back.
As the race says on the website, it really is flat. I did not notice a single hill, and living in a flat area, sometimes I can feel a hill even if it is barely there. My watch only logged 52 feet of elevation gain during the entire 13.1 miles.
After finishing the race, I got water and some of the post-race food — a banana, a granola bar and a piece of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — and met up with my friends. I also had a beer.
My friends and I ended up staying at the after-party until the band stopped playing — which was noon — and the race had started at 7 a.m. The band, Saved by Zero, which played ’80s hits, was great and interacted with the audience. The band was able to get a whole group of runners dancing, and I even joined in — which is not something I normally do after a race, but it was fun.
Afterward, we went out for lunch at Carpenter Street Saloon, which gave us a discount because we participated in the race.
I am looking forward to 2019! I hope you will join me — stay tuned for my discount code.
Mile 1: 9:49
Mile 2: 10:12
Mile 3: 9:58
Mile 4: 10:03
Mile 5: 9:59
Mile 6: 9:53
Mile 7: 10:28
Mile 8: 10:15
Mile 9: 10:05
Mile 10: 9:50
Mile 11: 10:08
Mile 12: 10:06
Mile 13: 9:37
Last part (watch had 0.19): 1:35 (8:12 pace)