I faced another windy challenge at the Salisbury Half Marathon

Vanessa Junkin crosses the finish line of the Salisbury Half Marathon.
Here I am crossing the finish line of the Salisbury Half Marathon on Saturday, April 1. (Race photo.)

Note: I received a free entry to the Salisbury Half Marathon for serving as the coach for the event.

I set a goal in January to beat all of my standard distance times (5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon) from 2020 through 2022 this year. I recognized at the time that the biggest challenge would probably be my Salisbury Half Marathon time from 2021 — 2:20:31.

Sure enough, I did come in about 10 minutes later at this year’s Salisbury Half Marathon, held Saturday, April 1, but I expected I’d probably come in between 2:20 and 2:30, and I was able to do that, squeaking in under 2:30 with a time of 2:29:51.

Vanessa Junkin and Bart Yasso take a selfie near the Salisbury Half Marathon start line.
I got my selfie with Bart Yasso before the race.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking great ahead of the RunSBY Events, which also include a marathon and 5K. I’ll run in pretty much anything, but I also recognize that weather conditions can have an impact on my performance.

Since I live close to the start, I did a warm-up jog to the start line. When I got there, I saw Bart Yasso — the “Mayor of Running” and the retired Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World — who I have now met on numerous occasions. I asked if we could get a selfie, and of course, he said yes. I then looked around for my Eastern Shore Running Club friends and was able to get a photo with some of them.

I ran the first mile in 10:32 before stopping to adjust my shoelaces. The spot where I pulled over to adjust them was before the official Mile 1 marker, so my first mile was logged in 11:45. I felt like my shoelaces were too loose and were causing a small amount of pain in my shins. However, it might have not been the best choice, as later, I felt like my right shoe was too tight. However, I didn’t want to stop again, so I just ran with it like that.

Throughout the race, I dealt with pain on the outside of my right foot, and after I finished, I had pretty bad foot pain that even woke me up overnight. However, I iced my foot a few times and rested on Sunday, and I was back to normal Monday (although I still took another rest day that day). I also made an appointment to get new orthotics, since I’ve had my current ones for over a year.

After the first mile, I ran the next two miles in 12:01 (this included the stop) and 11:00. Near the Mile 3 water stop, I got to see my friend Jamie and her son. After getting some water, I knew I needed to do something to change it up. I decided to start run-walk intervals. I’d done run-walk intervals the previous year at Salisbury and ended up with a time I wasn’t happy with. However, I successfully use run-walk intervals all the time in my training, and I knew it would not slow me down that much if I did it correctly. I decided to do 3:00 run/30-second walk intervals.

Group of runners pose for a photo, many wearing the same orange team tank.
Here are some members of our Eastern Shore Running Club team — far from all of them.

The biggest challenge of the course was Nutters Cross Road, which is a pretty open area that had the wind pushing against us. I met with fellow Eastern Shore Running Club members and friends the night before for a dinner, and Phil had said this would be the windiest part, but that we’d have a tailwind on Riverside Drive, which is the last couple miles of the race. So, I looked forward to that, and I figured if I had some slower miles, I would be able to make up the time later, which turned out to be accurate.

Nutters Cross Road was a stretch of just over two miles, from just before the Mile 4 marker to the Mile 6 marker.

I looked down at my watch around the halfway point, and I think I was around 1:17-something. I did want to try to finish under 2:30, and while the pacers had been out of sight for a while, I still figured there was a chance since I’d passed the part of the course where the wind was worst.

I ran Mile 9 in 10:42 — my first sub-11 mile since the first one — and started to pick up the pace for the last few miles. I got an extra boost of energy when I saw and heard my friends at the Eastern Shore Running Club aid station, which was just before the Mile 11 marker and where the course turned on to Riverside Drive.

Before they actually started cheering for me, I could hear something like “Here comes Vanessa,” which was fun. Then, I got a ton of really enthusiastic cheers. They also cheered on another nearby runner that we didn’t know, explaining that I was the president of the club working the aid station and they all knew me.

This was encouraging and kept me inspired to push for the last two-plus miles and try to make it under 2:30. It was helpful to have the tailwind instead of the wind pushing against me.

Vanessa Junkin points out her name on a backdrop.
The names of longtime RunSBY Events runners were highlighted on this backdrop. Here I am pointing out my name.

I kept up my run/walk intervals, and about a mile later, I came through the Midshore aid station. A little down the road, my friend Karla was out cheering for me. When I saw her, I had about a half-mile to go. Once I got to the quarter-mile-left point, I gave it whatever I had, as I knew I would be cutting a sub-2:30 finish extremely close. During those last two miles on Riverside, I thought about the fast two-mile runs I’ve been doing and tried to channel my speed.

I ran the last full mile in 10:22 — my fastest of the day — and the last bit (my watch logged 0.24) in 2:09, an 8:56 pace. I was able to get that sub-2:30 finish with a time of 2:29:51.

This was my second time recently facing strong winds during a race, the other being the Atlantic City Marathon in October. However, I much preferred having the headwind earlier on and the tailwind at the end in Salisbury, which is the opposite of what happened in Atlantic City.

While I was happy with my performance, I did used to successfully pace the 2:30 half marathon finish, meaning that the pace used to be relatively comfortable for me. However, that isn’t where I currently am, and this was a hard effort for me.

Here I am smiling as I near the end of the Salisbury Half Marathon. (Karla Christie photo.)

I had expected there to be more rain, but the marathoners got much worse weather in that regard. There was a little bit of rain in the last two-plus miles of my race, but it rained much harder once I was finished. I stuck around for a bit, talked with friends and had some pizza and a beer, but then I headed home and got over to the Eastern Shore Running Club scholarship presentation, which had to be moved because of the weather forecast.

Based on the travel I already have planned this year, I haven’t decided whether I plan to run a fall marathon. I would definitely like to run a half marathon for speed this fall, though. I enjoy the half marathon distance, and while I’ve regularly paced half marathons, I only ran one for speed last year. Maybe by the fall, I’ll be able to get my time under the 2:20 mark.

The race was well-managed by Jason Chance and his Rev3 team, and from a participant’s perspective, the race went on smoothly despite the challenges with the weather. I think we’ll all hope for different weather next year, particularly so it’s more fun to hang around afterward, but the organization was top-notch. Swag included a shirt, drawstring bag, bib-holder belt and free race photos.

As the coach, I updated the training plans I’d written for the event and also checked in regularly on the Facebook group.

Hope you’ll join us in Salisbury next year!


Mile 1: 10:32
Mile 2: 12:01
Mile 3: 11:00
Mile 4: 12:10
Mile 5: 11:51
Mile 6: 11:46
Mile 7: 11:49
Mile 8: 11:29
Mile 9: 10:42
Mile 10: 11:35
Mile 11: 11:20
Mile 12: 11:04
Mile 13: 10:22
Last part (watch had 0.24): 2:09 / 8:56 pace

Finish time: 2:29:51 / 11:26 pace on results; 2:29:55 for 13.24 miles / 11:19 pace on watch

Mat Splits (from results)
Mile 1: 11:45
5K: 35:32 (cumulative pace: 11:28)
Mile 5: 58:46 (cumulative pace: 11:45)
Mile 10: 1:56:15 (cumulative pace: 11:38)
Mile 11.9: 2:17:55 (cumulative pace: 11:35)
Finish: 2:29:51 (cumulative pace: 11:26)

Read my BibRave review — and write your own — here.

Diana and I show off our medals after finishing the race.

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