My "year of the half marathon" rolls on, this weekend with the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester, NY. After the "Syra-crazy" half in Syracuse and Skunk Cabbage in Ithaca, I wasn't sure how it would go (my third half marathon in 21 days), but I have been enjoying the results of having run all winter and maintaining a base of fitness perpetually ready to run a fast half. I have some breathing room before my final two half marathons of the year: Boston's Run to Remember on May 29 (all four of us are running, including the kids) and Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon on June 18.
Amy and me, pre-race
I convinced Amy to come with me and run at the last minute, and I was really grateful she did. We enjoyed our drive together, and same-day packet pick-up was a breeze. We spent some time stretching before it was time to get to the start line, and it turns out we both had erred on the wrong side with the "what to wear" decision. The sun was out, which made the 36 degree start feel a lot warmer, and it only got more so as the race progressed.
The energy level was really great at this race, with music and announcers keeping us energized before starting. I said hello to my friend Wendy, a Fleet Feet 2:00 pacer for the day (a week after running Boston, impressive!) and also saw Scott and Laura Voorhees on their way to the start. Right on time we were headed out onto sun-drenched vacant streets. I set a brisk 6:30-ish pace for the first six miles of the race: between miles 3 and 6 I was running with a younger woman who was a really great pacer, but alas, I could not hold on. As the race course ascended on Goodman Street and looped up in to Highland Park, I dropped into the low 7-minute miles and really lost some confidence, getting passed a lot as we entered into the cemetery.
In the Mount Hope cemetery, there's was an awesome sight in one of the earlier turns (there were many). It was a mausoleum (or columbaria, I'm not sure) emblazoned with the surname "Strong". Yes, I was tired, and I would need to be STRONG to keep on track. That, and I knew the 1:30 pacer, Mike Rizzo, was not far behind me. During one of the turns, I saw him about 50 yards back, and I set an intention to NOT let him pass. If I could manage that, I could set a season PR (on a tough course), besting my Skunk time of 1:30 flat. I was getting really HOT at this point, too. My thermal tights seemed a poor choice, as I'd taken off my gloves and arm warmers and was just running in a t-shirt on top. Couldn't change much about that now! As we came down out of the cemetery onto the Genesee River path (never-ending, it seemed), I quickened my pace again and managed the last 3 miles at a 6:50, 6:59 and 6:45. The crowd energy was really great as we approached the finish chute, and I smiled as I saw the clock when I crossed: 1:29:18. I was really happy to have challenged myself and made it, just under my goal.
I enjoyed cheering Amy into the finish and we enjoyed the post-race pizza before heading back home, content that our fitness was in the bag for the day. We were both really happy to have raced, and to have had such a good time.
By the Numbers
Chip Time: 1:29:18
Overall: 50 of 2119
Male 40 to 44: 2 of 105
All Male: 43 of 866