Thursday, September 18, 2014

Race #269 - Via Half Marathon - Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania - 09/07/14

I registered for this race a few months ago with the intention of running the full marathon. I've only run two full marathons in the past -- New Jersey in 2009 and New York City in 2010 -- and after both I swore I'd never run another one. All runners are different in some ways and not all of us are suited for marathons. This week marks my sixth anniversary as a runner, and this was my 66th half marathon, so I'm averaging 11 per year. I've become comfortable racing for 13 miles and it's now my favorite distance. I've run many more 5k races (140+) but I always prefer the challenge and excitement of the half marathon if I have a choice.

Being a little envious of the people running the Boston Marathon, I thought it might be time for me to once again test the waters of the full marathon even though my two previous marathons resulted in disappointment (4:02 in NJ and 4:09 in NYC). As comfortable as I am running 13.1 miles, the wheels start falling off shortly past that distance and by the end I'm doing the proverbial death march.

So the point is, it's been four years since I have tried to train for a full marathon, and no doubt I'm a much more experienced runner now than I was then so I thought I'd give it a shot. I decided that I would need to build my base up to 70 miles per week to run a good marathon. I'm past the point of just wanting to finish standing up. I know I can do that, but a good quality marathon would take more training. Long story short, once I built my mileage up from my normal 35-40 miles a week to the 50+ range I started falling apart with several small but nagging injuries. It was at that point I decided to back off and go back to the distances I'm more comfortable with and compete best at, which are 5k to half marathon. I've been happy and successful in that range so I've decided to stay there.

Traveling 1200 miles round trip for a half marathon probably wasn't my most logical move ever, but I had already paid for the registration and the hotel and Linda and I wanted to get out of town for a couple days so we made the trip.

I was really happy with my time of 1:34:13 although I did get beat by somebody else in my age group. As they say, "It all depends on who shows up." I slowed down quite a bit in the second half and was passed by more people than I could count, but I still finished 41st overall out of more than a thousand runners in the half.

Pros:

  • Well-organized and well-established event.
  • Nice expo at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, formerly the huge Bethlehem Steel plant.
  • Flat course, although my friend Dianne said she thought there was a long uphill incline about 9 miles into the half. I don't remember that but maybe my memory's conking out faster than my legs.
  • Great finish line with lots of supporters, food, and entertainment.
  • Free shuttle buses at the finish line carried runners back to the start.

Cons:

  • Logistics: It's a point-to-point race with the full marathon starting 26 miles from the finish and the half marathon beginning at the halfway point at the same time. It makes you appreciate the fact that most races begin and end at the same place. The free shuttle buses helped but I'd rather just hop in my car and leave.
  • The course is mostly unpaved, which I knew beforehand. It's not a bad surface -- crushed gravel I guess -- and the relatively small number of roots that might trip you up are painted with a bright color to help you avoid tripping over them. Still, I'm most comfortable with pavement all the way.
  • They somehow managed to mess my name up. I'm positive I registered as "Richard Hefner" as I always do, but they must have used the name on my credit card to enter me as "Everette Hefner" (Everette is my first name but I always go by my middle name).


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos 

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

Time: 1:34:13
Pace:  7:12
Age Group:  2 of  22
Overall:  41 of  1003
Average Heart Rate: 166
Maximum Heart Race: 177
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:14:48  (79.17%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
8 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  96