Ghost Town Half 2016

Monday morning, I ran my second half of the year: the Ghost Town Half, run on the Ghost Town Trail. Not to be mistaken for a trail half, it’s actually a really nice rails-to-trails downhill progression through the woods. It was super-easy logistically for me, since I live about four minutes from where packet pickup was held. Got all my things picked up, then waited around at my car for the shuttles to show up. Some people were getting anxious and wound up driving themselves to the start line, but I figured the race wouldn’t start until the shuttles got there anyway. Loaded up onto the buses and headed out to the start line, which was a little over twenty minutes away. I thought it was really nice, since they gave us about fifteen minutes to get ourselves set up before the race start.

The race started only a few minutes past the scheduled 8:30 gun, so that was nice. It was already pretty humid, but there was a fair portion of the race through the shade – that was a plus! It was also interesting for me, as I’d never really run on about the first half of the course. It was really nice to see a new part of the trail.

My first few miles went along pretty great, and I tried to keep my pace as fast as I comfortably could, since I knew it was going to get hot and muggy in the back half of the course. I spent the beginning of the race trying to find my groove in between everyone else, but I eventually settled in with my podcasts blaring in my ear. I had it low enough that I could listen in on my breathing so I didn’t push myself too hard.

I took my first GU just before mile 4, and I can’t quite remember where the water stops were. In most cases, they were just water bottles left on benches, but I was okay with that. A full water bottle was a great treat, since I could take a few sips and also wet myself down because it was really starting to get steamy. I’m really bad at remembering quite what happened along the way, but by the time I got to the halfway point I started to slow down a bit.

It was getting a lot warmer and I was starting to breathe a little more raggedly, so I slowed my pace down quite a bit. I also had the issue of being surrounded by about six bees starting at mile 9, and they really didn’t leave me alone until right before the finish. The second half of the race was harder for me, mainly because I knew the terrain more and I knew what was coming. Because it was getting closer to noon, the shade was getting harder and harder to come by. I eventually said screw it, and I took off my t-shirt and just wrapped it around my waist. I was wearing a dark color and I would rather get a bit of a sunburn than get overheated.

The other runners were pretty awesome, since we always kind of checked in on each other. There were a lot of people around me running solid, while there were some doing run-walk like me. There were a lot of  calls of “Looking strong!” and “You got this!” and “Just a few more miles!”, and it was really nice for me to hear. That’s the only ‘drawback’ of the way the race was set up. There were like zero spectators other than the finish line and like two at the halfway point due to the trail nature of the course. Since I do all of my long runs by myself, it wasn’t that weird for me – but I know how some people can be about crowd support.

I was so grateful to get off the trail and get back into Saylor Park, since I knew the finish line was close. Different than the Veteran’s Half, we wound up going around almost the whole park on the walking trail. I took one last walk break and then just kind of gunned it to the finish.

I had been doing race-math in my head since about mile 4 (race-math is different from regular math in that I usually suck at it worse), and I had a feeling that I was going to come in under 2:30. Even that far back, accounting for knowing that I would slow down and fade a bit in the later miles, I still thought I would reach my goal. It still felt in reach by mile 8, my other usual check-in on my time, so I just had to stay strong through the end. Especially since I had run Cook Forest on almost no training in a 2:42 or so, I thought I could do it based on how much I’d been running.

When I came around the final bend and just kind of gunned in for the finish line, I knew that I had time to spare. The time on my watch read 2:28:13 when I finished, and I know my gun time will be close to that as well. I was just so happy to finish and I was so tired, but I drank some more water and got my finisher’s glass. I stayed at the finish line for a little bit to cheer in a few of the ladies that had been running near me, including some who were finishing their first half marathons!

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Overall, I was so proud of how I did at this race. It’s given me a few more targets and some hope for the full that I’m planning on running at the end of September. If I could pull a sub-2:30 with a lack of real long runs and in the sweltering humidity of Memorial Day, I think I might be setting myself up for success at a late September full. We’ll see how the rest of my training goes!

UPDATE: Final Race Result 2:28:11!!

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