Today I finished my second half marathon, the Rex Healthcare Half Marathon (City of Oaks Marathon) in Raleigh NC. I chose Raleigh for several reasons, I went to school at NC State and lived in Raleigh for almost 10 years. It’s a close drive away (my other option was Myrtle Beach a couple weeks back) and my best friends Gray and Katie, as well at my sister, still live in the area. I have Katie to thank for taking the awesome pictures from today. My parents also came up to watch this race and cheer me on which was very cool.
At the last minute my Sunday long run buddy Laura G. decided to sign up for this race even though she had run the Marine Corps marathon last weekend. Despite living here, North Carolina was a new state for her, so a special race for her. It was also my first North Carolina race, but I’m on state #2, while she logged state #22.
Me and Laura at the Expo getting our gear.
Shirt, bib and gloves they gave us.
This race had been described as hilly and boy was it. Over 2000 feet of both ascent and descent. There was a couple of good fast downhill spots, and a couple of good hard climbs but a lot of it was rolling easy hills. Training out at the lake definitely helped out.
I started out with the 2:30 pace group, based on a finish time predictor from Runners World Magazine, but I wasn’t sure (and didn’t expect to) if I could finish with that group. We started out pretty quick and actually pulled out ahead of the 2:30 group and then about a half mile in Laura actually ran off and left me. She must have been feeling really good. I didn’t chase her since I knew I was already pushing the pace, and had a long way to go. I clicked off the first two miles at a sub 11 minute mile pace.
After this I slowed it down a little bit and got into a good rhythm as we were making our way through downtown. I knew I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace group and just concentrated on keeping moving without pushing too hard. Still had a long way to go.
11:27, 11:29, 11:41, 11:31
After the 6 mile point I knew I needed to stop and use the bathroom and I also knew that Gray, Katie and my parents were waiting for me at somewhere around 6 and a half miles in front of the church Gray and Katie got married in. There was a water stop and some porta jons with no line at the 10K finish, so I stopped there before I got to my friends. Added a couple minutes to that mile, but not too bad, and after I saw them that was quite a boost to have people cheering for me. I heard Katie screaming “GO ERIC!” before I actually saw them and then found them on the side of the road and waved at them as they took pictures.
13:16, 11:18, 11:27
Katie got this awesome shot, probably my best mid-race action shot.
At this point we got to the 3 out and back sections of the course that were added on because of a last minute course change. This was not a bad part of the course, and mostly flat but it was of course 3 out and backs that are always like “didn’t I just run through here?”. On the first leg I happened to see Laura as she was ahead of me and we high-fived in mid-road before she split off onto the greenway for the full marathon course, while I stayed on the road for the half course. By the third out and back I was getting very tired, but I knew I didn’t have much further to go. I had made it past 10 miles feeling good and had pushed through 11 with decent pace but I could tell I was slowing.
We turned back onto Hillsborough Street and I knew we were almost to the finish, but we hadn’t hit mile 12 yet, so we still had over a mile to go. At this point I was hurting pretty good, although I didn’t hit a massive wall like I did in New Orleans. My legs were starting to cramp up and at this point my only focus was making it to the finish. My parents and friends were camped up at about mile 13, a little bit before the finish and it gave me quite a boost to see them again. Once again I heard Katie yelling “GO ERIC!!” before I actually saw them and it took me a minute to find them on the side of the road. I jokingly yelled out “ARE WE THERE YET?” although I could see the finish from there, and my Dad yelled back something about being only a 1/4 mile behind the full marathon winner. Yes I had seen him pass me on the other side of the road with the police car in front of him.
Another great shot by Katie.
12:17, 12:00, 1:59 (0.17 @ 11:27)
I don’t know where I got behind the 2:30 pace group, probably at the 10K bathroom stop, I never saw them pass me, but I also miscalculated slightly the pace I needed for a 2:30 finish. On a perfect 13.1 the pace I needed was 11:45, which I stayed ahead of the whole time, however, with the bobbing and weaving in the beginning, and really all through the race, added almost an extra tenth of a mile to the distance, and the pace I needed to do 2:30 for 13.2 mile was 11:36. The pacers either adjusted for this, or adjusted their pace accordingly to make certain they hit exactly 11:45 per mile, where I got caught up in the mix and started fast and then slowed. I still managed to finish just behind them at 2:33:59. This beat my previous PR by a good 38 minutes. I also, besides the leg cramping, felt great at the finish and did not feel like I was about to die. Gray even commented several times on how good I looked at the finish and that I didn’t seem like I was going to keel over at any minute.
All in all, this was a great race. The start was a bit of a frustration as all 5000 of us were starting at once (we had the pace groups but not “corrals” per se) and also the full, half and 10K all started together. But once we got going it was all good. The course was challenging, but fun and scenic, the water stops were well manned and the course was well marked. There weren’t a ton of spectators, which I had heard considering it’s a “small” race, but there was a huge crowd at the 10K finish and then all the way down Hillsborough Street. The medal is really great, actually bigger than my New Orleans medal.