Race Recap: Bull City Race Fest, October 21st, 2018

On a cold, crisp October morning, a few friends and I headed into Durham, NC for the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon.

Me, Arun, Niles, Zach, AJ and Ashita at the start line

It was my fourth half marathon (1-Tobacco Road; 2-Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh; 3-Umstead Half) this year and to be honest, I wasn’t feeling in good shape for it — not compared to my fitness levels back in March. Training through the summer in North Carolina was not easy with the constant humidity.

My running buddy, Zach, had ran the course a couple of years back, his first half marathon in fact, and confirmed all the reports I’d been hearing of its hills. I’d only ran the 5 mile course before and was looking forward to the half.

I’ve never really been deterred from entering a race because of hills. I simply adjust my expectations based on it. 

Zach had yet to run a half marathon in under two hours, so my plan was to run a steady pace together and push him to a PR. After our hilly half marathon at Umstead, back in June, I knew this may not be easy (for me!).

Me and Zach ready to go!

The race started according to our plan. For the first mile we hovered in around 9:00/mi. If we kept this up and we’ll rock in just under the goal time.

I checked my watch at Mile 2 — 8:40/mi. We probably need to slow down a little bit, we thought. Nope, miles 3-6 flew by easy at the same pace. Yikes! We were going too fast! We were too concerned about catching up with AJ, who shot off like a rocket at the start.

At mile 6 we eventually caught up with AJ. That’s when the first of the hills started rolling in. Mile 7, while not the toughest hill-wise, was our slowest at 9:04/mi, but all was still good. Runners are always doing the math in their heads. We had time to spare.

My fueling plan was the usual, Gatorade Endurance gel pack every 45 mins, and a drink of water at every other aid station. This didn’t go exactly to plan.

I waited a little too long for the first gel pack which maybe explains mile 7. There were some hills during the last third of the course, so I took another one around mile 9.

Mile 9 is when I usually start to suffer in a half marathon, but this time I didn’t feel that. I felt much stronger than normal. The last third of the course hardly slowed our efforts at all. Maybe all that training in North Carolina’s humidity prepared me for this after all?

Again, doing the math, we rocked into mile 10 with big grins on our faces. We knew we had this race in the bag. It would take a really bad 5K now to miss our goal time.

In a final what the heck moment, I consumed an additional gel at mile 12 for the last stretch!

The course kept throwing hills at us in the last couple of miles, but my last two miles were my fastest on the course. I kept my eyes on the prize — the cold beverages at the end.

A lot of our team walked away with HUGE PRs — #breaking2 baby! 😉 Did Zach and I smash our goal? Of course we did! We came in well under the 2 hour goal. Turned out to be my 2nd fastest half marathon after Tobacco Road.

Me, AJ, Ashita, Niles, Zach, Shravan

I’m so happy about that. It definitely helped me overcome my summer training slump and restored some confidence as I reach for bigger goals next year.

We’ll be back again, Bull City Race Fest.

Race Recap: NCRC Classic Half Marathon

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This was not a race I’d been planning to run or was preparing for. A friend of mine had registered and unfortunately she was unable to run it. Thankfully the race directors allowed her to transfer the bib to me at short notice.

This was my third half marathon, and the most challenging to date. I knew it was going to be difficult as I had ran sections of the course before. However, now it was a race. Knowing how hilly the out and back course was, I had accepted it was not going to be a PR run for me, and I was fine with that.

I convinced Zach (and he convinced his training buddy, Courtney) to sign up on the morning of the race. It’s much more fun racing with friends.

Access to, and parking at the race was great. There wasn’t much traffic and there was plenty of places to park (at surrounding businesses). From the parking lot, the race start was across the road, just outside of Umstead State Park.

The half marathon start time was 7.00am. There was also a 10K which started at 7.20am. I estimate maybe 300 runners for the half — so quite a small local race. It was an open course too, so there was no stopping other runners or cyclists from using the trails with us (and there were quite a few doing just that).

The whistle blew, and off we went. The aim was to stay slightly ahead of the 2:00 pacing group as we wanted to finish under 2. I arrived at this target scientifically of course.

Back in March, I completed my first half marathon in 1:49:00. In April I completed my second half marathon, with hills (h), and a stop to poop (p), in 1:57:00.  So it stands to reason that few extra hills (h) minus a poop (p) would result in 1:59:00.

Mathematically speaking: (h*2)-p = 1:59:00

The first few miles felt really good. We were easily keeping a nice gap between us and the pacing group. The hills were slowing us down a bit but we were still tracking at a decent pace.

It wasn’t long after the turnaround, maybe a mile or two, that I had to let the pacing group pass me and come to a realization that there was TOO MANY FREAKING HILLS on this course to complete it in under 2 hours.

2018-05-25 15_56_51-NCRC Classic Half Marathon _ Run _ Strava

At mile 9 (why is it always mile 9!?) I couldn’t keep going on long incline. Zach kept going strong but I had to stop running and walk and watch him disappear into the distance.

The humidity was getting to me. At every water station I was drinking at least 2 cups of water/Gatorade, which I’ve never had to do before. My clothes were drenched in sweat – even my socks were drenched.

It rocked my confidence a little to be honest. I couldn’t help thinking how unprepared I was for this race, and how unprepared I would be for a full marathon, and why would I ever want to run that distance!

After some one-on-one time with God, questioning life in general, the course started to flatten out around mile 10. I was now running again. The next mile and a half was downhill which helped, even though my legs felt like lead at this stage.

There was one more brutal hill at the 12.6 mile mark all the way to the finish. As I started the final ascent, I was surprised to see Zach ahead — not far at all. I made a valiant attempt to catch him, but ran out of steam quickly. He turned around and waved, and then put in a little extra effort to cross the line.

I found out later he considered waiting for me so we could cross the finish line together, but he feared I would run past him. And yes, I would have done exactly that. So he made the right call to run for the finish.

I crossed the line about 20 seconds after — happy to be done.

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There were plenty of snacks after the race, but no beer. I mean, come on. I could have murdered one or two cold beers after that race — easily. I did manage to pick up a nice race shirt though (which is modeled below) which somewhat makes up for it.

Someone asked me if I would run it again. Yes, probably. I wasn’t happy with that performance at all. It beat me, told me I sucked, so I want a chance at redemption. I’ll be back sometime, NCRC Classic Half Marathon. You wait and see.

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Added: NCRC Classic Half Marathon

2018-05-17 16_42_57-Umstead Half Marathon - 21km Running Route near Cary (ID_ 613619)

I’m running another Half Marathon this weekend — my third HM race this year. This coming race wasn’t planned, but a friend is unable to run and transferred her bib to me.

The NCRC Classic Half Marathon is a fairly hilly route through Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC. The terrain is mixed road and hard-packed gravel, much like the Tobacco Road Marathon back in March.

This may be the hilliest half I’ve ran, with an elevation gain of over 700ft. Despite that, I’d still love to complete it around the 2 hour mark. They have pacing groups available, so I’ll try to run between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacing groups.

I was hoping some friends would sign up to run with me, but as of today the Half Marathon is actually sold out.

Click here for an interactive map of the route.

 

Added: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Raleigh NC

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I just signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Raleigh, NC on April 8th. It’ll be my second ever Half Marathon and my first time running a Rock ‘n’ Roll series race.

(I’m very excited about how my race schedule is shaping up. It’s only January and I already have more races on my 2018 calendar than I raced last year).

I love the buzz of BIG races, and running through city streets with thousands of other runners. Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh hosted 9000 runners last year! How could I pass up this opportunity to run the streets of Raleigh, when I only live down the road?!

I’ve known about the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races for a number of years, but was not running at the level needed to sign up for a half or full marathon. This year that is changing. I’m running my first half in March this year, and then the Rock ‘n’ Roll half in April.

Continue reading “Added: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Raleigh NC”

New Half-Marathon PR!

While I’ve yet to run any actual half-marathon races, I have ran the distance now on two occasions. My first attempt, back in mid December took me 2:14:12. My second attempt, on Sunday morning past, shaved over 10mins off the previous time with a result of 2:01:06.

I’d have loved to have landed under 2hrs, but I’m very happy with this progress, considering this route is fairly hilly (for Morrisville)!