Let’s not talk about the fact that I haven’t logged in for so long that I nearly forgot my wordpress password.
Instead, let’s talk about the Hershey Half Marathon that I participated in on October 16. This was the race that I signed up for while on a running high the day after the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. But, after feeling a good bit of pain in my left hip, I pretty much gave up on training and just ran occasionally. I tried unsuccessfully to sell my bib online. So, I’m not sure what came over me when, the day before the race, I decided I signed up for the race because I wanted to do it and, that if no one else was going to take my bib, I should do it even if my time is horrible and I walked more than ran. I packed up my stuff, drove the 3 hours to Hershey and found the one hotel that had an opening. To be honest, it was on the shady side and I think I slept with one eye open.
Sunday morning, I woke up super early to get to the stadium and pick up my race packet. Packet-pick-up went flawlessly and, since the race began and ended at the stadium, there was plenty of space to park, restrooms, etc. Good idea on Hershey’s part! Hershey was a much smaller race than my last half, Pittsburgh, and the half was the only race – no full marathon offered. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and sipped on tons of water and Gatorade.
The race began right on time and the first mile or two was just getting out of the massive parking lot. My experience with this half was the exact opposite of my experience at my last. For one reason, unfortunately there were almost no spectators or cheering at Hershey (even though Pittsburgh’s began in the rain, there were SO many people out cheering for everyone, even me! a complete stranger!), and I didn’t realize until this race just how much that cheering can help you along. We ran through the park for probably a mile and a half, and I have to say I don’t see the appeal of this, although I know it was really hyped. After exiting the park, we ran along some residential streets (even in the grass at one point!) before turning and running down main street (past my shady hotel, too). At one point, we came across a “chocolate station,” where some hershey’s chocolate was handed out. I could not imagine eating anything, let alone chocolate, so I just ran right by before we headed back into the stadium parking lot to finish off the race. The entire race was VERY hilly, and I was definitely not used to that. By mile 11, I was pretty tired and wanted to be done. Quitting even ran through my mind, but since my car was at the stadium (mile 13), that obviously didn’t make sense. My longest run before halfs has always been 8 miles, so I think I need to up that to 10 or 11.
The finish was in the stadium which, again, was a great idea. Once we entered the stadium, I started sprinting towards the finish line. I had done some rough calculations during the previous few miles and thought I would be able to take 10 minutes off my previous time, but ended only taking 8 minutes. I did “PR” (although I’ve only done 2 half marathons now) and I was happy with my time, given how hilly the course was (Pittsburgh’s seemed completely flat).
One nice thing about Hershey’s Half Marathon is that they offered mini massage sessions right there after the race. I got in line quickly and only had to wait about 20 minutes, which was equal or even greater to the time spent on the massage table, but it was so nice. I used the time waiting in line to really do some good stretching. I hadn’t done anything after Pittsburgh’s race, and I spent a good 4-5 days being super sore. This time, I felt pretty good within 2 days! Stretching is so key for me! Afterwards, I was able to hop right into my car since there was little traffic. Another difference from my previous race was my hunger afterwards – last time I was starving and wanted to eat everything in site. After Hershey, I wasn’t hungry at all, but I did force myself to eat a 6″ veggie sub and plenty of water since I had just burned tons of calories and had a 3 hour drive by myself ahead of me. I stopped twice on the long drive and made sure to do a few minutes of stretching.
This was only Hershey’s second year of hosting a race, so I think I will probably wait a few years before doing it again. I’m really glad that I did decide to do it! This was my first half by myself… I didn’t even have any friends spectating and I’m proud that I was able to push myself to finish.