Check another state off the list--half marathon number 13 is in the books! On June 16th I ran the Presque Isle Half Marathon in Erie, Pennsylvania, bringing my quest for a half marathon or longer in all 50 states to 6/50. This race was such a mixed bag of good, bad, and ugly between the race itself, the course, my personal experience, and the race organization.
I stayed in Erie the night before so I had about a 25 minute drive to the start, which was necessary since the race started at 6:45 am and there was no way I was driving up in the AM. When I got to Presque Isle, I hit a little traffic since the Isle was still open to the public plus the race traffic was a lot for a small Isle. It was actually pretty organized and the volunteers quickly directed people into parking spots. I was parked in time to witness a beautiful sunrise over Lake Erie, grab my bib, and stretch out/warm-up. I headed into the pack at the start which was tightly bunched up as the trail was somewhat narrow and 1500 runners were trying to crowd in together.
We took off at 6:45 sharp shortly after the sunrise. The first mile was a struggle to break out of the pack as people of all paces were jumbled up because of the lack of pacers and the road was still open to traffic so were were crowded on one side of the roadway. I attempted to settle into a 7:55/mile pace but it seemed like I was working harder than I should have been to hold that pace. I went through mile 1 on my watch at 7:52 avg. It wasn't until I passed the clock at the second mile marker that I realized I was having satellite issues because of being on the Isle (I didn't even have cell service!) and I was through two miles in 15:00--i.e. I was going too fast and had no clue! I backed off the pace a little but it was a pain because my watch couldn't figure out the actual pace I was running and it was playing games with my head. I had to run on feel until I would see another clock and then had to calculate in my head (they were every 2 miles). As we got further in, the sun intensified, due to the lack of shade, and the humidity was setting in. But for once, I felt like I was handling it well due to my acclimation through training, enduralytes, and the new Nuun formula.
I went through the 10K at a 7:55/mile which meant that I was right on pace for a PR. At that point though, I was starting to notice a pain in my left hip. I thought to myself that that was odd, but then it hit me that I was running on a graded surface because we were stuck on one side of the street and that always irks my hip. I tried to stick to the middle as much as I could but with cars coming down the other side, I was limited. I focused on other things but by mile 8 my whole left leg was on fire from the hip down. I was still on PR pace, but I decided to back off to avoid the risk of actually causing an injury (especially that IT band) instead of just an aggravation.
I decided to keep it easy for the rest of the race and aim for a solid training time since I knew based on my first 8 that I was in the shape I needed to be in. The intensifying humidity made me feel better about that choice, which made me so grateful for the cold towels they were handing out at 9.5 miles! I kept it easy until 12 and then I kicked it in for a speedy last mile, finishing in 1:52. While it wasn't my goal time, I was pretty happy with my performance given the conditions of the road and the weather; plus it was a full 20 minutes faster than my Cleveland Half Marathon humidity battle earlier this year in May. I also felt like I finally had my humidity issues under control.
My Review of the Race: