I’m excited to finally recap the 2017 Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half Marathon!
The day started off slightly different than other race mornings. The entire reason that I registered for this race was to break up one of my longer training runs. I was scheduled to run 16 miles on race day, following a 6-mile training run on Saturday.
I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and did a relaxed 2.9 miles around the neighborhood. It was pitch black, but the weather was beautiful!
I was shooting for 10:00/mile pace (or higher), so I remember being slightly nervous that I ran a 9:47 pace.
After my run, I ate my Uncrustable sandwich, changed into my race outfit, and then we headed to Gettysburg. The drive to Gettysburg takes approx. 45 minutes, so I was trying to keep my legs loose in the car with my stick roller and stretchy strap.
We pulled into the parking lot of the starting line at 8:00 a.m., which was roughly 1 hour from the start of the race. I immediately started stretching and tried to keep my nerves at bay. For some reason, I get EXTREMELY nervous before every race – even though I’ve done so many!
After I spent some time stretching and doing some last-minute hydrating, Steve and I headed up to the Gettysburg Gateway Theater to use the real bathrooms. All of my fellow runners out there will appreciate how amazing it is to have real bathrooms at the starting line!
After using the restroom, Steve and I headed to the starting line area. There was some music playing and A LOT of crowding.
With about 5 minutes to start time, Steve and I said our good-byes, and then I made my way to the middle of the crowd of runners. I don’t consider myself a fast runner, but I do consider myself to be in the middle of the pack. By starting in the middle, I don’t have to worry about passing too many runners…usually.
After the National Anthem and some last-minute announcements, it was time to start the race! The wheelchair athletes were first, and then it was our turn!
I took some deep breaths, and then we were off! It was truly a mad dash at the start line. There were so many fast runners that started too far back in the pack. I felt like I was being passed by everyone!
For every race, I like to skip my intervals for the first 2.5-3 miles. I find that helps me to avoid being trampled while walking so early (when everyone else is sprinting). So, I started off nice and easy and settled into my pace for the first few miles.
The first mile took us on a long pathway to get out of the massive parking lot for the theater. This part reminded me a lot of a Disney race…lots of pavement and parking lot.
Then, we headed directly for the battlefield. I wasn’t able to read too many of the signs on the way through this area, but I believe a lot of the Virginia troops were stationed at this part of the battlefield. It was so cool to see the cannons and beautiful rolling hills!
I felt great through Mile 3, so I decided to keep running through my intervals. My pace was averaging around 8:35/mile, so I was excited that I was doing so well!
After two miles of battlefield, we made our way back to some paved back roads in Gettysburg, where we remained for the next 6-7 miles. This was an out-and-back course (with only a slight difference in the course on the way back), so we did see a lot of the same scenery.
This was around the 5-mile mark (also the 10-mile marker) – right before I took my first Gu.
And…this is where it started to get tough…
All of the sudden at mile 5, my legs started to feel like jello. I could feel them getting tighter. I decided to add some of my walking intervals back in. I ran 9 minutes and walked 1 (as opposed to my 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking). This helped a lot, but I knew if I walked anymore than that, I would not be able to finish. My legs were just tightening up that fast.
At this point, I just wanted to be done. But, even though my legs were so tight, my breathing and stride were great, and I was somehow managing to average an 8:34/mile pace…..WHAT?!
At mile 10, I took my second Gu. While I took a short break, I realized that if I kept up my pace for the next 5K, I would PR. I had a brief internal argument with myself…do I really want to risk messing up my training this week (or more) for a PR? I knew that this was crazy, but my competitive side got the best of me, and I kicked it into gear. The miles were flying by, and my pace was looking great!
At mile 12, the course really opened up. At this point, I knew I had my PR. Although my legs were more sore than ever, I couldn’t stop smiling! At the same time, I found myself stride-for-stride with another gentleman who was smiling and singing his way to the finish line. He asked how my race had been so far, and I let him know that I was extremely tired, but I was going to PR. He told me to stop talking to him, and go for it! So, I did just that. I kicked it into high gear and sprinted to the finish.
If you can’t tell, I’m almost in tears in this photo.
My official time was 1:52:23. I finished 94/483 overall, 31/280 in my gender, and 3/20 in my age division! I DID IT! I PRed by over 2 minutes! I honestly never thought that I would break my previous PR, let alone do it during Dopey Training!
After I crossed the finish line, I found Steve and immediately headed for water and a banana. I was so hungry and knew that the potassium would help my sore muscles!
I cooled down and watched some of my fellow runners finish. As I was stretching, the race director made an announcement that official times could be reviewed at the tent. So, I made my way over to the tent and gave the race director my bib number. As he handed me my print-out, he noted that I had won a prize and that I needed to stick around for the awards ceremony. WHAT?! I won a prize?!
About 20 minutes after I finished, the awards ceremony started. First, the overall winners were announced and given their prizes. Then, the director went through each age division and gave out pies to the top 3 finishers in each division. I came in 3rd in the 19-24 division, so I received my own apple pie!
Then, the annual North vs. South competition was scored and announced. Each year, runners have the opportunity to run for the North or the South. The race directors then average the times of the top female and male finishers on each side. The side with the lower time wins a prize. And, our side (North) won, so I also received a free race glass!
Overall, this was one of the hardest half marathons I’ve ever done. But, it was so worth it! I’m so incredibly proud of my PR and for finishing 16 Dopey miles that day.
Now, it’s time to buckle down and really focus on Dopey – there’s only 69 days left until Marathon Weekend!