So my 2nd half-marathon in 6 days ( see my previous post) was in Asheville, NC. I ran this back in 2008 in 1:58:35 and although I felt I was in good shape this time around, I was only expecting around 1:50-1:55. I would have been happy with that as I had not really been running hills worth mentioning. At all!
Had my packet mailed to me and it was waiting for me on Thursday after 9.5hrs driving down from DC. Nice shirt (interesting color this year!) and a bib (#846).
Race day: drove the 1hr 20min from Greenville with no issues and found street parking (fed the meter for 2 hrs and hoped I'd be ok. I was.). Light rain was expected and it was a cool morning...50°. I was liking it.
GTC l/s tech shirt (only wore long sleeves for the GTC support), race-ready shorts, hat, 2 Gu's (vanilla) and my trusty Ironman water bottle. Asics 2150's (with very little mileage).
Did a little warmup and found a 1:50 pace group (8:23/mi) in the middle of the crowd just before the start. After my wonderful pacer in Maryland, I had high expectations here.
Was pretty crowded (28 secs to pass the starting mat) thru the 1st few turns, but I stayed with my pacer and began to chat with him. I recognized the name and we talked about some other races and then the course. I heard it had changed in 2009, so I was unfamiliar with what was different except the out-and-back rose garden area was no longer a part of it. I soon heard "Cherokee", and will not soon forget it. Having recently watched "Band of Brothers" for the 2nd time, "Currahee" came to mind.
So we're running along and the pace feels fast to me, but the pacer says we're on track. I miss the Mile 1 sign. I miss the mile 2 sign. Still feels fast. Pacer is questioned on it yet again, but says we're right on track. We pass a Mile 2 marker, but the time is way off and I expect it is from the 5k? This is all hills...up and down. And up. This is where we hit Cherokee. It's a climb. Steep. I let the pacer go (still too fast?) but do well on the way up. I am trying to work on my descents, let me body go with the momentum and it seems to get better as the run progresses. Miss the Mile 3 marker. Huh? Do they have Any at all??
I start running near a girl named Trisha (who had some fans along the way) and we chatted on and off - that seemed to help us both. I pulled ahead soon though. We went thru the 4mile mark (I saw the marker!) in 30:11. Was that fast? YES! 1:20 faster than last weekend and that was mostly downhills. The 8:23 pacer was nowhere to be seen ahead of us and I was at a 7:32 pace? Are you kidding me? I guess I was too preoccupied with my pace to notice I was running by/near the Grove Park Inn.
So I backed off a little as we made turn after turn (45 turns in this race). I had remembered some of the course so far, but I distinctly remembered the park by the Asheville Country Club. It's a nice section between Miles 5 and 6. Somewhere along here - I felt a little twinge in my right leg/groin. Just enough to notice it.
mi 5: 9:09 (39:21)
mi 6: 7:57 (47:18)
At mile 7 - we turned onto the Beaver Lake trail and it was nice to get off the pavement, if only for a bit. I could tell I slowed thru here, but I was ok with that. I stayed pretty steady the next few miles and was still only 1 minute off last week's race thru 9miles, but I felt that I could sustain this pace for a few more miles.
mi 7: 8:40 (55:59)
mi 8: 8:26 (1:04:24)
mi 9: 8:26 (1:12:51)
Trisha caught back up to me thru here and we stayed close to the end. It was a big help and definitely helped pull me along. And looking at the elevation chart above - this is where you needed all the help you could get! A hill that kept going and going...but we kept at it and hit the next mile marker. The rain started coming down a little more heavily thru here.
mi 10: 10:29 (1:23:20).
Whew! Now the downhill. As I said I thought I was getting better, and the next mile I think showed my improvement. Going so fast I guess I missed the fact that we were right beside UNC-Asheville.
mi 11: 7:05 (1:30:26)
Then, a pretty constant uphill on Broadway/Lexington all the way to mile 13 and the finish. That last half mile is where the wheels fell off before...wasn't going to let that happen this time. I will say now that the volunteers, water stops and people cheering outside their houses & on the side of the road were numerous and wonderful. 12 aid stations - that's how you do it!!
mi 12: 8:27 (1:38:53)
Kept it steady, even on the last uphill in downtown.
|Don't know this runner, but it "almost" captures the incline|
mi 13.1: 9:34 (1:48:28)
Finished 284/1259 (right about the exact same finishing percentage as the Parks Half)
I was obviously very happy with my time. For a day or so - I thought I had actually "beat" last weeks time by 30secs, instead of being 30secs slower. Either way - 10 minutes faster than 2008 and faster than I was expecting.
The rain stayed constant as I got some water and looked for food. Not a huge selection, but I grabbed a banana and pretzels and walked a bit. Grabbed my camera from my car and cheered on runners over the last quarter mile.
Overall: good course (if you don't mind hills!), great volunteers, decent shirt/finishers medal, poor pacer (mine at least - he finished more than 4 minutes ahead of his expected pace)
As a cool-down and to get in more miles, I decided to stop at Paris Mountain State Park on the way home (after 2 hrs with my aunt & uncle). I did my typical 6mi loop on the upper trails. Ran it strong and finished in 57 minutes...one of my fastest times for that route. :-)
Looking forward to more runs out there in November!