Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

We’re all 1/2 (Marathon) Crazy

It’s the absence of the stifling humidity that has us giddy. And it’s that season. You see a leaf or two falling to the sidewalk, breathe that air with a barely distinguishable hint of autumn, and runners go 1/2 marathon crazy. Regardless of experience or pace, the half-marathon calls us. We’re helpless against its siren songuntitled.

We rationalize the usual explanations. It is a perfect tune-up for impending full marathons. The half is a great introduction to a longer distance for runners moving up from 5K and 10K distances. But really, we just want to be part of autumn and half marathons.

The Harrisburg Half Marathon has my first 1/2 and continues to be one of my favorites. It is convenient, mostly flat and mostly shaded. Still, after a summer of disappointing results in shorter races and in training, I held off signing up this year.

Has it been the humidity, the air quality, possibly age? Summer running and racing have been difficult. During my last 5K I felt like I was breathing through a mask. The legs felt strong, not so the lungs.

But the fever still strikes. On a hot sultry Saturday before race day while volunteering for packet pick-up, the energy and enthusiasm among runners pouring in for race bibs was palpable. I kept hearing the weather would change overnight, humidity would lift and we would have a cloud-covered cool(er) day.

Rivers Runners pre-race start

Rivers Runners pre-race start. Photo credit: Bekah Rundall

I bit. At the end of my volunteer shift and just before late registration closed for the day, hand went to wallet, signed waiver, picked up shirt and committed the rest of my body to a 13.1 race the following morning.

Overnight, the humidity did indeed clear out, but the cloud cover did not move in. Still, with temperatures in the ’60s and ’70s and those wonderful trees along the Susquehanna Riverfront, it was a beautiful day for a race.

I started near the back of the pack, unsure of what my pace would be. After the first two miles,  from City Island and south through Shipoke to the Greenbelt, runners finally spread out and I was able to move comfortably to an 8:55 pace.

Around miles 11/12, unshaded but great scenery. Photo courtesy Stacey Cleary

Staying on pace miles 11/12, unshaded but great scenery. Photo credit: Stacey Cleary

Surprisingly, the tight breathing experienced over the summer wasn’t a problem. I stayed on pace until Mile 13 where I drifted off by 20 seconds.

A solid finish coming in at 2 hours, 0 minutes, and 23 seconds, this pleasantly surprised runner was just over two minutes off PR placing second in age group.

Photo credit: Lind Brain Beck

Photo credit: Lind Brain Beck

The other pleasant surprise was the relatively large number of women in the 65+ age group. With a field of nine women, first place in AG went to a strong competitor from Virginia with a 1:55 time.

With a beautiful home course and well organized 1/2 in Harrisburg behind me, have I stymied the 1/2 marathon craziness? No. Next stop for me is the Runner’s World Half in October.

Looking at race calendars, over the next month there are roughly 15 scheduled 1/2’s within a two-hour drive. I expect wherever you are, race calendars are similar.answer-girl2

So, who else out there is 1/2 crazy? Raise your hand.

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11 Comments»

  CultFit wrote @

I hope you have a great weekend – Take care 🙂

  Still a Runner wrote @

Likewise. Enjoy this brilliant season’s crisp air.

  kelly leighton (@kellyleighton) wrote @

What a great race! And I have been totally bitten by the half bug this fall as well. Congrats on a fantastic time!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks. And yes, great race and great turnout. Also great to hear you name called for AG award.

  Red Hen wrote @

Hey, GREAT TIME! I get the feeling that F65 band of runners are at the cutting edge of where the study of older age groups is at right now showing great health and performance is possible for longer than we could ever have imagined in the past.

  Still a Runner wrote @

I think so. It’s not that we don’t have health problems, but that we push through them when we can. I hope someone is studying us as a group since I don’t believe there are studies that precede us – nothing to compare us against. Thanks for stopping by, Red Hen.

  afastpacedlife wrote @

I love half marathons too, but i can’t do too many of them. I hurt my feet and end up with plantar fasciitis.

  Still a Runner wrote @

It sounds like you’ve identified when to back off. Smart move. And, you don’t want to do anything to get in the way of your wonderful travel. Love your reads.

  afastpacedlife wrote @

Thanks! I’m glad you enjoy reading them. I have fun writing those posts.

  Jim Brennan wrote @

Hey, Mary Lou, you were in my neck of the woods (well, same state anyway.) City Island is a great venue, minor league bb field and all. Never ran in Harrisburg, but had been there many times for other events, like my daughter’s state gymnastics competition. The state capital is also a very impressive building. Good luck this running season! Jim

  Still a Runner wrote @

Agree City Island is great. If you’ve never run in Harrisburg, try the Capital 10-Miler (www.capital10-miler.com) at the end of March. It’s a wonderful flat but sometimes windy course down the Greenbelt and across the Susquehanna (Full disclosure, I’m RD).


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