Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2016 Towpath Half Marathon Recap

Hi everyone!  To all of my Canadian readers- I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  And to my American readers- I hope you all had a great Columbus Day!  I luckily had the day off work, which should always be the case after a race.  It felt great to relax and rest all day!

This weekend, I ran one of my favorite races, the Towpath Half Marathon.  If you've followed my training, you know that I spent the last few weeks training (after having a disappointing Seawheeze Half back in August).  Just like last year, this race had perfect weather and was organized really well.  I had a pretty good race and improved on my time last year (but missed a PR by a few minutes), so overall I'm satisfied with how I did.

Here's how the race went down:

Miles 1 : 2 : 3

Splits : 9:35, 9:06, 8:51

I almost missed the start of the race because I was in line for the bathroom!  I left my car at 7:30 to make one last stop at the bathroom before the 8:00 start, and the line was huge.  I ended up making it in right at 8:00 when the National Anthem started, and by the time I made it to the start the gun shot off.  I had to start in the back of the line, so most of the first three miles were just making my way to the middle of the pack.

The race starts at the Brandywine Ski Resort, and runs down the parking lot entrance to the main road and onto the Towpath.  The first mile is the only real hill of the race, and luckily it's downhill.  After that, the race is pretty much pancake flat, and run on a mixture of crushed limestone and concrete.


Miles 4 : 5 : 6

Splits : 8:45, 8:56, 9:01

Around mile four I started to get settled in to my pace.  I wasn't really passing people or getting passed at this point, and I stuck with a group of people that were running my same pace.  There's a turn around at mile 6, so we started to get some two-way traffic around this same time.  Thankfully I didn't have to pass anyone, because there's no room!  

I grabbed my first water at the turn around, and started to feel a little warm.  The weather was perfect- 50's and partly sunny- but I was wishing that I wore short sleeves and sun glasses.  


Miles 7 : 8 : 9

Splits : 8:58, 8:45, 8:40

I finished my episode of This American Life that I turned on at the start of the race, and switched over to music.  This helped me so much and kicked me into a new gear (just like I talked about in my race tips post!).  I was still feeling pretty good at this point, and had plenty of room on the trail to pass people now that the crowd thinned out.

I grabbed another water during this section, and took a salt tab.  I had a gel with me, but ended up not eating it.  I haven't been training with gels and have done fine, so I only had it in case of emergency. 


Miles 10 : 11 : 12 : 13

Splits : 9:08, 8:45, 8:46, 8:42

Right after the 11 mile mark, we cross over the main road that leads to the parking lot, and head towards the finish.  This was the hardest part of the race for me, and I was starting to feel a lot of soreness and stiffness in my legs.  I didn't spend enough time during training running on flat courses (particularly for my long runs) and my body was feeling it!  My shoulders also started to feel achy, and overall I was ready to be finished with the race.

Luckily, the race was almost over so I could keep myself motivated to keep going and finish strong.  The finish line is really exciting, with lots of people lining the trail.  After I finished, there was lots of food and drinks waiting- Subway sandwiches (including veggie!), apples, bagels, bananas, water, Gatorade, and a beer tent with Great Lakes beer.  Unfortunately you had to pay for the beer and I didn't bring any money, so I skipped that and headed towards the shuttle buses to go back to the start line where Dan and Selma were waiting.



Overall : 1:57:05


While I didn't hit my "A" Goal, I did get my "B" Goal of breaking 2 hours.  I've only done this in a few races, so it's still a big deal to me and I'm really happy with that!  I still feel like I have more left to give and I'm looking forward to the Pittsburgh 10 Miler in a few weeks.  I think I'm going to have a big race!


Who else raced this weekend?  Anyone do Chicago?
What's your favorite race?
Gels during races..yay or nay?

25 comments:

  1. great race! I love that they had subway at the finish line!

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  2. Great job! I can be hard running flats--people don't realize that!

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    1. Thanks Susie! And I completely agree...I would much rather have a race with some hills!

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  3. Congratulations!! Sometimes I'll take a Glukos gel, but mostly I stick to honey stinger waffles. I prefer to eat something rather than take in more liquid. I'm hoping that Buffalo Creek will be my favorite as I heard its a beautiful course!

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    1. I love those waffles! I had one with me for before the start of the race but couldn't stomach it. Dan ended up eating it instead :)

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  4. Great job on doing a sub 2 hour half marathon that's great ! I also ran this week-end ( a little less, 20km). And I have never tried to eat gels, but maybe I should ? Maybe it could help with the deadleg-syndrom on the last km of races :)

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    1. Great job to you too! It might be worth a shot to try out gels :)

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  5. Congrats again on the race. Your race start sounds similar to mine in September! Ha. Crappy how you were at the back but it's kinda good because it forces you to hold back at the beginning. I should probably try that next time. I always start out too fast. I hope your legs and hips are recovering!

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    1. Thank you Suzy!! I usually start out too fast in 5k's and too slow in longer races. Either way it ends up biting me in the end!

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  6. Congrats Gretchen!! Way to go! From your pictures this course looks super pretty!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! It's such a gorgeous race :)

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  7. Great job! I didn't realize that people purposely incorporate flat lands into their training just like they do hills. All my training is on a flat trail and I actually have to go out of my way to train on hills (hence why I don't do it much..lol).

    I didn't know Pitt had a 10 miler! I'll be interested in reading about that when you do it!

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    1. Yup! It's always a good idea to train on the same sort of course that you'll be racing on. If I did this I might have actually hit my goal ;)

      I've done the 10 miler every year it's been going on, so you can read my old recaps under my races tab!

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  8. Congrats Gretchen! I take gels during race - two during a half marathon - because I'm a big believer in training low, racing high (on carbs). It's like rocket fuel when you're not used to taking it!

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    1. I have such a sensitive stomach that every gel bothers me during runs. If I don't train with something, I'm not going to do it during a race..I've tried that before and it ended HORRIBLY!

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  9. Congrats!!! What a beautiful race :)

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  10. Going sub-2:00 is a huge accomplishment! Congratulations!!! This sounds exactly like my kind of race--small and on a pretty trail. I've gone hiking in the park but not on that trail. Enjoy your post-race recovery!

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  11. Way to go, girl! That is an awesome accomplishment! It looks like it's such a pretty race path too!

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  12. i have never tried gels - i am not really a fuel while running kind of person, though i know i should be. i've been eating these lolly/candy things on my runs with my friend because she makes me and also because they taste like normally lollies/candies and um, that's my kind of thing. ha.
    congrats on your race! sorry you didn't meet your A goal but that is still pretty amazing to me! my goal for my half this weekend is to break 2 and a half hours, which sounds embarrassing after your sub 2, but it's been a long time since i've done that so i'm trying to keep it realistic.

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  13. Great job Gretchen! You ran a really smart race!

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  14. Yay, that is huge. Congratulations!

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