After running my first half marathon back in October, I knew I wanted to get back out and run another. I saw a number of my friends participate in the Glass City Half Marathon (really named the Owens Corning Half Marathon) last year and quietly added it to my “must do” someday list. In December my cousin Tara mentioned that she was wanting to do another half and needed someone to motivate her.
The Owens Corning Half Marathon takes place in Toledo/Ottawa Hills and runs a number of the streets that my cross country team trained on in high school. Knowing the route, the neighborhoods and even the bike path we spent some time on, I was fairly motivated to do this race. I pulled out the flier and two days later we both had signed up. I was grateful my family would be able to watch from more than one spot on the course and would easily be able to meet us at the finish line too!
Going into this half marathon I was hoping for a better overall experience than my first one. My first half marathon back in October had more hills than advertised and ultimately I felt unprepared despite my 16 week training plan. For the Owens Corning Half Marathon I followed a 12 week plan that I felt a little more comfortable with. At one point I did take a 3 week break, for reasons I would not like to go into, so I was hoping my last 5 weeks of training would be a good boost and that I would be ready to go. My long runs had felt pretty good and I knew that I had at least accomplished a 12.1 mile run in training so why not add one more mile. I knew the biggest thing for me to have success would be to not go out too fast.
I had four goals going into the race, taking a piece out of Meb’s book Meb For Mortals. Setting multiple goals gives you something to shoot for even if the main one does not feel like it will happen. They were:
- Under 2 Hours
- Negative Splits
- Have Fun
I’m happy to report that I accomplished all four of my goals! My official time was 1:53:10 taking a full 21 minutes off of my half marathon time from October. Needless to say I was pretty excited when I realized towards the finish how much of a drop I had in time.
Overall this was the most fun I have ever had during a race. I stuck with the 8:57 pace team for the first four miles and the pacers were great. From cheering as we ran past groups of spectators to striking up conversations along the way it was such a great way to start the half marathon and really helped give me confidence as we continued on the route.
The amount of spectators seemed unreal to me at points. Growing up in the area I never expected to see people lining the streets almost the entire way. For the small parts of the course where there wasn’t really a place for spectators there were signs posted & chalk drawings on the pavement encouraging us. I couldn’t tell you how many strangers I shared high fives with along the course, but it was motivating and fun.
I picked up my pace a bit around mile four and decided to stay as steady as I could with the plan of dropping back to the pace group if I felt like I was going out too fast. I never actually dropped back and was shocked at how much energy I had towards the end. The whole negative splits goal really worked to my advantage more than I thought it would!
My splits were:
I was honestly shocked at the end to see that my last mile was 8:02! I knew I had felt a boost as we hit that last mile but I didn’t realize how much of an adrenaline kick I really had until later on when I was looking through everything.
The course was fairly flat with only one real hill (just before the mile 12 flag) and there were an amazing amount of volunteers. From water stations to directions we couldn’t have had a more organized course, well except that the marathon winner was pointed in the wrong direction for a half mile. As for the half marathon I think it is safe to say it was a very well put together event. There were tons of water stops and enough options along the way for energy, Gatorade & water.
Even the finish line was fun. We finished the race on the football field at the University of Toledo, home of the Rockets! Running across the finish line feeling great & knowing that I PR’d was an experience. I got my medal and hit up the photo booth they had waiting for those who finished the race. After meeting up with my family and my cousin and exchanging our hugs we picked up our beer glasses and headed for home.
One downside to a race with so many participants was the line for food and beer at the end. We opted into heading home instead of waiting for our free beer. The lines were long and we were ready to get cleaned up.
Overall it was a fantastic experience. The expo was great, the start was well organized, the race was fantastic and it really was my favorite race to date. If you are considering this half marathon (beginner or not) I would highly recommend it. I talked to my friends I ran with back in October and we all decided we did our first half marathon wrong, we needed one like this instead.
Don’t worry glass city, I’ll be back!
(Photos From My Mom & Purchased From RunPhotos.com)