Ran the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon today up in Williamsburg...the ninth race in the short eight weeks of this year. I had just run the Mud in Your Eye 8K the day before and this half was billed as being very hill, so I wasn't looking for a record time, but looking to put in a good effort and see how I could handle a hilly course. I was still hoping to at least get under 1:30.
The race is run in the wooded and rolling hills of the Williamsburg area, starting and finishing on the beautiful William and Mary campus. The start line is in the southern end of the campus and the route takes us through a mostly wooded, one lane paved road that runs about six miles out and back finishing inside the William and Mary Hall...the campus' basketball arena. The weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies, temps in the low to mid-40's and very little wind. In my opinion, an almost ideal condition for a long run. Also the race starts at 1:00 in the afternoon, which allows the temps to reach its peak...which is good on a cold winter's day.
So, I slept in till just before 8:00...felt good to not be in a hurry and not worry about getting up early. Except for going to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg a few times, I didn't know the Williamsburg area very well, so I printed a Google map of the area so I wouldn't get lost. I had planned to leave in time to get to the same day Expo and packet pickup early, which ran from 10:00 - 12:00. But I ended up leaving about 10:00...later than planned, but I figured the race being only about an hour up the road, it would still give me plenty of time to get up there in time. Once I got up near the Williamsburg area, I decided to take a short cut. Looking at the map there was a road that ran more directly to where I was going instead of going up and around, only problem was that it was a business route and it didn't take the direct route that it showed on the map...well...to make a long story short...I got lost! Not only did I not know where the road was taking me, I was in a long line of cars slowly traveling up a two lane road being held up by someone wanting to travel at 20 mph. I finally saw a road I recognized on the map and looped back to get on it and magically I was at the entrance of the William and Mary campus near the Hall that I was trying to reach...and it was only a few minutes past 11:00. I got my bib and asked where to go for the chip pick-up and was surprised when they told me there was no chip. Okay...I went all the way around to the other side to get my t-shirt and then decided to go into the arena to check out the finish line. I get inside where the seats are and who do I see relaxing in the seats...fellow blogger Steve with his wife and her mum. After chatting a bit, I head out to explore the expo...which was really small and then since the start line was about half a mile away, I wanted to explore and wander around the campus to the start line. I got about half way there and noticed the rolling terrain which was a bit intimidating, and turned around to go back...I still needed to put my running gear on...but first headed to the back of the arena to check out the finish ramp where we were to run up into the arena for the finish...just to get a feel for it. Went back to the truck and got my gear and bib on and then headed out again towards the finish line. Just about this time I heard some drumming and fife music, which was coming from about half a dozen men dressed in colonial uniforms, leading the runners to the start line. I followed a bit...like following the pied piper but after a bit, I felt the need to do a warm up and started my slow jog to the start line. Got there and after a bit met up with Steve again along with a few other runners from down our area.
As the starting time got close we headed to the front of the massed runners and was able to get to about a row from the front. The horn starts at 1:00 and we are off. I started running the first couple miles with Steve and another local runner also named Charlie, and the first mile came in at 6:34, and we notice that we are constantly going up or down these rolling hills. The second mile was a long down hill stretch...realizing that this down hill stretch will be an up hill stretch when we return between mile 11 and 12...and mile two comes in at 6:31. We come to the first of four water stops...all water stops just had water, which was fine by me...and I get a cup of water and lose contact with Steve and the other runner but I let them go because they are running at a faster pace than I intended. I miss mile 3 but mile four is 13:28...so about a 6:44 pace for those two miles, and we are running on a one lane paved road that is winding through the trees. The only spectators are probably the few homeowners in this area. We were told that spectators were not allowed on this section of the course and I could see why since it was only a one-lane road. Mile 5 comes in at 6:48 and mile 6 in 6:59 for a total time of 40:21...I was happy with that. During this time the runners have spread out and I pass a few runners as well as get passed by some. After mile 6 we do a loop that first veers off onto a soggy trail to get to another road...reminded me of the soggy run of yesterday. We get on a paved road for a bit before we hit another wooded trail that again loops us onto a main four lane road. We go over an overpass and we can see the runners below that are headed for the turn around loop. During the period on the wide-open road, I get my second wind and start chasing down runners. I miss mile marker 7 but mile 8 comes in at 13:35...about a 6:47 pace for those two miles. We make a left back onto the one lane road through the woods, headed back to the finish, and meet up with the runners still running out to the loop...which kind of gives me another boost and mile 9 comes in at 6:36. By mile 10 we have passed the last of these back of the pack runners and it becomes lonely again and my time is 6:47, which gives me a total time of 1:07 for the 10 miles. I know that I'm doing well and even with all the rolling hills, I am feeling real good and mile 11 comes in at 6:44. Then comes the dreaded long uphill stretch and I just focus on the runner ahead of me trying to draw him to me. I pass him about half way up the hill and set my sights on the next runner. We crest the hill, and make a left turn which takes us back to the William and Mary Campus and mile 12 comes in at 7:08...my biggest split but it actually didn't feel like I was going that slow up that long hill. 1.1 mile to go and my time is 1:21...Steve has finished about now...and I try to pick up the pace. I try to pass a runner on another up hill climb on the campus but as soon as I get to his side, he kicks it in and I am content to follow. We finally see the Hall where we will finish and race from the front of the building clockwise to the back ramp. We race up the final ramp into the arena and cross the finish line and the time shows 1:28:34 on the clock as I glance back.
A very satisfying race. No PR but very close to the 1:28.01 that I ran in the Norfolk Half...and this was on a very hilly course after an 8K race the day before and I felt very strong the whole second half of the race. So I was very happy with my time. Only disappointment of this race was...No Bling...No medal...I don't think they even had age group awards, just cash awards to the top ten men and women overall. This is a great run and I feel could be even better if they just organized it better. Their race web site is very lacking with very little information about the race, no on line course map or directions to get to the expo or race site...we got a couple of hand drawn maps of the course at packet pickup...no address, no chip timing and no bling. But it was a fun race on a nice course.
There were 78 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 860 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 70 of 860
Age group finish place was 2 of 78
Time: 1:28:32 for an overall pace of 6:44 per mile
Mon: 10 miles run, 35 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Tue: 48 min Elliptical, 47 min Cycle, 26 min Stairstepper
Wed: 7.6 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 16 min Stairstepper
Thu: 47 min Elliptical, 45 min Cycle
Fri: 3 miles run, 22 min Elliptical, 33 min Cycle, 16 min Stairstepper
Sat: 8K race with 0.4 mile warm-up
Sun: 13.1 mile race with 0.5 mile warm-up
Next week I had planned to take a break from racing since I need to get in a final 20+ mile run before the Shamrock Marathon on 16 Mar, but there is a 5K race that looks real tempting. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.