Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Cumberland Blues last weekend - a great half marathon!

Last weekend I headed up to Western Maryland for the Mountain Maryland Marathon. This was a first year event in Cumberland, I ran the half marathon. Since the race organizers did not get permission to use all of The National Road (US 40 - original marathon route was from Cumberland to Frostburg and back), the course was changed a month before the race. That worked out just fine, the half marathon course went up the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail. I turned around after 20 or so half marathoners did before me at the Brush Tunnel.

I was encouraged to not see the lead half marathoner until I got quite a bit past the mile 5 marker. I generally only complete within myself to see how well I can do but it was a good feeling to know I wasn't getting totally smoked either. Headed toward the Brush Tunnel I felt like I had climbed quite a bit, albeit gradually save for the short, steep hill to get onto the bike path from Maryland Route 36. At the turnaround, I touched the orange traffic cone for good luck or whatever, then looked at the watch. 55 or 56 minutes, somewhere in between.

Cool! I'm going at a faster pace than I figured I would in this race, my first half marathon with continuous vertical gain. The downhill in theory goes a bit more quickly, but you have to consider the effort already given to get halfway through the race when guesstimating your final time. I decided to concentrate on just running a solid, steady pace. Chatted a bit with a couple of locals who were running the half, made sure I thanked the volunteers and the locals who came out to watch, and made my way back down into Cumberland. Passed the Fruit Bowl and knew I was getting close.

It really hit me that I may actually set a PR at that distance when I saw Kevin, the Race Director, directing people on one of the last turns before the train station (the finish). I didn't realize I was that close when I looked at my watch and it read 1:45:something and I had one of those, oh yeah I actually did this s*t! Crossed the finish line after waving in appreciation to the spectators at....1:47:20 from my watch time (started when I passed the same spot that the front line runners started at), 1:47:25 gun time. That's a PR by over 3 minutes. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the end result, and the whole weekend in general. I went on a nice little 7-8 mile hike in Rocky Gap State Park on Saturday, and kicked a*s in the race. I can't wait to go back next year!

I'm the guy in the white hat headed back down the path. I know that guy!. This week is the GW Parkway 10 miler on Sunday, and the 4th of 5 5Ks in Crystal City. I have canceled my experiment where I'd run from work to the race to see how running 6-7 miles beforehand would affect my 5K time. Too much going on to do that but that's cool. Till next time, peace. And I want to go back to Cumberland this summer or fall and take my bike up the bike path I just ran on.

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