I like doing half marahtons, especially during marathon training cycles. I've ran my best Halfs during marahton training without tapering for the races. They are good tuneups and good to see where I am in my current training. This half marahton came on week twelve of my eighteen week marathon training plan for the 3 Bridges Marathon on December 17th in Little Rock, Arkansas. My coach, Philip Latter, of The Running Syndicate, designed my custom plan and I have been enjoying it and progressing nicely on his plan. I was coming off consecutive 70 mile weeks and two back to back long runs on Saturday and Sunday the week before this race. On Saturday, eight days before, I ran my longest long run of the training cycle; 23 miles at 7:26 min/pace. I followed that up the day after with another 10 miles on hills in William B. Umstead State Park at 7:14 min/mile pace. I was a little worried about what I would have in my legs after those runs and the previous two weeks but I trust Philip because his coaching has gotten results.
My Dad and I arrived in Wilmington on Saturday afternoon, the day before the race, and checked into a great place I found on Airbnb. I highly recommend Airbnb because you can usually get better deals on a whole house/townhome/apartment than you can for a hotel room. My Dad and I went to the pre-race dinner onboard the Battleship that was catered by Middle of the Island. It was fun to dine on the Battleship just as World War II Soldiers had. The food provided was salad, spaghetti, pasta with chicken, garlic bread, and brownies for desert. I opted for the pasta with chicken and it was good. After dinner, Dad and I walked around the Battleship doing our own tour so to speak. We eventually found the Memorial Room which had the names of all the Soldiers from North Carolina, broken down my county, that were killed during World War II. We found my Grandma's brother, Robert Hill, on the list. He was on a submarine that was sunk off the North Carolina coast by a German U-boat during the war.
Race day parking at the battleship is tough so my Dad and I parked in Downtown Wilmington for free and opted to take the free River trolley across to the startling line. I recommend getting to downtown Wilmington no later than 6:30am on race morning, an hour and a half before the start, because free parking does fill up fast and the parking decks are not free on the weekends.
Race morning arrived with temperatures in the low 40s for the start. The sun was out, no clouds, and no wind. I ate a Pop-Tart about an hour and a half before the start and then did a scoop and a half of Generation UCAN thirty minutes before the start. I've been using UCAN a lot during this training cycle and I really like it! 2 scoops have fueled my 20+ mile runs without needeing anything else during them. I did an easy fourteen minutes warm-up on the roads around the Battleship after my dynamic warm-up routine.
The second bridge, the Isabel Holmes Bridge, was up next starting at 1.6 miles and it climbed about 33 feet before you start the downhill and come off the bridge at 2 miles. Once off the bridge the course turns right onto 3rd Street then another right onto North Front Street. There was a guy and girl on either side of me and I asked them what pace they were trying to run and only the guy responded and told me he went out too fast and I should go ahead with the pace I had planned. The girl didn't say a word but continued beside me through downtown Wilmington.
We continuted down North Front Street staying on 6:10 min/mile pace. We made a right turn onto Dock Street and then a left on Water Street and we were running on an old brick road instead of asphalt pavement. It was fine though and it didn't bother me. We made another left on Ann Street and had a 200m steep uphill back to South Front Street. I ran miles two and three at 6:07 min/mile pace and mile four in 6:11.
The weather was warming up and I was glad I was just in shorts and my Duke singlet. I ran miles six, seven, and eight in 6:09, 6:11, and 6:13. I passed several runners in the Lake neighborhood, one of which was a HS kid in his Topsail Jersey that went out way too fast and he was fading fast and still had half the race to go. Miles nine and ten were ran in 6:09 and 6:11. The whole loop around Lake Greenfield is about 5.3 miles and it has a few gradual hills in the neighborhood but it is a pretty section of the race course. I was staying consistent and planned to pick up the pace the final 5K and take a shot at a sub 1:20.
I looked down at my watch and was on sub 6 min/mile pace for the final mile. Once off the bridge you turn right onto Battleship Road as you head for the finish. I felt strong as I ran mile thirteen in 5:59. I ended up finishing 6th overall out of 1031 with a time of 1:20:36. I was also first in my age group. After finishing a United States Marine placed my medal around my neck and I thanked him for his military service.