Half-Marathon: Recap 
The training plan I followed was a 12 week plan and I stuck to it pretty well. The plan calls for three or four days of running, a stretch and strengthen day, two cross-training days (or one if you run four days), and a rest day. Of the running days, two were moderate, starting at three miles and working up to five and one was the “long” run – starting at four and up to 10 (11 in my case). Cross-training consisted entirely of biking.

I had to jostle some days around but I only skipped one day – in the 11th week I took two consecutive rest days to prepare myself for the longest run of training - 11 miles. Earlier in the training, the third week, the heat wave came in – 98º, 101º, 99º, 93º, 91º but I did my runs early and cut them short by a 1/2 mile. Then, the heat continued through most of July with 15 days at 90º or above. But, really, it wasn't too hard to deal with it. I had most of my runs done by 8-8:30 during those hottest days.

Around week 10 I started to feel some discomfort in my left knee. It wasn't enough to stop and it didn't hurt; maybe a .5 on a 1-10 scale. Quad and hamstring stretches helped but the discomfort never really disappeared. The knee was my biggest concern going into the race.

I maintained my regular diet as well: beef no more than once a week (and probably less than that), lots of fruits and vegetables, wheat pasta, wheat bread, and wheat tortillas, salads with every meal, watched the sodium and sugar. Protein was mostly from beans, chicken, pork, turkey, peanuts, peanut butter, and the occasional PowerBar (maybe half-dozen total; they go well with iced coffee post-run). I did not lose any weight during training although my body fat was measured at 5.2% in late July.

During the entire training, nary a drop of rain fell on me. Which, of course, meant that race day would be a soaker and it was. The rain wouldn't normally be a problem but since the course had long stretches of dirt and cinder, it was muddy. In hindsight, the mud wasn't too bad but, like many runners I'm sure, I had purchased new shoes for the race. Mine had about 50 miles on them which is enough to break them in for a special event.

The course had some bottlenecks at the beginning but once we moved off Sand Island it thinned out and then continued to do so. By mile five I had established my own personal space and felt comfortable. It felt like I was running alone too which is a-ok by me. People were passing me and I was passing others but there was plenty of space to pass from the half way point on.

From about mile four to mile seven or so, I worked up to a two-hour pace but was unable to hold it. Those two little hills at Hugh Moore put an end to the sub-two hopes. Personally, I feel a 2:03 for a first half-marathon is very good.

In short, I found it much easier than I though it would be. Before the race, I broke the course down mentally into segments. Segment one was the start to Freemansburg, the second was Freemansburg to the boat launch, then boat launch to Hugh Moore, and lastly HMP to the circle. I thought this would help me as I could view it as several small runs all in a row, in case I got into trouble. It turns out that I never really paid attention to the segments. I just kept going.

Finishing in just over two hours makes it easy to pick my goal time for my next half in the spring. I'll be ready.

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