In what has become a common theme at a lot of my races, I went in to it well over race weight, and way underprepared. In 2016 I've only run 7 miles three times, and 7.5 miles once. Not exactly the mileage needed to be prepared for a half marathon - especially one with as many hills as this one. The only advantage to be unprepared is not having any expectations for performance - I was hoping for 2:50 at best and thought I'd be closer to a 3:00 finish.
This year the weather was decidedly un-beachy. It snowed on the way to the race, snowed after I got to the venue, and snowed off and on during the race - including as I crossed the finish line. It was very breezy and cold as we waited to start the race right off the lake, and at other open locations along the route. It made it hard to decide what to wear. The night before the race I thought I'd be OK with a long sleeve tech shirt with a T-shirt over the top and a lightweight pair of gloves. The cold wind had me questioning that decision, and I spent a good deal of time before the race just looking at what everyone else was wearing. I finally decided to wear that shirt combo, along with my lightweight coat over the top. I was overheating just before 3 miles in, so I took off the T-shirt and stuffed it in the coat pocket. I was still a bit warm for most of the remainder of the race, but I'd have frozen without the coat.
I lined up near the back of the crowd and took off at the back of Wave 5. Took it slow and easy the first couple of miles through the trolley trails, then tried to settle in on the net downhill paved portion of the course. Lots of enthusiastic volunteers as usual. They had to be pretty cold! Settled in leapfrogging with the same bunch of people as we were all on different run/walk schedules. For me I walked every uphill, and ran every downhill and most flats. Got in a lot of speed/powerwalking.
I tried to take in the scenery, and enjoyed the trees in blossom. We passed over some rushing creeks, and got a peek at a small waterfall through the underbrush.
We had received an email on Thursday notifying us that on one of the roads there was a deer that had been struck by a car. They had made a lot of calls to try to get it removed, but couldn't guarantee it wouldn't be there Sunday morning. Fortunately it must have been removed, since I didn't see or smell it!
At the halfway point I took my traditional drink of beer and was briefly re-energized after going thru the aid station. The course was now back in the woods and thru fields on two-track trails. We only had a mile and a half before the big hill at mile 8. Somewhere in here I started to feel the need to hit the bathroom. I made it thru the aid station about a 1/4 mile before the big hill, and was treated to a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bells". There were also several people wearing parkas and hula skirts!
Ran a little further on and got to a portapotty where I made a quick stop and then started my trudge up the hill. This was then followed by a steep quad-busting downhill. After this leveled out a bit I nearly took a tumble as I tripped over a root. I was doing math in my head trying to determine what pace I'd need to maintain to not get swept in case I needed to switch over to powerwalk mode. Fortunately I had enough time in the bank that this wasn't a concern. Made it out of the woods and onto the undulating paved bike path. In most years this is where the sun's heat bakes you, but this year the brisk wind kept things really cool.
Soon enough we were off the paved path and back onto the grass. Mile 12 was the fiesta time aid station, then we started encountering the 5K racers. Those lead guys were flying! A few more hills then it was time for the last downhill to the finish line.
I collected my big medal and some water. Grabbed a half bagel and a banana and headed quickly back to my truck to get warm and start heading for home.