So Alaska was not my last half of the year after all. In my training plan, I realized that I had two 13.1 long runs scheduled, so I figured I might as well register for a couple of halfs and kill two birds with one stone: the training run and a state.
The Hamilton Nightglow Half Marathon is, as the name suggests, a night half! I did a night half for Nevada which was really fun, so I was looking forward to this. I had my Nitebeam laces (I don’t think they sell these anymore?? I got mine at Vegas and finally got them to work!), light up bracelets, and glow in the dark nail polish!
So in case it isn’t clear, I use the Jeff Galloway method. I’ve been experimenting with intervals to determine which is the best one for my upcoming marathon. On one of the several running facebook groups I am part of, someone mentioned running a 10-30 interval. That’s 10 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking. It sounded absurd to me, but I was also struggling at 30-30, so I figured I’d give it a shot. During a 3-miler, I tried it, and it worked! I felt great at this interval even though I also felt stupid for the short running spurts. But I wasn’t going to argue with tentative success. I decided to use this interval during the half for a proper test.
The course is a lap that starts and ends at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. The half marathoners had to complete this lap twice. The course is pretty well lit. There are street lights for the most part, but they also had floodlights set up at the water stations so that you couldn’t miss them even if you tried. The recreational trail is the nicest part of the course; it was lit by strings of light to guide your way as you run along the river.
First lap, miles 1 -6 — rocked it. I was pacing 14:46 and really getting excited about a possible PR! I had started waaay in the back of the pack because of my intervals, but soon enough I was running ahead of some people who had started maybe too strongly and had slowed down by mile 2. I felt great!
After the first lap, though — disaster. Sorry if I’m about to delve into TMI for some of you. I can’t be sure if it was the Gatorade Energy Chews or the Sword Performance drink I’d stopped for at a few stations, but my stomach started feeling awful. I figured I could walk it off or at least make it to a port-a-potty. Folks, there was only one set of port-a-potties available on the course, and they were at the third water station about four miles away from the lap start. But what else could I do? Every attempt at running made me feel worse (even ten seconds of it!) so I just walked. I very seriously considered cutting the course at the turn on Williams Ave because I needed that port-a-potty. I cannot emphasize how seriously I considered this though ultimately I didn’t. It was so awful. Of course, the race can’t help how my gut feels, so I don’t blame that on them. However, the lack of port-a-potties was such an inconvenience, and I was really slowed down.
I surely looked miserable. Runners and bike escorts who passed me kept calling out encouragement. Every water station I walked up to in that second lap made sure to know I was doing a great job and that I was almost there.
I finished second to last among the half marathoners. It’s kind of a bummer since I was doing so well in the miles 1 -6, but at least I finished strong and ran the last .10.
This was not my favorite race. It’s a pretty and flat course, but there’s very little crowd support until the end of the lap. I didn’t realize how much I appreciated strangers encouraging me until they weren’t there. Now, there was a nice woman and her husband who sat at the end of their driveway and handed out pretzel bites! And there were a few groups along the course, but they were cheering for specific runners and did not make noise as other runners passed them. The port-a-potties being only in one location was a huge problem for me. The direction of the course sometimes wasn’t clear, especially in the second lap when I was alone for large chunks of time and trying to remember what turns to make. Because the course was a lap, the mile markers are only made for miles 1 – 6. This may seem like a weird complaint, but because of when I started by RunKeeper app, I was trying to figure out the accuracy of my mileage. I don’t know that the mile markers were one-to-one for each lap.
I hope that my poor experience isn’t a huge influence on my thoughts on the race itself, but do take that into consideration if you’re considering this race. I didn’t have a great time, but if you like a pretty and flat course and don’t need a lot of crowd support, I’d recommend it! If you’re mostly a walker or need the excitement that comes with people cheering you on, I’d recommend it less.