Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

Well, here it is, my Race Recap of the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon – and I have two words for anyone considering this race: THOSE HILLS! Yes, oh my God, now I’m saying it too.

When I told people I was racing in the Garden Spot Half Marathon, everyone said the same thing; “watch out for those hills”. I heard that so much so, that whenever I told people which race I was signed up for – I would interrupt them and yes, “yes, I know, hills – but I ran the Hershey Half and dealt with my share of hills”.  I was confident I had trained well and was prepared.  However I learned, confidence only gets you so far.

First off, let me start by saying Garden Spot Village (GSV) does a race right. The venue is perfect, the accomidations – awesome, the staff and support – out of this world.  My hat is off to GSV for putting together such an awesome event. I enjoyed every detail before the race, I enjoyed every mile during the race, and I thought post-race recovery was done right.  Kudos to their entire team and sponsors.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk racing. I woke up bright and early the day of the race and had a decent breakfast protein shake (Vega Vanilla and Greens, Banana, Quick Oats, Cocoa Nibs, Maca Powder, and Peanut Butter). After taking the pooch out for a walk I came home and donned my running gear.

Typical of my pre-race ritual, I arrived early.  In fact, I was the first runner to pull up to the empty parking lot at 5:55am.  The parking lot attendants clapped and yelped and told me to park anywhere I wanted.

Arrive Early: Check.
Score Amazing Parking: Check.

I waited in my car, meditated, rested my mind – it was hard since I was pumped up and ready to go.  I waited until about 40 mins before the start of the race to emerge from my car and hit the porta-john before flocking over to the tents and excitement. Not that these are excuses, but I had two setbacks I feel like I could have avoided had I done better preparing on my part. I did arrive early and I made sure to use the facilities when I got there, but I forgot to make one last pit stop before the race started. I wanted to make sure I was hydrated so that extra bottle of water in my belly would come back to haunt me. When the race started I immediately had to pee… ugh, not how I wanted to spend the next few miles.  Every two miles GSV had setup a water station and bathrooms, and of course, the first stop was already occupied. Other than having to pee, I felt pretty good, I was breathing a little heavier than I would have liked, but this was a race after all and I will keeping a good pace of 9:30 min/mile among the crowd.

Miles 1 – 4 are pretty uneventful, aside from having to pee the course was proving to be somewhat hilly and challenging, but nothing I couldn’t manage. As I wrapped up mile 5 into 6 and feeling good coming down a huge monster hill it dawned on me that I was going to be turning around at some point and running right back up the monster I just traversed. At this point my body was not pleased with my bathroom choices and forced me to stop at the next water station to empty what felt like a gallon of water – and of course there was a little wait so this added more time to the clock.

Once I exited the porta-john I thought I saw the turn-around and my spirits instantly lifted.  I popped some Honey Stinger snacks into my mouth and enjoyed the sugary high they brought.  My joy was very (very) short lived once I realized that what I saw was not the turnaround, but another hilly drop ahead, with the realization that the second leg of the race was mostly uphill. I made it to the turn around and starting noticing that evil voice in my head telling me to just walk for a few minutes to catch my breath before the hillclimb from hell started.  I did my best to ignore this voice – my average pace was right around 9:45 – 10:00 min/mile and the thought of beating my 2:14:00 finish was in sight… or so I thought.

Mile 7 was the kiss of death, I hit that first steep hill and slugged my way up it. I quicken my pace but then used what energy I had and gradually ended up slowing down faster than I expected. Walking, my own personal no-no. My pace went from 9:53, to 11:26, to 16:00 min/mile and I hit the 9 mile mark with a lap time of 14:24 min/mile.

More Honey Stingers. Check.
More Nuun Water. Check

From that point on my moral hit rock bottom, I tried to quicken my pace to at least finish with my same personal best of 2:14:00, but with each slow step the goal grew further and further.  I finished in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 40 seconds – 13 minutes longer than my personal best. I wasn’t upset, but I wasn’t happy with that time.

So what did I learn? First and foremost – Not all half marathons are the same! And you can never be too prepared – next year I intend on beating my time as this was not where I thought I would end.  I left that race saying “never again” only to find myself saying “next year” a few days later. GSV Half Marathon is no joke, train for hills… serious hills.  Also, I’m not sure carrying my own water was necessary – with water and Gatorade stations every 2 miles, what was I saving myself by toting that extra weight? Next year, I need to ditch carrying so much stuff.  Pee, pee, pee – make sure you pee right before you race even if you have to force it, bathroom breaks kill me. Oh and arriving 2 and a half hours before the event started was awesome – but being so close to home, it was a little overkill, next year an hour extra should suffice.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the Hershey Half this fall, and I intend on beating my 2:14:00 finish – at least I know there won’t be the same hills as GSV. Now, back to training – The Hard Cider run is just two weeks away!

This Week in Running

Running Log Monday March 20th through Sunday March 26th
Miles Run: 13.3 

Well, I did it, I’ve officially began tapering for my upcoming 15K and 1/2 Marathon.  I’ve been keeping the mileage low to avoid injury and also, let’s face it – I’ve been slacking.  I’ve been struggling with finding the motivation to run lately – and trust me, it pains me.  I’ll jump on Instagram and see everyone’s running pictures and I’ll hear that voice in my head say, “you should be running” and I agree, I should be running…

But I’m not.  So let’s start with the not so good news.

Last weekend I decided to run in some new shoes, since then I’ve been getting wicked shin splints – an issue I’ve never had before. So I’ve been semi-nursing some sore shins while running, trying to “take it easy”.  To snap out of my funk, and while traveling for work in New York City, I thought I would take advantage and run along the East River.  The thought was awesome, but the logistics just weren’t in the cards (early morning start, long and late days).  An inside run in the treadmill would have to suffice, so before the rest of the guys were awake, I hit the gym and pounded out a little over 3 miles.  It was the longest 3.1 miles ever.

In better news, the weather has been cooperating and is fantastically warm outside so here’s the hoping a few outdoor runs are in order.

This Week in Running

Running Log Monday March 13th through Sunday March 19th
Miles Run: 15

This past week was a low mileage week – mainly for two reasons:
One, I am being extremely lazy (haha) and finding it very difficult to wake up in the mornings.
Two, my 15K is rapidly approaching, and the week after that is my 1/2 marathon, so I’m trying to dial back my training to not over do it and to hopefully keep injuries at bay.

Also, I’m in denial that I’m in a “runner’s rut” – for while I was pushing some good weekly miles, but lately I’m losing steam. New running shoes, new running clothes, all these thing “help” add motivation – I just think I need to see some sun.

Relay for Life

I am pledging to cover 50 miles for the Lancaster Relay for Life in honor of my family members that have been lost due to cancer.

I will be walking for Freemasons for a Cure in honor of the following Masons:

    • Kenneth C. Gowton- Member of C. Grant Brittingham Lodge F&AM No. 788, Woodside, Pa
    • Richard Barr- Member of Pine Grove Lodge F&AM No. 409
    • Matthew J. Barr- Member of Virginia Beach Masonic Lodge No. 274 AF&AM

I will also be walking for my family members who have passed away from cancer:
Aunt Gloria, Cousin Shana Geary, Aunt Gail Emmonds, and Richard “Pop” Neumeister (and I’m sorry if I forgot anyone)

Please feel free to donate any amount: Donate Here