After running a 50k, a 100K, a 50 miler, and a half marathon in 27 days, a few people had told me it was a good idea to rest a bit. But knowing that the new and improved “hometown” Harrisburg marathon was on the horizon, I felt I could squeeze it in before the dark depths of winter settled in.
This year’s Harrisburg marathon featured a new course in and around the city. Instead of taking the runners through the scenic, but hilly Wildwood Nature Center hills and the infamous Industrial Road, they had the runners run on the “west shore” and north to Fort Hunter.
The weather was to be perfect with sunny skies and cool temperatures. My wife Caryn was also running the relay event. She would be running the first leg, which equaled just over 8 miles. This also meant that we would start out running together!
We started on the Market St. bridge and headed west. Both Caryn and I fell into a comfortable pace. Caryn had her normal headphones in, but when I did mention something, she was able to hear me. Thanks for keeping the music low, hun 🙂 . As we ran up along the west shore in the first mile, I took time to appreciate my surroundings. Here we were in the capital city of our state, on a gorgeous morning, running 26.2 miles just because we love it. Better yet, my wife was by my side…
We crossed back over the Harvey Taylor bridge and headed south. Aid stations were separated every 2 or so miles, so we would get a cup of Gatorade or water. By about mile 5 or so, both Caryn and I had shared that each one of us did not want to hold the other up and to go ahead. A little past mile 6, she had said the sun was getting warmer and she wished she would have dressed with less gear. I gradually went a head of her. The next time I would see her would be about 20 yards from the finish, screaming her lungs out as normal. She is my best supporter and my #1!
As we left the PennDot area, I realized the next 10 miles or so I would be heading north, mostly along the Susquehanna River. The great part of running a hometown race is that you see a lot of your running friends either in the race, or cheering along the course. The support was great. I felt comfortable the entire time and the fan support had a lot to do with it.
At the halfway mark at mile 13, I was shocked on how fast this race was going. I don’t mean how fast I was running it physically. I mean how fast mentally. I have been used to going 6+ hours at each event this past summer. This picture was around mile 14, I believe…
Approaching the turn around at Fort Hunter around mile 17, runners ahead of me were passing me heading the other way. It was another opportunity to see fellow runner friends and cheer them on and give them support as they went by.
I was pleased with the way my legs held up, but by around mile 21 or so, they were getting a bit heavy. This is a normal feeling. I had no sharp pains or anything of the sort.
The last few miles I stopped to walk a few times. It’s not what I wanted to do. My brain said go, but my legs said no. At any rate, the finish was in downtown Harrisburg. The race director and volunteers had the finish line set up to be a “party” atmosphere. As I turned the corner for the last tenth of a mile, I heard my wife’s voice cheering me on. I glanced off to my left and sure enough, there she was. Here I am crossing the finish line….
I was pleased with the way I ran. After completing it, I did a little math and figured out that I ran a negative split. I ran the second half of the marathon faster than the first half. I love that feeling!
Caryn’s relay came in 5th place in the mixed division. We celebrated in town with good friends, good beer, and good food. Another great day of exercise in the books!