This morning I ran the Run Hard Lexington Half Marathon put on by Jesse Harmon and the Run Hard group. While I have done a couple trail half marathons, a full marathon, and multiple Half Ironmans; I technically have not done an open half marathon on the road. I was excited for the opportunity to run a half marathon while being moderately fresh and without much pressure surrounding the race. It was also super convenient that it was at the new Lexington Blowfish Stadium just a few miles down the road.
I arrived about an hour before the start time of 7:30am and had plenty of time to warm up and socialize with the many locals I knew at the race. Eventually I headed to the start line with Miles Fowler who is an up and coming triathlete who just started attending Queen’s University and racing with their triathlon team. I didn’t have any strict goals for this race as I didn’t know what sort of pace I could hold for that long of a distance. I knew that I wanted to at least go under 1:18:00 but I wasn’t afraid to go a bit faster to really test my limits.
As the horn went off and we got a bit down the road, it became apparent that the race would be between 3 people: Eric Ashton, myself, and an 11 year old. I was pretty sure the 11 year old wouldn’t hold the pace so I focused on staying relaxed and right beside or behind Eric to let him control the pace. It felt quick but maintainable for a bit. As we hit mile 1, I checked my watch and saw 5:27 which was very frisky! Nevertheless, I was still committed to not letting him break me and kept chugging along. After another quick mile, my watch spat out 5:22, and I knew that while I could hold for a bit longer eventually I would break well before 13.1 miles was over.
As we turned onto Highway 1 and encountered a hill and a headwind, Eric began to pull away, and I decided it was in my best interest to back down the pace a bit. The next 5 miles went by pretty uneventfully with my pace hovering around 5:50 to 6:00 min/mile depending on the terrain. I spoke with my bike guide for a bit around mile 9 to take my mind of the hurt and to keep relaxed. Upon hitting a turn at mile 10, I noticed that apparently somebody behind me had been gaining! I quickly switched from survival mode and back to competitive mode to fight to keep myself in 2nd.
After a long stretch back on Highway 1 (and 1 volunteer telling me he was only 5 seconds back) I was afraid that he may be reeling me in. I made some hard pushes as we turned onto the final road with just over a mile left. As I neared the finish (dodging a few stubborn 5k racers) I realized my efforts had paid off as I had created a large gap between myself and 3rd.
I crossed the line in 1:16:52 with my last mile dipping back down to a 5:27 which no doubt helped me seal 2nd place. I was happy with my result despite knowing that a faster time may have been possible with a better paced run. This race was organized superbly and I would recommend the Run Hard races to anyone I know. Jesse and his crew puts on great races and the atmosphere surrounding the finish exceeded that of much larger races I have been to.
Also, congratulations to all of my friends that raced today including Miles Fowler, Greg Fowler, Shawanna White, David Russell, Angel Manuel, Tripp Davis, Rob Yerger, Cymbeline Wilke, Julia Norcia, Shelby Bryant, Drew Williams, and Alex McDonald. Also a shout out to Will Fowler, Robert Taylor, Beth Molzer, Mark Wilke, and Rebekah Feigh who all came out to support the race!
There won’t be much downtime after this race and will be back into off season training. Will keep everybody updated!