This weekend was my last race of 2014 and it couldn’t have ended any better than with a girls’ mini trip to run the Huntersville Half Marathon, my 33rd half marathon! There was a pretty good sized group of us going to run. Most of us went down after work on Friday with a few more coming in early Saturday morning. Cara, Christine and I were the last to leave and we arrived just in time to grab dinner at the Port City Club and catch up with the rest of our group before checking into the hotel and prepping for the next day.
We were staying right near the race start, Birkdale Village. With an 8am start, we were so happy we didn’t have a super early morning! The weather looked to be about perfect with low’s in the 30’s with temps coming up to the mid 40’s by the time we were done racing. I really struggle with that temperature in trying to figure out what to wear so I’m not overdressed, but not too cold. I opted for a tank, skirt and arm sleeves and it was the right call though the first few miles I wasn’t so sure! We took a couple of cars to the start based on everyone’s post race plans. The three of us rode together and we parked right at the start and sat in the car until go time. Huge bonus! With 5 minutes to go, we bucked up and braved the cold and went to line up. We huddled together until the race started. Right at 8am, the horn sounded and off we went!
We ran the first little bit through the shopping center until we headed out to Sam Furr Road. We had heard that this course was rather hilly so we were expecting that we’d have to battle our heart rates for most of it. We ran rather conservatively for the first few miles trying to keep ourselves in check. I’ve been HR training longer so I tend to stay more even now, so we were going to base our walk breaks more on their HR’s vs mine. Within the first mile, we were hitting our first significant climb. We stayed low and made it up without having to walk. We tackled the next climb the same way and were running really consistent.
Miles 3-6 were a bit more “flat” and we were actually able to pick up our pace just a bit. We ran through a really cool neighborhood and had fun looking at all the Christmas decorations. People were out cheering on the runners too so it was a great few miles for us! We came out of there to hit the Torrence/Lower McDowell Creek Greenway. We ran on that until we hit mile 6. Coming off the Greenway, we were met with a 1.5 mile climb! We would run up as far as we could and then walk when we needed to. We did better than I thought we would considering it was steep in some places. There was just enough of a break before it would start climbing again. Right past mile 7, we entered another neighborhood where we’d weave our way through there for the next 4 miles. Parts of the course here were up and down, up and down. It wasn’t until mile 9 that we finally had a pretty good stretch of “flat”. My HR was on target the whole time. I was consistently at 139 at this point with a slight increase to right at 145. I got ahead of Cara and Christine for just a bit. I ran the next two miles at a really good pace even reaching 9:50 at mile 11! I was thrilled to see that.
The course makes a right after mile 11 and the course greeted us with another 1.3 mile climb. I made it up it just a bit before I had to walk. Cara and Christine were right behind me and we all met back up right past 11.5. We continued to do our best, walking when we needed to. Luckily once we got to 12.3 miles, it was pretty much downhill to the finish. We were able to just cruise on to the finish line.
When we came around the corner, all three of us were greeted by our running friends and we were all smiles! We ran through the parking lot and were so surprised that we were actually under 2:25!! We just ran a half marathon following our low heart rate training and finished so well! As soon as we were done, all three of us were so excited! We felt amazing! I knew the benefits of doing this type of training, but I don’t think Cara and Christine truly believed it until that moment when they experienced it in full effect. We’ve done it for up to 7 miles on a long run, but to run a half and feel as good as you do after 3, that’s what did it for them. We stopped and chatted with everyone about their races and then said our good-byes. Everyone else was heading back home and the three of us were going to head back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to go to lunch. We headed to Bad Daddy Burger Bar for what was THE best burger I’ve had in a long time. I had to try the Cantina Burger sub green chiles for jalapenos. I like spicy burgers! So good! PROS
For $45, we got a hoodie and a light up medal. I could stop there. That’s enough for me! But I won’t. The course was well marked, the water stops were plenty and stocked, and everything ran smoothly (kind of). I loved the mix of running country roads and through neighborhoods. The Greenway section was a nice change too! The start line parking was awesome! We had true rockstar parking! The post race party was a bit crowded, but there was plenty of water and Gatorade and snacks. We also met some other runners along the course. Everyone was really nice and encouraging!
This was not a closed course apparently. We never received any information that it wasn’t. So we were a bit surprised to suddenly be surrounded by cars. Imagine running a race and having cars come up behind you. NOT SAFE! There was a group of runners, then a car, then more runners, then a car. From time to time the cars would try and pass us. We made a comment to a police officer who wasn’t doing anything to stop the traffic. He wasn’t very nice to us asking us what did we want him to do? Um, stop traffic! He suggested we just go around the cars….yeah, cause that’s smart. We were pretty fired up for a few miles. I still get peeved at his response. After we said something, we did notice he did stop the cars behind us. That was a first in a race for me! That would definitely be something that would have to change for next year! I hope that we are asked our opinion in a post race survey if not I may make a suggestion on their Facebook page.
Other than a big hiccup, the race was really great! I would definitely run this one next year! It’s a perfect way to end the year!
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