Race Report: 2017 Huntersville Half Marathon

When I was setting my goals for 2017, I didn’t know if I would get in to the New York City Marathon. I figured, well, if I don’t get in to NYC, I’ll just do a fall half, which is why one of my goals was “6 races, with at least 2 that are 13.1 or greater.” Well, I did get in to New York City, but wasn’t able to finish. I obviously didn’t plan for that scenario. I mean, at the time I entered the lottery for New York City, I had started and completed 26 races, so the thought of a DNF never crossed my mind. After New York City, when I realized I would fall short of my race goal, I realized that if I ran a half marathon in December, I could still hit that goal. I went looking for local half marathons in December, and found the Huntersville Half Marathon. I asked around about it, and heard good things, so I decided to sign up.

They had Thursday (and Friday) packet pickup at Fleet Feet Sports in Huntersville, but that would involve driving up to Huntersville on either Thursday or Friday evening during rush hour traffic. So I opted for race day packet pickup.

I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on race morning, other than make sure the weather conditions were OK. Friday night, we got a dusting of snow, but it only stuck to the grass, the roads were just wet, and it stayed (barely) above freezing, so there were no issues getting there. Even in perfect weather, it’s a bit of a haul from my house (about 35 minutes), so I did have to allow a little extra time for travel, and for packet pickup.

There was a footbridge between the recommended parking lot and the starting area, and that did get some snow and ice accumulation. To their credit, the race organizers shoveled and salted the bridge, so it was passable, if a bit nerve racking.

Packet pickup was pretty easy. I got my bib and my race hoodie, pictured here.

Yes, I had to go back across the footbridge so I could put the hoodie in my car, but that also allowed me to sit in my still fairly warm car and attach my bib. And then one last trip across the bridge, although thanks to the volunteers working on the bridge, it got a little better each time I had to cross it.

I need to give a shout out to Fleet Feet Sports Huntersville for opening up before 8 AM on a Saturday so the runners could stay warm before the start. It was around 34 degrees outside, and spending a few minutes inside was really nice.

Going in, my half PR was (and, spoiler alert, still is) 2:08:01. I didn’t think I had a 2:08 race in me, but I saw that they had 2:10 pacers, so I figured I’d try to hang with them and see what happens.

OK, so you don’t have to do the math, the required pace for a 2:10 half is 9:54.9. Remember that number.

Before the start, they did something that I don’t think I’ve seen at any other races. They played a recording of the National Anthem. It seems like every other race I’ve done either had someone there to sing it, or they just skipped it altogether.

Of course I took a picture before the start.

Mile 1: 9:51

The first mile was pretty crowded. When I saw my time of 9:51, I though, OK, that’s reasonable. I stayed with the pacers through mile 2, and then I looked down at my watch to see how fast we went…

Mile 2: 9:20

(More math: A 9:20 average pace in a half will get you 2:02:21. That’s…significantly less than 2:10)

At that point, I backed the hell off, and probably cursed the pacers under my breath. But the damage was done. My pace slowly crept up over the rest of the course.

Mile 3: 9:57
Mile 4: 9:54
Mile 5: 9:58
Mile 6: 9:59

I hung in there for a while. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible.

Mile 7: 10:45

There were some rolling hills throughout the course, but there was one fairly decent climb at around 7.75 miles, and that slowed me down. Compared to some of the other Charlotte area races, besides the big hill here, the hills weren’t too terrible overall. (Charlotte has a lot more hills than you might think.)

Mile 8: 10:23
Mile 9: 9:58
Mile 10: 10:23
Mile 11: 10:20

I’m not sure what happened on Mile 9, but clearly it was a fluke. I was definitely struggling through here. That crazy pace on Mile 2 was definitely affecting me.

Mile 12: 11:18

Oof. Not good at all.

Mile 13: 9:44
Last 0.18: 9:26

I did manage to speed up a little bit at the end, and Mile 13 was my second fastest mile of the race (and the fastest without the influence of bad pacers). An extra 0.08 for a half marathon isn’t too bad. I can live with that. So at least I finished strong.

My official time was 2:13:32.93. (10:11/mile average pace) Still good for my 3rd fastest half ever, and the two faster ones were on much easier courses, so there’s that. Also, I held on to my car key.

Oh, and late in the race, it started snowing. It was still just above freezing, so it didn’t stick, but it did make things very festive. (If you look closely, you can see some snowflakes on my shoulders in that picture.)

After the race, I got some water and a banana. I honestly can’t remember what else they had at the finish (that’ll teach me to wait so long to write a recap).

The finish line was across a fairly busy street from the starting area, and it was probably about a half mile walk to get back to my car. The distance wasn’t that bad, but once I stopped running, I got really cold. I wish they had done a bag check, then I could have had something warm to put on after the race. I survived the cold walk to my car, though.

Overall, I was a little disappointed, and I admit I was kind of mad at the pacers, but it wasn’t a completely terrible performance, all things considered. I did meet my “6 races, with at least 2 that are 13.1 or greater” goal, so there’s that. And I finished, which, after New York City, I no longer take for granted. It was a fun race, and I’m curious what I could do if I paid closer attention to my pace and didn’t try to run freaking 9:20 on the 2nd mile. Maybe I’ll go back and try it again some day.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: Huntersville Half Marathon
Location: Birkdale Village, Huntersville, NC
Date and Time of Race: December 9, 2017, 8:00 AM
Bib Number: 8044
Official Finishing Time: 2:13:32.93 chip time (2:14:07.42 gun time). 554th of 919 Overall, 316th of 428 Men, 61st of 80 in Age Group (Male 40-44)

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 19-25

It started off bad, then it got worse, but it got better at the end.

Weight Check: 175.3, down 3.3 pounds from last week. Uh, wow. There were a few more miles this week. But there was also an interesting experiment. I decided that I probably wasn’t going to be able to get rid of caffeine, but maybe I could switch to something with fewer calories, like, say, 0. So I tried Coke Zero Sugar, and it was weird, but not completely terrible. Then I tried Coke Cherry Zero (which apparently hasn’t been re-branded yet), and that was…decent. The problem is that it’s not as widely available as some other sodas. This week, I’m going to try Diet Mountain Dew, and possibly *shudder* Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. In a perfect world, I’d cut out all caffeine, and probably sleep a lot better, but until I get to that point, I can at least not gain weight when I drink caffeinated soda.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 20-30 minutes run with run/walk intervals 2.28 (30:11)
Wednesday 20-30 minutes run with run/walk intervals 2.17 (30:07)
Saturday 20-30 minutes run with run/walk intervals 2.37 (30:05)

Total: 6.82 miles

I’m back to scheduled runs. Going by time instead of distance is weird, but I’ll be switching back to distance next week.

Monday was my first outdoor run since my surgery. I had the day off work, so I figured I’d go over to the greenway, because it’s flatter than my neighborhood. I figured I wouldn’t be ready for my neighborhood. I apparently wasn’t ready for the greenway either. It was rough, and I had to take several walk breaks, but I did sort of rally on the last partial mile, and I made it the full 30 minutes. No issues around the area of my surgery, just issues with very out of practice legs.

On Wednesday, it was 65 degrees and humid. Seriously. On February 21. The weather would have been terrible if I was at peak fitness, and I’m nowhere near peak fitness right now. My legs still felt pretty bad. It’s hard to tell if they felt better Wednesday than Monday since the weather was much worse. I did manage to speed up a little bit at the end, though. Still it was not fun.

Saturday, I did not want to run. The only thing that got me out there was that it was supposed to get up into the upper 70s, so I needed to get out there before it warmed up. (Again, this isn’t something I should need to think about in February.)

I’m glad I went out there, because it was so much better than Wednesday.

The weather was still bad, but only 60 degrees, so not quite as warm as Wednesday. My legs didn’t hurt this time, which is a huge improvement. They still got tired, especially toward the end, but I pushed through and gradually improved my pace.

Also, I managed to stick to my coach’s recommended run/walk interval, 8 minutes run/1 minute walk, with a run for the last 3+ minutes, so there’s that.

I didn’t get my Huntersville Half recap done because I was busy watching the Olympics. I will be popping in at some point this week, since Wednesday is the drawing for New York City. For me, that’s just when I find out if I have to out and raise a bunch of money for charity or not, because I’m running the 2018 New York City Marathon, no matter what.

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 12-18

Running! Actual running! I finally got to run this week, even if was only on the treadmill, and it was mixed with a bunch of walking. My legs complained about the long layoff, but there were no issues with the area around my surgery (or with my freaking right foot). I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m finally on my way back.

Also, I signed up for the 2018 Teal Diva 5K. They moved it to Freedom Park this year, which is a lot closer, and hopefully they can make a course that’s a full 5K and not just 3 miles.

Weight Check: 178.6, up exactly one pound from last week. I drank too much Mountain Dew when I was at work, and my parents came to visit this weekend, which resulted in too much food, and while I did get over 0.0 miles this week, it was nowhere near enough to make up for it.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Thursday 1.51
Saturday 2.11

Total: 3.62 miles

My foot swelling finally stopped on Monday. To test things out, I went over to the Y on Tuesday morning for a 30 minute treadmill walk. It was mentally excruciating, even more than usual because I wasn’t running. My legs were a bit sore, especially on Wednesday, but otherwise, no issues.

Thursday was the big day. I was just one day short of a full month away from running.

I’ve never been so happy to run on a treadmill.

I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 5 minutes, walked for 5 minutes, then ran for 5:31 so I could get up to 1.5 miles. My walk intervals were at a 15:47/mile pace (3.8 mph), and my run intervals were 12:00/mile. I had no pain or discomfort related to my surgery. My legs didn’t feel great, especially near the end, but that wasn’t the surgery, it was the long layoff. It’s not a lot, but it was a first step.

My love affair with the treadmill was over on Saturday, and it went back to being mentally excruciating. This time, I went with 3 minutes walking/6 minutes running, 3 intervals, and added an extra 22 seconds at the end because I didn’t want to stop at 2.08 miles. My legs still weren’t great, but I definitely noticed improvement since Thursday. Even better, there were still no issues in the area around my surgery.

I have the day off on Monday. If the weather cooperates, I’d really like to drive over to a greenway and do a short outdoor run in a place that’s much flatter than my neighborhood. Regardless of where I run, I would like to finally finish my Huntersville Half recap and finally start to reduce my backlog (which also includes a 2017 wrap-up, a 2018 preview, and a January 2018 review).

Also, I have another follow-up appointment on Tuesday with my surgeon, who, no offense, I hope I never have to see again afterwards.

Weekly Wrap-Up: February 5-11

I was all set to start running again, or just walk on the treadmill, and then my right foot decided to start swelling up, most likely related to my surgery (which was also on my right side). I’m beyond frustrated at this point.

Elevation seems to help a little bit. Standing on it for 20 or so minutes does the opposite of help. I can still pretty much get around as long as I don’t stand for too long.

The good news is that I did get to go back in to the office this week, and I went out with friends 3 times, so at least I don’t feel like a hermit any more.

I did find out recently that the Teal Diva 5K is moving to April 28, and also moving to Freedom Park, which is much closer than Mooresville, more scenic, and hopefully they can get the distance right this time. If all else fails, I can always walk the 5K with my parents.

Weight Check: 177.6, up 4.2 pounds from last week. Yeah, that’s really not good. That’s the downside to going out with friends 3 times in one week when I can’t run.

This Week’s Runs

A week of non-running brought to you by my freaking swollen right foot.

Total: 0.0 miles

If the swelling ever goes down, I’ll get back to running.

Also, next Saturday is the Charlotte 10 Miler. I’m bummed that I’m going to miss it this year after running it three years in a row.

Maybe this week I can finally finish the Huntersville Half recap.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 29-February 4

The word of the week is Nope.

Did I run? Nope.

Was I feeling up to a 4 hour drive to Savannah? Nope.

Did I go to my friend’s wedding? Nope.

Weight Check: Oh dear. 173.4, up 5.7 pounds from last week. I haven’t been running, but I have been eating, and apparently I’ve been eating poorly. I don’t expect my eating will improve this evening as I watch the Super Bowl. (My understanding is that the relevant cheer I’m looking for is “Fly Eagles Fly!”) I’m really, really, really hoping to get back out there running this week, and hopefully that can at least keep my weight from going up any higher.

This Week’s Runs


Total: 0.0 miles

Early in the week, I felt a little bit worse than I had late in the previous week. That’s why I decided not to drive to Savannah. I’m really bummed about missing my friend’s wedding. I’m also a little bummed about not getting a chance to run in Georgia, but mostly I’m bummed about the wedding.

I did go see the surgeon on Friday, and my recovery, while slow, is still progressing. Apparently I had a bigger hernia than I realized, and it would have been nice to know that so maybe I could temper my expectations for recovery. Also, I talked to someone from his office (she had a title which I can’t remember, but she’s something like a nurse) who recommended that I take ibuprofen instead of Tylenol, so that seems to have helped a little.

I’m very slowly feeling better. Walking is still a little uncomfortable, though, and I feel like I need to wait until I can walk normally before I try to run. We’ll see. If I don’t have any setbacks, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to run at some point this week. I think I’m going start with a treadmill run, ideally Monday or Tuesday, but if I have to, I’ll wait longer.

I really miss running right now, though.