The Movie Madness 13.1 was my 54th half marathon and the first one I ever got lost.
My plans the week before changed multiples times. Instead of doing a long run on the same roads I’ve been running on, I decided to take a short road trip to Harrisburg, NJ. I’ve driven through Harrisburg a few times, but I’ve never spent much time there. It’s a cool city and also the state capital of Pa.
Anyway, the half marathon was $60 when I registered two days before. I didn’t expect roads to be closed or the race be anything more than a no frills race. My goal was to get a strong long run. I wasn’t tapered, nor was I in a mindset to run my hardest ever. In fact, there was only race day pickup, and you could register the day of!
I arrived at the start around 7:15 am, picked up my number and just relaxed.
The race started 2 minutes early, and we were off at 7:58. Immediately I found myself as third person and first female. I was running with two men and a lead cyclist. I thought I could maybe keep up the other two men but wasn’t sure.
The first mile goes around the stadium. I just felt like I was relaxed and right, where I wanted to be. We hit the first mile in 7:08, and it felt comfortable.
The next mile went over a grated pedestrian bridge. It made it hard to get a groove and wasn’t closed to people just walking. We crossed a major road, which thankfully there were police directing traffic. We made a 180 turn where there was a water stop (no electrolytes).
By now, one male leader was out ahead, followed by another, and then me. We went over a long bridge, and I hit mile 2 in 6:52, which felt comfortable, but I ran alone for the rest of the time.
Around mile 2.5, we got to the end of the bridge, and a volunteer motioned me to go left (and I did). I began running through a neighborhood street which had no race signs, and I couldn’t see much ahead. After about a half mile of seeing no one else, I asked someone doing their lawn if they had seen any other runners and they said no. So I decided to run back to the bridge. With my confusion and stop, I hit the third mile in 7:22.
When I got back to the bridge, a different volunteer was there, and the rest of the runners had gone through the small tunnel and back across the bridge. I looked and could see the other runners I was running with. When I started running over the bridge, I was running with more people and thought: well, at least I can’t get lost now. My watch hit 4 miles in 7:08 and I just kept chugging along.
The next few miles went through the park, and I was in a daze. I was essentially running a long, hard, run by myself but motivated by the race setting. The next few miles, I ran between 7:04-7:08 pace, which is where I wanted to be. I was running alone and passing people. As I reached (my) mile 7, I saw the leaders coming back. I counted they must be about 5 minutes in front of me.
As I approached the turnaround, I tried to count the women ahead of me. There were two more. We turned around, and I headed back towards the start. At the turnaround, I realized it must be about 6.55 miles, and it was going to be “an out and back.” I was determined to retrace my steps and not get lost again.
Around mile, 9, I grabbed water from a volunteer. I passed the two women and found myself back as first woman overall. By this time, it was getting hot, humid, and I could tell I hadn’t fueled well. I needed Gatorade or something with electrolytes. Since I calculated I would be running four more miles, I knew it would be a long 4 miles.
We went back over the bridge, and it felt like the longest mile. I was running alone, and on the bridge, there was no shade or cloud cover. I ran a 7:03 going over and then 7:19 back.
As I came back over the bridge and onto the path, three geese nearly flew into me. Some construction workers were laughing and then yelled: “you don’t think that’s funny”? I wanted to yell something back but ultimately bit my tongue. No, I don’t think almost getting hit by incoming geese is funny.
I grabbed water around mile 12 and did the final u-turn to get back to the stadium. I knew I still had about 2 miles to go. We recrossed the pedestrian bridge. With the elevation change and u-turn, I ran 7:19 and hit mile 13 right at the stadium. There was an easy way to get back to the start and run 13.1. I could just run the opposite direction, but I figured it would be frowned upon. I began making the long mile around the stadium.
I was still running alone. I saw a few people cheering, which motivated me. I ran a 7:04 and crossed the finish line in 1:39.56 as my watched beeped exactly 14 miles.
I could be mad that I ended up getting lost but my goal was to run 15 miles for the day with 13 at a hard effort. I wasn’t in race mode. I ran the race as hard as I had for the day. By about 10 miles, I was underfueled with electrolytes, running alone, and not out to PR. I’m happy with my effort, and it was nice to get a long run in elsewhere.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. This week I talked about why running shoes are so expensive. Each week in the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.
Questions for you:
Have you ever gotten lost in a race?
Have you ever been to Harrisburg?