Run for the Dream Half Marathon (1:29.10)

If follow me on any sort of other platform other than my blog you probably know it was a good race for me.  Not because I posted a best time but because honestly I won.  I won a half marathon.  It wasn’t my best time by any means as it was 4 or so minutes from my PR but it was still a personal favorite.  I’ve won two other half marathons (The Plattsburgh half and the Run from the Sun Half) but neither had a cyclist riding next to me (which was really cool) nor have I ever broken a tape in any race.   So both were just an awesome experience and so cool.  (Do I sound like a kid in a candy shop or what?)

Where to begin.  I live about an hour from Williamsburg and dad and I had to make that drive twice.  Once the day before to pick up packets and obviously to get to the race…so race day we were up at 4 am ready to go to the race.  The expo for this race is pretty small but that doesn’t bother me since I’m not much of an expo person.  I could run most races no frills but we all have different tastes I guess.

Moving on to race day.  I like to eat breakfast before races and we left at 5.   No traffic (for once) up there and we got to the starting line where we chatted with various people.  Since there were so many races going on this weekend, I didn’t see many of my Hampton Roads Friends…I thought I might do a warmup but never did.  I didn’t have many expectations for this race really because it was already hot, the course itself is really hilly and I knew (from the website…I didn’t actually know that when I ran it 2 years ago) it was certified as long.

Like I said, my only warm up was me sprinting with my shoe untied to the bag drop off because it was the last call for that. Somehow dad and I were one of the first people there at 6, yet  I was literally the last one to give them my bag.  I lined up at the start and just chatted with a couple of people at the start.   I noticed the 1:30 pacer was near me at the start and I asked if this was a chatty 1:30 pace group.

He said I know of no other way…which was fine by me.

And with that we were off.  For the first mile we ran a 5:57.  Hmmm not really 1:30 pace but I wasn’t complaining.  For the first mile I was pretty hidden in with a pack of people.  I was feeling pretty good so decided to break away into my own little world.  I was a bit distraught because I was already hot and we were running in shade and hadn’t even begun to reach hills.

Around mile 2, I noticed there was a cyclist near me.  In my mind I was like…does this mean I am number 1…am I going to have a cyclist like an elite runner.  Oooh neato.  The cyclist introduced herself as Cindi and said she would be following the number 1 female.  I think I about fainted on the course I felt so cool.  I literally said, YES someone to chat too the entire race.  She said I didn’t have to chat, but I said honestly I’m the most talkative person you’ll ever meet and I was so excited. I’m sure I looked like the worlds biggest clown. (6:30).

Mile 3 we started some rolling hills and I just remember it being hot.  (6:36).  Actually scratch that miles 3-6 were pretty hilly and hot.  That’s all I really remember and going around a parking lot to a Harris Teeter.  (6:40, 6:42, 6:42).

Mile 7 we started along an out and back course where I saw the first overall male followed closely by the second.  He had a car he was following with a giant clock posted on it.  I said I was really glad that I didn’t have to worry about that…I would physically hate to be running chasing a clock.  With four or five people just sitting there while I’m on the pain train.  Plus neither of them got to chat with a cylist…though it seemed that neither of them would have been interested.  (6:47)

The hills from mile 8-10 were pretty brutal and it was directly in the sun.  The good thing about this part was that since it was an out and back loop there was so much support!  I personally really like out and back courses because I love feeling people’s energy and it gets me more pumped up.  That is something I never had for swimming (since you are staring at the bottom of the pool and no one is down there…you hope).  People were cheering for everyone and with your name on the bib it was easy (I wish I had put LOLZ though).  (6:53, 7:01, 6:43).  I saw dad too which always lifts my spirits.  Mile 10 was actually pretty difficult too because after seeing so much spirit for the last 3 miles you go into no mans land.  I think it was probably the only mile I wasn’t chatting because I was just trying to make it through. 

So with that we entered mile 11 my least favorite mile of the race because you are dead from the rolling hills.  It’s hot and humid and all of a sudden they go…BONUS ROUND and up a steep highway interchange you go.  (7:05).

Mile 12 was just perusing back by the start and by this time I was tired.  I am normally able to drop the pace a bit and just cruise to the finish line but it was so hot and my hair had turned into an afro.  I was looking real cute but knew we were getting close to the stadium so tried to pick it up as best as possible.  We began to see spectators again as well as the William and Mary campus and for some odd reason whenever I know there is 1.75 miles left to go I get really excited…I have no idea why but I do that for every distance. (6:38).

Mile 13 was a bit of blur and I remember running through a sprinkler, learning Cindi worked on the William and Mary campus and then getting to the end of the race (it ends on the track).  I entered the track all by myself and saw mile 13 as well as the finish line on the other side.  They announced: The number 1 female is on the track and honestly it still feels surreal to me.  I didn’t know what to do (besides keep running…derp) and then saw I was going to break a tape.  At that point I had a mini panic.  What do you do when you break the tape.  Do I grab the tape.  Do I just run through, what if it closed lined me.  What happens.  More thoughts flooded my mind in that five minutes then other part of the race.  So I just kept running and threw my hands up because that is what I remember from other people breaking the tape.  (By other people I mean woman, because after researching I see woman throw their hands up and men just run right through like Mac trucks). 


I finished in 1:29.10 (overall 6:42 pace) which with all the hills, humidity and heat I’m completely happy with.  (I’m always happy to finish injury free).  Though this was about 4 minutes slower then my Pr half last month, This was a humbling experience and honestly this race just made me feel so awesome.  It is certainly a contender for one of my favorite races and one of the races.  I can’t say I have any more half marathons for a while (not until Labor Day) but who knows.

dad and I post race
dad and I post race…I had to contain that nappy mess on top of my head…ie my hair. 

Question for you:

What has been your favorite race to date?

That is tough for me.  This one, Nike Woman’s half last year or two years ago my first overall win at the Allen Stone  Run-Swim-Run.  All are in my top three but I’ve honestly enjoyed 95% of races I’ve done.

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  1. Awww, I loved reading this! That picture is amazing and the humble way you describe running through the tape made me smile. Be prepared, you will be breaking many more tapes in the future.

  2. This is SO AWESOME – I’m so happy for you, not just because you won, but because you enjoyed the win so much. You deserve it!

  3. Congratulations on your win Hollie… I know it must be exciting for them to say Number 1 female and you to hear that, it would really push me too. My friend from here actually did this half and reviewed it too, it seems like a very fun race and he has me interested in doing it one day, so maybe I will :).

    My favorite half was the one I did last November, it was a small half marathon in Georgetown, SC. I really liked it bc it was a weekend getaway and my mommy came to see me finish, haha.

  4. Congrats! What an amazing experience and it must have been an amazing feeling to know you DID it! I give you so much credit! So awesome!

    1. PS – I’m glad you had a good experience at the Nike Women’s half, I’m doing my first of that race in two weeks!

  5. Damn that’s awesome…hope to feel that experience someday! You’re certainly a motivator, keep it up!

  6. So reading this made me all sorts of giddy, and I think I fell in love with you just a little bit more after I read the part about you not knowing what to do when you broke the tape – that’s probably exactly what would be going through my mind at a time like that as well.

    Congrats on the win, Hollie. You definitely deserve it <3

  7. I literally smiled this entire recap. I love how proud and giddy you were/are about having a cyclist with you and breaking the tape! I mean I’m excited and I just read about it. =D Congrats on an amazing win!!

    Oh and I died with you asking the 1:30 pacer if this was a chatty group. I can’t imagine having time to breathe let alone converse. (Might be why I will never had a cyclist next to me or break the tape.) 😉

  8. This is amazing Hollie!! I love to hear others exciting moments in racing and this would definitely be a dream come true! My favorite race to date is my first duathlon, finishing it way above my expectations was one of my proudest moments!

  9. I love how even though you area seasoned runner you can still get so jazzed about a race. A million congrats to you and way to go!!

  10. THIS IS SO AWESOME!! Not only did you win but you lead the race the entire way?!? damn! and you got your own cyclist! this is epic. seriously. of course it is one of your favorite races, I mean, it’s hard to beat a win! And lol that course. I’m picturing it in my mind and remembering my Williamsburg running routes…yeah, that course is a bitch. But you won on it!!

  11. So happy for you! I wouldn’t know what to do either haha I would have the biggest panic look on my face! I love the picture of you at the end, though, you are SO happy and it’s just contagious! I can’t believe you can chit-chat during the race. I remember my half marathon and there’s no way I could have struck up a conversation with someone the entire time. You killed it, Hollie. Congrats!

  12. Yay!!! Congratulations!!! What a fun memory and feeling to get to break the tape! Love the picture!! 😀

  13. There aren’t words to describe how happy I am for you. You ran so awesome and It’s so cool you got a cyclist next to you (however I will ride my bike next to you anytime!!) LOL.

    You seriously are a rockstar, lucky to have you as a friend and inspiration.

    I won a half-marathon on my birthday in 2011…talk about runner’s high. I don’t remember breaking the tape (I don’t think there was one) but I do remember having the same panic mode of “what do I do when I cross” and I threw my arms up (really crookedly, at least yours were straight) and tried to smile.

  14. Ha, yes, men do just bulldoze through the tape as if it’s some kind of inconvenience. Congrats again on the win.

    I can only think of three races I’ve run that I haven’t enjoyed on some level – one was a fell race on a course that was downright dangerous, one was the beach marathon in gale force winds where I got blinded by sand, and the other was a 10K I ran on a double stress fracture (that one kind of explains itself).


    1. That is seriously the only photos I could find were of men bulldozing through. I hope to be able to try this sometime. How dare they place this tape in front of me for me to run through. How rude.

  15. LOL. I just about died here laughing to myself (out loud) in the middle of the laundromat when you talked about what to do when you ran through the tape. The idea of it being so tough to break that it clotheslined runners is hysterical to me. What is it made of anyways?

    Thanks for posting finally 😛 I’ve been dying to read the recap!!!!

  16. Great job LOLZ! That would be great on a bib! LOVE that pic of you breaking the tape… I laughed at the mac truck comment. I for some reason am always looking straight up at the freaking sky with a pain face when I cross the line. I have to stop that. So weird…

  17. That is awesome! Congratulations!!! I have run quite a few races too, mostly 5ks. My favorite is the trail run – Mayhem 5k – in Camden, Maine. It’s close by, 20 minutes from home and its super fun! Very technical and a small group of us that do it.

  18. OMG, I know an elite runner! Hollie, seriously, this is so awesome! Maybe I could one day be that cyclist escorting you during the race. 😉

  19. I know I said it before but I have to say again that I am so incredibly happy for you – what an amazing experience 😀 I know this won’t be the last tape you break!

  20. Holy Moly, that is plain ole frekin cool! Whether you run or not, who hasn’t day dreamed about being the one to break the ribbon! Congrats on your first place finish, that’s awesome!

    My favorite race is definitely the Gate River Run 15k National Championships. The race is impeccably run, so much fun, and I love watching the elites warm up.
    My dream races though are the Nike Women’s Half, and the Moab Half!

  21. Ok, cracking up – I’m much slower than you are, but I won a small race here that had a finish tape and I totally panicked. What on earth do you do with the stupid tape?! In the race pictures I’m fumbling – almost pushing it away from myself – eyes squinched shut. LOL.
    Congratulations on the win!

  22. Congratulations Hollie! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and honestly you inspire me. You’re so fast, but more than that you have a great approach to training. I remember reading at some point how you don’t time every run, you listen to your body and what feels right, and all in all, you just seem to really enjoy yourself! GO YOU!!

    1. Awe thanks for stopping by Alix! You are certainly true on that one. I haven’t timed much of anything this week trying to recover. I’m just really sore LOL

  23. Awesome recap! You had me laughing about the finishing tape thing, that’s probably what I would be thinking!
    At the turn around, I’m sure you got to see how far behind the other women were, did you finish way in front of them?

    Does you dad run speedy too?

    Congrats again!!

    1. My dad does run speedy LOL. He was actually the one that inspired me to start running a few years ago! I believe the next woman finished about 4 minutes back or so. 🙂

  24. I love your description of this race! Congrats on the win! Sounds like a lot of fun.
    I don’t think I can pick a favorite race… the only race I haven’t enjoyed was a turkey trot 5k. It was somewhere around 30 degrees (we are Arizonans, that is not acceptable haha) and the wind was in the 25-35mph range. The entire first half was straight up a hill. I was miserable the entire time. Every other race I’ve done I loved!

  25. Verrrry nice! This was a fun report to read. I mean, I actually like reading just about ANY race report, but the ones with an awesome ending are pretty sweet. I actually kinda love that you were most excited about “getting” a cyclist so that you’d have someone to talk to! I hope she was a good conversationalist! 🙂

    Also, I may never be breaking any tapes, but your play-by-play of your debate about how to do it is hilarious. I think you did just nice, though. 🙂

  26. I was so excited when you told me about this race! But after reading the recap I am even more happy for you girl! I have to say I am glad you are normal and worry about things like what to do when you are about to do something as awesome as breaking the tape! I bet your dad is over the moon to call you his daughter girl!

  27. These pictures are fabulous and I can’t tell you enough how proud I am to know you and for this race 🙂 Can’t wait to see you this summer for SURE!

  28. Yay!! Congratulations! I love your photos and breaking the tape is pretty awesome! I saw on Dailymile that you said you had a moment of panic, I would have felt the same way! My mind never works right while I’m running!

  29. I’ve already told you this on twitter, but CONGRATS! Love the pics, love that you got to break the tape! So glad you got to experience having a cyclist ride beside you too. SO LEGIT!!!

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