29 Half Marathons Later…

April 17 will mark five years since my first half marathon.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! I’ve had the most success with the half marathon distance…and we like what we are most successful at right?

Just kidding, I like half marathons because there is enough time to warm up during the race but they aren’t neverending like a marathon.  Thinking out loud, the training for a half doesn’t consume you.  If you have a bad half, you can recover quickly and race again relatively soon.

Until I compiled this list, I had no idea how many I had actually run so I hope I didn’t forget any.

Beginning of the race (20k and half starters)

April 2011 Plattsburgh (1:41) PR
April 2011 Flower City (Rochester) 1:39 PR
May 2011 Run for the Dream (Williamsburg, VA) 1:36.56 PR

At my very first half marathon, April 2011
At my very first half marathon, April 2011
March 2012 Shamrock (VA Beach) 1:33.29 PR
April 2012 Plattsburgh (1:27.17) PR and Win
April 2012 Flower City (1:29)
May 2012: Run to the Sun (Watertown, NY) 1:33 Win
May 2012 ZOOMA Annapolis (1:31)
Sep 2012: Turning Stone Utica (1:33.33) 2nd Female


Feb: Lake Effect (1:31)
March: Shamrock (1:25.15) PR
April: Nike Women’s DC (1:24.49) PR
May: Run for the Dream (1:28) Win
Sep: RnR VA Beach (1:28.39)
Sep: Scallywompus (San Antonio) 1:28.30 Win

With the famous dadLOLZ
With the famous dadLOLZ
Feb: Lake Effect (1:25.32) Win
March: Shamrock (1:25.29)
April: April Fools (1:23.23) PR
May: NJ half (1:28)
May: Run for the Dream (1:31)
Nov: Harbor Lights 1:41 **Training Long Run

Harbor Lights Half Marathon 1

Mar: Shamrock half (1:33.04) *Injured
Aug: RnR Va Beach (1:31)
Oct: Runners World (1:28)
Oct: RnR Philadelphia (1:25.45)
Nov: Philadelphia half (1:25.00)

Runners World Half

Jan: Carlsbad (1:22.57) PR
March: Shamrock Half (1:26.50)
April: April Fools Half (1:24.04) Win

Some random fun facts:

Hottest: Scallywompus

This might be the only one I raced in just a sports bra.
This might be the only one I raced in just a sports bra.
Coldest: Lake Effect 2013

And maybe the only race I wore pants in...
And maybe the only race I wore pants in…

Worst Weather: Shamrock 2016: Pouring rain, 40 degrees, and windy

Best Swag:

  • Scallywompus gave out a huge growler for winning.
  • Run to the Sun gave out wine tour tickets.
  • I think in general the best race swag comes from the Shamrock races.  On top of a t-shirt, medal and four free beers they typically give out an additional item.  It’s been anything from a hoodie to towel to blanket.

Best logistics: Any race that I don’t have to take a bus or shuttle. (This probably includes all of the smaller ones).  For the amount of racers, most of the RNR have been good. The only race I didn’t care for the logistics were Nike Women’s, but I am not a city person, and DC overwhelmed me.

Best Value: If you register early you receive a lot for the Shamrock races.  There is lots of food, beer, heating and everything you could want in a race.

Worst Value: Carlsbad.  I found the race to be poorly organized, and there wasn’t a heck of a lot for the price of the race.  Since it was 120+, it was expensive.  I don’t race for “free things” but the race was unorganized as well.

Biggest: Nike Women’s DC (15,000), RnR Philadelphia, RnR VA Beach

RnR Virginia Beach
#TBT to when my husband wasn’t in shape and ran my pace…now he is too fast 😉
Smallest: Run from the Sun (Probably around 300-400 racers?)

My brothers, dad and I all ran it before my college graduation.
My brothers, dad and I all ran it before my college graduation.
Best On Course Aid: Shamrock, Nike Women’s, RnR.  (The pricier ones)

Worst On Course Aid: Run to the Sun: It was a smaller race, but it was hot, and you end up in the middle of cornfields and don’t know if you are going the correct way.  I distinctly remember being thirsty during the race, and that doesn’t happen often.

Coolest Medal:  Lake Effect 2014 or RnR Va Beach

**Nike Women’s gave out a Tiffany and Co Necklace, but I haven’t worn it.  It’s not for me honestly.

Most Zoned Out: Shamrock 2014 or 2016 Where did this race go?  In the blink of an eye, I was done.  

“Felt like it was never going to end”: Turning Stone Half Marathon and NJ half marathon

Both races I had stomach issues.  I stopped to use the bathroom during the Turning Stone half, and I felt like I was going to projectile vomit red velvet cake during the NJ half.

Nj half race
But you can’t even tell I’m about to voms
Overall Favorite Races:

  • Shamrock 2013 It was a lot of fun to watch my dad run the full marathon, hang out with my friends, I Pred and the race is fabulous.  Shamrock 2014 and Lake Effect this year are very close runner ups
  • Nike Women’s Half because I wasn’t expecting a PR.
  • April Fools half 2014 because it gave me the confidence that my fitness was still there.
  • April Fools half 2016 because I redeemed myself from my Shamrock and I didn’t talk myself into a negative race.  The weather was awful, but I got over it.nikerunning

Regretable Races: Shamrock 2015.  It’s the only race I ran injured, and it wasn’t a smart decision.  It set me back in recovery.

States Raced in: NY, VA, TX, MD, NJ, PA (also DC)


I’ve won 6 (Plattsburgh 2012, Run from the Sun, Run for the Dream 2013, Scallywompus, Lake Effect 2014, April Fools 2016)

Winning my very first goal race: Plattsburgh
Winning my very first goal race: Plattsburgh
I’ve placed second or third in 5

I’ve come in places 3-10 in: 7 (My most notable is 9th in Nike Women’s)

And most half marathons I’ve had no placements at all.  

Debut half marathon:  The Plattsburgh half marathon in April of 2011.  I didn’t know what to expect honestly.  With less than a full year of running and never having done more than 10 miles beforehand, I had no idea what to expect! I took it out at a pace that seemed maintainable, and it was.


  • Flower City (2014)
  • Run for the Dream. I would honestly say that Run for the Dream felt a little harder, but that is because it’s also hot and humid.
    Finishing on the track
    Finishing on the track
  • Runners World (Curse you Bart)
    Still one of my favorite photos of Allison and I
    Still one of my favorite photos of Allison and I

Most Surprising time: Lake Effect Feb 2014

Most Surprising placement: Nike Half Marathon I was 9th overall.  It was not expecting to PR and honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to go all the way to DC alone to race.  It was at the peak of my anxiety, and I’m so glad I did.

Worst Chafing:

  • Flower City 2012 (cotton top…armpit chaffing)
    I raced in a men's cotton top.
    I raced in a men’s cotton top.
  • Shamrock 2014 (thigh chaffing was awful)
  • Run for the Dream 2014: (Thigh Chafing)
  • Shamrock 2016 (Heather can validate)

Questions for you:

Have you run any half marathons?  How many?

What is your favorite racing distance?


  1. OMG this is so awesome!!! You truly are such an accomplished runner Hollie and I love how you have documented all of it here. I’m not sure I would be able to do that!! Just an amazing recap and something you can always look back on. You are too cool for school girl 🙂 xo

  2. This post came at such perfect timing, as I will be racing my third Half this Saturday and now I’m totally excited! I raced my 1st one October 2013, Seaside Half (1:34) and the 2nd one, September 2014, Newport Half (1:26). Even though I’ve only raced it twice I think it’s my favorite distance! I might think differently after this weekend though haha

  3. Wow you are fierce!!! Although I’m not near as fast, I enjoy looking back at my races too. This will be such a fun post for you to have.
    I kept reading down and getting further and further impressed with your PRs!! 🙂

  4. Reading about others races is one of my favorite things to do. I love the emotions that go into writing about them!!
    I love the half…I feel that I am still learning how to really race it. I think it is more of a confidence issue but the half is that perfect distance. I have just always run them with other people and not giving myself a chance to really run!
    I am now 2 weeks out from half #6!!

  5. I ran my first 1/2 marathon in February and won, it was all on trails, and I was pregnant, so I was pretty pleased! Fav distance is prob the 5k, but I think I’d be good at 15ks..they’re just so hard to find!

  6. I’ve run 8 half marathons and I’m still trying to figure out my favorite distance. There’s a mile run I do every year that’s really fun. Painful because it’s only a mile but really fun just to run as fast as possible, like when I was a kid.

  7. What an awesome 5 years! I hope to be able to look back in a few years and reflect on this many races, and hopefully some more successes. It’s cool how you had success early on in Plattsburgh. Man, did I hate living there but their half course is one of my favorites thus far. Although I did run the course almost every day and it ran past my house… I wish I could run it again this year!

  8. This is so fun to read! You look so strong in all the race photos! I’ve ran 5 half marathons and am still somewhat in shock when I say that.

  9. I loved this post! Like Kaci mentioned, it was very fun to read. I don’t think I realized it before but the Half may be your best distance! You are so consistent and your progressions perfect! I can’t wait to see you break 1:20 soon!

    1. I mean…I don’t understand why you wouldn’t think my best distance is the marathon…😜😜

  10. Awesome career so far Hollie! It’s really fun to see how you’ve progressed over 29 races! Looks like you’re due to run one in MI, the diner meal after will be on me 😉

  11. Wow! Lots of races in a short time, and lots of awesome wins! I made it to double digits in 2014, and I think i’m at about 13 or so after about 6 years of running. I run about two a year, one fall, one spring usually, though last year I did a 10 miler instead in Fall. I find training torturous for halfs but the reward at the end is so much better than a 5k – feeling like i just did something that maybe not everyone else can!

  12. Awesome post LOLZ! You’ve really progressed with the half marathon distance.

    I’ve run 11 and have 3 more half marathons planned for 2016. I think its my favorite race distance as well for similar reasons as you: easier recovery, less time consuming training, etc.

  13. The Half is my favorite distance too! I’m off to count how many … 🙂 Thanks for all those notes of your races! Fun read.

      1. 15! 🙂 states/countries:
        MA (8), NH(3), VT(2), FL(1), and Quebec, Canada(1)

  14. I almost didn’t recognize you racing in pants 😉 But wow, Hollie – that’s some pretty epic racing, and it’s cool to see how much you’ve progressed over the years. I seriously had to laugh at the “worst chafing” category. I had no idea that was a thing!

  15. Such a cool post! It’s crazy how far you’ve come over the past 5 years. I am training for my first half right now. I’m so excited for my race. You are a great inspiration, Hollie! xoxo

  16. what’s going to be your dirty 30?!?! That scallywompus has an awesome name but san antonio yeah i can see that being horribly hot…or at least for someone not used to the misery that is texas heat 🙂 that is an awesome race rundown and wow how cool that you have won/placed in so many! you are a total rockstar!

  17. I love reading posts like this! I like you broke it down by several categories. Congrats on an awesome 5 years of half marathons:) My next half is May 22nd and I’m so excited. And a lil not ready yet.. but oh well haha.

  18. Interesting post. I’ve never counted how many halfs I’ve run. I ran three last year.
    My first race ever was a half marathon and I’d never run more than 7 miles at a time before then. I also didn’t know about running your own race and not trying to keep up with people who knew what they were doing!
    The Great Bay Half in NH is one of my favorites. Several killer hills, but the location is beautiful and they have plenty of Smuttynose beer afterwards!

  19. I don’t know the exact number of halfs, but after this year it’s going to be so many more. I’m using a lot as training runs/fitness evaluations for marathon training for NYC and Chicago. It’s so neat to look back and evaluate which race did what better, course conditions, etc. The half marathon is a great distance because it doesn’t consume your life the way marathon training does.

  20. Wow, what a journey! And so many races for “just” 5 years! I’ve been running HMs since my senior year of high school, and in the last 8 years, I’ve run 12 (nothing anywhere close to a win though!). It’s definitely my favorite distance to race now that I’ve figured out how to race instead of just finishing to earn the t-shirt 😉

  21. Ahhhhh this is an awesome post!!! Haha I LOVE that picture of us but DAMN that angle does nothing for me. But still so fun. LOVE. I hope we get to do another one together soon. When we meet up post Boston we must discuss and plan!

  22. I ran my first half about a year ago and have done 3 since…I’m addicted! You’re a true inspiration! Reading your posts gets me excited to work on my speed and to keep running!

  23. Hollie, this is seriously so impressive/inspirational. I haven’t run a “half” since 2011, and it was such a bad experience (there was a flood and the race directors [who knew better] cut the course to a sloppy 9.something miles), that I haven’t been motivated to try again… until now. Maybe we can race a half together someday soon!

  24. Hands down my favourite post. I LOVE that photo of you and Allison. Absolutely brilliant. I can’t count how many half marathons I have done! My first one was in 1998! Ha. So, yeah. A lot. I think I did that one in 1:47! Fun times. It’s a great distance. I just ordered Hanson’s half marathon training book. I have the full marathon one but now I want the half!

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