The Air Force Half Marathon this year was hot, very hot. So hot, they drew a black flag and canceled the race around 11-11:30. I’ve never partaken in a race that has happened, but with so many half marathons, I guess there is a first for everything.
First and foremost, the aid during the race was immaculate, and you couldn’t ask for better support. There were personnel almost every ¼ mile and aid stations every 1.5. That was never the issue. The issue was at race start it was already well above 70 and very humid. When I finished the race around 10 is, it was a feels like temp of 88. Last year, I ran a 1:27.28 in better weather but wasn’t in as good of shape.
I know I’m in better fitness than a 1:31, but you have to race for the day which includes how your body feels, the weather, and the course (Two weeks ago, I ran the Boothbay half in 1:29.50 on a much harder course). To be honest, I never felt great, and the race turned into a longer workout/run. That’s okay, and I am proud of this finish like any other race I’ve done.
My husband and I drove from NJ to central PA on Thursday (My in-laws live there). We picked up my father in law and drove the last 6 hours to Dayton, Ohio. Driving that far the day before a race is not my favorite thing to do but with work schedules that’s how the cookie crumbles. We got to the expo late, didn’t get to stay long, and booked it just before 6, so we wouldn’t get stuck on closed roads due to the 5k. Everything about the night and morning felt rushed.
The following morning was just as chaotic, and there was an accident in front of the base. The roads were closed, and we made it with just under an hour to spare. Walking the 1.5 miles to the start was enough of a warmup, and I could already feel how hot it was.
At the start, I chatted with a few various people. The race went off at 8:30 and I just ran my own race. The Air Force half is interesting because it consists of a lot of people who have never run a half marathon but have some sort of military/Air Force connection. I am always happy for them, but it also doesn’t have a corral system, so the first mile is often jam-packed with people who have taken the race out too fast. Then they quickly realize they have another 12 miles to go.
I hit the mile in 6:59 and I knew immediately it would not be the race I wanted. I wasn’t upset and just ran for the day.
The next two miles went by without any real interest. I chatted with a few people including a pilot from Illinois, a college ROTC kid running his first half, and retired military officer. It made time go by faster and by the time I knew it, I was at mile 3.
Between mile 3-4, I saw a few C-17s taking off at an adjacent runway. They were planes that had been moved due to the Hurricane Florance. Not a planned race thing, but a lot were taking off throughout the race. It made for fun, and interesting scenery. I passed one female in that time. I had no idea where I was in placing, and it didn’t really matter to me either.
Around mile 5, the race started to get hot. I take Gatorade, every time it’s offered in 10+ mile races. At the race, I took at least 2 gatorade cups and water at each stop. It definitely kept me hydrated.
From 5-6, I just wanted to make it halfway. Around this point, the flags went from yellow to red which was indicated at an aid station. I knew it was getting worse and I was already completely sweating through my clothing.
We trucked along, and by the time I knew it, we were at mile 7. I was talking to a guy going to UVA just bantering about random stuff. If there is one thing I do, is talk. I always warn people and if someone doesn’t want to talk, I won’t keep doing it.
At the Air Force Half, mile 8, begins the harder portions of the course. For the most part, the first 7 miles are relatively flat, with a few turns, and hills but nothing crazy. Then mile 8 and beyond are rolling hills and running up overpasses.
I knew I was pushing myself, but I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit of when I PRed in February. I had plenty left in my tank for hills and for finishing strong, and I was going too. Up the hills, down the hills, I went the same pace and still averaged about 7:00 minutes.
I passed another female who had passed me earlier, on the overpass at mile 8. The next two miles were spent trucking along alone, and focusing on mile 10. Mile 10 was when I planned to just go.
At mile 10, a hand crank passed me. I caught a few people walking up the hills between 10-11. I wasn’t as fatigued as if it was a hard race and I was just trucking along and running faster than the first miles. I ran mile 10 in 6:50 and even with the hills, I was pleased. I guess the gatorades hit me late.
The next mile, I ran alone and just focused on people in front. I wanted to catch every person I could see because it gave me something to think about. That was my goal to keep my brain engaged with the race. It hot and I needed something. I grabbed water and just trucked along. I high fived a little kid. I was surprised that I ran the next mile in 6:42.
You enter the base of Wright Patterson at mile 12. You can see the finish line in the distance and know you still have an entire mile to go. For some reason, I thought “so many women were on my tail”, and I sprinted like I had one race for the rest of my life. (Probably because in 2017, I was outkicked in races 5-6 times…many for wins). I passed no less than 5 men in the final mile, and they were probably like…WTF.
I ran the last mile in 6:36 and finished in 1:31.12. I was pleased with my time for the day. While yes, I know I’m in better shape than a 1:31 and I would have loved the opportunity to race that, it wasn’t the day and the day will come.
I like the Air Force half, not just because my husband is in the Air Force, but I do think it’s a good course and has a good support. Now that the new refueler, the KC-46 (which replaces my husband’s plane, the KC-10…one day), is going to be the plane of next year…I feel like we have to go back to 2019. 😉
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C-17s are big. ✈️ . With conditions in the 80s and humid, I raced for the day and ran a 1:31.12. . Most of my miles were around 7 mins and then hammered the back 5k with 6:50, 6:42, and 6:36…passing a few women. . Chatted, smiled, and trucked along. I know I’m in better fitness but you must race the day you’re given. Proud of this race like any other which is what the sport is all about.
Questions for you:
What is the hottest race you’ve done?
What is one race you enjoy doing?