There's something about the sweet taste of redemption.
It's also a lot of fun racing with friends. Add a fun race course that offers both challenges and a scenic route, and it's a total win.
Such was the case for the 2019 NewBo Run.
One of several races under the umbrella of Corridor Running, the NewBo Run offers both a 10K and a half marathon. I ran the half marathon last year, but had struggled with angry hammies for most of the race and, as a result, was not particularly ecstatic with my finish time. To say I was seeking a better race experience (and a faster finish time) would be an understatement.
With a race time of 7:30 (and a good 80-minute drive to the race site), Barb and I (and another running friend, Jim) departed town just before 5:30. Barb and I (both doing the 13.1) needed time to get our race packets, and Jim was registering onsite (10K).
We arrived on the scene with plenty of available parking and had our stuff a few minutes later.
|ready for the start line!
The temps were near perfect (low 60F's), with only a tiny bit of sunshine poking through. The air was a bit humid, but with the minimal sunshine (and cool temps) it was quite bearable. No complaints!
As we were lining up, I couldn't help but feel excited. My training had been going well and nothing felt off (which seems to be rare on race day).
The first mile was quite crowded (nothing new there). As we approached the start of the second mile, this time I noticed the long, gradual decline. I had not remembered it a year ago, and that final stretch to last year's finish line (ahem...going back UP said decline) was a little mentally defeating.
|from the NewBo Run site
There was a final gradual hill as we reached the 6-mile mark. At this point, I was still feeling great and my pace was keeping pretty steady.
Right around the halfway point, the route merged onto the Sac and Fox Trail. This part of the course was probably the most scenic, as it took us on a winding path through woodland. For myself, though, the crushed limestone underfoot proved to be the most challenging part of the morning. The ground was packed very hard, and there were numerous grooves from bike tracks. My knees felt like they were constantly twisting and contorting, to keep me vertical, on the unsteady rocks.
Speaking of rocks, I could tell a few little ones had found their way into my shoes. I was able to scoop out all but one, but it was wedged so far under my heel, I just couldn't reach it. I didn't want to lose any time by untying my (double-knotted) shoe, so I forged on, hoping the rock would work its way to the side or front of my shoe from the impact. This went on for about four miles.
After what seemed like forever, I made my way out (about the 10.5-mile mark) and was on the connector trail, heading back to Prairie Park. Whew!
I had been checking my Garmin, and noticed my splits had tanked a little while running on the trails through the woodland. I had paused for a couple of quick water breaks and had attempted to dislodge that annoying rock a second time My left knee was feeling a little wonky from the uneven terrain. Also, I knew there was a long hill coming up soon. And, I still had that &%$# rock wedged under my heel in my shoe.
What's a runner to do? Forge onward!
I should mention that I still was feeling pretty strong, though, but I didn't know if I could muster up enough mojo to finish out the final 2+ miles fast enough to claim that potential sub-2:00 finish time. I knew I'd at least be PR'ing the course (barring any freak stumbles or tumbles), so that gave me some peace of mind.
Just before the 11-mile mark, there was another water station. I grabbed a cup and walked briefly while I drank a couple sips.
Back on the hill, I let my legs just go. I wasn't trying to sprint (ha! my long legs have a tough time sprinting on a flat surface, add some incline to the equation and it's quite comical). But, my long legs are very adept at taking long strides... and all of a sudden, I just felt the urge to see what they could do.
I train on hills frequently, but racing on them is a different ball game. I have to just keep my head down, and focus on the street immediately in front of me rather than looking towards the top of the hill, off in the distance.
The 12th mile went well. I could hear the roar of the crowd, and the announcer calling out names of runners as they approached the finish line. The road leveled off as I approached the final turn that would lead me to the finish line. By this time, I knew I wasn't going to make it through the chute in time for a sub-2 finish, but I didn't feel like conceding a strong finish...so I kept going.
I heard my name announced over the speakers, and a few seconds later I was done. A group of people called my name, and I saw that it was Barb (who had finished just ahead of me) and Jim (who had long finished the 10K), as well as a few other friends (who were part of the crew who'd run the Cannonball Marathon, in North Carolina, with us a year ago).
Not the sought-after sub-2:00, but damn close...2:01:11 via the Garmin (2:01:10 official). Given the fact my finish time from last year was 2:07:09, this was a substantial victory (sub-2:00 be damned LOL).
Over all, I'm very happy with how the race went. I never felt fatigued, but my splits indicate a few miles (during the challenging stretch through the woodland) where things definitely slowed down. Apparently, I saved just enough energy for the final stretch, though, since my last two miles were my fastest.
2 - 9:05 6 - 9:25 10 - 9:08
3 - 8:56 7 - 9:25 11 - 10:04
4 - 9:22 8 - 9:39 12 - 8:55
13 - 8:30 (final .14 - :14)
After crossing the finish line, we were handed a cup with water, and instructed to keep the cup for the after party. Let me just say, the after-party was top-notch. Plenty of food, drinks, craft beer and (my personal favorite) hard cider.
|pic from Jim
This race is also very reasonably priced. I didn't get in on the early bird special, but still only paid $35 (it would have been $40 had I opted for a shirt)...you can't beat that for a half marathon! A unique feature are the medals, which are ceramic creations from a local place.
As mentioned, that elusive sub-2:00 eluded me again. I have had three sub-2:00 half marathons, so I do know how sweet they are, but they are not my all-in-all reason for racing (or even for running in general). Of the 45ish half marathons I've done, this was my second closest attempt at getting under that 2:00 benchmark (I ran a 2:00:47 in September 2012). So, any disappointment in not finishing faster was very short-lived. I'm quite thankful for a strong race, with pretty even splits, and finishing with a smile. Honestly, I really couldn't wish for more.
Are you following me on social media?