Let me start off by saying that the Hershey Half is one of my favorite races of the year. I think Hershey has a lot of great things going for them, and being able to support the Children’s Miracle Network is a major win.
The course is challenging with its share of hills and twists and turns, but it’s not soul-crushing like some other races I’ve entered. The venue, packet pickup, and attractions- all good. Like I said, it’s one of my favorite races all around.
However, my only complaint (rather suggestion) is that they:
A. Have the runners sign up in waves based on pace
B. Assign corrals, and Include pacers
To clarify, at the very beginning of the race, they tell everyone to line up based on their pace – but no clear direction is given, everyone just crams to the front as best as they can. Having corrals will ensure the fastest runners are in the front, and progressively slower runners will make up the rest of the pack. During the start, there was a mad dash or confusion as I passed people by and people passed me by. Corrals would certainly help with congestion and make it safer than having runners cut you off in a tightly packed herd. Also during the race, pacers go a long way in keeping the crowds moving… and purely for selfish reasons I do better when I can spot pacers, it helps me regulate my speed.
I realize pacers and corrals carry their own logistics, but the Hershey Half is a seasoned race where the added extra steps would go a long way and I’m sure the event organizers could handle the change.
Anyway, this year’s race went rather well – I felt good about my training, my nutrition, and my overall plan of attack for the 13.1 miles.
Training is what it is, my goal of running 100 miles a month really helped me put mileage on my shoes and prepared me physically for the endurance needed to succeed. Despite whatever weird pain it is that I have in my shin, I was able to maintain a fairly stable pace throughout the entire race.
Nutrition is clutch, leading up to race day and during the race, fueling can make or break your success. I made sure to eat balanced meals the entire week before the race and took extra care to not overindulge. I drank plenty of water on a daily basis to stay properly hydrated and the day of the race I made sure to maintain my hydration levels. I also decided to use Tailwind Nutrition’s Endurance Fuel over the course of the race to help sustain my energy levels. Fueling on the move can be a pain, and I didn’t want to have to mess with gels or jelly beans during the race, so I made the decision to go with Tailwind. Spoiler: It was an excellent move.
Having a Plan of Attack is always a good idea. Since I’m pretty horrible at knowing how far I can push myself, I decided to pick a comfortable pace and just maintain it throughout the race. I know I can run 8:30 min/miles for 4-5 miles, but was concerned at 13 miles if I would crash and burn after I passed my safe zone. So, I decided to pick a safer pace and I know I could maintain with easy effort. I settled on a 9:30 min/mile pace, knowing that I could always increase my speed near the end as long as I had the energy.
The plan paid off, it was painful at first getting passed left and right, but my patience to maintain my pace rewarded me in the end. In the beginning, I didn’t mind getting passed by… but after mile 9 came and went and I was still getting passed, I started to doubt my pace of choice. It wasn’t until mile 11 that I noticed I was gaining ground and passing a lot of the people that had initially passed me. I ended up really picking up ground on mile 12 and just felt unstoppable. I entered the stadium with blazing speed at a 7:45 min/mile pace and hurried past others like they were standing still – the crazy thing was, by the end, I still felt like I could have kept running.
Well, thanks for sticking around to the end:
2016 finish time was 2:14:00
2017 finish time was 2:13:51
2018 finish time was 2:01:57