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High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran the High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon. It took place along the Carderock towpath which is an old canal towpath next to the Potomac river.

I have wanted to do this race for the last two years, since it started, but have not.  I love winter running and running a half in January seemed like perfect sense to me.

If you had read my 7 Quick Takes from last week, you would know that I was no really "feeling it" for this race.  I had no goal in mind.  I physically did not feel prepared to PR at the race. To make matters worse, my stomach was bothering me on Saturday.  All day, I kept thinking that if my stomach did not get better before the race, I may have a rough run and it might be best if I do not even run the race  . . . it is a small race with a VERY limited number of port-a-potty stops.  Plus, the trail has the Potomac on one side and the old canal on the other . . . no places for an emergency "pit stop".

I woke up Sunday morning and felt OK, so I decided to risk it.  I got to the race about 1 1/2 early (the parking was limited and I did not want to have park 2 miles away from the start).  I brought books to read while sitting in the car, but never got a chance to crack one open because I was in line FOREVER for packet pickup.

Once I picked up my packet, I walked the 10 min walk back to my car, got ready for the race and then headed to the start.  The start of the race was in waves.  My plan was to start in wave 3 ( 2 hr and up finishers), but somehow I started with wave 2.  The trail was packed and it was really hard to go fast at the beginning of the race.  My goal was to stay around a 9:30 pace.  This would keep me close to my PR pace.   By about mile 3, I settled into a good pace.

There is really nothing exciting to share about this race.  It is an out and back on a towpath, so it was not very exciting.  But, I will say that the scenery was beautiful. 

By mile 5, I mindlessly started running . . . this is not good for me . . . when I do not think about my pace or check my Garmin, I slow down.  I noticed that my breathing was too clam for being in the middle of a half marathon.  Mental note: if I am breathing during the race the same way I am when I am doing normal activities, I am not running FAST enough.  So, I picked up the pace.  Then I hit the half way spot and decided it was time to start picking people off.  So, instead of watching my Garmin, I just chose the person in front of me and worked my way past them and then on to the next one.  This worked well for the rest of the race and I ended up passing a good number of people in the second half of the race.

After I passed the half way point and checked the next mile marker, I looked at my Garmin and realized that my Garmin and the miler marker were a mile off from each other.  When I passed mile marker 8, my watch said I had run 7 miles.  I kept thinking that somehow the last few miles of  the race would magically be longer and the race would be 13.1.  but, lucky for me, it was not . . .

By mile 9, my GI tract began to get upset.  I had already passed the last pit stop before the finish, so I just had to push through.  Luckily, there were no emergencies and, although I felt sick, I was able to hold it together until the end of the race. 

I crossed the finish line, 12.1 miles at 1:57:09 (9:40 pace).

 I went up to the after party, got some food and headed to the bathrooms and my car.  My stomach got progressively worse and by the time I got home, I realized that I was SICK.  I spent the rest of the day in bed . . . any movement and my GI tract would act up. Now, some form of the illness has passed on to my poor hubby and my 5 yr old!

I have mixed emotions about this race.  I think, all things considered, I ran well. I was obviously sick before the race.  But, this race highlighted a problem I regularly have in races and running in general. And that is that I tend NOT to push myself too hard.  That would be fine, if I were fine with it, but I really want to get faster and I cannot do that if I do not actively push myself in a race situation.


  1. one way to push yourself in a race is to push yourself in training. When the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon opens registration on Feb. 15, you will be able to sign up for a training program for people who have run 10-13 miles before, but want to push themselves to run faster. Maybe that will work for you.


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