My hubby Bill and I hit the road early Sunday morning (and I do mean early; we left at 4:30 a.m.) to go to York, PA to run the York Half Marathon. Another adventure!
The York Half (and the accompanying full marathon) are sponsored by the local branch of the YMCA. Packet pick up is located at the Y, which means indoor bathrooms (always a plus), showers available for after the race, and tons of smiling, helpful volunteers.
We arrived about 45 minutes before the full marathon started at 6:00, quickly picked up our packets, and went back to our car to pin on our bibs. Even though there were indoor bathrooms, the lines were long. There were 2 porta-potties outside, but with over 500 runners, I think more facilities at the start of the race would have been a good idea. I saw a group of young women marathon runners standing in line, only to have to dash off before they got to the front so they didn’t miss the race start.
The half marathon started 15 minutes later at 6:15. We started on the street in front of the YMCA, ran a few blocks on city streets, and quickly turned onto the York Heritage Rail Trail. The race is mostly out-and-back on the rail trail.
The York Heritage Rail Trail is a packed cinder trail, about 10 feet wide, that stretches from York, PA to the Maryland border, where it links up with the Northern MD Rail Trail. The trail is mostly shaded and runs beside railroad tracks.
There was rain for the greater part of the week before the race, and there were a few puddles on the trail, but nothing that really hindered running. Humidity was very high, even with the early start, however. Scenery on the trail is pretty. I don’t usually get bored running rail trail races as I have heard from some of my runner friends. (A notable exception: at one half marathon on a rail trail – not this one – I was so bored, I started singing “99 Bottle of Beer on the Wall” just to pass the time!)
There were plenty of aid stations with enthusiastic volunteers handing out drinks and cheering us on. I believe there was gel at one aid station, but I don’t use gel for a half, so I didn’t take any. The miles on the way to the turn around went by quickly. We even went through a railroad tunnel close to mile 6. The “out” part of the out-and-back was very slightly uphill, so the downhill on the way back was something we looked forward to.
We rounded a pylon in the middle of the trail slightly after mile 6.5 and headed for the finish line, which was in a park in the city of York. The humidity (and maybe our age) began to slow us down on the way back, and Bill and I took a few walk breaks. I was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt, but I was wishing for a tank top. We ran the entire race side-by-side until about .9 miles from the end.
At this point a woman who looked like she could be in my age group passed us. I turned to Bill. He said “Go!”, and I sprinted after her. I passed her fairly quickly, and could hear her right behind me. I was not sure if I could hold the faster pace until the end of the race, but I felt amazingly good. I did hold the faster pace, and wound up beating her by less than a minute for second in our age group. Bill who finished right behind us, also won second in his age group.
I would definitely recommend this race. We got a nice drawstring bag, a medal, tons of food after the race (plus chocolate milk, which always increases a race’s value for me), and a cute, gender-specific tech shirt. The course was flat, easy and pretty, and the volunteers helpful and friendly. Logistics were a breeze. This was the first time I did this race, but it probably won’t be the last!
I am joining Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup! I am also linking up with Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday. I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. Love these running-related blogs!