Race Recap: 2016 Hershey Half Marathon

One Medal to Rule Them All

Another race in the books! The Hershey Half Marathon was my first official half in over a year! I kinda pulled myself away from the race scene this year because I simply wanted to keep it chill after the JFK 50. So after only 3 races under my belt this year, I decided to throw in a second round at Hershey. Especially since it lined up perfectly in my marathon training. However, there was little convincing when someone posted the “bling” on their Facebook several weeks ago.

When I saw that bronze Reese Cup, I basically told Peter that we had to do the race. My first run in the Hershey Half didn’t have a medal near as fab!

So, it was decided that we were going to run for the medal. I mean, who doesn’t want a Reese Cup as a medal hanging on their wall!? I mean…unless you hate Reese Cups (which you should totally leave my page now if you do 😉 ).

What’s great about the Hershey Half is not just the medal, BUT they include a lot of awesome swag! One of the biggest things they throw in is free admission for 2 to Hershey Park in the Dark. It’s no different than going to the park any other time of the year as most of the good rides are still open. Not to mention, you get the advantage of shorter lines, awesome decorations, people in costumes, and Halloween music. Did I mention that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays?

Packet Pickup & a Night at the Park!

Anyway, we journeyed down to Hershey on Saturday afternoon and I must admit, I had some anxiety. I have been doing a "cut” which means that I am reducing my fats, sugars, and carbs as the last phase of my Body Beast program. So that means absolutely NO CHOCOLATE! This may seem sinful since I was going to the chocolate capital of the world, but I was going to do my best to keep my food clean. I even packed my lunch to ensure that I was getting exactly what I needed.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Hershey was go straight to packet pick-up. That’s were we got our shirts, coupons, bibs, and park tickets. We also got awesome reusable Hershey Park bags. I'm all about free grocery bags! We've got tons!

Afterwards, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, then quickly went back to the park.

Like I mentioned, when you go to Hershey in the off season, lines are way shorter. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I ever went to Hershey during their open season, but I do know that wait times exceed an hour on most of the coasters. This year, we were on and off rides like that! We mainly stick with the biggest coasters too. And I will be the first to tell you that I do fear them. Don't get me wrong! I do love them! But they also give me so much anxiety! ESPECIALLY FAHRENHEIT and The Storm Runner.

Here’s Fahrenheit.

Storm Runner is one of those rides that go zero to 60 in like negative 10 seconds.

I feel like my soul is literally sucked out of me when that coaster shoots off into the sky! Oh, who am I kidding! I have no soul! Ginger! Still, I have to close my eyes during the initial take off otherwise I can’t comprehend what the hell is going on.

We also got to try one of their newer coasters, Sky Rush which I also couldn’t handle.

Anyway, after a great evening at the park, we headed back to the hotel to eat dinner and rest up for the race.

Can I mention how much I loved that my husband got a room with 2 queen beds!? I sure love Peter, but I do love the times where we can sprawl out! We really need to upgrade to a king sized bed.

Race Day

After sleeping EXTREMELY well (not sure if it was because I slept alone...haha), we got up, ate breakfast and headed out.

Take my advice: Never wait until 6:30am to go to the race...even if your hotel is 5 minutes away. You WILL NOT make it on time. There's only 1 entrance to Hershey and thousands of runners were trying to get in. We didn't get to park until after 7:20 (race starts at 7:30) and had to make a long walk/jog to the start.

It was the first time in nearly 5 years of running that I did not make a race on time. Runners were still funneling through the start line by the time we made it, but we were at the back of the pack which put us at a disadvantage.

I was looking to PR at 1:45, but I was starting with a 9+ minute pace since the slower runners and walkers owned the road. I had to creatively weave myself through and it was like this for about the first 2 miles. It wasn't until mile 3 that I finally caught up with an 8 minute pace. If I wanted to get 1:45 though, I knew some of my miles would have to be in the 7 minute range. That scared the crap out of me! But miracles can happen! In fact, I began to run around a 7:50 pace. But some did climb to 8 from time to time simply because there were some killer hills (I did not train for hills like this), but overall, after mile 3, 7:50 became the average pace.

When I reached mile 6, I wasn't sure if I could quite keep up with my goal. I was going to give it my all, but my feet and legs were aching! I was not used to road running since I primarily trained on the canal these past several weeks.  My shoes were also worn out. I've had them since before my marathon in March!

Thankfully, there was a lot to look at in the park and a lot of positive course support to distract me. I was taking high fives when I could and tapping handmade signs that advised I could push for a power up. Oh and I think it's worth mentioning that one girl was listening to Sexy Back on her phone. That got me pumped. Haha.

Once I hit mile 12, many runners around me were beginning to walk. As much as I wanted to join them, I tried to be that voice of encouragement and let them know they had just a little further to go. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. I know that in the past, it has helped me so I try to return the favor when I can.

As I rounded the stadium and darted towards the finish line, I watched my time tick to 1:45. My watch showed that I already ran 13.1, but there were still a few tenths of a mile in the race itself that I had to cover I knew it was unrealistic for me to cross the finish line within a minute.

I may have missed my goal PR, BUT I knew I could still get one. And I was worth running for.

I crossed the finish line in 1:46:23. The Chocolate Town Challenge Facebook Page even caught it live. I'm about 20 seconds in!

I didn't relax for long. I still had Peter to wait for. So I rounded the stadium and waited for him to make his entrance into the stadium.

Despite some of the pain and injury he had this race season, he finished his 3rd half in 2:13.

We were both very pleased that we now had the medals we set out for!

I think I was more entertained with my superman heat blanket.

So now that the race is over, we turn our sights on the Niagara Falls Marathon which is now less than 2 weeks away. Training has gone well and I'm kicking myself for saying this, but I am aiming for a sub-4. It's my 5th marathon and I'm looking to turn it up a notch. Especially since I anticipate my next marathon (The Walt Disney World Marathon) to be pretty low key. But whatever ends up happening, I just pray to finish pain free! It's been a good year for that! *knocks on wood*

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