Half Marathon Airport City was my first half marathon and 2nd race overall. It was on December 7th.
Airport City is basically a small business center built close to the airport, with some companies (mostly high tech I think) and an outside mall.
I work on airport grounds so the area of the race was very familiar to me.
I’d been toying with the idea of running a half marathon for a while (well actually I thought about a marathon but that seemed a bit unrealistic), but the actual distance scared me. Eventually as I slowly upped my weekly running distance and my long run distance, I started feeling more comfortable with the idea of racing a half marathon, and decided to go for it. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing, I only registered for the race 2 weeks before.
I woke up early, as usual, had coffee and an oatmeal bar, and was out the door by 6:10 I think. The race started at 08:00 and I was planning on getting there by 07:00, although leaving the house so early put me there at about 06:30, which was fine, I couldn’t sit at home anymore.
It was actually nice to get there early because the parking lot was almost empty, and picking up my race bib took about 10 seconds, although they had a weird system going in which first you had to go look your name up in a list, remember the number next to your name (bib number I think), and then go pick up your bib by telling the volunteers the number, hoping you remember it? Really, next time just do it by name, please.
The starting line was right by the outside mall, all the stores and restaurants were closed except a coffee place, but the food court building was open so it was nice to wait inside, it was cold that day, and to be able to use their restrooms instead of port a potties. That was actually really nice.
I had about an hour to kill before going for a warm up run, so I looked around the race expo (there were only a few vendors), sat for a bit, and tried to relax.
At 07:30 I went to my car, took off all the extra layers I was wearing and put on my compression socks and running shoes, I had been wearing flip flops until that point. I was cold in a tank top and shorts, but that translates into perfect race weather. Chilly at first, not too hot by the end of the race.
I warmed up walking for 5 minutes and running for about 10, very slow run, I really didn’t want to tire my legs at all before the race. To me the half marathon distance is still no joke. Then I had a GU.
The race started almost on time, I think about 5 minutes late, which I saw no reason for but maybe they were delayed closing the roads or something? My plan was to stay with the 01:50 pacer for the first few KMs, then try to catch the 01:45 pacer over the next few KMs and get to him at about the half point. After that I would decide either to stay with him or go a bit faster. I knew there was no way I would catch the 01:40 pacer, so it was kind of stay in between.
I did stay with the 01:50 pacer but only for I think the first KM or so, and then decided I could run a bit faster, and get on with a 05:00 Min/KM (08:03 Min/Mile) pace. I didn’t have a GPS watch at the time, so I was just looking at my regular timer watch every KM marker and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could actually keep a pretty even pace. Each KM that went by, I saw almost exactly another 05:00 minutes to my time. A bit before the half point I started picking up the pace a bit, caught the 01:45 pacer about half way, and picked up the pace some more.
This is when things didn’t go as well as I had hoped for. I had thought that if I had the energy to run faster after the half point, it would be at an average pace of 04:40 Min/KM (07:33 Min/Mile) up until the end. What happened, not surprisingly, is that I started the 2nd half too fast, and was feeling it badly after 5 KM (3 miles) with still 5 KM (3 miles) to go…
So the last 5 KM (3 miles) were slower than I had intended.. about 04:50 Min/KM (07:47 Min/Mile). If anything I wish it had been the other way around and run slower at first and finish faster and stronger. Instead of finishing thinking that I never want to run again in my life. At all.
It got a little lonely the last few KMs, there were about 1000 people in the race but only about 400 were running the half marathon (there were also a 5K and a 10K), and we were spread out by now.
There were 3 water/gatorade stations along the course but since it was a turnaround at the half point, we went by each station twice, so 6 opportunities to drink. I’m not used to drinking while running, this was the first time I drank and I only had a few sips of water, I think twice. Not enough. Gotta master drinking and running at the same time. I did have a GU a bit before the half point.
Official finish time was 01:41:32.
After the race I stretched for a few minutes, and bought some coffee to warm up because it felt cold when not running. Someone told me my lips were blue. Nice.
The post race snacks were really lacking, they had big bottles of water, which was fine, but why not smaller bottles which are easier to hold/drink? And to eat they had some fruit, I think apples and pears…. Sorry but that’s not enough for me.. Give me at least a banana, an energy bar maybe? Yogurt? I need Food!
Overall I thought it was a good race, small, well organized, friendly staff, nice route (although hilly), easy parking, and start/finish right by the mall and parking lot. The negatives were the bib pickup system and post race snacks, nothing major.