February 20 was a great morning for a half marathon. Temperature at race start (7 AM) was about 54 F. My only problem is that the start is set up such that the marathon and half runners are staggered physically, but not by time. Since we start together, those of us near the front of the half group had to run through or, in many cases around, the marathoners to get some open space for our start. Once in the open, the race was really fun. The crowd support is sparse (Gainesville is small), but people are enthusiastic. Of course with Gainesville being small, you also sometimes get to see people you know that you were not expecting to see (go Team Hot Legs!).
The hills on the course are concentrated in the first half. This year, having run lots of hill repeats preparing for Boston, the hills were no problem for me. That said, my quads were pretty tired towards the end and I was thankful that the last half actually has a lot of gentle downhills to keep my splits fast. The run through the stadium was less impressive this year since they were showing highlights on the TVs, but they did not use the PA system.
At the 12 mile marker, I had a full ten minutes to spare for my goal of sub-1:30. I settled into a steady pace and overtook one or two people who had burned out, until, of course, some guy came out of nowhere and flew past me. No worries, I achieved my goal with an unofficial 1:27:23 making me third in my age group and finishing 22nd overall!
Half marathon winner came in around 1:06 and the marathon winner was a 2:40. The top marathon relay team ran a 3:13, which bummed me out since our team last year ran 3:11! Next year hopefully we can drum up more interest. Pictures to follow soon.
Pictures and official results to follow in the near future.