The Air Force Marathon and Half Marathon took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Saturday, September 15 in Dayton (technically Fairborn), Ohio. Not counting one-off’s and races that a few members of the team decided to run (like the North Country trail race in August), this was the fourth official Team G(race) race since the team started in February 2011. Unlike our previous team races, this was the first time we had multiple people participating in the full marathon versus the half.
Since the marathon started an hour before the half marathon, part of the group met up at 5:45 am to make the drive to WPAFB, get parked and be ready for the 7:30 start. A few of the half participants went with the early group, to cheer and encourage the full group, and to see the B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover:
As expected, the plane was eerily quiet as it flew over the start/finish area. The full marathon started a few minutes later, and the rest of us had another hour before the half marathon start. Due to the timing of the races, we were never able to get one picture with everybody in it, so we ended up taking multiple pictures. Here are a couple of pre-race pics.
Once in the start corral, teammate TerriAnn and I lined up with 3 of our members who were walking the half due to injuries, near the estimated 3 hour finishing time flag. My plan was to finish in the 2:10 to 2:20 range, since I was just running this as a training run. We ran the first mile in 10:30 due to the walkers we had to weave through, so we picked up the pace in the next few miles (10:01, 9:54, and 9:49 in miles 2-4.)
Between miles 4 and 5, as we were heading up into the Officers’ Quarters neighborhood, a big group of half runners came down the hill in our direction, probably a couple of hundred runners. There was some cheering for them and we went on. We didn’t figure out until later when we came out of the neighborhood in a different area that they were off course. Apparently, we found out later from a couple of our runners who were in those faster groups, the course didn’t have any volunteers in a particular spot and many took a wrong turn. Depending on what “wrong turn” group you might have been with, some people ran a quarter mile extra, some ran over a mile and a half extra. There were some very unhappy half marathon participants during and especially after the race (didn’t affect the full marathon).
TerriAnn and I maintained a pretty consistent pace up until the big hill on the course, which was going up a freeway overpass at mile 8. Once we made it over the top, TerriAnn was feeling great – I could tell by her singing and dancing. Since she was running her first half marathon, I mentioned that she might be able to come close to 2 hours if she picked up the pace and started running 9 minute miles. She thought about it for a minute, and then decided to go for it. I told her I was fine, I had done this many times before, and wished her luck. For the rest of the race, I plodded along at around a 10 minute pace, knowing that I would be comfortably withing my goal range of 2:10-2:20. At some point during these last few miles, one of my Twitter friends snapped this picture of me:
As I entered back into the Air Force Museum grounds, I retrieved my phone from my belt so I could take a picture of the finishing stretch, which of all the races I have run, is one of the better finishes out there.
It was really cool to have a few of my teammates along the finishing stretch cheering and taking pictures. Here, since I had my phone in hand, I took a picture of them taking a picture of me.
In my 21st half marathon, my official chip time was 2:12:11, and my garmin had my distance at 13.28 (I’m assuming due to the weaving in the first mile). Other than just wanting to finish in that range of 2:10 to 2:20, I didn’t have a time goal that forced me to push too much. Just like the Brooks bracelet I work, I ran happy, and really just enjoyed being part of the accomplishments of the rest of the team. We had 3 first time full marathoners:
…and 3 first time half marathoners:
One of my favorite pictures from the day came from 2 of our first time full marathoners, Casie and Kelly. Fortunately I received a text from Casie at mile 25 so we were prepared to watch them coming down the stretch.
Despite having IT band issues that started in early July, and not being able to run more than 14 miles during her full training, Casie, with Kelly’s help, finished the full marathon in 4:54. Look at the joy on their faces!
We were fortunate to have near perfect weather for the race (it started to get a sunnier and warmer for the full marathon finishers.) We think that WDTN Meteorologist Jamie Jarosik might have had something to do with that. She did great in her first half marathon, completing it in a faster time than she expected.
In the end, we had a couple of PRs on the team, and the first time full and half runners were overjoyed with their accomplishments. Not everybody hit their goal or ran the race they had intended to do, but we had no serious injuries, and many of us were already planning not only our next race, but the marathon/half marathon we want to do next spring (looks like the Flying Pig in Cincinnati.) In what will be a new tradition going forward, we had a great after party in downtown Troy later in the day, with dinner, drinks and dessert at several establishments.
My next race, along with a few others on the team, is the Columbus marathon in four weeks. After doing my last 20 mile run yesterday, I’m ready for the taper, and I’m feeling confident about Columbus.