It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

November 17, 2012

Marshall University Half Marathon - Delayed Recap

Finish line at the Marshall University Half Marathon
The Marshall University Half Marathon was last Sunday.  What a whirlwind it has been since then.  I sit here writing this recap now, with fresh pain in my legs from my most recent half this morning - that's two half marathons in 6 days.  That is a new record.
Fun with leaves, just because
Jim and I headed for Huntington, WV on Friday, Nov 9 for our respective Sunday races.  Jim would be doing the full and I would be doing the half.  Huntington is a small rural town in WV and is actually only about 40 minutes from where I went to High School in KY.  It is best known for the true story and movie "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey that took place during the 70s when their football team was killed in an airplane wreck.   It was kind of nice to drive through all the familiar locations.  I had high hopes that I would see some of my family, but I didn't.  I was really disappointed by this, and even had a little breakdown/cry on Saturday in the hotel.  I'm not sure why I got so emotional, but it was just so weird to be so close to "home" yet so far away.  I always use "home" loosely when I talk about KY because I only spent 12 years there, but it is where my major formative years were I suppose since I was there from 8th grade through college.  Anyway, although I was only about 40 minutes from home, the majority of my family that is still in the area lives much farther away.

Outside of the football stadium
We stopped at packet pick-up on Saturday which was on the University campus.  It was a small pick-up area and we were in and out in just a few minutes.  There was no expo, but there was a local running company there.  Jim of course picked up a shirt, but I didn't get anything.  Then we walked across the street to have some Giovanni's pizza for lunch.  This was a staple in my small town and I was so excited when I saw it. They have DELICIOUS pizza and sandwiches.  Jim ordered an entire pizza, but I just opted for a pizza bread.  So good. 

Kissing the Bison for good luck.

Notice Jim's whole pizza to himself.
After lunch we walked around the beautiful university campus and took some photos, and then it was back to our hotel room for a much needed nap.  Later that night we had dinner at another little local place Decades Italian.  It was kind of cool because each area of the restaurant was decorated in a different decade.  We had the 1950s.  I tried to be funny and told the waiter there was no way we could eat our dinner in the 50s he was going to have to seat us somewhere else....but apparently no one thought this was funny.  After dinner we headed back to the room and got ready to race the next morning!

Jim sporting his new Brooks jacket - great race swag!
We woke up bright and early on Sunday.  It was cool, but not cold.  It was in the mid 40s with no wind, and the temperatures were supposed to rise into the 50s during the race.  I opted for capri tights and a short sleeve shirt and gloves.  After Jim's disastrous race in Wichita, we have re-instituted the pre-race dance pics.  So we did our pre-race party and then headed to the start.  I was super excited to catch up with my wonderful friend Coy Martinez of First in Philly.  We had  hoped to have dinner together the night before, but she had to work late and didn't get into Huntington until late.  We got a couple of photos and chatted.  Coy was running the full marathon with her friend Tami - it was Tami's first!  Coy was also with a smaller group of people, and it was the first marathon for several of them.  They were all excited and ready to get moving.

pre-race dance channeling my inner bison

It was finally almost time to start.  We walked the 10 feet to the start line.  That's the great thing about a smaller race like this.  You can practically part on the start line.  The gun went off and I started out by walking, waiting to cross the timing mat.  Finally after I had walked a minute or so I realized there would be no timing mat at the start!  HUH???  Anyway, I turned on my Garmin and started running.  The sun was coming up and I felt great.  I tried to tell my self to start slow, but in typical fashion I probably started out a little too fast.  This course is flat, flat, flat which is awesome.  I found myself running comfortably for the first several miles.  From miles 6-9 you run on a gravel path along the river.  It's a really beautiful area to run and I didn't feel like I was struggling, but apparently the change in surface had some kind of impact on me because I felt like I was running faster, but as each mile ticked away each mile was slower than the next.  Miles 6-10 were my slowest of the race.  Finally around mile 10 or 11 I saw Jim pass by me.  I gave him a high five.  He looked great.  It's always fun to see people you know in a race.  During those last three miles I felt like I still had something left and I picked up the pace.  It was so nice not to crash at mile 9 in this race like I had in Wichita.  I felt strong throughout the race - really in spite of many miles lately.  My Garmin hit 13 miles and I knew I was close, but when I reached the Marshall University football stadium I was a little unsure of where to go.  The course ran on the sidewalk around the stadium...and there were spectators and visitors everywhere all over the sidewalk.  You had to weave in and out of people and I wasn't sure if I was even going the right way.  I must have had a very confused look on my face because another runner who had already finished told me to keep running and make my first right!  Thank goodness.
Jim, me and Coy
I turned and entered the Marshall University stadium. This part was really cool.  You were running on the AstroTurf and there were a few people in the stands and around the stadium.  Just a few feet from the finish line they throw you a football - if you want to carry one with you to the finish line.  This was fun. I felt great at the finish and I rolled right through there with my football.  I crossed the finish line in 2:32:16 on my Garmin...although my official race time would be 2:33:05.  With no timing mat, those at the back of the race got gun time and not chip time, which kind of sucked.  It certainly wasn't my best or fastest race, but honestly I was super happy with it and felt like I had a good race.

Overall this is a great small town race.  It's super flat, and you get a nice technical tee and medal.  If you do the marathon you also get an awesome Brooks jacket!  And it is awesome!

I waited for Jim to cross the finish line.  He came across strong and had a great race too!  Then we headed back to the hotel for showers and check out.  We came back to Marshall just in time to see Coy one last time.  They were done with their race and had done so well!!  She decided to grab lunch with us before we headed on our way back home.....back to Giovanni's.  I think Jim could live on pizza. 

Jim finishing strong!
We got home Monday afternoon - just in time for me to pack and head to DC for work the next I said at the beginning - whirlwind.  I would come home from DC Thursday night, go back to work on Friday and then do another half marathon on Saturday...but that race recap is coming soon!


  1. Wow, 2 halfs so close together - go you!!! And also wow on that medal.

  2. Great medal! You did two halves and got to go to DC. Whirlwind but exciting stuff. I hope you got to run in DC. What do you do that you get to travel?

  3. That's possibly the best race finish photo I've ever seen. And knowing about the history of the University makes it even better.

  4. Sounds like an awesome trip and a great race! Loved the finish line photo. When I first saw it I was wondering if you carried the football the whole race :-).

    I could live on pizza like Jim. The more we run, the more pizza we can eat :-)

  5. I'm so glad I finally got to meet you!! You did a great job on your race! Hopefully next time we can all get together for dinner! Congrats on both races!!

  6. That football picture is awesome! Great job, Michael! So you have another race report it time for you to join the half fanatics?

  7. That football picture is awesome!!

    Congratulations on the race and two halfs so close together. Impressive.

  8. That might be the best race picture ever - glad you didn't fumble like Jim did! lol

    Glad you got to meet up with Coy!

    Sounds like it was a good race and trip overall!