1812 Challenge & Half Maraton August 27, 2017 By Tristan This race is a favorite of mine, and still the only one I've done in my home state of NY. It honors the War of 1812, and the race finishes on the battlefield in Sackets Harbor. The town was a key Navy shipyard and it's headquarters for the Great Lakes. This will be my third time at the event, but for the first time I only entered the half marathon. I hadn't kept up with my running like I should have through the summer, and went over a month with my longest runs of only 5 or 6 miles. In the 3-4 weeks prior to the race I did work back up to a couple 10 milers and just a few short sprint workouts too. I knew I'd be really hurting if I did the 18 miler (knowing myself I would still try to race it hard). Still I was feeling pretty good t, and very excited to see what I could do in the half marathon after having broke my personal best back in April by a significant margin. This race is a fast one, not much for hills and also has an overall slight negative elevation gain, about -225' for the 1/2. Race morning I met up with my friend Matt who lives just down the road from my folks. His wife and wife's friend were running the half too. We carpooled to the start, just enough time to do some warmups, a bit of stretching, down a cup of coffee and head to the start. It was I think the coldest morning of the summer, down to around 50F which was great for racing. Race start, I'm on the right, the only barefooter. According to the results there were at least 538 runners on the road. It's a nice size for the 2 lane road and this small city, a lot less crowded than the big city races that despite having 6 lanes are still shoulder to shoulder! I started towards the front but back about two to three dozen people. Based on my times from my last 1/2 this spring, and last years results from here, I thought I had a shot at top 5 maybe even third, so I was pretty excited. My first mile clocked in at 6:39, a little faster than I thought I could maintain, and my second mile slowed down a bit, 6:48. I was breathing pretty hard and struggling, HR was highest I'd seen in a long time (though it was the first time I wore my HRM at a race). But there were still lots of people ahead of me and a couple creeping by. Going into the third mile I felt like I finally settled in and got used to the pace, 06:36. I was just going to try and hold around there the best I could, though there were still quite a number of runners ahead and my dreams of placing in the half were quickly fading. But soon I would have a good idea, the split was coming up at mile 4 where the full 18 milers turn off. Quite a number of runners turned off, and in a quarter of a mile after cresting a large hill I could see quite a ways ahead and counted 5 runners that remained ahead of me in the half. A group of 3 that were maybe 200 yards, then two more well spaced out barely within my sight, maybe between half and a full mile ahead. Throughout the middle of the race I tried to keep up with the group of three but never was able to close the gap. The gap was slightly increasing though my speed was fairly consistent in the 6:30's. At one point when I had a good view ahead I noticed one of the three had got quite far ahead and now I was struggling to keep pace with the last two. I was feeling exhausted going into mile 8, not out of breath like I usually am, not out of energy or hungry despite not much for breakfast (banana and half a cliff bar), just felt like the strength was maxed out and fading in the legs. I took my last sip of water for the race I think around then - I only took two the whole race. The first one left my stomach feeling a bit odd and I burped up some acid, so I was very conservative on the water the rest of the way. And all of the sudden a runner passed by me out of nowhere! I had looked behind me at some point recently and there was a couple/few hundred yard gap. Must have been an elite runner who started late? I tried to stay behind him but I was maxed out. From mile 9 on I slowed into the 6:40's and the last mile was my slowest of the race at 6:49 (there was a small hill in that final mile ). The same thing happened just as I was approaching the town, another passed by out of nowhere, this guy was really booking. Now I was just hoping maybe for a top 10 finish. My folks had setup near the end to watch me, both with cameras in hand... Mom got this pic of me at 11.8 miles in. It was a bit of a relief finally heading into Sackets Harbor, I felt pretty exhausted but still having fun and I was thrilled I was maintaining such a fast pace! Despite being a few places further back than I hoped (just based on last years results) I was still on track to best my 1/2 marathon record by a decent margin! Rounding the corner at 12.6 miles. The course had a small loop to add some distance, and mom was able to reposition at the next turn and snapped that pic of me coming back by .8 miles later. A couple hundred yards from the finish line. Dad took that photo near the finish line. No one around to race across the line, so I bumped up the pace a little without going too much out of my comfort level just to finish strong. Giving a thumbs up as the announcer introduced me approaching finish line. Very happy with my race!! It was a lot more competitive this year than it was last, but I still pulled of 8th of 237 overall and 6:38 average pace! My record set in April was 1:29:26 so this was over a 2 minute improvement! I also lucked out that none ahead of me were in the M35-39, so I was 1st in my division! Beautiful view of Lake Ontario at the finish line in the Battlefield State Park. 1st in the men's 35-39 division! Dad snapped this pic just as a flag carrier walked by, thought it looked neat! Feet held up just find on the road, no problems at all and felt great! Race goodies! They always have great shirts at this race, this year introduced me to the thumb-hole sleeves. The pint glass wasn't free but thought it looked great so grabbed one. This race was a blast. It's always done nicely and well organized. Great themed water stations and great volunteers! I always love visiting my home town and this is were my running began back in my high school cross country days. I just wish I had kept it up through my 20's and not got into such terrible shape. But I am finally getting back to the speeds I could run back in high school. One more week and I'll be testing my best at the 5k again.