Last weekend I had the opportunity to run the Hershey Half Marathon. I was pretty excited, as this was my first time to run this race and I have heard a lot of good things about it. Something always came up and I couldn’t run the race. This year I didn’t register, but a friend’s husband wasn’t able to run the race and I was able to run under his bib. So, you can just call me Matt!! 😉
This race was also a goal race for a lot of the people I had been training with all summer and I thought it would be super cool to be able to run this with them. One runner in particular, Lisa, was working towards the same goal I had for Harrisburg, 2 hours or less. I offered to run the race with her as a pacer and a way to help her reach her goal.
Waking up Sunday morning and stepping outside, you couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was in the 50s initially and by the time we raced, it was in the 60s. As we were waiting at the start, I told Lisa it was the perfect day for a PR!! 😉 Together, Lisa, me and our friend Julia decided to run the race together.
The course started outside the Giant Stadium at Hershey Park. It initially goes through the huge parking lot for the Giant Stadium and the Giant Center. We kept the starting mile at a decent pace, not too fast, not too slow (9:03). Lisa and Julia seemed to be okay with the pace, so we decided to kick it up a notch as we headed into Hershey Park. That was a fun section of the course, running past all the rides and roller coasters, and seeing the decorations for their “Hershey Park in the Dark.” We left the park and ran past Zoo America and headed outside of town.
We kept an average pace of about 8:40/mile for the first 5 or 6 miles. Around that point, Lisa and Julia were starting to “feel it”. We planned to get water at the 6 mile water stop and refuel with our gels. I ran through the stop since I was wearing my water belt and waited for them on the other side. Lisa and Julia walked to drink their water and take their gels. I began running backwards and yelling encouraging words lol 🙂 I promise, I wasn’t a jerk!! 🙂 Then it was their turn to yell back 🙂 and they told me to keep going, because at that point, we realized I was pretty close to making a new PR or getting pretty darn close if I kept up the pace.
So, I reluctantly left the two of them to run together, hoping they could keep going to break 2 hours. The next part of the course was probably my favorite. We got to run through the Milton Hershey School Campus. That was so super cool, seeing all those kids lining the streets with their signs, yelling and cheering all the runners on. It was very moving and sweet. The students were by far, the best cheerleaders!! 🙂
The race finished back at the Giant Stadium which was quite impressive. You run up to the backside of the stadium, run around and enter on the side. The last one hundred meters you are running inside the stadium with hundreds of spectators on the inner field. That was something else. I crossed the finish line at 1:53.28. It wasn’t my fastest……but heck, it was pretty darn close to it. The super awesome thing was the fact that this was now my 3rd half marathon (in the last two months!) that I came in under 2 hours! WOOT!! I’ll take it!
After getting my water and AWESOME Reese Peanut Butter Cup medal, I went looking for Lisa and Julia. I found them and…….they did it!!! Yay! They came in around 1:56!! I super stoked. I know that Lisa had been really wanting it and that was her goal for this race and she got it! It was a fun day, a great course, super crowd support and an awesome medal. I will definitely be back to do it again next year, but this time, I do it as Emily! 😉 🙂