This weekend I ran the Bird in Hand 5k on Friday night and the Bird in Hand Half Marathon on Saturday morning. This is the second year I ran the Bird in Hand races. Last year the 5k was okay and the half marathon was by far my slowest ever. The half marathon was mentally tough, it didn’t feel very fun. This year I knew I was in a better mental place and looking forward to enjoying my backyard races.
Friday night, I got home from work and quickly got ready for the 5k, grabbed Dan, and jumped back in the car to head up the road to the open field where the packet pick up and race start was. We got parked and at some point in walking from the car to the packet pick up I lost my headphones. (Just another reason I love the $7 earbuds!) I got my 5k shirt, half marathon shirt, and the long sleeve shirt for doing both. I was able to meet up with Terri and Jim from Run Pennsyltucky. They have a podcast about running in central Pennsylvania. We recorded a bit for their podcast just before the 5k. I got into my corral at the start and saw my mom, dad, and sister. They had gone to Bird in Hand Family Restaurant for dinner, across the street and were able to walk across the street to see the race. The weather was nice and fairly warm. The race started and the first mile was my fastest mile ever, I believe. I was really happy with the first mile. The 2nd and 3rd miles slowed down a little but I still kept a good pace. Without my headphones I was able to hear everyone around me breathing in the humidity, something I’m not used to. I was glad the race wasn’t longer since I didn’t have my music. A lot of the second half of the race is on an access path between fields. It’s tough running through the grass and the terrain is uneven. I finished strong, no PR but it was a course PR, about 2 minutes faster than last year’s 5k.
After the race, I got my favorite pre-race meal, a burrito, ahead of Saturday's half marathon and I stopped by the store to get a new pair of earphones. The 5k without my music was manageable but I knew I couldn’t do a half marathon without music. I got some sleep and before I knew it, I was up and getting ready for the next race. I had plenty of time Saturday morning but then I let the time get away from me so I was rushing a bit. I left home around 7:10 and got to the race by 7:15. I had enough time to get to the start and I was ready to go.
I got started behind the 2:30 pacer but quickly passed the pacer and was inching closer to the 2:20 group. For the first 7 miles or so I was in very close sight of the 2:20 pace. There are a few bigger hills between miles 7 and 9. My pace slowed a bit. Around mile 10, I saw the 2:30 pacer coming. I ran next to the pacer for a small stretch, matching him step for step in total silence before I was back in my groove and took off ahead of him. We got onto gravel access paths and hills in miles 11-12.5-ish. I kept with the 2:30 pacer where I got ahead and then slowed up and then got back to my pace and took off and then I would see him catching up. With less than a mile left, I started to lose sight of the 2:30 pacer. At that point, I really wanted to finish under 2:30 but I knew I was guaranteed much faster finish than last year, so I figured that would be good enough. I got back to the road and sped up a bit and then as I got to the home stretch, I was glad to have enough in the tank to sprint through the finish.
The course was difficult, probably the hardest I’ve ever done. I was expecting difficult having done the race last year but I was mentally in a better place this year. The weather was about 90 degrees with 90% humidity and a lot of runners were struggling. The medical staff had their hands full with runners getting overheated. Extra water stops were added at the last minute due to the conditions. It was hot but I felt like it was manageable. In the end, I finished in 2:29:31. I had hoped for under 2:30, so I got exactly the time I had hoped for. Over 20 minutes faster than last year’s mentally draining race. I found my mom and grandmother who had come to see the finish, collected my Road Apple Award and horseshoe finishers medal, enjoyed the community picnic, and found the Run Pennsyltucky crew for a post run interview.
I spend the first two days being 28 years old running in Bird in Hand last year and the last two days being 28 years old racing in Bird in Hand again. It was a good year! Today I turned 29. One more year in the ‘20’s’ age group.
*Road Apple Award – Received for completing the Garden Spot Half Marathon and Bird in Hand Half Marathon in the same year, made with preserved, real, genuine, Lancaster County ‘road apples’.