Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon Race Report

I registered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon months ago when they had a special rate of $26.20. Several friends did the same. This is one of Ohio's relatively new marathons, and I thought it would be fun since I'd never been to Canton.

Time to hang another medal on the racks; this one was shaped like an NFL ticket

The day before the race I ran the Capital City Quarter Marathon in Columbus (blog here). After that race, I went home, got some food and a shower and prepared for my drive to Canton, just over a two hour drive away. I went straight to the race expo and picked up packets for myself and Abbi. I had some time to wait for Jody to arrive so we could check into the hotel that she booked. I spent this time at the Canton Brewing Company. I ordered a beer flight and some pretzel sticks with beer cheese dip (really good). Later, we had a small gathering of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics for a pre-race dinner. Abbi drove up from Louisville with her Airstream trailer and her son Kai.

I liked the beer and the food at Canton Brewing Company
Pre-race dinner at the brewery

The forecast for this race was originally thunderstorms, but the storm moved through Ohio sooner than expected and the new forecast was for sun and heat. Everyone was hoping for cooler temperatures, but that wasn't going to happen. Jody and I left the hotel separately, as I had pre-paid for VIP parking within walking distance of the start and finish area. She was going to park at the fairgrounds and take the shuttle with most of the other runners. I got to the start area before Jody and Abbi and found other Maniacs for a pre-race photo. Apparently there were multiple photo ops and they all had slightly different groupings of Maniacs and Half Fanatics.

One grouping of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics

I wasn't feeling great before the race started. I'd had a migraine for most of the previous day and it wasn't completely gone on race morning. On top of that, my tummy wasn't feeling well. I was not sure I'd do well in the heat. But I was going to start the race and see what happened.

Pre-race with Drew 
Pre-race with Sid and Letty
Pre-race with Jody and Abbi

We set out for loop one of the two-loop course. The first loop went sort of counter-clockwise and would be the only loop for the half marathoners. The full marathoners would turn around and do their second loop clockwise. I liked this approach. Even though the course was on the same roads both loops, the views would be slightly different, and you'd get to see other runners passing by in the opposite lanes.

I enjoyed most of the course. We went through some interesting neighborhoods and parks, and past the McKinley Presidential Library. Several runners took time out to run up and down the steps to the library. I kept going after taking a quick photo.

The McKinley library

My goal for the race wasn't terribly ambitious. I wanted to do a 5:30 marathon, and on a cooler day when I wasn't feeling sick, I think I would have made it. As it was, I started feeling worse by Mile 6. I had some goosebumps and chills, which is never a good sign on a hot day. I was adequately hydrated and fueled, so I don't know what was wrong. I'm sure my head and tummy troubles didn't help. I decided that if those feelings kept up, I would turn in after the first loop. It didn't matter if I didn't get an official finish. It was more important to listen to my body.

As best I could, I enjoyed the remaining miles. I was too hot though, and I spent more time walking than I wanted to. When the faster marathoners started coming by on their second loop, I enjoyed seeing my friends, giving high-fives and encouragement. Abbi was kicking butt (and in fact earned a new PR at this race). I also saw Aaron, Drew, Jody and Letty, to name a few.

This must have been taken toward the end when I was walking a lot

I was so relieved to stop at the half. Before taking a medal, I explained that I had dropped from the full marathon. They said there were plenty of extra half marathon medals and it was OK for me to take one. And in fact, the race organizers decided to ease up on the time limit because they didn't want runners overdoing it in the heat. It got up to 86F degrees before everyone finished. That's hot. They were very understanding about runners dropping from the full to the half marathon. When I checked my results, they had already moved me into the half marathon category without my asking. I already had multiple marathon and half marathon finishes in Ohio, and I wasn't working on a PR race, so it didn't matter to me how they managed the results. I give them credit for taking care of the runners.

At the finish I also collected my finisher fleece blanket - not that we needed it on that day! Then I ran into Half Fanatic Jonathan from the previous night's dinner, and Deanna from my running club. Jonathan and I hung out for a while and grabbed some post race eats while we waited for others to finish. He was waiting on Randy, who was going slowly pacing a runner who was having a bad day. I had promised Abbi and Jody that I'd wait until they finished.

Finish pic with Deanna

I made my way back to the finish line in order to see several friends finish the full marathon: Jen, Drew, and Abbi with her new PR. Abbi had to leave before Jody finished. Jody and I waited a while for Letty to finish before heading out.

Jody finishing
Letty finishing

This was a nice race, but I think they could have done more things to deal with the heat. I know the forecast was originally for lower temps with rain, but a contingency plan could have been in place to supply ice at the aid stations, and maybe wet sponges and hoses for keeping cool. Otherwise, the race was well managed. Perks included admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on either Saturday or Sunday of race weekend. However, I didn't go. Maybe next time.

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