Every April, the Ohio River Road Runners Club (ORRRC) put on their annual marathon and half marathon in Xenia, Ohio, just outside Dayton. The race is pretty small (1,061 half marathon finishers; 266 marathon finishers) and is relatively cheap to enter–early birds can run it for as low as $25! The course is a Boston qualifier too, and this is the oldest marathon in Ohio. Today marked the 47th ORRRC marathon, and it was the second year running that I ran the half.
The ORRRC half marathon occurs exactly four weeks before Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon. This year, like last, I used it as a training run in preparation for the Pig. It’s about 40 minutes from my house, so the hubby and I got up at 6, had a cup of tea and a Clif bar each, and drove over to the Xenia YMCA to pick up our race bibs. We arrived before the crowd, and were able to pick up our stuff pretty quickly and easily. Once we had our bibs and timing chips, we sat at the back of the gym and watched people pick up their packets. I always like to watch people at events like this because you see all types–the super-serious elite runners, the first-timers, the slightly seasoned such as myself.
After sitting and people-watching for a while, we decided to brave the cold(ish) and head outside to see what was going on. The race was due to start at 8:30, so we slowly made our way over to the starting line, listening to the cheesiest of music on our way (I’m looking at you, Gangnam Style). It was chilly but sunny, and was probably in the high 30s to low 40s. I had a long-sleeved top on, and kept my jacket over the top, which turned out to be the right decision. And then we were off!
Ben’s much faster than me, so he went on ahead to run at his insane pace, while I started at what I felt was a comfortable pace (although much faster than my previous half-marathon pace). My first three miles were around an 8:15, which I was afraid was too quick starting off, but turned out to be perfect. The route itself is pretty boring (mostly country bike trails), but there were a fair number of people out cheering, which was awesome. Since I’m used to running with a group of people who are mostly faster than me, I decided to try to keep up with random strangers who were running at my goal pace–although I really didn’t have a goal. This worked really well, and I managed to stay in the 8:15-8:30 pace for the majority of the run. I did have a couple of slower miles in the middle that were around 8:45, but when you consider that my previous fastest half-marathon pace was around a 9:00, that’s still pretty amazing!
I really pushed myself during this race. In the last few miles, I was trailing a guy who was cheering absolutely everyone we passed, which was really motivational. I decided to start up a conversation with him, and we ran at a great pace almost until the end, when I sped up slightly and he told me to save him some cookies at the end! Just before the finish, I was running pretty hard and feeling beat, but then I saw some people from my run group on the sidewalk, and they cheered me on to the finish. I crossed the finish line around 1:51, which I knew meant my chip time would be closer to 1:50. In fact, my official finish time was 1:50:28! Compare that to my last half-marathon PR of 1:58:31, and I am amazed at how much time I was able to shave off!
Apart from being super cheap and relatively small, the best thing about the ORRRC marathon is the food. They had chili, chicken noodle soup, fruit, and cookies galore. I wanted to sample all of the cookies, but I stuck with a no-bake, a sugar cookie, and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Ben grabbed some chili and a couple of his own cookies (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, which I also sampled) and we sat down and chatted to a 75-year-old cross-country coach who also finished in 1:50. I love talking to other runners, especially when they are as inspiring as this dude was.
After we ate, we got changed and headed to Yellow Springs, which is probably my favorite place in the Miami Valley. We walked around for a bit and ended up getting brunch at Sunrise Cafe, which is one of my favorite restaurants. I was starving, despite the cookie binge, and ordered the morning fill-up, which consisted of two eggs, a homemade veggie patty, toast, breakfast potatoes, and two pancakes. Ben had biscuits and gravy, and I made him help me with the pancakes. These were the best pancakes I’d had in ages. They were huge, fluffy, and had a wonderful crispy edge. I drenched them in maple syrup and we ate the whole damn things. I have no regrets.
Once I had eaten my body weight in breakfast, we headed over to another of my favorite places–Yellow Springs Brewery. Craft beer has really taken off in the Dayton area in the last couple of years, going from no breweries to 15 or so in a pretty short space of time. Yellow Springs is one of the best, and I never pass up a chance to go there. I had the Zoetic Citra pale ale, and Ben had a slightly different variety, and we shared. We stood on the back deck and drank our beers in the sunshine, watching cyclists pass by on the bike trail and enjoying the spring weather.
So all in all, I’d say this was a pretty fantastic day. Half marathon PR, delicious food, and good beer. Now I have showered, put on sweats, and am planning on vegging on the couch for the rest of the day. Possibly a nap. Sounds like a perfect afternoon to me!
How about you–have you ever beaten a previous PR by a huge amount? I was expecting to get a PR today, but not such a good one!