Race Report: Lehigh Valley Half Marathon

What is it about the word “Lehigh” that makes we want to get up on a horse, make it rear up, and scream, “Leee-Hiiiiiigh!”

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, here’s a race report, albeit a bit tardy.

Two Sundays ago we made our second annual pilgrimage to Allentown, PA (popularized many years ago in a catchy song by Billy Joel about working class hopelessness). Allentown is just so damned charming. It reminds me of the R. Crumb drawings of Cleveland in the “American Splendor” comics of the 1980s. Run down, but in a somehow comforting, timeless way.

Anyway, we drove the two hours from NY and got there on Saturday. Picked up our numbers, chips and goody bags (tiny bags of Carolina rice seems to be a major theme among race organizers this year), and milled around the expo. I stopped myself from buying lots of things. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t buy them online when I got home.

We stayed overnight, as we did last year, at the Wingate Inn, located within spitting distance of Dorney Park Wildwater Kingdom. (“Whee!” Pause. “Splash!”). Remind me not to accept a ground floor room again. We were near an exit door (“Slam!” Pause. “Slam!”), plus treated to lots of fascinating parking lot chatter.

Last year, we parked near the race start, which was a disaster due to too many other people with the same idea. Last year we had no warmup — just a dash from the parking lot to the race start. This year, determined to avoid that debacle, we opted for the shuttle bus.

Which was also a disaster. 40 minutes between buses?! We had about five minutes to warm up this time around. But a foolish stop at the portapotty (and watches set slow) meant another disaster start. I managed to make it up near my pace group. Jonathan was about 20 rows behind where he wanted to be (the front).

Blam. Off we go.

Like last year, the crowds were great. Very enthusiastic and supportive. And the route is an interesting one, with much of it in a local park. This was the first race since the marathon in March, and I’d recalibrated my watch to avoid a repeat clueless performance. I ran a steady 8:30 pace for the first half of the race, then managed to speed things up for the second half. I ran with the 1:50 pace group nearly the entire way. But around mile 11, I started to get really tired and they gradually got ahead of me by about a hundred yards. Rats!

I finished very strong at the end, which was a change from last year. For the last mile, I ran at a 7:30 or so pace. I was really pushing to come in under 1:50. But, alas, it was not to be. I made it in 1:50:19. I’m still very happy with this time since it’s nearly 10 minutes faster than last year.

The other interesting thing about that time is that if I plug it into the McMillan Calculator, it gives me a marathon equivalent time of 3:52:40. A bit less than four minutes faster than my More Marathon time. So I’m either in better shape a month later, or I’m better at running shorter distances, or the More race was a tough course. I have no idea which it is.

But I should find out soon enough. Marathon #2 is in two weeks in Vermont.

Jonathan pulled off another age group win — he came in first in the 50-59 group. Yay him! I saw him pass me during an out and back section of the race, with only about 25 or so people ahead of him. So I knew he’d bring home a bauble.

It’s hard to know if we’ll go back next year. It’s a long way to drive (and you have to stay overnight, since the race starts at 8AM) to run a half. On the other hand, it’s immensely satisfying to have a real point of comparison from year to year. Now I’m wondering if I can take another 10 minutes off my time next year. If I made it 12 minutes I’d have a shot at a trophy too. Hmm.

2 Responses

  1. Nice race!!

  2. Isn’t progress satisfying?

    Nicely done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: