So last year my wife, Christine, and I signed up for a half marathon in Amish country, PA but never got to run it. USRA (who sponsored the event) offered to transfer our registration to this year’s race for free. After the fiasco last year, we were on the fence on whether or not we wanted to run the race, but decided to go ahead and run it as a training run for another local half marathon that we’re racing on November 23.
The race, the Amish Country Half Marathon, was again set the weekend before our 21st anniversary, so we used the opportunity to celebrate twenty one years as a married couple, as well as run the race.
Absent this year were the weather issues (i.e. tornado and hurricane) and the physical injuries (back problems for me, knee injury for my wife) that plagued the race from last year.
The weather was beautiful for the race. In the upper 40s with hardly any wind, and there were hot-air balloons taking off just as the sun was coming up.
We decided to run this race together and not worry about time or anything like that. This was just a fun, easy race for us to enjoy and hang out together.
There were a few nerves before the race started, but once the gun* went off, we settled in and had a good time.
* Who am I kidding?! There was no gun, no whistle, no indication that the race started–the people in front of us just started running, so we started running.
The first few miles gave us a chance to find our rhythm and enjoy the beautiful scenery…
…and watch the sun rise over the Pennsylvania farmland.
It was nice just to run somewhere different. As we’re training for races and just doing our normal runs during the week, we’ve develop a few well-worn running routes in our neighborhood that we typically run over and over again. The same scenery gets a little boring after a while.
It was fun for a change to have a lot of visual interest during this race.
We found a group of people that we naturally fell in with during the first part of the race. They were running about our pace and so we naturally just hung with them for a while.
We had nicknames for the different runners. There were a couple of loud ladies that we called "Greenie" and "Blondie" that kept things "interesting" for a while. We were kind of stuck in this group and thought that we’d just keep jockeying with them for the entire race.
Then the magic started happening around mile 6.
We came to this hill that, at least for us, wasn’t much to talk about. (Living in South west Virginia, we can find a mountain to run up just by stepping out the front door. Hill workouts are regular fare and are those workouts that we love to hate.)
So we just kept going, but it seemed like the whole rest of the group around us slowed down, so we left Greenie and Blondie and the rest behind us and didn’t see them again until after the race.
Another thing started happening as well, we would see a runner waaay far in the distance, and then they’d get closer and closer and finally we’d be on top of them and pass them. We picked off 6 or 7 people this way. This is not a normal occurrence for us. Usually we’re the ones getting passed during the race. So it was fun to get to pass other people for a change.
It was also really fun to run together. We passed the time talking, encouraging one another, mooing at the cows, and throwing bible verses at one another. The miles kept ticking by.
At about mile 9, we had completed a circuit and were heading back toward the finish line. I was running low on water in my water bottle and had planned to refill at a water stop that was coming up. But when we got there, they were out of water. Both of us were running low on water and were starting to get a little concerned–hoping that there would be 1 more water stop before the finish.
Fortunately at mile 11, there was another (unmanned) water stop with several jugs of water. We refilled and headed the last 2 miles toward the finish line.
With the finish line looming ahead, we picked up the pace even more and almost picked off one more runner before the end. She crossed the finish line seconds before we did. At that point we could’ve passed her, but it would have been obnoxious and rude, so we didn’t.
As far as races go, it was a pretty bare bones affair. They didn’t have chip timing and barely any volunteers to help with water stops and such. I’m glad we ran it, but don’t really feel the need to do it again.
Finally, a few items of interest from the race:
- We saw a group of Amish kids with a little wagon being pulled by a miniature horse.
- We met a lady that was doing 13 half-marathons in 2013.
- We passed a girl in purple wearing those minimalist toe shoes.
- I saw an Amish guy helping at one of the water stops that I had seen when I went on a run last year.
- They played "Eye of the Tiger" as we were lining up at the starting line. It was incredibly cheesy, but also surprisingly inspiring.
It was the most fun half marathon that I’ve run and really enjoyed running it with Christine. I’m glad that running is a gift that we can share. I’m looking forward to many more years of running together! Happy Anniversary!