You couldn't have asked for better weather conditions on an early June morning for Hospital Hill. Mid-50 degrees, overcast with some sun and a cool breeze....Come On! Where was this weather on April 16?
I knew I was ready for Hospital Hill, but honestly I did not know what to expect in terms of a time goal for this race. I thought a 1:14-1:15 would be a reasonable and respectable time considering the hills. At the expo on Friday, Rusty, who is a race director for some of the local races, congratulated me on my win and finishing time at the Five Trails a couple weekends ago. He told me that I'd run well in tomorrow's (Saturday) race, because the Five Trails course was tougher than Hospital Hill. His comment gave me a positive mindset, but I'd still have to see for myself.
When the gun went off I made sure not to go out too hard, as there were also 5K and 10K runners in the race running the same course, at least for the first few miles. I ran the first two miles steady and controlled, hitting mile 2 in 11:23 (5:42, 5:41). The next 3 miles (3-5) were a gradual decline, and I settled into a good rhythm running low to mid-5:30 pace until the steep hill at mile 6 (see elevation chart below). Mile 6 split was my 2nd slowest mile (5:53). My slowest mile split of the day was mile 11 (5:54). The hill at mile 11 wasn't as steep as mile 6, but it was a gradual climb that lasted literally for an entire mile.
At the start of the 12th mile, or 11-mile marker, the half-marathon and 10K runners meet up with cones separating the two races. The half-marathoners ran on the left side of the street and the 10K-ers on the right side. This part of the course actually motivated me to push myself because I not only had a little over two miles to go in the race, but also because I was now running alongside and passing other runners, even though they were 10k runners. In all honesty, the race was a lonely one for me. I practically ran alone with the exception of the first couple miles. Additionally, there wasn't much crowd support in the middle portion of the race. As one of the oldest half-marathons in the country (39th annual), I'd think that there would be more support and spectating from the local residents, especially that the middle miles run through residential areas.
With about a mile left in the race I really began to push the pace (Mile 13 split was 5:09). At that particular point I had no idea what my projected finishing time would be; however, I did know that I'd finish in under 1:15. I made the turn into Grand Blvd and could see the finish line in the distance. I hit mile 13 with the clock at 1:13:26 (believe it or not there was a race clock at the last mile split). With a little less than 200m to the finish I knew that I could go sub-1:14 if I just let the legs go. Thanks to the 200m repeats I've been doing at the end of my track sessions, I sprinted for the finish and just dipped under 1:14 with a 1:13:59. Results here. Hospital Hill is my 4th fastest half-marathon and also the 4th time running in the 1:13s. I have yet to break 1:13....my excuse is that I'm always running a half as part of my marathon train-up and never fully tapered for it, or I tend to pick hilly half-marathons. ;)
In a strong field of runners I finished 27th overall and 3rd in my age-group. I just missed out on some cash in the Top 3 Missouri runners. Actually, I was really the 3rd Missouri runner because the 2nd runner in the Missouri state category was listed in the wrong state (Lawrence is a city of Kansas and not Missouri). No worries though, it was great to be out there and run well in what was my last race in Kansas/Missouri. Later this month I'll be moving to Fort Bragg, NC, where I'll be stationed for the next three years.