Ever since running the Broad Street Run at the beginning of May, I’ve been looking for a half marathon in the area to tackle. After searching high and low to try to find a race, I came to one important conclusion – races are freaking expensive! Seriously, since when did it become acceptable to charge $100 just so I could run with a bunch of other people and have someone else time it for me?! I obviously know that more goes into a race than just chip times, but they really need to find a way to cut the costs of some of these things. I would love to run so many of them, but my poor wallet just can’t take it.
Once I determined that I was not willing to spend that much money on a race, I set my sights on the Charlie Horse Trail Half Marathon since it seemed to have everything I wanted. It was a reasonable price ($40 per person), was still in May so the weather wouldn’t be too terribly hot, and it was only a little over an hour away.
Wins all around, right? Yeah, except a couple of key things. It was a trail run (I have limited trail running experience and know it is considerably harder), increased in elevation by over 1700ft throughout the course, and included crossing creeks, being waist deep in mud at times, and completing several obstacles. They tout it as one of the most difficult half marathon courses in the country. Well, I decided I might as well go big for my first half marathon and took the plunge!
After a 5:30am wake up call, we got dressed, threw everything in the car, and made the drive up to Mohnton, PA where the race was held.
I’ll admit I was pretty nervous at the start line. A lot of the people there had already run the race in previous years and/or had lots of trail running experience. I had neither nor had I ever run a half marathon before. Stupid idea, huh? Well, there was no turning back at that point, so I decided to roll with it and walk whenever necessary.
A little after 9am, over 200 runners took off at the sound of the start and within the first minute of running, we already had to cross a creek with water up to my knees. Instead of getting wet immediately at the start of the race, Ed and I opted to use the ropes hanging from the trees and climb across the creek. Granted, this took more time and we had to wait in line for the ropes, but it was worth it to not be soaking from the get go.
Once we got passed the first creek, what do you know, another creek popped up about a 1/2 mile into the race! Rope climbing it was. I’m really glad we opted for this in hindsight since it would not have been fun to run the entire 13.1 miles in soaking wet shoes.
Since I knew the shoes and clothes I was wearing would most likely be ruined from the mud and obstacles, I opted to wear old shoes from a few years back so as not to ruin my new running shoes. From the first mile, I could feel the shoes rubbing the arch of my foot in a bad way and knew I would get a blister from them. At that point, there was nothing I could do so I just had to push through the pain. And, man, was it painful.
I won’t bore you with the details of each mile, but let’s just say Miles 2-9 included several steep inclines (some so steep it literally felt like we were rock climbing at times), lots of muddy paths, and climbing over and under several fallen trees. Oh, and I face-planted somewhere around Mile 8 I think. Yup, dirt straight to face. But I’m a trooper and got back up within .2 seconds and kept going.
Miles 9-11 were run on the road through a couple of neighborhoods where residents were nice enough to have set up their own water stations and sprinklers to run through.
Ed and I somewhere around Mile 10. It looks like I’m being sweet and just holding his arm, but, truth be told, he is dragging me up a hill. Literally. I could not have completed this race without him and I’m so grateful he decided to run it with me at my speed (despite me being WAY slower than he is). He held my fuel for me, took pictures of us while running, and motivated me when I thought I couldn’t finish early on in the race. All of this while dealing with me cursing and yelling. I’m a gem. Really.
Miles 11-13.1 are where things started to get really interesting. These miles included a wall of logs we had to climb over, several mud pits that were waist deep to trench through, a tiny tunnel no bigger than the size of my body to crawl through, and a fence to crawl under through the mud. Lots of fun! Sort of…
I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a finish line.
We did it! Despite it being my first half marathon and a difficult course filled with lots of obstacles, I actually felt pretty good for most of the run and would definitely do this race again! Granted, it took us like 3 hours to complete, but it was a lot of fun and such a beautiful course! Since it was both of our first half marathon, we took it really easy, walked when we needed to, and made sure to take in the beautiful scenery.