On Sunday morning, I ran my 8th half marathon: the Parks Half Marathon in Maryland! (I totally wrote on Instagram after the race that it was my 9th, but I just looked at my race recaps page to confirm that and apparently I can’t count because it’s really 8! Oops!)
I wore my “I’m fANNEtastic” shirt for the occasion. Yes, I realize it’s obnoxious, but it makes me smile.
A few months ago, a bunch of friends and I were looking for a fall race and decided that the Parks Half sounded fun. I’d been hearing great things about it from those who had done it previously – it’s a pretty point-to-point course all through the park system in Maryland. Sounded good to me!
The race started at 7 a.m. up in Rockville, MD, right near the metro. It was really nice to do a smaller race – this race was capped at 3,000, compared to 30,000 like a bunch of the other DC area races I’ve done! I arrived at 6:15, was able to park for free right nearby, picked up my packet, and found my college friends Sarah and Kathleen with no problem.
The 3 of us planned to run together and ended up heading to the 1:50 pace group area at the start. My current half marathon PR is 1:43:44 from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in May; I knew this course wasn’t a great PR course (hilly + narrow trails) so I didn’t want to try to beat that, but I figured it would be good to do a speedier long run for marathon training.
Shortly after lining up, waves 1 and 2 headed out, and then it was our turn!
And we’re off!
The race started us on the roads in Rockville a bit before heading into the park system. We were on pretty narrow trails, but it was all paved (until the last couple miles), so I wouldn’t consider it a “trail” race – just a road race with prettier/more wooded views.
The girls and I settled in to a fast but manageable pace, chatting and enjoying the views.
My favorite part of the race was hands down when we came upon this guy playing a piano for us in the middle of a park! I didn’t notice at the time, but now looking at the photo I see that in addition to his full suit, he was wearing running shoes! Love it.
I really liked this race – such a pretty course. Kept you nice and distracted from the running! It was definitely hilly, though – lots of little ups and downs, and since it was narrow we were constantly either passing people or being passed.
Here’s a fun picture of the three of us in action that was on the Montgomery County Road Runners Club page!
I spotted this (slightly awkward) picture of me on there, too! Love small races that let you download their race photos for free.
As you can see, I wore my Nathan HPL #020 hydration vest for the race – I’m really loving this thing. There were water/Gatorade stops every 2 miles, but I really like having my own water and not having to deal with the water stops. I always end up half choking/not drinking enough water at the water stops, anyway! Plus it meant I could stash my point & shoot camera in one of the front pockets when I wasn’t using it, along with a mocha Clif Shot gel that I ate about half way through the race.
The race ended in Bethesda on a packed gravel/dirt trail that is part of the Capital Crescent trail. Sarah and I ended up picking up the pace in the last mile to try to get her a new PR (her current PR is 1:50), but unfortunately we just missed it. Next time!
My college friend Turner, who also ran the race and finished ahead of us, snagged this picture of us sprinting to the finish!
And here are the four of us after the race!
We ended up finishing in 1:50:41, for an average pace of 8:27 minute miles, which I was really pleased with. Awesome tempo run for marathon training!
- Mile 1: 8:07
- Mile 2: 7:53
- Mile 3: 8:41
- Mile 4: 8:45
- Mile 5: 8:44
- Mile 6: 8:24
- Mile 7: 8:17
- Mile 8: 8:30
- Mile 9: 8:29
- Mile 10: 8:34
- Mile 11: 8:47
- Mile 12: 8:32
- Mile 13: 8:30
- 0.1 mile nubbin pace: 6:10 (!!)
Our pace was a little all over the place given the hills, as you can see, but it was a great run. I’m feeling good about marathon training!
It’s crazy to me that I can bust out a 1:50 half marathon without too much trouble now… I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with my running. (At my first half marathon in 2010, I finished in 2:04 and felt like death when I crossed the finish line!)
After the race, they had all sorts of food, but I was most interested in the watermelon. Cold, juicy watermelon has got to be THE most amazing thing ever after a sweaty long run. So refreshing and sweet!
Once we stretched out a little, the ladies and I and our significant others all walked over to Café Deluxe in downtown Bethesda for brunch. The race had a ton of food, but it was all dinner-y stuff (pizza + pasta), and we weren’t really feeling it. Plus, it was only for runners so we didn’t want to ditch our significant others that came to meet us after the race!
I had the feta, spinach & tomato omelette with a biscuit (AMAZING) and fruit. Hit the spot!
Such a fun race with good friends. I’ll definitely do this race again and would recommend it to any of you in the area! Nice and small (by DC standards), cheap (again, by DC standards), a really pretty course, and well organized. See you next year, Parks Half Marathon!