Saturday I went on to run what would be one of my most challenging halves to date. Not only did the Essex Half live up to its promise of beautiful landscape with challenging hills, but I have been dealing with iron deficiency in my training. My times have subsequently suffered dramatically, as raising my heart rate even mildly makes my effort level triple.
Vermont is in arguably beautiful- rolling mountains, nature and Lake Champlain. Arriving to the course the morning of the race for packet pick up was the least stressful race expo I have been to – the race starts at the local high school and so packet pickup was a breeze! The shirts could use a little work but I’ll leave that for later.
The race starts at the high school track. You do one complete lap and then 3/4 lap before you shoot out the back and onto the road. The roads were not closed for this race, however that didn’t seem to be a problem whatsoever. There were plenty of smiling volunteers and a water/nuun station every 3 miles or so.
At mile three the elevation started to pick up and miles 4-5 were completely uphill. Things seemed to taper some but there was still a gradual upward elevation until about mile 8. Thereafter, most of the race is hilly and downhill or flat.
I definitely struggled mentally and physically – not my best half time, coming in around 2:12. Thankfully, I met someone around mile 4 who insisted on running with me. Coming from someone who loves running with headphones, I will tell you that having someone to run with definitely made this run bearable and, even enjoyable.
Weather: the weather was a comfortable 65 degrees to start, creeping up to 75 by the end of the race. Definitely better than the 90 degree sticky humidity I was used to running in!
Post Race: the post race celebration was OK. Being a small town race, I didn’t expect much more than a gatorade and a banana (the bananas were halved). The medals were simple small and pink. Well earned !