I faced the streets of Alexandria, Va. last week for my second half marathon — two down, 48 more states to go!
The race was on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and was in honor of military service members and their families.
I felt good going into this race. Unlike the Frederick Half, I was better prepared for Alexandria. I trained on roads and trails (as opposed to just on a treadmill), I fueled up on carbs the entire day before the race, I went to bed early (and actually fell asleep!), I got to the event early and had time to warm up and stretch, and I paced myself during the race.
I still struggled during miles 6-8 and 9-13 (yeah, I know… that’s basically the second half of the race, BUT I did have a little burst of energy from 8-9 — it was great).
The course was fairly flat and scenic. There were several turnarounds and surface changes. I’m not a big fan of turns; it kills my momentum. But running on different surfaces throughout the race was cool. We ran on asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt, and gravel.
The course started at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office near downtown Alexandria. We crossed through parks, some residential areas, and major roads. The route ended back at the start line at the USPTO.
Despite the relatively flat course, my finish time was actually worst than my time for Frederick. Why? I’m not positive, but I think it’s because I started really slow and maintained a slower than usual pace.
In Frederick, I started kind of fast, burnt out fast, and felt terrible after the race. After crossing the finish line in Alexandria, I felt good. I still had energy — not enough energy to continue running, but enough to go about a busy day.
What I liked about the Alexandria Half was the course. What I did not like about it was how disorganized the event was. There was a bit of chaos when I picked up my packet the day before the race — people clustering at tables and volunteers not knowing where to direct participants.
On the day of the race, there were no signs telling people where to go or wait. The race was supposed to start at 7:30 a.m. Runners began congregating at the start line around 7:20. But at 7:30, we still hadn’t heard from anyone. Volunteers were still setting up the sound system! A couple of minutes later, the race director came to the mic and announced that the race was going to be delayed by 30 minutes because the cones weren’t set up along the course yet (they’re needed to block traffic). It was a bummer. You could hear the runners groan in unison.
Finally, we started. I don’t think I even heard a gun go off… the group just kind of started moving. Throughout the course, only a handful of mile markers were set up. The first one I saw was mile marker 4. This was a little annoying because I felt like I was wondering where I was along the course throughout the entire race.
Disorganization aside though, it was still a good race — one that I would consider doing again in the future.
Name: Alexandria Half Marathon
Date: May 25, 2014
Race day weather: Sunny, upper 50s
Race start time: 8 a.m.
Course description: The course was fast, flat and scenic, and contained several turns and surface changes — asphalt, pavement, grass, dirt, and gravel.
Race organization: Not very organized. The volunteers didn’t seem knowledgeable on the event schedule and race details. The race started half an hour late, and the course did not have all of the mile markers.
Personal finish time: 2:23:55
Other costs: None