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"You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back."
- Steve Prefontaine

RACE REPORT: fergus snoddy half Marathon 10/14/06
DateRaceDistancePaceTotal TimeWeather
10/14/06 Fergus Snoddy Half Marathon
(Jonesboro, AR)
Photo Album
13.1 mi 9:58/mi 02:10:29 44°F - 50°F, sunny
Wind ?

This was my first half marathon, which I ran one week after the Durango Marathon. I know I shouldn't have run something again so soon, but I couldn't resist. It's funny that I did a full marathon before I ever did a half marathon.

The people of Jonesboro, Arkansas were really friendly, and the race was well organized. Craighead Forest and Crowley's Ridge are beautiful areas. And much of the course was shaded, even though it was a sunny day. Thank goodness it was cool - there were lots of hills on the course.

We left Friday morning around 5:30 AM to drive to Jonesboro, Arkansas. We arrived Friday around 4 PM. We stayed at a local hotel, which was where the pre-race pasta dinner and the race packet pickup were scheduled. When I picked up the packet, a volunteer told me that not enough people had signed up for the pre-race pasta dinner and asked if I wanted my money back or wanted to apply it to the post race party. I opted for the money back. There was also notification that the finisher's medals weren't ready in time, so those would be mailed to our home address. I asked about a timing chip, but they weren't using timing chips, which I thought was unusual given the large amount of prize money . However, the long sleeve t-shirts in the packet were great!

My next surprise was the hotel. I'm not sure if it was because they reserved a block of rooms at special price for the half marathon participants or if it was just a problem with that particular hotel. But they put us right next to the indoor pool. The smell of chlorine was so strong it made me gag everytime I left the room. However, we couldn't smell it inside the room and we were only staying one night, so we didn't request another room. The other problem was security at the hotel. The rooms and the hallways were dimly lit. The card reader to one of the outside doors into the area of the building where we were located was broken, so anyone could come into the interior of the hotel unnoticed. Then around 2 AM some really rowdy guests were making a lot of noise in the pool area. Add to that the bathtub that was constantly dripping and I didn't get much sleep before the race.

The run itself was great - the volunteers, local police, and parks and recreation officials did a great job. The course was well marked and safe with aid stations with Gatorade or water. Even though the course was hilly, it was shaded most of the time.

Most of the participants were "serious" runners, rather than out for a fun run. Most didn't carry water bottles and didn't stop at the aid stations. Many ran the entire 13 miles at less than 9:20 per mile. I felt really out of place with my waist pack, water bottle, Carbo Boom, and camera. But I was there for the fun of it - I knew this wouldn't be a PR race for me after running a marathon the previous weekend.

However, I expected there to be more 10+minute per milers. There were very few. When the cannon went off signifying the start, everyone started out running a sub 9 minute mile. Uh-oh! I'm usually middle of the pack and I thought I might just be last. Even though my back, quads, and hamstrings were still sore from the marathon, I kept up with the pack for the first 4 miles. Then I dropped back to 10 minutes per mile. There were still several people finishing after me, but I was in the last 1/4 of the pack at the finish. I always thought 10 minutes/mile was respectable, especially for longer distances. But this was the first time I had run such a competitive type race. Normally there's people just out there doing it for the exercise and happy to finish. I got some looks when I took photos during the run. I don't think most people had considered that someone might just be doing it for fun rather than competition and PRs. But Jonesboro is a college town and I think there were students from the college track team competing, as well as athletes wanting to win the $10,000 prize money.

I was actually happy with my 9:58/mile pace. And it was good for me to run with people faster than me. It made me faster too. If there had been more of the slower/fun runners, I probably would have averaged 11 minutes/mile. That was my plan going into it. It gave me incentive to work towards a 9 minute mile, which is what I would need to qualify for Boston.