This year I was an ambassador for the Youngstown Marathon and I had signed up to run the full marathon. I was excited to help draw people to a new race that I loved running so much last year. A few unexpected races popped up on my schedule including the Born to Run 100 and the Laurel Highlands 70.5 (LHHT). Nestled in between these races sits the Yo. So as the race drew near I dropped to the half marathon out of prudence. Plus I hadn’t run a road half marathon since 2013 when preparing for my first marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon, and it would be nice to enjoy a shorter run.
My alarm went off and I made coffee and slowly got dressed. I was in no hurry. I’d have plenty of time with an easy hour and fifteen minute drive on the turnpike. As I drove I realized I was hungry…ravenously hungry… and though I typically avoid food for around 3 hours before a race I stopped at Get Go two hours from race start and had a huge sausage and egg breakfast sandwich with mayo. It was delicious, though I wondered if I’d pay for that choice later. Back on the road it was smooth sailing. The sky began filling with color illuminating the fog nestled in the troughs of the hills.
I arrived almost a full hour before the start. After taking two Hammer anti-fatigue caps and an endurance amino cap I took a walk around the building to see where packet pickup was and ran into Chuck. Chuck and I worked together at Outdoor Odyssey years ago and we had rode out to the race together last year. This year we came up separately as I wanted to get back to Pittsburgh soon after completing the race and he would be running the full again. Adult things to do! All the more so with LHHT less than a week away. We talked briefly and I grabbed my packet from Second Sole. After pinning my bib (author’s note: I didn’t stab myself. Not even once!) I was ready. It didn’t take long to find friends from the Steel City Road Runners. Aaron and Sara, Mike and Monica, Chuck, and Ron were all there. A few others were scattered about. We took a picture and soon it was time to toe the line.
My plan. Run the first 10k or so at tempo effort and then ease back to a comfortable second half. I lined up near the pacers for a 1:45 finish though I hadn’t planned to run that pace for the whole race. Aside from wanting to not burn too hard another consideration on the course is the hills.
In 2017 I had surprised myself running the full marathon. My Run the Yo 2017 race report is here. Despite over 1000 feet of gain I came within 3 minutes of a PR, a PR which was claimed on the speedy net downhill course of the Steamtown Marathon. Maybe it was the excitement of running in a new and beautiful park. Maybe it was the largely shaded course. Maybe it was just a good day….yeah no maybe there. It was a great day.
I was excited to run the Youngstown Half, but knew not to burn too hard. So when the gun went off I fell into a comfortable pace and let my legs wake up. According to plan I ran a tempo effort for the first 10k and dialed back for miles 7 to 9, but then I just wanted to run fast so I cranked the furnace back up for the last 5k and churned it in. Little did I know I was 3rd in my age group at mile 9 when I backed off. It is good I didn’t know that! I certainly would have burned my legs up.
Along the way I was following a few Mind over Matter runners and trading places leading and following. When I did finally slow up around mile 9 so did a few of them and as I came up I thanked them for unknowingly pacing me for much of the race. It turns out the Jeph was one of the guys. Jeph was in charge of the Run to Yo Ambassador program. We chatted for a bit and I thanked him for all his work for us and the race. Beautiful weather and a beautiful course it would be another successful race for the team.
The race went by quick….too quick. As the finish line came into view I coasted in and thanked the RD Courtney, who was waiting in the chute. I had my medal and spent a few minutes walking around to cool down and then it was straight to redeem my pizza and beer coupons. A tasty IPA from Birdfish Brewing Co. in my hand and I was happy. I stayed until a little after 10 enjoying the USATF flyover and post-race festivities eventually making my way home to be a responsible adult.