Back in December of last year, Emily was searching for a birthday present for me. At that point, I had not run any races except 5Ks which I love but I thought it would be cool to try other distances. Some people think 5Ks are only charity events and that any one can do them so view longer races as better. To be sure, 5Ks are usually within reach for most people to complete and are fantastic charity events, but it’s hard to find a harder race distance if you run not to complete, but to compete.
I digress…anyhow, even though I never poo-poo the 5K, I wanted to race other distances and Emily, being the lovely and supportive wife that she is, entered me in the Asheville Half Marathon which was help June 4, 2016. I had half a year to get psyched up and read all I could about race strategy, the city of Asheville, pacing, etc. I ended running a flat half marathon here in Charleston in March as a test of the distance and I am so glad I did.
A half marathon is a really nice challenge at 13.1 miles and I enjoy it immensely. It’s just a totally different race than the 5K with which I am more familiar.
I know Emily totally doesn’t understand why I like to run myself to the point of exhaustion, but I am so glad she is supportive of me! We had a great weekend and this was a fantastic birthday gift!
So, here is a race report I wrote for the running subreddit:
### Race information
* **What?** Asheville Hlaf Marathon and 10K
* **When?** June 4, 2016
* **How far?** 13.1 Miles
* **Website?** http://www.ashevillehalfmarathon.com/
| Goal | Description | Completed? |
| A |< 1:45 hours | *No* |
| B |< 2 Hours | *Yes* |
| C |don’t die | *Yes* |
I have been running 20-25 miles per week consistently for quite awhile. I typically do a 10 mile run on weekends, a 5 mile run with my club during the week and then 1-2 runs on my own through the week that vary between hills, fartleks, mid-distance, etc. Overall, I felt ok with my preparation.
### Race strategy
I knew Asheville was a hilly course so tried to visualize where I could grab some time to coast and where it was going to be tough. I wanted to run overall 8:30 – 8:45 miles on average so I could sneak in under 2 hours. My first half was a flat course and I ran 1:47 so I knew I wouldn’t likely beat that on a hilly course, but I wanted to be in the ballpark. I figured 2 hours and under would mean I ran stronger than my initial race in March (https://www.reddit.com/r/running/comments/4bisc5/race_report_uc_half_marathon_university_of/)
We arrived in Asheville the afternoon before the race and went to the expo. It was small but fun and had a few gear sellers and representatives from other races coming up. We didn’t stick around long because I wanted to eat and drink a little of the local beer for which Asheville is famous. I had a flight of local beers and a meal and walked around town to browse the varied shops and see the buskers and other people just out and about. Asheville is a hipster/hippie town…there are both there I think and it has a really fun and cool vibe. There were probably thousands of people just milling around and checking things out. I fell asleep not too late, watching the Weather Channel with my wife…typical Friday night for me! We stayed in a chain hotel near the starting line so I was able to wake, grab a bagel and some fruit that I had stashed from the night before. I left the hotel at 6:15 or so as the race coordinators wanted people at the start by 6:30 for the 7am gun (although there wasn’t a gun…weird). There were ample porta-potties it seemed but there were still lines…everyone had the nervous-pees I guess. The half was to start at 7 am and the 10k at 7:05 so they split up racers into separate areas which worked pretty well. I think there were around 1000 half runners and around 500 10k runners…there was good pre-race music and everyone was in pretty good spirits. The temp was around 60 or so, but the humidity was beginning to show itself. Asheville is a really cool and quirky town and it really showed I think (in a good way). There were all sorts of interesting people around!
This race has a lot of climbs. By my watch, the course had 802 feet of gain. I knew the bulk of it was from mile 3-5 and especially from mile 10-11 but there seemed to be ups and downs everywhere so it was hard for me to really plan much in reality. We ran through some neighborhoods and through both AB Tech and UNC-Asheville campuses which was pretty cool. A lone performer was set-up at AB Tech to play country/folk covers which was pretty neat. I could hear him from a distance and enjoyed the distraction. There was a stretch where we ran along the French Broad River but it seemed a little seedy there and we were on the road with traffic. The traffic was pretty well managed by the numerous police and volunteers that were out…kudos to them as they did a great job, but I still am always a little hesitant with cars around. Meh, it was fine. My watch had been ticking off the miles pretty much exactly with the posted mile markers for the course until mile 7. When I passed the 7 mile marker, my watch showed 7.25. I heard a guy running near me notice the same thing somewhere around that same spot or maybe a little later. That discrepancy continued throughout the rest of the race. By the end, my watch showed I ran 13.38. I saw posts later on Strava and elsewhere of people who also showed more that 13.1. That isn’t exactly a problem I guess because the race is the same race for everyone, but I would have preferred the advertised distance to have been the course length…so, while my overall time is 2:00:08, I am claiming a sub-2 half. I would estimate my actual half time to be around 1:57 or 1:58. I am claiming my goal of sub-2-hour.
### Miles  to 
This was the real killer part…There were water stations around every 2 miles through the course on the odd numbers (miles 3,5,7, etc) but in this case, at mile 10 there was an extra station at the base of the hill. I grabbed a cup of water and started the long slog up. It was a sort of narrow and windy road up through a neighborhood and had around 300 feet of climb in that mile. I kept running but it got uglier and uglier as I went…for such a hill to be at mile 10 was unkind. At the top, they had a well-staffed medical tent and another drink station. It worked out ok and I knew I had seen the worst.
### Miles [12.75] to [13.4]
After finishing the big hill at mile 10, I knew I had an uphill finish as well. Asheville is a hilly city and the dang finish was on an uphill. I knew it was the case, but I didn’t love that part…Still, they announced my name, I got my cool finisher medal and I walked a few times through the mist tent. I didn’t die! Another goal accomplished!
There is a cool park in the middle of Asheville called Pack Park and it seems to be where everything happens in the city. There are numerous festivals and events that all seem to happen there. Anyhow, from the finish, I headed a few feet into the park and picked up a few beers, compliments of Sierra Nevada and enjoyed a pretty good band that played until the awards ceremony. There were numerous food tents, massage tables, etc and the atmosphere was festive and a lot of fun. My wife and I sat on a bench in the shade and enjoyed cooling down, chatting with other runners, swilling a few beers, etc. Afterwards, there were a lot of runners roaming around town and chatting, drinking and having fun, me included! All-in-all, I liked the race and even the hills though I might run differently if I do it again. I need to ponder pacing on the hills and the finish line but I am pleased with my performance and the event with the excpetion of the distance snafu, although that’s not a show-stopper for me at all. I love the city and the vibe it puts off and it was well-captured by the race as well!