The Churchill’s Half Marathon is the Toledo Roadrunners fall club event and is still going strong after 56 years! This was my 9th year running this race. It’s always a favorite and we see so many friends. The women’s race shirt is orange this year and the men got black.
Race time was 8:30 am but we had to take a shuttle bus from the finish line to the start as this is a point to point race. The last shuttle bus was at 8:00 am and we got on the bus at 7:50. The finish line is only 4 miles from our house (yes I know because I run to that location weekly!), so it makes for a relaxing race morning. The biggest dilemma of race morning was what to wear! The temperature was 34, which seemed awful cold when we stepped outside. However, it was supposed to be sunny with low winds – reaching a high of 45 degrees.
Outfit: quarter zip, baseball hit with short buff to cover up my ears (but able to uncover ears as needed), tights, light gloves, sunglasses. I needed a pair of tights with pockets so I could put my water bottle in it. Had I even worn any tights and carried water during this “training cycle”?? Not really. I grabbed a pair out of my pile of winter wear. My first thought was my Athleta Rainier tights, but they have weird pockets with zippers. That wouldn’t work. The next choice was an older pair of Athleta tights. Maybe. But they do have a lower cut. That would be annoying. At the last minute I decided to give the Rainier tights a try again. Wait, what? My Rainier tights actually have functioning pockets AND zippers. Why didn’t I know that? Done. Let’s go!! I ran out to the car carrying my shoes. That’s how organized I was. LOL!
We waited at a high school before the race start which is super nice because it’s warm and has indoor bathrooms. It was at this point I realized I had grabbed the wrong pair of tights!! The pair I was wearing was a pair I did not like. No wonder I was surprised about the pockets! I haven’t run in them in long time, and certainly not at a race. Whomp whomp. Nothing I can do about it now! It’s go time. At the start of the race we had a moment of silence for our friend John Klear who had recently passed away in a tragic accident. It was a touching moment.
I did a poor job of positioning myself according to pace so I got to see a lot of my friends as they passed me. My watch was still set for run/walk intervals from Chicago marathon, so I had to turn that off. Luckily that was easy! My first mile clicked off at 8:38. Oh hey, that’s a bit fast! I expected to run around 9:30, but 8:38 felt decent.
The next miles were pretty similar in pace: 8:44, 8:42, 8:32, 8:37, 8:46, 8:48, 8:51, 8:49. I was happy to see pretty consistent pacing. I was not concerned with getting any particular pace so I wasn’t checking my watch as I ran. I did find a friend and tailed behind her for quite a bit, but at some point she moved ahead of me. The 1:55 pacer also ran near me for a bit, but I had to let him go along his way too. Overall everything was feeling very good!
We ran through neighborhoods and it was great to see people out cheering on the runners. The sun felt great and I was a bit warm, so I unzipped tucked my turtleneck down to get some air. I wore the gloves only the first 3 miles and eventually pulled the ear band off my ears. Unlike Chicago I made sure I was aware of the course photographers and made an effort to look at them and smile.
At mile 10 the hilly part of the course arrived. There are 3 significant hills to climb on the course (well, 4 if you consider the overpass a separate hill). My pace slowed on the hills as I expected: 9:14.
One thing to note was that as I ran the hills my breathing was really labored. In fact I could hear myself “wheezing”, and noticed that others were looking at me as I approached them! 😬 So, I decided I would walk the last part of the hills just to lower my heart rate catch my breath. I counted to 15 or 20 and then went back to running. I later saw that my heart rate hit a max of 202 on the race. My little gerbil heart was working hard!
Miles 11 – 13, 9:25, 8:59 (flat area between hills!), 9:47.
Soon it was time to make the final turn and the finish line was in sight! I was able to pick my pace up to 8:36 for the final stretch and crossed the finish at 1:57!! Woohoo! My watch read 13.2, so the official pace was 8:59, although my watch said 8:55 overall pace 😉
Walt Churchill, who is now 94 years old, placed my medal on my neck. He started this race and was also a founding member of the Toledo Roadrunners club. It was great to see he was still feeling good enough to be out there congratulating the finishers!
My husband and daughter had already finished the race by the time I arrived. Alan had a strong race with a 1:42 finish and Sydney finished in 1:45. She got 2nd in her age group and it was a 7 min PR for her! This is her 2nd half marathon and she did really well. I was so happy to see it was a successful race for both of them! And… I survived with the wonky tights (and had a little bit of weird chafing!) – but never again.
We took all of the pictures, and then headed over to the celebration tent. Music, food and of course beer! A band was playing and we swapped race stories with all of our friends. As always, this was a well organized race with helpful volunteers and great crowd support along the course! And, free race pictures! You can’t beat that. I’m so glad I participated this year.