Yesterday I ran the Bethel half marathon in Bethel, NC – a very small town in western NC. It took us a little more than half an hour to get there, and we weren’t expecting a lot. (“We” is me and my friend Melissa, who lives in my neighborhood.) The husband slept in.
We arrived in Haywood County just after 7 a.m. Melissa hadn’t registered yet, so we knew we needed to be early (we wanted to be sure she at least got a shirt, and those weren’t guaranteed for day-of registrants.) Stopped at a gas station to ask the locals where Bethel Middle School was, and we found our way.
This race was insanely low-key. They call it an “old-timey” race in that there was just paper registration, and there was no timing chip. We hung around the middle school gym for a bit and then headed out to the street to start lining up.
The starting line was at a cross walk. There was a line that just said “START” painted on the road. There was no starting “gun.” It was a guy who yelled, “ready! set! Go!” And off we went.
My first few miles were insanely fast for me. We’re talking in the 9-minute range. Between 2 and 3, we hit two decent hills – but nothing compared to the Asheville half marathon I ran last month. Between 3 and 4, I was running next to two women who were chatting. I couldn’t help but overhear them talking about one of the women’s boys and I asked her where they went to school. Turns out, one went to my husband’s school and when I mentioned he worked there, the second woman asked who he was. She’s his co-worker 🙂 And that’s how I met Karen. Karen who I ran the next 9 miles with!
I’ve been training with the Galloway method (for the marathon) and just to be sure I kept up with the training, I decided to do the Galloway method during the race. Mile 4 is where we started (Karen wanted to give it a shot too.) I found out that Karen’s goal for this race was to finish between 2:15 and 2:30. That was my goal, as well. (After last month’s terrible race, I didn’t set high goals for myself.)
There were maybe 200 runners for this race, so the packs of runners were few and far between. We ran near several farms – I saw countless chickens, cows and even one mule (or donkey. What’s the difference?) Around mile 5, there was a campground and a man standing near the road with coffee. Someone must have said something about the coffee because he said, “I have plenty, but you’re running too fast!” And when we passed by him all we could smell was alcohol. The man was completely trashed – at 9 in the morning!
The roadkill was crazy on this run. Lots of squirrels, chipmunks and birds, but I also came across 3 dead snakes (a dead snake is the only good snake in my book – and one was HUGE) and one dead raccoon. Creepy.
Around mile 12, we hit another hill. Sure there were some small hills, but this was just a long one. Not too terrible. I felt pretty good during most of the race. It had started raining about halfway through, which kind of got me down, but for the most part, I felt like I was doing well.
I had really hoped to come in right around 2 hours, 15 minutes, but I ended with a time of 2:22. Not my best race, but definitely not my worst. And I would definitely run this one again.
There were no medals or race hoopla, like you see with a lot of big races. As soon as I finished, I was served soda, and had the option of homemade potato soup. (Seriously, the community comes out and makes the soup for the participants.) I drank the soda, but not the soup.
This more than made up for the bad race. I am looking forward to the marathon in December, even more. I know I can do it…and hopefully I can do it well!
And speaking of the December race….I’m still roughly $600 from my goal. If you (or anyone else you know) would like to help me get closer to my goal for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please head over here where you can make a donation!