Official Race Recap: 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon Edition

I did it. I ran another half marathon today. It was a great race with a German theme. Perhaps the name tipped you off.

My decision to run this race was quite spontaneous. Patti, a friend I met about a month ago at a running event, was already signed up and casually mentioned that there were spots left. All of my objections were settled when she said transportation and hotel costs were on her.

The beer wenches with Marathon Man
We headed up to Philly Friday afternoon, arrived around 4, collected our bibs at one of the lowest key packet pick-ups I've ever witnessed in the basement of the Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, then headed to our hotel. Patti was meeting six friends. They were running late. Before dinner, we headed back to packet pick-up to grab all of their race bags. With big races, we would have needed proof. At this one, Patti just listed their names (some of them incorrectly) and we got their shirts, bibs, food tickets, bags and safety pins - lots and lots of safety pins. Awesome!

A hearty dinner at Cracker Barrel, followed by a swim in the warm hotel pool was the perfect pre-bed time routine. I was all jammied up and in bed by 9 p.m. I set my alarm for 5:20, since it takes me almost no time to get ready, but Patti was up at 4:30 and so was I.

Patti donned her dirndl and tried to convince me to wear the extra one someone brought along. There wasn't enough peer pressure in the world that could have squeezed me into that costume.

It was a quick trip to the parking area, with a stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a bagel. We waited for the other beer wenches to meet us and hopped a ride on the shuttle to Pennypack Park. Along the way, tons of people asked for photos with the crew and they hammed it up like champs. Of course, most of these ladies run every race (and they run A LOT of races) in costume.

Pre-race selfie
Patti and I agreed that we wouldn't race this - we were treating it like a training run with the extra perk of a medal.

My watch wouldn't get a signal, so we were the last folks across the start line, which worked out since we were taking it nice and slow. Being at the back of the pack and using a run:walk interval, we kept leap-frogging with others around us. They would jog and pass us as we walked. Then they would stop to walk and we would pass them. Back-of-the-packers are friendly folks, so it was fun to joke as we passed one another.

When we began, it was probably about 65 degrees. By the time we finished, it was probably near 75 or 80. (There's a reason I start long training runs at 5 or 5:30 a.m.) Fortunately, 95% of the course was shaded and there was an occasional breeze. There were more hills than I was expecting (we killed a lot of them - just chugged right up while slowing our pace only a little), as well as about 1.5-2 miles of trail running, which slowed my roll.

Patti and I kept up a 2:1 walk:run interval for the first 11 miles. Then, though Patti was worried about being too slow for me, I was the one who pooped out. Patti switched over to 1:1 and finished about 2 minutes before I did. I switched over to a running-whenever-I-could-for-as-long-as-I-could:walking-the-rest and jogged across the finish line 33 minutes after my half marathon PR time was behind me.

The photographer at the finish said I had a nice smile, so my face must not have been showing how much pain I was in. That's a good thing, especially since it dissipates so quickly afterward.

As I neared the finish line, the marathon leader buzzed past. This guy took a minute less to finish 26.2 miles than it took me to run half that. Amazing! Watching him finish ahead of me was a sight I didn't mind in the least.

Post-race selfie
Patti and I spent a few minutes recovering from the run and then began the trek up the hill to catch the shuttle bus back to Cannstatter, where there were beer and brats waiting. My training run for today was supposed to be 14 miles, I'm going to count the walk up that hill as part of it. :)

The brats were DELICIOUS! Plenty of sauerkraut on top. I don't normally eat a lot so soon after a race but I used both of my tickets and wolfed those things down.

This was a really great race (or training run, as the case may be). It's small but extremely well-organized (down to results being emailed to each person within a few hours of finishing). The course has plenty of tough parts but enough easy parts to balance. There was a surprising amount of crowd support where they were able to access the trails. Every person got a round of applause as they approached the finish line. (It's amazing how that little gesture can mean so much when you're exhausted and in pain.) The race shirt was a nice tech shirt with no sponsor names, just the race logo, that I'll definitely wear once it's cooler and short sleeves are more necessary. AND this race is really inexpensive. I paid about $80, and that was two weeks before the race. If you sign up early, it's only $50 or $60 and the full is only $5 more. Also, if you register for the full and decide you need to stop at the half, you're still a finisher and they count your hm time (they do this to help people make wise decisions about running in the heat).

If you're within easy driving distance of Philadelphia, I recommend it. You probably won't PR, unless there is unseasonably cool weather, but you'll have fun. And, if you like to travel for races, it's really worth visiting Philly for this one.

Best course sign: "I've trained 18 weeks to hold this sign!"
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