A dark December night. I’m flush with birthday cash (ok, not really). I had an enjoyable time drinking some beers at happy hour. I came home to discover that there was a COUPON CODE for 10 dollars off for the Hell of a Half marathon. Fueled by some General Sherman IPA, it was a no brainer. I signed up.
And promptly forgot.
I was genuinely surprised when I was flipping through my Facebook in March to discover that I had not one, but two races on the calendar for August.
The Hell of a Half is a race I’ve always wanted to do, but I always had a reason not to (some good, like my sister getting married that weekend, husband having surgery; some lame, like running a different race the next day and not wanting to do both.) So this is awesome, right?
The race lives up to its name–it is a 13 mile loop through the beautiful sun scorched, completely unshaded foothills of the Sierras that starts at 7 am (because why not start when the sun is UP.) It has two big hills (one from about mile 4.5 – 6, and another from 9ish – 10.3ish.) So how do you train for this? Sleep in and start at least one 6-8 mile run/week after 7 am.
Sleeping in felt amazing. The last few miles of the those runs? Not so much.
But it WORKED.
I woke up at 430, made some coffee, drank some Nuun, sunscreened up, and jumped in my car for the hour drive to the race. The jury is still out if the TWO Starbucks bagels I ate were a bad idea (perhaps, but if I discovered anything over the summer running season, it’s thou shalt not run when hungry. )
I appreciated that the park was easy to find, and there was easy street parking very close. Also, the portapotties were set up in two rows facing each other (a poop chute, if you will.)–it is the most efficient funneling of race participants to take care of their restroom needs I have ever seen.
So the race. It was lovely. The first 3 were an easy loop through town, the hills were long (but didn’t really feel that hard.) it was hot (but hooray for acclimation.) The water stops were awesome, with volunteers with ice buckets and sponges to squeeze over your head to cool you off.
I was pretty spaced out during this race, and lost a mile somewhere between 4-6.
I crossed the finish line at 2:30 ish. That is my second slowest time, but I’m pleased (not bad for a race with a portapotty and a “supersoak my back with ice water please” breaks, and nominal (only through the water stops and 3 30 second breaks on the hills) walking). The whole race felt strong. Every single step felt good–my legs never really fatigued, I didn’t get any weird muscle soreness, and I got to wear a well vented but seriously bright hat.
And crossing the finish line and having someone hand you a medal, camping chair, and wineglass? Badass. The volunteers who made the post race pancakes even promised they were made with love.
I loved this race, but I’ am not convinced I would do it again. The swag is awesome, but a bit excessive to do the race more than once. But is there really a price on having someone literally hand you a place to sit after running 13 miles?
Training in the heat to get ready for this race made me feel like such a badass. If you have the chance to do this, I would jump on the train. Hell of a good time.