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The Long & Short of the Prince William Half Marathon

I have been looking forward to this race since it was announced earlier this year. I knew it was going to be awesome. How could it not when it's path goes through the paved roads of the battlefield? Ok, so before I get ahead of myself, a little background - this is the inaugural year for the Prince William Half, and I really hope that it comes back next year. It was very well run, and just a terrific race. Some first year races, have hitches and glitches, and if there were any for this race, then I was not aware. The starting time did get pushed back by 15 minutes, but that ended up being beneficial to me. I think it was pushed back though, because so many racers were still arriving, but honestly there wasn't a traffic jam that I could see or heard about. So let's get onto the meat of the review.

So walking into the pavilion was easy. I'm pretty familiar with this pavilion. I've been to a few concerts and even graduated from high school here. It's a nice big open space, and after you walked through the gates, the LOVE sign is front and center. My friend and I took our obligatory pic with it. 

I'm actually glad that the race start time was pushed back, because I pulled a total bonehead move and left my bib at home, so I frantically called my husband at 6:34 and told him what I'd done. Luckily, we live pretty close and he was able to get my my bib with time to spare. The only thing that would've made this race better was me being healthy. I was in the throes of a sinus infection, but nothing was going to stop me from running. 

So after that bit of drama, we made our way to the start corrals. They were super easy to find, and well marked. Everything was actually well marked, and because Jiffy Lube is a concert venue, we had real bathrooms! It was amazing, and there were a lot of them.

As we make our way back to Corral E, we pass several other MRTT'ers and friends. It kind of felt like a reunion with how many familiar faces there were, and the weather could not have been more perfect. It was cool, but not overly so and the breeze felt good.

There was music playing, but really the atmosphere of the race was quiet and anticipatory. Everyone looked ready to roll. I snapped a pic of the corrals looking towards the start line from where we were standing. There's a decent crowd in front of us, but because we were using an access road to the back of the venue, there wasn't your usual log jam leading up to the start.

After the National Anthem played, and the race started you were off. There wasn't the usual stopping and starting that you have at races, as the corrals are released, and once we started we hit pace and never slowed. It was really a very lovely way to start off the half. 

Mile 1 - We start off down the access road and head towards Wellington towards University. There's a slight incline, but it's not really anything hard. We find our pace easily and just go. 12:03 pace. 

Mile 2 - Much like the first mile. We head up over University and crossover 66. Why have I never noticed just how much of an incline that bridge is? Well that'll be fun later. The sunrise is gorgeous. The breeze feels great. I love this weather. Yay for all the things. 12:13 pace.

Mile 3 - We've turned off of University onto 29 and the bulk of the road that will carry the racers. It's so dang lovely. I'm feeling really good. I snapped this picture, because the sunrise was just so pretty. I'm feeling really good, despite the sinus infection. Drainage is starting to affect my voice. The front runner for the race passes us during this mile. Go man! I'd cheer, but I'm only squawking at you.  12:12 pace. 

Mile 4 - 29 is one big continuous rolling hill. I wasn't feeling the hills though. I know these hills. I run these hills. They're not different here than they are on the battlefield trails. I'm feeling terrific. The course support was sparse, but great. We're getting into the  heart of the battlefield now. We've passed the Dogan House, and Brawner Farm, we're coming up on the NY Monuments. Man, the road is so much easier than the trails. Look there's the trail. So great out here this morning. We're approaching our first out and back. It's so great. I love running. 12:00 pace.

Mile 5 - We're going back down towards 29 from the NY monuments. It's mostly downhill, but it's a gradual decline. It's so lovely and serene out here. We're starting to see fellow MRTT'ers, and seeing them is just an added boon to an already great feeling. I do so love my running community. 11:47 pace.

Mile 6 - So the big hill. It's really not that bad. The other side will be worse, but halfway through this mile we'll see the Stone House and turn around! Yay! Besides this hill is not worse than Henry Hill or Bunker Hill. Those hills are some hills. This hill is at least paved. My friend and I start commenting on the hill, but it's not a hill. Use your butt muscles! It's why you have such a nice butt. Hills make nice butts! We are seeing our fellow MRTT'ers on the other side. I love seeing all the people. I'm still feeling great. Man, I guess after 7 or 8 half marathons, my legs just know what to do. Now if only my chest wasn't starting to get heavy. Damn sinuses. Deep breaths, take some water. You're fine. The breeze feels marvelous. 12:12 pace. 

Mile 7 - That was a quick mile. I guess the upside of running up hills, is that eventually you run down them. Our pace is spot on though. I'm not laboring in any way. It's all just natural. Hey look, there's the trail again. I've actually run this stretch of the race before on the road. Sometimes when the trail is just too wet or muddy through here, I'll run Feather Bed. It's not a busy road, so it's perfect for a slightly different or easier stretch to some of the Battlefield runs. It's part of my favorite part of the park. Not a lot of people visit this section, and this is our 2nd out and back. I hollar to a school friend of mine. I don't think she recognizes me at first, but good for her. She looks great halfway in. 12:20 pace. 

Mile 8 - We've rounded the Deep Cut parking lot and now we're headed back towards 29. We encounter a little bit of a jam as people slow going up one of the last hills before we turn around, but a quick sprint and we're through it. My friend congratulates me on the push, but it wasn't planned. I like hills better. It's a way to use different muscles, and I needed the difference. My legs are starting to get a little robotic. We've passed more of our friends again. I love seeing them. They're all amazing. At the end of this mile we're back onto 29. 12:20 pace. 

Mile 9 - We're heading up 29 towards our last out and back. Why didn't I notice just how steep these hills seem? I'm still feeling good, but my breathing is getting a little labored. We've slowed down a bit, and I can't seem to cough or clear my throat enough. Damn sinuses. Whatever, we're almost done, and it's too nice a morning to be bothered with my cruddy sinuses. We've slowed down a bit more, but we're still moving. 12:45 pace. 

Mile 10 - We've turned up Pageland towards Brawner Farm. Our last out and back. I see my school friend again, and this time we manage a high five. Go get'em girl! Where is this parking lot? I'm not familiar with this section of the park. I'm getting tired. Really tired. We've slowed a lot. Oh look there's the parking lot. I wonder how far it is up there. Not that far. We pass more friends. Hey y'all! You look great. As we're making the loop around the parking lot, I have to start walking. I need to change my stride. I manage to keep up with my friend, who is still chugging along. The different gait and stride feels good. My hips are getting a little tight. The longer strides feel really good. She ribs me about walking and keeping up with her. I counter with keeping these strides up is just as tiring as running. It takes a lot to use my full stride. That's a lot of leg to move. 12:45 pace. 

Mile 11 - Our favorite cheerleader is waiting for us as we turn back onto 29 towards the end of this mile, but we can see her and her white towel waving in the air. I love you, cheerleader. Thank you for being out here. The last 5k is going to brutal. My friend is still going strong, and I'm starting to falter. I can't take deep breathes. I really want to cough, but no one wants to hear that, and I'd probably end up throwing up. That's not going to happen. I don't know how I made it through this mile, but it probably is because my friend ended up in front of me, and she was easy to follow. We're keeping a consistently slow pace though, so that's something. 12:45 pace. 

Mile 12 - I stop at the gatorade station at the beginning of this mile, but I can't run and drink so I end up walking, while my friend chugs along. How is it that she can drink and run at the same time? I'd have ended up with gatorade in my eyes. Oh well. I finish my gatorade, and then catch up to my friend. Unfortunately, I didn't stay with her. The overpass back over 66 did me in. I power walk as she pulls slowly ahead of me. Go get'em girl, you've got this. At the top of the overpass, I manage to get back into a slow jog, and one of my fellow MRTT'ers hooks up with me and we catch up on what's been going on with us. Each of us keeping a slow, even pace. Thank goodness for my MRTT crew. 13:24 pace. 

Mile 13 - The end is here. There's Jiffy Lube! We're almost done. We fall into a good rhythm. I tell myself to hold off on sprinting until the end, because I know it's going to bring on a coughing fit. It's going to be a bad coughing fit. I can feel it building, but it can wait. I'm almost done. 12:39 pace. 

The final push came, because I saw my crew. All of my babies and the hubs. Hi guys! I'm so happy you're here! High fives everywhere! My Small Fry challenges me to a race to the finish. He boasts that he's going to beat me. He's right, but damned if I didn't try to beat him. I pushed as hard as I could. There's the finish. There's my friend with her family! Hi everyone! Oh man, here come the coughing. I didn't end up puking, but it was close. So close that my friend's eldest, actually asked if I was going to puke. Oh well, that's a part of running sometimes.

My final time was 2:44:44. Not my fastest and not my slowest, but one of the best races ever! 

I do hope they bring this race back next year, because for an inaugural race, it was so well run. Everything about it was awesome, and the only thing that could make it better, is maybe get some of the schools out there with their marching bands or something. Bring on the community spirit! 

It took a while for me to start feeling the race later, but honestly I did ok. The worst thing was the coughing, but hey 13 miles is good for a sinus infection, right? The family hung out at the after race party for a bit, but I felt like such crap that I just wanted to hit Duck Donuts in Bristow on the way home and take a shower. I knew I had some new chafe marks, and I wasn't wrong. I apparently not only forgot my bib that morning, but also the body glide. Way to go, Heather. 

Oh after this silly pic, I ran into another MRTT'er that I hadn't met yet, and then I ran into her again at Duck Donuts. Great minds and all. 

The ride home was a bit hairy, because of my coughing, but we made it, and then I finally remembered to take a picture of my shiny new medal. You can see from the pics, that I'm gradually feeling the affects of the race as the morning progressed.

Thank for reading this review, and hopefully next year we'll see even more people participate in this awesome race! 

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