I always get sad when I get near the finish of my favorite races, not because I’m in pain and tired (usually,) but because it means something I’ve been looking forward to is almost over. Hospital Hill is one of those races for me. I look forward to it for several months leading up to race day, then in a couple hours I’m back to the waiting game for the next year. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Hospital Hill since it was the first big race I ran when I started running a couple years ago. I love the atmosphere of this race, especially since it’s a challenging course for everyone, not just the first timers.
I was super excited this year to work the expo for Bondi Band! 3 days of Hospital Hill excitement? What’s not to love about that?
This was only the second time that I’ve done an expo, then run the event the following day. The first time was in Illinois and managed to run a new 1/2 PR by 45 seconds in that race. I knew there wasn’t a chance to PR here, but I tried to rest my legs when I could so I could at least try to beat my time from last year. I made some good choices on Friday, and some not so smart choices on Friday during the expo to prepare myself for Saturday. I decided to wear compression socks and my crocs on Friday for the expo since my feet are usually killing me by the end of the day and my legs are always sore. My legs and feet felt fabulous Friday evening considering I was on my feet for 10 hours by the time I was packed up and headed home. My not so good choices included only bringing 1 bottle of water, and 1 bottle of Nuun to drink the whole day Friday, and not eating any of the snacks I brought with me (I did eat lunch at least!) At the time I felt fine, but I felt the effects of not hydrating and fueling enough on Friday during the race.
By the time I got home, finished up everything I needed to do, and got my race outfit ready and laid out, it was pushing 11. I set my alarm for 5:15 which is a little later than I usually get up for races that are downtown, but I thought getting at least 6 full hours of sleep would be worth it. Traffic has never been a problem for me, and it only takes about 30 minutes to get downtown without traffic.
My alarm went off well before I was ready to wake up, but I knew I couldn’t lay in bed and risk falling back to sleep. I got up and ready to go by 5:45. I left thinking I would be there by 6:15 which is plenty of time to find parking and get to the start. Once I got closer to downtown, traffic started picking up. Eventually I was passing a huge line of cars that I soon realized were all trying to get off at the exit I wanted. I ended up going to the next exit and thankfully knew my way around downtown enough to bypass all the traffic. It took a little longer than planned, but I was still leaving my car 30 minutes before the start. I got to the starting area, found the 2:25 pace group and waited for the start. Since I ran 2:25 and some change last year at HHR, I was hoping to beat that time this year. I figured I would start with the 2:25 group and then push ahead a little at the end.
I liked the idea that Hospital Hill had this year to have starting corrals, but somehow it got messed up and we ended up not starting in separate groups after the first couple corrals went. Honestly though, Disney is the only place that I’ve really seen the corral start system go the right way. Disney makes it a lot harder for those people who think they can get in their assigned corral and jump forward, plus it’s a lot easier to separate corrals with a makeshift fence than it is with a piece of rope. The start seemed more crowded this year. I don’t know if it was extra crowded because I was running near pacers, or because the start was messed up, but I had to really concentrate on not stepping on people around me for the first mile. It started to get a little more open by hospital hill, and then gradually got more open from there on out.
The weather was perfect for a June 1/2 in the Midwest. I stuck with the 2:25 pace group for the first 1/2 of the race and felt really good. Almost right after the half way point, I started to feel queezy and tired. I had been feeling thirsty the whole race, even after drinking double what I usually do at each aid station, so I finally made the connection that I was feeling so thirsty because I hadn’t hydrated enough before the race. I decided to back off from the 2:25 pace group. It wasn’t worth it to beat my time from last year and feel awful. I started doing my run/walk intervals, and the added regular walk breaks really helped me keep plugging along.
About 4 miles from the finish Kelsey came up behind me and we ended up running the rest of the race together. She was being a rockstar by running this race less than a week after running a marathon, and I think we were feeling the same sentiment that it wasn’t worth pushing too hard during this race if we weren’t going to PR. We ran when we could, walked when we wanted and just enjoyed the last 4 miles. The final miles are always the toughest, so I was glad to have a distraction to make the miles fly by.
After 2:30 hours the finish was in sight. I’m anxious to see the finish line photo because I bet our photo is pretty fabulous. After getting food and flip flops I had to head home to get things done, but I wish I could have stuck around longer because the after party and food is always a good time!
I wore a pretty awesome outfit (if I do say so myself,) with the hopes of making it onto the website or the race program. If nothing else, it gave me an extra boost throughout the race when spectators would call out and cheer me on. I highly recommend running in costume!
The race swag this year was awesome! The shirts and flip flops this year are my favorite ones so far. The medal was pretty much the same as last year, but at least next year the medal should be awesome!
Finally, I thought these two pictures were cool. I found a picture I took of my medal hanger last year after Hospital Hill, it’s amazing how much it’s changed in a year! The last picture was taken after the Illinois 1/2 marathon, so there are 3 medals I’ve added since then missing.
I have one more race in 2 weeks, then it’s time for a much needed break until the fall!