Nittany Valley Half Marathon, State College, PA 2,1

Elevation Gain: 449'; High Point: 1240'

December 5, 2010 - It was a chilly winter day in State College with temps of 26 degrees at the start and gusts approaching 40 mph. Most everyone was dressed for the cold, but some would don mere singlets and silk shorts; if they moved quickly they could maybe stay warm enough. Over six hundred would toe the line, mostly local students of Penn State University, in this run through the country from the Ag Arena back around to the Visitor Center across from Beaver Stadium. This event was the descendent of my first experience at road racing - the Nittany Valley Marathon in the chill of February, thirty-five years ago. It was a race that would bring me full circle on a lifetime of this white line madness.

Beginning closer to the front of the field I moved along with the herd of runners through the first miles, losing ground immediately with an unexpected fatigue. Apparently I was not recovered from racing the 50K a week ago in North Carolina. I had no choice but to gear down and be patient until my juices were warmed up to the quicker tempo of this shorter event.

Young as well as older people were passing me steadily through the first four-and-a-half miles before I moved over onto the highway and away from the shoulder with a clear view of the course ahead. Feeling more comfortable I stepped it up and moved quickly past dozens of those who had easily moved past me in the early miles. I cruised through the next three miles of mostly level highway, climbing about 200 feet, without challenge. A young attractive co-ed followed me before meeting my tempo stride for stride for a long while before we made the turn downhill into Rock Road Ravine, a quick 300-foot drop that enabled me to push at sub-six-minute pace at about a six percent grade for a mile-and-a-half blazing past many good runners. I've always enjoyed cutting loose on the downhills and this was a perfect opportunity to go for it.

By nine miles I settled back into a tired pace and managed to hold on until the finish up a 160-foot rise in the last mile-and-a-quarter before the crossing the line in 1:52:06 for 251st place of 652 finishers. Results Certainly not a glory race, but I was satisfied with my 8:33 per mile pace. I was overdressed, as the day proved to be mostly sunny, and heavy with wet clothes, but was glad to have the extra layers when the wind gusts blew through us out on the course. At least I didn't suffer any ill-effects of hypothermia. Will work on some speedwork before tackling another half marathon in March. Back to ultra trail training for the balance of December now.

Aerial Map