The Citizen Times Half Marathon is the only half marathon in Asheville, North Carolina. The race is paired with a 5k and these days the total crowd at the starting line is nearly a thousand runners, with about two-thirds of those runners in the half marathon and the other third doing the 5k.
This was my first half marathon. I got the idea to attempt a half marathon just after running the Bele Chere 5k at the end of July 2005. My sister in law asked if I had considered running in a half marathon and I said “no way.” Yeah, right.
I almost immediately starting thinking about it. I went to the Citizen Times website and found the pages that described the half marathon and its course. It sounded like an exciting challenge with just one catch: I had never run 13 miles before. The longest I had ever run was a 15k race in Cincinnati about 12 or 13 years earlier. All I remember about that race was how miserable I felt. My training up until this point had been mostly 2-3 mile runs, 1-3 times per week. About a week or so later I started to try longer runs.
One Monday I woke up and decided to go for a run. I thought I’d do about 7 miles. As I ran I felt great and I just kept running. By the time I finished I knew that I had done nearly 10 miles and I felt OK. I clocked the distance on my car odometer and sure enough I had run 9.5 miles. But I still felt fine and, in fact, went for a hike in the mountains for about 3-4 miles with Nancy and the dogs.
I decided to try it again Wednesday. I did about 11 miles, no problem, but a little sore. On Friday I went again, this time for 13 miles. I had proven in just 5 days that I could do the half marathon. But I had over trained a little, running about 35 miles in 5 days when I had only been accustomed to running about 4-6 miles per week.
I healed for a few days and did one more 13 mile run. Then I laid back, participated in one 8k a few weeks prior to the half marathon, and took the plunge.
The Citizen Time Half Marathon is a beautiful course. It starts in downtown Asheville, splits off from the 5k runners about 2 miles, then wanders up through North Asheville, past UNC Asheville and finishes back in downtown Asheville.
My main concern for this race was finishing. I was shooting for a time of 2:20. That proved to be an inadequate challenge. My time was 2:05:05. I now felt confident I could run more half marathons. In fact I was obsessed with finding the next one and went home after this race and did some research. I found the Bethel Half Marathon in Bethel, North Carolina just 3 weeks later.