It was a cold morning with temperatures in Asheville only in the upper 20s when I woke to prepare for my drive to Charlotte for the Dowd YMCA Half Marathon. It was 3:30 AM and after all of my preparations I was out the door just after 4:30.
The moon was full and bright as I wound my way through the mountains on my way to Interstate 40 for the two-hour drive to Charlotte. Needless to say traffic was non-existent on the way and I arrived at the Dowd YMCA in Charlotte just a few minutes after 7 AM and picked up my packet, racing bib and timing chip. The race started at 8.
It was still plenty chilly as we all (about 625 of us) lined up at the starting line. The temperature was low to mid 30s. I was happy to hear the command “GO” and took off fast hoping to get some feeling back in my cold-numbed feet. The result was a faster than normal first mile for me; right at 7:00 flat. Over the next few miles I gradually slowed down to about a 7:20 or 7:30 pace.
It’s a long straight away at the beginning of this race. Morehead becomes Providence Road and we follow it all the way to Fairview; about 5 miles before the first turn. There’s one neighborhood we ran through off Fairview. In that neighborhood is the 10k clock and split time (46:12 for me). Out of the neighborhood and it’s back on Fairview for a while to a right turn on Colony which becomes the first step back toward the start.
Between 8 and 9 miles I felt something I haven’t felt in years while running. It was a side stitch. After reading about potential causes after the race I concluded it’s probably a result of running too fast and downhill (first mile or so was a fast downhill) made worse by the very cold weather. I slowed down and the stitch lightened up, but it affected me to some degree and returned slightly at some point later in the race. My hope for a sub 1:40 was probably gone.
I was delighted when we made it to Queens Road West. It’s a beautiful street to run on and it’s definitely the home stretch. We turned left on East Boulevard in Dilworth (my old neighborhood) and shortly thereafter we’re running down Lexington the last few blocks with the finish line and clock in sight.
I finished in 1:41:19 which was exactly one minute faster than my most recent half marathon three weeks prior in Bethel, North Carolina.
The Dowd YMCA is a great course, wonderful turnout and I highly recommend the race.