#RaceRecap: Hollidaysburg YMCA October Half Marathon

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After a busy running weekend, I’m excited to recap the first of two races I completed. I ran in two very different half marathons with the first being the Hollidaysburg YMCA October Half Marathon.

I found the Hollidaysburg race on our local running club’s website. They keep an updated list of area races. Sometimes it seems like I find a new race added each time I visit the site. What caught my attention was that this one was relatively close by and was inexpensive as far as half marathons go.

I mentioned it to two running friends of mine, but figured maybe I’d do it regardless of whether or not I had company. As race day approached and the forecast turned ugly, I wasn’t surprised my one friend backed out. He has a full marathon in only 2 weeks so I can’t blame him for wanting to play it safe. My other friend decided to go with me the night before. I was glad to have company even though we woke up to steady rain and a high temperature for the day of 45.

In addition to the half, the YMCA also offered a 10k run and a 5k walk. While they were all on the smaller size, they had great turnouts even with the weather.

The races started and ended at the YMCA with the 10k starting out with the half marathoners until a turnaround at the 5k mark. The half marathon course continued out of Hollidaysburg into a rural area where it ran a big loop before retracing the course back into town. The organizers said the course was a nice mix of rolling hills. You never know what that means around here until you’re out on the course.

Here's a look at the elevation chart for the half marathon.

Here’s a look at the elevation chart for the half marathon.

Ultimately I didn’t find the hills too bad at all. The only hill that wasn’t all that fun was within the last mile when we were back in downtown historic Hollidaysburg. I turned a corner and the road just went straight up. It wasn’t too long, but it was steep. Once you crested the hill you faced a steep and long downhill. It was a bit tough on the legs, especially since I was trying to find a happy medium between making up some time and protecting myself from trashing my legs or face planting (haha!).

The course was open to traffic, but there was very little of it. Even in the rainy weather, the volunteers at the aid stations and intersections were friendly and cheerful. I appreciated them being out there.

After the race, there was a tent with food from Sheetz, including a variety of sandwich wraps, parfaits and fruit. You were also welcome to use the locker rooms and showers in the YMCA. It was great to be able to change out of soaking wet clothes before the 45 minute drive back home.

I have to admit I was really surprised by my time. I PR’d with a 1:49:40. I remember coming around the corner into the parking lot at the YMCA and squinting to see the clock. I saw a “4” and was shocked that I had a chance to break 1:50. Honestly, with the weather and how my training runs have been, I was just hoping to finish under 1:55. An almost three-minute PR is awesome! Maybe it was the rain? Who knows!

My friend Ivy followed shortly after with a 1:51, a time I don’t think she was expecting to see either. She was thrilled!

We had to get a rain selfie before changing to warm clothes and heading home.

We had to get a rain selfie before changing to warm clothes and heading home.

Overall, the race was great. You can’t do anything about the weather. It could’ve been worse, but thankfully Hurricane Joaquin changed course. The low price still provided a tech shirt (or a t-shirt depending on when you registered) and a medal. The course was pretty, even in the rain, especially the historic section of Hollidaysburg. If you’re ever looking for a smaller, inexpensive half marathon with hometown charm…check this one out!

I followed this race up with a trail half marathon on Sunday. Look for that recap later this week.

Did you race this weekend? How did it go?

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