Nittany Valley Half Marathon

Beaver Stadium

“Hey Greg we’re going to Penn State to run a half marathon.”  she says.  “OK, cool, I’ll book a Hampton.”  I say.  And that’s roughly how this race came to be.  Amber and some friends decided, in the span of about 15 minutes, to run this half.

I haven’t been training since completing the Rochester Marathon in September.  I’ve been running and I’ve been weight lifting but my volume and intensity are far lower than I am accustomed to.  I love half marathons and so I could not pass up the chance to run one for fun.  I decided that I’d try to run better than 1:30 as that is my typical benchmark for minimal success at the half marathon distance.  Silly me, I did not look at the course before setting this goal.

The Nittany Valley Half Marathon is challenging.  It is very hilly particularly by my standards.  Here are some comments from the course description page:

 “You have redefined the meaning of ‘somewhat challenging’.”
— Jerry Heinz

“It’s a very tough course, especially after about mile 7. 
The last mile is designed to make you see God.” 
— Marty Mazur

“I was looking for God during the last mile, but I didn’t see him. I guess he finished ahead of me too.”

          — Albert Mabus, last male finisher at the 2001 NVHM

I think the elevation profile speaks for itself:

The race starts late in the morning at about 10 AM.  We were blessed with wonderful weather — about 50F and overcast.  Sadly it was a bit too cold for me to go sans shirt.  Besides my narcissism I also find it more comfortable.  The late start made for a nice relaxing morning getting ready.  We drove to the arena pictured above…and kept going to the agricultural arena!  No, our race was not in that massive stadium it was staged near the agricultural arena.  Yeah, the one for horses.  It really didn’t matter.  This is a no frills race that doesn’t even have bibs!  They do however have chip timing complete with a net time.

When the race started I felt fine.  Not great but certainly not bad.  My splits made me happy.  I spoke with a couple of people in the first few miles hoping to have someone to run/pace with.  The runners were pleasant as is generally the case.  But at that pace few people really talk and that’s fine too.  Later in the race I met a guy named Dillon.  I believe he said it was his first half marathon and he was on pace for a 1:30.  I also spoke with a man who was 63 years old.  He too was on target for a 1:30 half!  Ironically it was because of Dillon that I actually broke 1:30.  I saw him as we ran up the spiral of death (the last 1.25 miles of the race).  I sped up because I wanted to help him get to the finish on time.  Alas he didn’t quite make 1:30.

This was a fun race and a fun weekend with running friends.  I love racing, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of town for a couple of days.  This race was also a confidence booster.  I did well, 1:29 but, given an easier route, I could have shaved 1.5-3.0 minutes off of my time.  Imagine if I targeted a half marathon?


Approximate Splits:
1 6:40
2 6:38
3 6:52
4 6:44
5&6 14:22
7 6:45
8 6:17
9 6:48
10 6:14
11 6:30
12 7:14
13.1 7:48


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