Pelham Half Marathon Race Recap

November 24, 2018                                       8:00 am

It seems like I’ve been planning to run this race forever. I signed up for this race almost a year ago and because:

  • My running buddy Alyssa (whom I haven’t raced with in quite a while) talked me into it.
  • It was cheap. ($30 early-bird registration).
  • It was driveable. (2 1/2 hours)
  • I had enough points for a free hotel room.
  • Still not too cold (hopefully) to make the miles unbearable.
  • Alyssa was trying to run a sub 2:00 half and I wanted to be there to support and/or congratulate her (That was before either of us looked at the elevation chart and realized that this might be the hilliest course we’ve ever run.)

Here’s the race description:

A community-driven race. It is capped at 800 runners. The race starts and finishes in downtown Pelham and takes runners through the two villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor.

It was started by 9 local runners 7 years ago and has grown each year. The entire race covers an area of 2.2 square miles.  Yes, lots of twists and turns.

Each water station (6 of them), each hill (7 of them) and each mile has a local sponsor.

I apologize in advance that this post will be long. You may want to skip ahead to see what I liked and disliked about the race itself.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan but I ran a 20 km race in Paris on October 14. I was not fully trained but had enough time to get there.

Since then I have completed easy weekday runs and longish runs on most weekends.

Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs but I do like to get in a 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon. After completing my last big race, I had busy weekends (and stupidly signed up for 2 races). So I just never got those scheduled long runs done.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

The day before the race, Alyssa and I drove to our hotel in White Plains. We checked in and then drove to Pelham (about 20 minutes away) to get our bibs. It was in a tiny pop-up store. We were also handed a paper bag with our shirt.

We checked out the race start and made sure we knew where to park the next day.

nice long sleeved tech shirt

Then we had a nice carb-loaded dinner. I usually eat pizza but this restaurant did not have any so I settled on chicken parm and pasta (and I ate way too much!!) It turned out that our waiter and 2 of the other waiters were running the race as well. It was fun to chat with them and get some more info on the course.

We headed back to our hotel which happened to be across the street from a huge mall so we spent a few hours there walking off our dinner.  Then we stopped at Whole Foods to get dessert. (Definitely well-fueled for this race)

Back at the hotel, we planned our race day outfits and tried to get to bed early.  (But who can sleep the night before a big race?)

Race Day:

We got up at 5:30 am and I ate my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee that I had brought from home. Then I again debated about how many layers to wear.  It was in the 20s but no wind and the sun would be out. I added another shirt and a vest and brought a jacket to check and wear before and after the race.

We left around 6:30 am and had no problems getting there and finding a place to park.  We walked to the Town Hall which was next the race start. There we checked a bag and used the “real” restrooms.  A policeman tried to tell us to use the porta-potties outside and that the restroom was for the volunteers. But I pointed out that it said on the race website that there were indoor restrooms available so he let us stay and use them.

Then we just waited inside where it was warm until it was time for the race to start.

They announced a yoga warm-up outside but it was too cold. The first few miles would be my warm up.

Finally we couldn’t delay it anymore and we headed to the start and waited with the other runners.

So here’s how the race went.

The course map:

 2017 PHM Half Marathon Course Map

7 hills?!

and elevation chart:


After looking at the elevation map and talking to others who had run the race, I decided that survival was my only goal.  This was the plan:

  • Run the tangents.
  • Walk up the hills.
  • Don’t push the pace.
  • Finish uninjured.
  • Enjoy the race.

Miles 1-4:

9:57, 9:32,10:30, 9:46

Alyssa and I started out together.  Before the race, I told her not to worry about losing me and that I would most likely be running slower than her.

So as predicted, I quickly got behind her. But for the first few miles, I could see her bright pink jacket in the distance.

We headed north from the start. It was constant twists and turns. I tried as much as possible to run the tangents. The big hills were labeled but if you look at the chart above, you’ll see that in between the big hills were small hills.  It was just up then down and then up again, etc.

from Long Distance Lawyer’s Blog

I think I was trying to keep Alyssa in my sight because I was definitely running too fast the first 2 miles. I even tried to slowly run up Hill #1.  I planned to walk at each water stop but I think I missed the first one. I was enjoying the neighborhood views and the foliage.

from Long Distance Lawyer’s Blog

More twists and turns and then Hill #2. This was billed as the worst one. There was even a sign that said “Sorry.” I walked it and it was killing my quads to walk up a hill that steep.

Of course, the downhills were a welcome sight but if I ran down them fast, I would feel it days later so I kept my speed in check.

Soon there was Hill #3 which I walked up as well and finally I stopped for water around mile 4.  I expected the water to be frozen due to the temps but it was not.

The sun also came out so I unzipped my vest and took off my gloves. I stayed that way until the last few miles when the clouds came back.

Miles 5-8:

10:30, 10:29,11:09,10:47

The hills and twists and turns continued. As some point, I caught up to Alyssa and we ran together for a while and then I lost her.

I walked at each water stop.  There were signs announcing each one. I think they were around every 2 miles. For the first long race ever, I just was not hungry. I had 3 Gus in my pocket but just drank water until mile 12.

The course through this small town was very varied. We ran through neighborhoods with amazing mansions and then on roads where there was traffic. There were volunteers at every turn (which were also marked with red arrows) and plenty of policemen making sure traffic was stopped for the runners.

from Long Distance Lawyer’s Blog

My favorite part of the course running on a path around the lake. You can see Alyssa yelling at me to sped up because there was a photographer ahead. LOL

I ran as fast as I could but the photographer didn’t get our picture together 😦

that arrow means UPHILL

Though there was not tremendous crowd support, the ones who were there were very enthusiastic.

This recap may sound repetitive but it was just turning left, turning right, running up a small hill, running down and walking up a big hill and running down…repeat.

Miles 9-12:

10:56, 11:29, 11:16, 11:01

At some point, I got ahead and lost Alyssa.  All of a sudden, she slowed down. But I got to see her at each of the turn arounds. There were two that I remember during the latter miles,

As usual, the bottom of my left foot (the one with the bunion) was throbbing. I was still walking up the big hills and running down them.

However my pace was getting slower and slower.  I was even just shuffling up the smaller hills.

from Long Distance Lawyer’s Blog

I loved when we ran on a dirt path because it felt better on my foot but sometimes I just ran on the sidewalk because it was a tangent.

Finally at the last water stop, I decided that I should eat a Gu. 13 miles with no fuel was probably not a good idea. (Maybe that’s why I had no energy…)

Miles 13-13.1:

12:02, 6:59

I thought that I was all done with the hills but Hill #7 appeared during the last mile.  That was so nasty!

Eventually I could hear music in the distance.  The hills were over and the cheerleaders cheered us through the finish line.

I couldn’t believe that I had enough energy to sprint. I crossed at 2:20:xx.

I was super happy with my time.  I walked up the hills and so did all the runners around me. Those who live in this area have probably trained on these hills.  I usually run on flat routes.  My legs were not prepared for this.

After I got my medal, I waited for Alyssa to cross so I could get her picture.

She too was thrilled with her time.  She agreed that those hills were tough on the legs. While she headed for the porta-potties, I went in search of food.

In addition to the usual bagels and bananas, there was baked ziti, chicken parm, meatballs, lasagna, burritos, black beans, rice. Yes, quite a spread.

I grabbed some food and headed for the town hall since I was freezing.

They were offering massages but it was too cold to stay outside any longer. I got my jacket and then checked the results.  It seemed that I won my age group. So I asked if they had announced the awards and they told me that it was over and they didn’t have any left.  They told me to just pick a shirt or a cap.  I asked what would I have won.  And they said a mug.

Darn!  The plight of a BOTPer. (I later looked at the race schedule and the awards ceremony was at 10 am – Um – that’s only 2 hours after the start…. I was still running the race.)

posing with my medal and my “cap”

We walked around town and stopped for a cup of coffee. We then decided to go back to our hotel for a HOT shower and have lunch after we checked out.

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • Many emails with pre-race information
  • Well organized
  • Warm place to hang out before and after the race
  • Well marked course
  • Adequate number of water stops
  • Interesting and varied course
  • Excellent post race food
  • 100% of race fees went to charity
  • Post race massages
  • Free race photos

The Bad:

  • the HILLS!!!
  • ran out of age group awards (time of awards ceremony)

Would I recommend this race?

Yes, it was a great small town race.  Just be prepared for hills!

Final Thoughts and Stats:

So yes, I was BOTP but my time was actually faster than the hot flat Paris 20k race (which was only 12.4 miles.)

only one in my age group LOL

Alyssa and I had a fun time together and I am glad that we did run the race.  A local running friend told me that her boyfriend also ran it and it was the hardest race that he’s ever run.

And my legs felt fine the next day and if it were not raining, I would have run 2 days after. No DOMS for the win!

Next Up:

Publix Florida Half Marathon on February 10, 2019!!

The Florida Marathon

It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life

I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Happy Running! What is the hardest course that you’ve ever run on?  

36 thoughts on “Pelham Half Marathon Race Recap

  1. Not taking in fuel no doubt did effect your energy, but hills will really get to you & having them in the last mile always sucks! It sounds like a nice race but I don’t think it’s calling to me.

    I’ve done lots of hard races, so I’m not sure which was the hardest. Maybe AZ. Not as many hills, but when one them actually has the name King Mountain . . . plus the (dry) heat of course. I did enjoy that one though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a fun race overall but those hills look killer! It’s weird that they ran out of age group awards, I mean, they know in advance how many they will need… did they just give it to someone else by accident?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The picture with the hill elevations made me shudder. And then I laughed when they had a sign that said sorry on the worst hill – hey, at least they acknowledged how hard it was, right? Nice that you got an AG award but I hate it when they start the ceremony too early – one time I was only at mile 3.5 of a 5 mile race when the awards started, and I could hear the announcements as I was running. I felt like the race was over even though I hadn’t crossed the finish line.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Small races can be fun but those hills not so much! i would not call that time back of the pack.
    Surprising that they had no age group awards left since they kind of know how many they need in advance. Congrats this is your year of age group placements

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds eerily like my recent marathon….constant hills LOL Awards for a half marathon only two hours after the start? That hardly seems fair! This looks like a beautiful course, though. Hills are tough, but it feels great to know you’ve conquered them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh man that sounds like a hard course and that elevation chart just looks downright scary! Awesome job on pushing through and getting an AG award. Sorry that they ran out of the awards – that’s crazy! I hope they can mail it to you. That post race food spread looked so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats on your age group win! That race sounds like one that is so hard while you’re running it but that you’re proud of when you’re done. Though running out of AG awards? That is not good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a bummer that they ran out of age group awards! The post race refuel food lookd good and warm and free massages are always great except when it’s cold. that course looks like it had many hills! Eek!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations! That one photo really showed how STEEP those hills were! I like a hilly course, but it’s definitely not where I look to PR! The scenery looks really pretty! And too bad about that mug, that’s a really nice prize! Maybe they can mail you one?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds like a fun race and I’m glad you got to share it with your friend. While I hate (hate, hate) hills, I think the ‘sorry’ sign before the big one was pretty funny! Congrats on your age group non-award. It really stinks that they didn’t have the mug waiting for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on winning your age group, that is awesome!! I like small races too, but the hills are tough…you did a great job tackling it all!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. THE HILLS!!!! OMG!!! I’m looking at those photos like no way Jose! Well done to both of you – especially the doozy of a hill in the last mile of the race!

    I’ve never gotten pasta after a race! I’m going to start complaining! LOL!

    (so I’m probably going to regret my race on Sunday. it has 6 bridges… I don’t know what I was thinking except that I love Rotterdam and wanted to run it again…)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congrats on winning your age group but that is ridiculous that they didn’t have any prizes left. Wait, the awards ceremony was 2 hours AFTER the race start? Another ridiculous thing. Those hills..WOW! I also run on flat land so any uphill is no bueno for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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