Semper 5ive Race Day



This was the weekend of the Marine Corp Historic Half Marathon. The race also introduced the inaugural Semper 5ive.  A five mile race winding through the beautiful, residential streets of historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, culminating at the legendary Hospital Hill followed closely by the brutal I-95 overpass.

Last weekend, I was feeling horribly unprepared even though I was keeping up with my marathon training plan. I was checking the MCM website trying to see if I could defer. I was totally convinced I needed to not run. Funny though, the closer I got to the date, the more excited I became. What if? What if I actually finished? After all, the mileage of the race was totally in line with the training run I was supposed to complete for this weekend. Volunteering at the expo on Friday, however, got me all pumped up again to DO THIS!

Race day broke. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to make the drive and park near the starting line before the roads closed. There were almost 2000 runners and no corrals. In true Marine style, however, it was extremely well-organized.  The start was a little subdued, but appropriate.

Lessons learned from this race:

1 – Get off the treadmill. It has rained almost every day for the past two weeks and as a result, my training runs continued to be indoors, as they were all winter. The shock of the change from the controlled indoor environment to the 46 degree outdoor wind was incredibly hard.

2 – Hills…run them…and repeat as many times as necessary.  The funny thing is, I thought the incline work on the treadmill would have somewhat prepared me for Hospital Hill, but NOOOOO. That was the steepest, longest, hardest hill ever, followed by the merciless I-95 overpass. In fact, my time up the hill was so slow my Fitbit register the race as a walk.  How sad is that?

3 – Core work….core…core…core…

But let me swing this around. As bad as my time was, it actually was pretty good considering the number of hills on the course, not even including the mountainous Hospital Hill. So it was, in fact, not that bad. Slowly, but surely, the training is paying off.

Never heard of Hospital Hill?  Here is a description from Pamela Gould of the Fredericksburg Freelance Star.

Hospital Hill stretches over about 930 yards. That’s 2,790 feet or 33,480 inches. Over the space of 0.53 miles, the hill’s elevation doubles, from 100 feet to 200 feet. That’s like climbing stairs from the ground floor to the top of a 10-story building.

And for people who haven’t seen the course beforehand, it’s also deceptive. About a quarter of the way up the hill—at the intersection with Park Hill Drive—it levels off.

But immediately there’s another short climb to a plateau at the entrance to parking for Mary Washington Hospital. The road ahead is curved so visibility is limited and, again, runners can be fooled.

Alas, the steepest part looms before them beyond that deceitful curve.

Climbing that section, with what one organizer said is an 8 percent grade, it is easy to feel like you’re suddenly aging as your body automatically stoops over in its fight to ascend.

I conquered that hill. #runwiththeMarines.


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