Last Sunday, I ran the 2014 Bucks County Half Marathon in Tyler State Park, located in Richboro, PA. I ran this course last year, my second half marathon, and decided I would go at it again despite how hilly the terrain is. While I did struggle after mile 10, I had an amazing time.
Saturday was the packet pickup at the Newtown Athletic Club. Pickup was different from last year – this year there was race merchandise available for purchasing, and the bib chip was already activated and ready to go. I waited less than 2 minutes in line; it was smooth-going.
Carb-loaded at Carrabba’s with a huge bowl of pasta and lots of yummy warm bread, and hydrated very well.
Carb-loading evening before the race 🙂
Went to bed rather early but race nerves always gets me, and before 3 AM, I was up. I loved not having to wake up at 2 AM, like Disney races, so even if I could’ve gotten sleep, I could have slept until 5:30, even 6! Grabbed a bagel, some almond butter, a banana and a cup of coffee and headed up to Tyler State Park.
I was there by 6:45 and didn’t have to wait to park. Flagger Force people were doing a great job directing traffic, and as I sat in my car drinking my coffee, noticed how frustrated the flaggers were with drivers not listening to their directions and people going the wrong way, etc. I felt so bad for them.
Weather was a bit cool but we were expecting a high of 80 degrees.
Temperature at race-start.
The race started promptly at 8:00 AM and runners were called out in waves. The first wave of runners went out, and I don’t think it was intentional but everyone took off at the same time with the 7:00-8:00 mm runners (maybe they didn’t hear the wave call). I was so confused so I just followed. I think it would be easier if there were designated corrals taking off 4-5 minutes apart for safety issues – it can get too crowded and just unsafe as runners and walkers are packed together. Hopefully that can be corrected for next year’s race. Some runners were running on the grass off the path!
Took off to a great start, keeping a steady 9:45 mm pace. Saw my friend at mile 4, grabbed some water and was well on my way. There were hydration and fuel stations every single mile! I’ve never ran a race that had those accommodations, and it was very nice.
Miles 6-8 were hilly! I slowed down a lot and then came the downhills, which can be quite a hit to those quads, although a nice break from the uphills. It’s an out-and-back course and it was great passing the wonderful spectators, especially by the boathouse. There were children cheering excitedly, and it reminded me of myself as a kid cheering at races.
At the end of mile 9/beginning of mile 10, was an aid station. Stopped and grabbed some Gatorade and was stopped completely by the intense calf cramps on my right leg. Massaged my calf and tried to run through the pain. Last 5K, it can be done.
Loved seeing the signs throughout the course:
On the way back towards the finish, these signs were between miles 10-11. Mile 10-11 has a slight uphill, then it’s a bit flat before the downhill. Thought I could make up for my slowed pace on that downhill, and boy was I wrong! Bilateral calf cramps so bad I couldn’t run anymore. Miles 11-12.5 are uphill and brutal! Started to feel better after mile 12 and decided to start running a bit. Saw the spectators and heard them screaming and cheering, and saw the sign for mile 13. Another calf cramp, so I stopped to massage the cramp and sprinted to the finish line to a PR!
Bucks County Half Marathon Medal
Although I did struggle during the last 5K, I did PR by 3 minutes, but 14 minutes off my goal. It couldn’t have been a better day. The crowds were energetic, and there were lots of goodies at the finish line: pizza from Newtown Pizza, smoothies from Smoothie King, bread from Great Harvest and much more. Loved that Autism Cares Foundation had a table set up with resources and also loved coming close to the finish line and seeing the Horizon chopper above the course. After finishing, I parked myself on the ground someplace, sick, so I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the finish line goodies.
The medal is beautiful, and captures everything that Bucks County half represents: the medal is cut in the shape of Bucks County, the covered bridge, the runner.
Since the course has no time limit, I would’ve liked the aid stations to remain in place until all participants cleared the course, especially with how warm it got mid-race.
Having done this race last year, I must say that this year was a lot better. Well-organized, hydration stations every mile, great sponsors, and an awesome medal. I’m not going to hate on this race because of its tough course – it’s still my fastest half marathon to date. I know I need to train on hillier terrain, but in my defense, this winter was brutal and I hate running when the weather is cold.
Did you run this race? If so, what are your thoughts?
Disclaimer: Bucks County Half Marathon provided me with complimentary entry into the race, however, all opinions as always are strictly my own.