I understand it’s been six weeks since I ran the Hottest Half and my recap window has long since past but I do want to talk a bit about this race. I’ve wanted to run this race for quite some time but the timing never seemed to work out. A few weeks prior to the event I finally decided I was going to do it and I spent all of three weeks training.
The race was August 24. The high for that day was 100 degrees F but the race was run early in the morning so the temperature at the start was only about 80.
This was a small race, only around 1,000 participants which started and ended in the design district just west of downtown Dallas. The course went through the flood plain along the Trinity River which had very few trees and only partial shade. I don’t normally race wearing a shirt but for this particular race I chose to wear a very sheer Nike tank because I wanted to keep the sun off my body. I wore sunglasses (and I took a hat but I never put it on) and my Enduracool towel. Before the race began I made sure the towel was wet and I wore it tied around my neck like scarf. At every water stop I took two cups of water. One to drink and one to pour over my towel to keep it wet. This strategy worked well and I never had a problem with the heat.
I’m not sure I would run this race again just simply because the course included three miles of running off road (miles 8, 9 & 10). This wasn’t a nice stretch of gravel either it was on a service road that was peppered in rocks the size of golf balls. Since no one wanted to risk a twisted ankle it forced everyone onto a muddy shoulder, set on an incline, in a single file line. This reason alone would keep me from running this race again.
But unfortunately, I’ve got a second reason I don’t want to run this race again. The distance. It is a given that a runner is never going to be able to run the shortest possible route in a race. I get this. I understand that races are measured for the race distance to be the shortest possible route and most runners will run further. I get that. I don’t expect my Garmin to tell me I ran exactly 13.1 miles. I am familiar with the USA Track & Field requirements for measuring a course. I know all these things. I also understand USATF states that GPS devices always measure long and that their accuracy can be questionable due to tall buildings or trees.
When I ran the Woodlands Marathon earlier this year my Garmin told me I ran 26.46 miles. Somehow over the course I picked up a quarter mile by not taking the shortest possible route. I was okay with this. It seemed reasonable. In the Houston half I ran a tenth (.10) of a mile too far, again reasonable.
In the Hottest Half I ran a full half mile too far. A HALF MILE. I just don’t see how I can only pick up a quarter mile in a full marathon but double that in only half that distance, especially in a race this small where I didn’t have to dodge other runners every time I went around a corner.
Let me also clarify that this wasn’t an issue with my watch. This race took place in a flood area where there are no trees and tall buildings to interfere with the GPS and I know it wasn’t just my watch that recorded this discrepancy. Since I ran without headphones I could hear all the other GPS watches chiming every mile within just a few seconds of mine. It wasn’t just me.
Along with that, the mile markers along the course weren’t anywhere near where they should have been. The early mile markers were almost a full quarter mile off and the later ones weren’t anywhere close. Mile marker 12 was only a half mile from the finish line. These two factors left me not trusting the course measurement. I’m sure the race organizers will say the course was measured correctly and I have no way to prove them wrong but what I can tell them is no runner, especially one trying to PR, wants to be forced to run an extra half mile over a half marathon distance – it’s an issue with the course. For that reason, I won’t be running Hottest Half again.
Age group: 9/127
Mile 1 – 8:39
Mile 2 – 8:11
Mile 3 – 8:12
Mile 4 – 8:04
Mile 5 – 8:10
Mile 6 – 8:07
Mile 8 – 8:30
Mile 9 – 8:30
Mile 10 – 8:40
Mile 11 – 8:19
Mile 12 – 8:26
Mile 13 – 8:38
I’m glad I finally got to run this race, it’d been on my radar for a while. I was nervous about the “hottest” part of the Hottest Half but that didn’t turn out to be a problem at all. We had fun playing in Dallas as a family for a couple of days – we went to all our favorite places, ate at all our favorite restaurants and reminisced about our life there. I’d like to make a race in Dallas an annual event, maybe I’ll try to run Big D Half in April. Big D is always a favorite!