On Saturday, June 14th I ran the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon with my friend Janine. This race is put on by Uberendurance Sports, the same folks that put on the Dirty German and many other races in the Philly area. They are always German themed, and are always high quality, fun races!
Janine had been thinking about running her first half for a long time, and after the Tyler Trail 10k this year, she was finally ready to pull the trigger. I suggested this one because it's a smaller race (max 1000 people) and takes place in Pennypack Park. The race is actually run on the bike path for 12 miles and on a trail for about one mile. I also told her it would be flat but I would find out later that is not the case.
We met up at the Cannstatter Volksfest-Verein German Club in Northeast Philly around 6:15 AM. Since Pennypack has very limited parking, there were shuttle buses running to and from the German club to the park. We picked up our bibs and race shirts, hit the surprisingly short restroom line, and got on a bus by 6:45. We reached the park by 7:00 and spent 30 minutes stretching and sitting before the start. The air was slightly chilly which was a very good sign of a mild day for racing.
I signed up the race with the intentions of running with Janine the whole time to give her support throughout, whether it was in the form of cheering or just some water. Our plan was to go slowly and take walk breaks when needed, especially as the day warmed up. We lined up in Wave 3, which went off around 7:40.
The first few miles were crowded as the 1,000 runners dispersed along the bike path. The wave start was nice because we found ourselves around other runners of about the same pace. Once we were inside the park, it was definitely more humid than we expected, but we slowed our pace accordingly to account for it. Thankfully, most of the course was shaded which helped counteract the humidity.
The course is an out and back, with aid stations every 2 miles, so we hit about 7 all together. There was water and Gatorade at each, and one station had Hammer gels. We took advantage of the beverages at every stop, which I think helped us really stay on top of our hydration. I also carried a handheld water bottle which we both drank from frequently.
The first half went by uneventfully, though we climbed many more hills than I expected. We walked most of the hills to save energy, which definitely helped later on in the race.
At about the half way point (mile 6.5) the course turns off the bike path and onto one of the main trails in Pennypack. It was very familiar since I had just run it in May during the Dirty German 25k!
The difference now was that the trail was VERY muddy due to the downpours of the previous few days. We embraced it and pushed on for about another mile until we hit the bike path again.
The day became noticeably more hot and humid in the second half, so we slowed again to account for the heat. But regardless of the heat, we were motivated by seeing the full marathon race leaders coming back our way. We also befriended another pair of experienced runner/first timers who we leapfrogged back and forth for the remainder of the race and cheered on.
Once we passed the 10 mile marker, Janine officially set a new personal distance record!
The last 5k felt longer than 3.1 miles but I tried to keep encouraging Janine to push forward and she did. Soon enough, we heard the finish line music and rounded the bend to cross the finish line in 2:37!
Afterwards, we shuttled back to the German Club for some brats and beer. There was a huge stage set-up on the grounds where traditional German dancers performed and race awards were announced.
I am so proud and honored to have accompanied Janine as she finished her first half marathon! Of course I love running on my own, but running with friends is always more fun. I can't wait to see her crush her next one!