Friday, October 14, 2005

B.A.A. Half Marathon

Many runners have a favorite race -- a race they return to year after year. My favorite is the B.A.A. Half Marathon. Last Sunday I completed the B.A.A. Half for the fourth time in as many years. I've run each edition of the race except the inaugural 2001 edition.

Why do I keep going back?
  • The beautiful 13.1 mile course starts in the Fenway district of Boston, runs out to Franklin Park Zoo along the Emerald Necklace, and returns along the same route. I've heard it described as a moderately difficult course, but the hills are nothing compared to New Hampshire hills.

  • Columbus Day weekend is a great time of year for a half marathon. The temperature is cooler and the Fall foliage is just getting started in Boston.

  • The race is very well organized. It is officially run by the Boston Athletic Association, but it is really directed by Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises. This is the same team that has directed the Boston Marathon for the past several years. Each year, the B.A.A. Half organizers bring a great volunteer staff, provide excellent traffic control, and in general manage the race flawlessly.

  • At three thousand plus runners, it is a medium sized field. It's not big enough to cause a huge bottleneck at the start, but you have plenty of company all along the course.

  • The crowd support is great. Much of the six mile plus, out-and-back course is lined with people cheering the runners. The crowds give you a boost of energy, especially in the last two miles. The smaller New Hampshire races I normally run just can't compare.
All of the above combine to produce a favorable atmosphere for racing and, usually, I post a relatively good time. Of course, I am no threat to the leaders, but I ran a "personal best" 1:38:23 at the 2003 B.A.A. Half.

This year my time was about four minutes slower, but it was about what I expected given the amount of training I've been able to do. When you are a middle-of-the-pack runner, your main goal is to run your best possible time at an even pace. You don't want to go out too fast and finish the race slow. This year I felt in control of my pace largely because I am now so familiar with the course. I can't wait to give it another try next year.


Patty said...

Great Job! Your Mom said she had read this entry and that you had run. I'll forward this off to your blogphobic bro!

Dave Delay said...

Thanks, Patty. I forgot to mention another reason I like the B.A.A. Half: It's a family tradition.

It wasn't the same without my brother, sisters, and the rest of the gang there this year. Hopefully, we'll all be there next year.