This past weekend was Historic Half weekend in town. The Marine Corps Half Marathon has been hosted in Fredericksburg since 2008 and brings THOUSANDS of runners and spectators to the town every year. There is a huge military presence in the surrounding area and majority of people who live here have some connection to one of our branches of military. Historic Half weekend really draws out the best of the community with people both participating in one of the 3 races and/or setting up along the route and cheering the runners on.
In 2016, the Marine Corps Marathon Organization restructured the accompanying races from a 10k and 5k to the Semper 5ive – a route that follows the last 5 miles of the 1/2 marathon. That was also the year I decided to convince K we should participate! I am definitely not the greatest runner, and I have never willingly chose to run more than 3 miles but I had just moved back to the area a yearish before and really wanted to find a way to join in (and 13.1 miles was not going to work for me). Surprisingly, K agreed and we signed up to run 5 miles with absolutely no training…
There are 3 options to choose from when signing up for the races – The Semper 5ive, Historic Half, and the Devil Dog Double. The Devil Dog is the most intense of the 3 races. Runners start with the 5 miles of the Semper 5ive and have to finish that race within 1 hour, after which they immediately run the 13.1 miles in the Historic Half. At the very end, runners receive 3 medals! One for each race, plus one commemorating their Devil Dog Double effort.
That first year, we set a goal of finishing within 1 hour and we did! Barely, but we did and with some wonderful walking breaks sprinkled in.
Going into the race with no training meant I had no idea if I would be able to “conquer Hospital Hill” – a super long, crappy hill right in the middle of mile 3. I found the dreaded Hospital Hill to be fairly easy; however, the hill right after that no one talks about is AWFUL. Every year my game plan is get through Hospital Hill and get my walking break on Cowan (shorter hill, but steeper) since it is right before the start of the last mile and I want to be able to push through mile 5 strong. Luckily, there is a marine with a megaphone standing right before the last mile mark, yelling and encouraging all the runners AND the fire departments are out with a massive American flag to run under AND there’s always a local school’s marching band out playing. That last mile might be the hardest yet easiest one!
One thing that I love and find so amazing about this event is all the love, support and encouragement throughout the whole community. The runners are out there running to show support to the Marine Corps community, and all the marines are out there to provide all their support to the runners! As the last runner comes through the course, all the marines helping out start walking behind them. By the time the runner crosses the finish line, there’s an entire contingent of marines clapping and yelling encouragement from behind. It’s amazing to see!
I hope K and I continue to stay active and participate in the fun races. I’m already planning my goals for our next 2 (basically the Turkey Trot and next years Semper 5ive haha) and looking at another obstacle race to try. We did the Terrain one a couple years ago and had a blast – definitely less serious than the Tough Mudders and Spartan races, and more our speed 🙂