Orphan Hope 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Won a 1st Place AG Award!
I ran in my first 1/2 marathon on trails today! My goals were to have fun running in the woods and not to fall.  No falls today and I had fun! While I was running one of the things that pushed me forward was that there was a slight chance that I might place (you never know!) and I actually did place first in my age group!

I picked up my award plaque early, since I had a long drive home, and met one of the race organizers and the female master's winner and the 4th place runner in my age group, too, so even though I didn't stay for the ceremony, it was a fun finish to my race morning.

But let's back up... Before the race, I ran a 10 minute warm-up (which may have been unnecessary because we started the race slowly) and then I chatted with another half marathoner at the start.

The trail was well-marked so I didn't even come close to getting lost in the woods like I was afraid I might. This was a small race so there were a couple of moments when I couldn't see another runner, though. The alligator warning signs in the park might make some people nervous, but I've run and biked by alligators before and they just ignored me. That's pretty boring, but that's okay!

Will Run for Cupcakes! 
I only came close to falling once. Don't you love it when you almost fall, but don't? The roots weren't too bad and made it a fun challenge. I was most grateful for the roots in the muddy areas because they don't move around like the slippery mud.

The hills weren't that bad either. I was so excited when I made it to the top of one steep hill and got a view of the pretty lake. There were some volunteers/spectators who made it out to some hilly parts and "yelled me up" the hills.  

I thought I'd try for a 10 minute average pace (a 2:11 finish) and keep an eye on my pace, but I hardly looked at my Garmin since I needed to look out for roots. Every time it beeped, though, I knew I was another mile closer to the finish. I wasn't sure where I was on the course and how close I was to the finish (I think the trees might have messed with my Garmin), but I told myself to run like I was close to the finish.

I didn't feel low on energy even though I didn't eat and drink much. I ate a Powerbar gel at mile 2 (too early, oops). I had to stop to yank it out of my pocket. Gloves made it hard. I drank a little Gatorade at miles 3, 6 and maybe 10. Maybe I would have been faster with more fuel or maybe I worry too much about fueling.

Finish Line Beside Raven Lake 
I ran in shorts, a short sleeved shirt and gloves with hand warmers inside (love those). It was only about 40 degrees, but the clothes worked out great. In Maine, I learned that I shouldn't load up with clothes. Even though the warm-up run might not have been necessary, it warmed me up.

I don't have another trail race to compare this one to, but it didn't seem very difficult. There were even some sections that were a wide dirt road. Sometimes you had to run in a narrow section of the road because of the mud, though. About half of the time, I didn't have to worry about running into other runners on the narrow path. Most of the time, all that I saw was the dirt path and trees on either side of me (and other runners). For a short while, I saw the lake and the sunny sky. Some people might find that boring, but I liked running through the woods.

The race was held on trails in Huntsville State Park, about a 1 1/4 hour drive north of Houston so I was able to sleep in my own comfy bed last night, have oatmeal and a banana for breakfast and drive up early this morning for the 8AM start. My husband often comes to races, but couldn't make it this time. Instead, he put dog food in one of my favorite race mugs (kind of bad), nearly locked himself out of the house (really bad) and nearly started the house on fire (wow). It's a long story and I exaggerate a little...

Huntsville State Park
I'm so glad I ran in the Orphan Hope half marathon! I was very nervous during the drive up, but once I picked up my race packet, I felt much better. Did I mention that I hit road construction on the drive up? At 6AM? Another worry, but I arrived early anyway since I left early - another lesson learned from a previous race when I ended up racing to the start!

The race benefited a great cause. Race packet pick-up was easy. The volunteers were encouraging. By the time I made it to the timing board, my time was already up. I saw the cupcakes before the race and they were a big incentive for finishing - got to get back to the cupcakes! The race shirt fits and looks great. I'd like to go back next year to try for a course PR!

Race facts:
Location: Huntsville State Park, Texas
Finish Time: 2:03
1st female in my age group, out of 13 (ages 40-49). I'm 46.
7th female overall
36th runner overall, out of 156 (small race, but we ran with 82  marathoners and 32 relay runners, too)
My 1/2 marathon road race PR: (Oct.'07) 1:50:57
Update: To learn more about races put on by this organization, visit Project: LoveOne.


  1. Awesome race!! I'm even more interested in this particular race report, since I'm still hovering over the "register" button for the 50K trail run.....you're inspiring me!!

    1. Great, a 50K would be a huge accomplishment!

  2. YAY Tina!!! What a great race and finish time!! And congrats on placing FIRST in your AG!!!

    I LOOOOOVE the "Runners Eat Cupcakes" sign and picture! How appropriate!!

    I hope your hubby survived the rest of the day! hehehe!!

    1. Thanks - it was a great day! He did survive, but I probably shouldn't leave him home alone too often!

  3. Yay, Tina, for your trail race! It looks like a beautiful area and a beautiful day - I am liking the blue skies. Those cupcakes look YUMMY! I think I could have eaten a dozen of those. They also are very "Tina" looking cupcakes!
    :-) Congratulations on the AG award - win them any time you can! Could there be another trail race on your horizon???!!!
    Very thankful Eric did not burn down the house - that would have been bad.

    1. Yes, such a pretty day with the blue sky! What a difference a sunny day makes!

  4. That's fantastic!! Congratulations on a great trail run...looks like you're moving to the other side - trails! Happy Trails will be well....happy! :)

    1. Running trails makes me think of Happy Trails, too, and you both posted about the same time! : )

  5. Honey!
    What's this blog thing? Is this on that World Wide Web place? Do other people from around the world read what you write? How long have you been sharing our private lives with the whole world??!! You even talk about me... Oh nooo... what else have you said about me?

    People of the world - there is no truth here about me - please move along.

    How embarassing...

  6. Anonymous2/11/2012

    Oh this looks like SO much fun!!!! I wish we had more trails around Savannah. What a great race, and congrats on your AG win! ;)

  7. Wow! Congrats on your 1st place AG placement, and you really blew your 2:10 goal out of the water.

    And so happy you didn't actually fall or get lost. I would worry about those things too.

    I hope your husband has a better day today, lol :)

  8. wow where to start1. jealous of 40 degrees and running in shorts! Yay for cupcakes and congrats on winning your AG! Way to go!

  9. Very nice. Congrats on the AG win!

    Alligators?!? Are you kidding? I'd be so scared to go anywhere near one.

    My Running Shortz

    1. Nope, no kidding on the alligators!

  10. Congratulations on the age group win. Great report on the race and your experience.

  11. Congrats on the AG win (and killing your goal) and the trail race! These kinds of races are my favorites. Those cupcakes look tasty too.

  12. 1st on AG? Nice work! Yes, trail running I s funny. I was out there running last weekend and the roots I normally try to avoid, I was thankful for since they didn't slide around like the mud!
    Glad the alligators stayed away too!

  13. Yay! Congrats! Sounds like tons of fun!

  14. Awesome Tina, congrats on a great race, AG win and a lovely race report!

    I'd make sure to take hubby to the next race again:-).

  15. Anonymous2/14/2012

    Congrats on your Trail PR and AG 1st place!
    I love running trails. I was thinking about doing my first a trail half marathon this year, but the entry fee is just too much for me, plus I won an entry to different road race a week prior to it. I'm still going to do a small 12k trail race like I did last year.
    To me trails are never boring because there are little straight line and always something to look at and concentrate on.

  16. There you are, I knew you'd enjoy it, although you sounded a bit nervous about it a while back. Congratulations on a great run and age group win - not to mention getting a race shirt that actually fits!

  17. Great Job Tina! 1st in AG!! Sounds like a fantastic race, and who could resist a cupcake at the finish line??

  18. Congrats on your award Tina! That sounds like a great half to do.

  19. Congrats on your 1st place AG finish! You are making me want to do this race...when I can run again, lol!

  20. Sounds like a great trail race to try out if you are newbie to trail running. I'm definitely going to put it on the radar for 2013. www.dashingdiva.net

  21. I love those pics, it was an exciting race event. Congratulations to all the participants for a great job well done and looking forward always for more updates.

  22. Congrats on your 1st place! Awesome!

    That looks like a beautiful place to run.


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