Hershey Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Hi all!

So, it’s been a while since I’ve even posted in here, & I know I didn’t get a chance to recap my first half marathon in Chicago – which frankly I’d rather forget anyways.

This race went SO much better! And I can’t wait to recap it for you all. I have been planning on running this race since the beginning of the year (before I could even run longer than 5 miles) because this is where I grew up! My first job was at Hersheypark when I was 14, my family & I had season passes to the park for a long time when I was a kid, & basically it was a big part of my life for a long time. So, I was excited!

On Saturday afternoon, I got to the expo around 1:30, & to my surprise it was all outside underneath Hersheypark Stadium. It was an incredibly cold weekend, so I was shocked they moved it outside. Packet pick-up was easy & I was able to snag my friend Alyssa’s bag as well. They even had a spot where they made sure your chip was registering, which I was grateful for, because nothing is worse than running a race & your time not getting recorded. It was freezing & my mom was waiting for me, so I made it a quick expo trip.


(From the start line.. so beautiful!)

The race started at 7:30am Sunday morning, so I spent Saturday evening with a longtime friend of mine, Alyssa, who was running her first half marathon! Early to bed for me – & we were up by 5:30am to get ready to leave. We had about a 25 minute drive out to the park. Thankfully, her husband was dropping us off, so we didn’t have to worry about finding parking. Thanks Mike! Alyssa & I got up to the stadium, made one last bathroom stop & I went to find my parents.


(Alyssa & I before the race)

My mom, dad & step-mom came from different states where they live to cheer me on! I was so excited they were there. My mom even made me this awesome sign!


(My Dad & my Mom after I finished)

I said a quick hello to them, & then my friend Jenn found me! She is my 12 minute pace mentor with the Elite Runners & Walkers Group that I spend every Saturday morning with. I was so happy she was there! We had been planning to run together for this race. Around 7:20, we lined up at the start (which was barely a start, it was kind of just people standing in a big group. I didn’t see any pace markers or any type of organization here), the National Anthem was sung, & we were on our way! Did I mention it was freezing? I made sure I had throw away gloves, & Jenn was nice enough to loan me her extra ear warmer. I definitely did not properly plan for it to be that cold! I had a short sleeve tech tee on with a long sleeve tech tee over top (the long sleeve was supposed to be a throw away, but I ended up wearing it the entire race). Around mile 1.5, I ditched the gloves. I warm up quick!

Jenn & I were cruising along & having a great time. Mile 2-3 was around & through the park. I was having a blast. It was so fun to see all of the rides I used to love & think of all the memories I have made at that park. While running through the park, there was a band playing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers & it was so fun singing along as we ran past.

The first half of the race was a blast. There were a lot of hills, but they weren’t bothering me. During one of the neighborhoods we ran through, a woman was sitting out on her lawn giving out orange slices. Jenn & I made sure we indulged, it was a nice break from the norm of gels & chews! Once we started getting into miles 7 & 8, I was begging for downhills. This course felt almost all uphill. We were never NOT running up a hill. It was brutal, but we were killing it! We were keeping a pretty steady 12 minute pace, which is exactly where I wanted to be. Either mile 9 or 10 was through the Milton Hershey School campus. All of the kids were out cheering us on.. did I mention the spectating for this race was on point?! Everyone was fantastic. There were bands & DJs playing, high school marching bands playing, & tons of people out with signs & giving high fives. I can’t tell you how many “Touch here for power” signs I touched. It was awesome.

After mile 10, I was starting to get really sore & stiff. My left hip & ankle were screaming at me. But, I knew I had to push through. This is where Jenn really carried me. During this time, she was a little bit ahead of me, but not by much, & she just kept yelling back to keep going, dig deep & push through & that I was going to get a huge PR!

At mile 11.5, they had volunteers giving out pieces of chocolate. I grabbed one, unwrapped it, & without thinking ate it. Ugh. Bad idea. Stomach was not too happy about that one! During this mile, I yelled up to Jenn about where we should go on vacation right now, as I needed to get my brain off of this race & onto somewhere better! She farther up ahead, so we couldn’t really talk, but there was an older man running next to me & he started talking about North Carolina & how I could sit on the beach, watch the waves crash & eat good food. I was so grateful for him at that point because he was able to get my mind off of the pain for a little bit. I thanked him, he said I was doing great, & I took off ahead of him. Runners are the best.

At mile 12, Children’s Miracle Network had tents set up & had pictures of their kids that were terminally ill and/or sick with cancer, etc along the road. I started tearing up. I was in pain, but when I saw the pictures of these kids, I remembered that this pain I had was only temporary, these kids were going through so much more. It gave me the one last boost that I needed to finish.

We rounded back into the parking lot of the stadium, & I could see I was almost finished. I couldn’t wait! I looked at my watch, & could see I was going to beat my goal. As I turned into the stadium to finish, I was running the track & saw my friend Alyssa & her family & they started yelling & cheering for me! It gave me one last boost & I sprinted to the finish! I started crying as I got my medal & my goodie bag. WOW! What an amazing feeling!

I had 3 goals in mind, & my best case scenario, Goal A, was to finish 2:40. That would give me a 20 minute PR from Chicago. Well, official finish time….

2:37:02!!!!! A 23 minute PR from Chicago 🙂

I have never been more thrilled or proud in my life. I never thought I could have done that & I am now the proud owner of a new half marathon PR. 🙂 This was an amazing race & I would recommend it to anyone who loves this little town! It was an incredibly challenging course, but if I can do it, so can anyone! Jenn got a new PR as well finishing 2:35. She rocks! And I’m so thankful for her helping me through this race.



6.55 mile split: 01:19:08

Chip time: 02:37:02 / 11:59 pace


2 thoughts on “Hershey Half Marathon 2015 Recap

  1. Jenereesa @ ScootaDoot says:

    CONGRATS on the awesome PR! That’s my goal pace when I’m not injured (and maybe when there’s a flatter course – lol). Runners really are the best; I heard so many encouraging words and met so many great people out on the course. It was awesome! I saved my Kisses because I was a little nervous about them. Do you think you’ll run Hershey again?

    • ciaraelyse says:

      Thanks!! That is my typical long race pace. My next goal is to PR at a 5k! My current PR is 32:50. Yikes. That might take a few tries haha. I’m not sure that I’ll do Hershey again. At least not next year! There’s a flat crushed limestone course half (Buffalo Creek) out here in Pitt & I think I’m gonna try to PR on that course next year 🙂 & it’s usually the same weekend as Hershey. What about you?

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