So I realized that I am less than a month away from my next half marathon on May 9th, where I will be taking on the very challenging Harper’s Ferry Half Marathon.

For anyone who does not know, Harper’s Ferry is an historical town in West Virginia, where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. The Appalachian Trail runs through here, dipping down between the mountain ranges to allow hikers some time in town and to check in at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters. I have hiked this area many times, and I used to love canoeing on the rivers during my camp experiences. As a ‘fan’ of history, particularly Civil War history, this town appeals to my intellectual side, allowing me to learn more about our past as a nation during one of the darkest eras in US history. I am familiar with Harper’s Ferry. I have walked the ‘hills’ in Harper’s Ferry. I know how tough this will be.

This is the course description: Local runners have crafted one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country.

The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change.

You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths. You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will.

Elevation profile of the Harper's Ferry half. Holy moly! I hope I'm ready!

Elevation profile of the Harper’s Ferry half. Holy moly! I hope I’m ready!

The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run. Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.

Yet, I still signed up anyway.

It turns out that I haven’t been to Harper’s Ferry in more than 16 years, so there is a bit of nostalgia about going back. And combined with the fact that it was the only half marathon I could run while I am back on vacation for my friend’s wedding. Besides, a stop in Harper’s Ferry fit in nicely to the Civil War battlefield tour that my husband and I will be doing after the wedding. And I was actually able to convince a college friend to join me there to run with me. Luckily, he knows what he’s in store for!

And so it is time to get started with some hill training. Which is nearly impossible, considering I live where a speed bump in the road is significant elevation change. *Sigh* And I learned during the Georgia Half Marathon in March that when it is going to be hilly, you NEED to have some hill training.

So here I go. Today was my first round of this–I completed a 30-min, 3-mi run on the treadmill at a 4% incline. I can also go to our local parking garage and run up and down it, which quite truthfully is my idea of hell, and I’d rather stick a fork in my eye. So maybe the treadmill at big inclines will do it for me. At least it will help me to not be completely inept at this challenging course. I am not going for time, rather, I am going to have a good time, taking pictures and enjoy visiting one of my favourite places on earth.

So wish me luck! I’ll definitely report back on this race. I am thinking it might end up being one of my favourite race experiences, in spite of the obvious challenges!

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