Over the mountains & through the woods, to a 1/2-marathon PR we go…

I know I changed the words a bit, but the original lyrics don’t quite suit my purposes.

This past weekend Janira and I ventured to Beregovo/Beregszasz, Ukraine for some road-racing and socializing with lots of other PCVs. Beregovo (Берегово) is a beautiful town on the western side of the Carpathian Mountains in the Zakarpats’ka Oblast. What’s interesting about this town is that it’s only 6km from Hungary and therefore most people in the town speak a sort of Hungarian-Russian hybrid language with some Ukrainian mixed in for good measure. I’m really interested in how/why Russian is so widely spoken there — the rest of western Ukraine speaks 95% Ukrainian but it seems like this region has kept a lot of Russian. Maybe because of how the mountains separate it. But the reason I went was for the “Wine Country Half Marathon” (there was also a 10K and relay option for the half). This race is organized by a PCV who lives in Beregovo — she did a fantastic job.

Preface: This was my second half marathon — my first was last September’s Rochester Half Marathon, which I ran in 1:55.17 (8:48/mile pace). My goals for this race were 1) to negative-split the race (since it was an out-and-back course), and 2) (tentatively) to run a PR (personal record). The catch? I have not accurately tracked my mileage since being in Ukraine because my town’s roads don’t show up on gmaps pedometer. I estimate a +/- 9:00/mile pace depending on how I feel and record accordingly. So this race would be a real test of my fitness level.

The course was an out-and-back through rolling hills and past picturesque villages and fields. The day was perfect for running: sunny and warm but not too hot. The half marathon went really well for me (in case you couldn’t tell by the title of this post). Here’s the recap: I had company for the first 3/4 of the race: I ran with Jordan — a fellow English major PCV who I just met — for the first 5K, and Evan — a fellow Healthy Lifestyles Working Group member — for the middle 10K. I left Evan with 5K to go, as I chased Bri — the eventual female winner of the half and another Healthy Lifestyles WG member — to the finish. My final time: 1:51.11, which is 8:29/mile pace. I met my goals by negative-splitting the race (ran out in 57′ and back in 54′) and running a 4-minute PR! I am pretty pumped about it. Next up? Not quite sure; maybe a fall marathon, but that also might wait until next year…

Post-race, the rest of the weekend was spent sampling delicious homemade Carpathian wine, having my first ice cream cone in Ukraine, and generally socializing with the many PCVs who were there. Had some great quality time with clustermates Janira and Andrew G., and met some other interesting PCVs for the first time (including a bunch of English majors — yay!). Some pictures below (click to make them bigger).

6 thoughts on “Over the mountains & through the woods, to a 1/2-marathon PR we go…

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