I've gotten a flurry of e-mail from the organizers, including one which links to several news articles and personal blog posts about the race. All remark on its beauty and historic setting--several miles run through the Antietam battlefield, but also on the relatively solitary setting for the race. Aside from the volunteers at aid stations, I don't expect to see anyone for most of the race. The marathoners will be headed for the same turn toward the park I will, from the opposite direction, but I won't see any of them.
I don't know if I'll PR, chances are I won't, because it's not really that kind of course.
It's half hilly, but most of the bloggers who ran it seem floored by the hills. That said, most of them are also hovering around the four-hour mark for the marathon, so our opinions of a 'difficult' hill may differ.
Pretty much, my race plan is to run the first few miles, mostly on the towpath, pretty quickly, then dig in for the uphills. There's a sharp, long uphill in mile four, then a downhil before a few more climbs, then some rolling hills in miles 6-9 before another uphill. At that point, I hope to just be in a rhythm I can relish. The last 2.5 miles are consistently downhill, and I plan to go all out at that point.
I wanted to do a rural half in the middle of the fall season, and the other main option was the Buffalo Creek Half near Pittsburgh, more specifically, near Tarentum. Once the variety of local government officials in Buffalo Township and Freeport found out I was a runner, they encouraged me to run that race. I would love to, someday, but it's heavily downhill, and I worried that with that faster course was the chance I would run a time I wouldn't have a chance of eclipsing at Philadelphia, despite another month of training and a taper.
The Great Allegany 15k is the same day in Cumberland, and I would like to run that, too, but doing the half just makes more sense right now. It looks like I'll be running the Towpath Marathon near Cleveland next fall with Pokey, Nate and Evan, so I will be able to fit the Allegany Run in the weekend before.
Wednesday night I ran at B-CC, trying to get the life back in my legs after the Great Race. I joined a bunch of guys for a slowed-down B group workout, starting with miles at 5:30 and 5:15 before some 800s, but halfway through I decided to do a series of miles, starting at 5:40 and working my way down. Unfortunately, the quick start on the 5:30 mile meant it would be hard to slow down properly, so I finished in 5:31. Then 5:30, 5:15 and 5:15 and called it a day. With a longer cooldown I had 10.
Thursday morning I ran a sedate five miles on an extended Idylwood, then eight in the evening on Westmoreland, feeling great with the lower temperature and humidity.
Friday's pre-race was six miles on a Park loop.