It is a tradition in our family to spend Halloween at my grandparent’s house as it is my grandmother’s favorite holiday. I had one long run of 13 miles left on the schedule for Richmond and I knew that spending a weekend at my grandparent’s house would definitely derail me on the diet front especially at Halloween (all of the free candy isn’t enough so my grandmother spends 3 days beforehand baking sweets and treats) so I needed to make sure I got my long run in. Since they live in town, my run would consist of 13 miles of cars, stoplights and catcalls that I wasn’t quite in the mood for. So I decided to pull up the race calendar and see what race could possibly line up with me needing 13 miles and I hit the jackpot. I found a half-marathon on that Sunday and it was only a 20 minute drive from their house! Then I spied with my little eye a 5k that was in their backyard on Saturday. So, upon researching the race I noticed that the course record for females was 21:33 and it gave me the idea to race both! Surely, I could run a hard 5k on Saturday and then ease up and just run the half for fun the next day, right? I loved the plan I had brewing in my brain, but I didn’t want to set myself up for the same injury I had the previous November with a torn groin and hamstring. I didn’t want to be race greedy and totally screw up all of the months I had trained for Richmond. After toying around with the idea for 2 days I decided to go ahead and sign up for both and I am so glad that I did.
The C35k was to benefit the mission trips for the local C3 church. My grandfather and husband decided to go and cheer me on which was awesome because I rarely have fans at the finish line. Upon arriving at the race you could tell it was a small event and a few people were bopping around in costumes and dancing to the music. I quickly spotted two ladies that had on all of the right gear and looked ready to race so that made me a little nervous. I had driven the course the previous day and knew that 75% of mile 3 was uphill and a pretty good uphill at that. I figured my strategy would be to give it everything I had the first two miles and then just don’t redline up the hill. After a few announcements we lined up and I had a young girl in a batman costume directly in front of me. When the gun went off she took off like a shot, I lunged into motion not quite sure my legs had agreed to what was about to happen. Batgirl kept up with me for about the first quarter mile and then I was running along with some teenage boys. We clipped through the first mile in 6:06 and I knew that was way too fast for me, but figured I could use my downhill skills for mile 2 and be ok. At this point, I was the first female and 4th overall. On mile 2 we had a nice downhill and I managed to keep the legs moving along and came through that mile in 6:15. After the turn around I saw that I could back off on the hill and still win the female title. But climbing isn’t my strong point so I didn’t want to back off too much, I figured someone could close the gap if I did. I started to reel in the kid that was in 3rd place and I passed him as we crested the top of the hill. I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty good to pass a teenager. As I am getting closer to 35 I am definitely starting to feel “old” so that tiny little victory made me feel like I can keep up with the fast kids. As we came around and back towards the finish we had to loop through the parking lot of the church and go behind the buildings. I saw the kid dressed like Donald Trump stop and walk and I pushed even harder thinking I could move up to second overall. He took one look over his shoulder and he took off like I had offered him a free Ferrari at the finish line. So, there was no chance at catching him! When Garmin FINALLY dinged in for the 3rd mile, I took one look and winced because that mile was horrifically slow at 6:53. I was disappointed in that mile until it dawned on me I could still get a sub 20. I gave it everything I had at that point and crossed the finish line in 19:57! A new course record for females and win #13 for the year! I was a happy, happy girl! The race directors did a great job with the award ceremony and setting up a backdrop to take pics. They also had Chick-Fil-A for the runners and a bounce house for the kids. I thought it was well organized for such a small race. I can’t wait to do it again and I will be better prepared for that hill at mile 3 next year. After the race my friend, Danny, and I decided to do a mile to cool down while we waited for the awards and my asthma really started bothering me. I almost forget at times that I even have asthma until I can’t breathe and that serves as a pretty quick reminder. That is a scary moment when you can’t breathe and people around you don’t know quite what to do to help you. Fortunately, I always have an inhaler in the car, so I was okay and back to all smiles. All in all it was a great morning. I was overall female and 3rd overall, got a new course record and went sub 20 again this year. My friend, Danny, got a PR and my husband and grandfather were there to see me win a race. I can’t ask for much more than that….well unless they could start making calorie free Oreos.
The City of Oaks Half-Marathon
We had to pick up our packets for this race on Saturday as there wasn’t packet pick-up on race day. While there my husband decided to run the 10k on a whim and so did my friend, Danny. My only thoughts were that I hoped they both knew about the hills that this course serves up because everyone assumes Raleigh is flat….and it’s not. I had visions in my head of me having to run the half-marathon and then having to piggy back my husband the last 1-2 miles of his race. I quickly picked up my packet, waited while they both registered and then immediately went to go get something for a late lunch. We settled on a local spot and had a quick bite before heading back to my grandparents house. I didn’t have any of the pre race nerves that I usually do. It was an awesome change to not have to worry about placing or winning a race just going out there to run and to get my miles in. I had calm feeling and didn’t worry about anything because I knew I could easily cover the distance.
That morning when we woke up my legs were a little fatigued, but I didn’t really worry about it. We had to leave early enough for my husband to get his coffee (yuck!) and then we were on our way. Upon arriving we found the closest port-o-john and waited in line. Then we heard them calling for everyone to line up. I seriously thought I was going to completely miss the gun going off. I had to go through the front of the gate and felt a little awkward since I’m not an “elite” runner and was walking through the front of the pack. The gun quickly went off and we were out of the gate. I felt fine through the first couple of miles and didn’t look down until mile 3 and Garmin read 20:09, at that point I knew I was running too fast. What I didn’t know is that I had gone through mile one in 6:19! Probably best that I didn’t know that since I would’ve freaked out. The next few miles were uneventful and I just rolled along. I felt pretty good despite having a little fatigue in my legs from the day before. This course has a lot of rolling hills and I could tell on the hills that my quads were sore from the race the previous day. It wasn’t until the huge, long hill at mile 8 that I really regretted racing the day before. I managed to climb that sucker and keep on rolling. About mile 10, I was just mentally over it. I was at the point in my training where I was supposed to be in taper mode and I am out here racing a half-marathon.What was I thinking? By mile 11, I remembered to suck it up and I carried on at a decent clip. I ended up negative splitting 11, 12 and 13 after my mental shut down at 10, so that is when I knew I was Richmond ready. I knew that Richmond would be my race to either go big or go home. I had already felt defeat and disappointment at 2 marathons this year, so I was ready to come away with a huge PR. I don’t ever take the beast that is the marathon for granted because 26.2 miles is a long way for something to happen. But, I knew I was better prepared than I have ever been. My splits for this half wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the Danville ones, but pretty darn respectable given I had raced a 5k the day before and that course is nothing but rolling hills. My splits were: 6:19, 6:55, 6:55, 6:39, 6:49, 6:55, 7:02, 7:28, 7:06, 7:22, 7:07, 7:01, 6:38, 5:56 (for the last .15) with a total time of 1:31:07. I got my super awesome spinning acorn medal and headed over to find my husband (James) and Danny to see how they fared in the 10k. Luckily, I found them rather quickly near the beer tent (go figure) and we looked at our results. Danny had PR’d and my husband survived, so it was a win-win for us all. I knew I was the 6th overall female and figured I had to have placed in my age group. So, I went and changed and came back to see when they were going to announce awards. The awards ceremony was disappointing to say the least. Not only did they only recognize the top overall winners, they barely even gave them any recognition at all. It was like the award winners were second rate. Then the age group award winners had to wait in line to see if they had won an award and was handed a plastic cup that said award winner. I felt that for such a big race this wasn’t handled well at all. If this had been the only half-marathon that I had ever placed or won, I would be really sad at the lack of fanfare given to those who trained and raced so hard. It could’ve been someones first time at winning an award or placing in their age group. I think race directors sometimes forget how hard the runners work for their achievements. Regardless, it was a great day and I was very happy with how my run went overall. At that point it was time for some food. And it just so happens that one of my favorite restaurants from Asheville has just opened a location in Raleigh. (Seriously though if you ever get the opportunity to eat at Tupelo Honey then do so. It is super beyond yum and they bring you some of the best biscuits and homemade preserves while you wait on your food. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhmazing!) So we walked on over to Tupelo Honey and had some delicious food and swapped race stories. That is what makes running the best, spending time with my friends and enjoying the bonds that have been forged through running and racing. It never ceases to amaze me how racing is such an individual sport, but yet there is nothing better than celebrating and being with friends at the end (and biscuits…biscuits always makes everything better).
The next blog will be my Richmond recap and I can’t wait to type it up! Such an amazing race and weekend. Happy running and training everyone!
Tupelo Honey hit the spot! Fried chicken, ham, biscuits and gravy. Now that’s how you celebrate a great weekend of racing!