It’s been awhile since I posted! Don’t worry though, I kept training in the meantime. My lack of posting started out as just being busy, and turned into a self-imposed blog break from both reading and writing. I came back to over 157 unread items in my Google reader! I finally finished reading through them this weekend and I’m ready to write again, just in time to write a race report from my first half-marathon! Unfortunately, I have no pictures from the weekend since both Curtis and I raced and we didn’t have a cheering section this time.
We drove down to Charlottesville on Friday evening after Curtis got off work. We stopped at Subway on the way for dinner and a grocery store to buy some last minute breakfast supplies before checking into our hotel. We were checked in and in bed by around 9:30 with alarms set for 4:30AM. The race start was at 6:30 and we had to pick up packets since we didn’t get into town early enough to get them that night.
Up and at ’em at 4:40! I made my usual oatmeal with some cashew butter and raisins, and Curtis had an English muffin with a bit of cashew butter. We both showered and headed to the race start, found parking and picked up our bibs. The bibs actually had the time chips glued to the back, which was interesting. I’ve never seen that before as all the chip-timing races I’ve been to have been triathlons, which for obvious reasons need a chip that is on your body. I kept commenting how weird it was to not have a hundred things to do setting up transition for triathlons. It was hard to get mentally prepared without the ritual of setting up all my gear in perfect order, and without the pre-race meeting and all the formality usually accompanying tris. We visited the bathrooms, then Curtis took off for a quick jog to warm-up. I didn’t feel the need to do anything more than a brisk walk since my planned pace is not faster than a warm-up pace. I can only loosely use the word “plan” as I didn’t have a formal plan like I usually prepare for triathlons. I just kind of figured I’d shoot for an 11-minute mile pace and walk through every water stop. That was it.
After Curtis left for his warm-up, I headed over to make one last bathroom stop, but the line was so long I decided it wasn’t worth it. I’m still not sure whether this was a mistake or not. My stomach was a bit queasy throughout the race, but not unbearable. I considered stopping at several points along the course, but always convinced myself that I should just keep running and if I really needed to stop I could at the next point. I never did stop during the race, but I kind of wish I had waited in line beforehand. Oh well, lessons learned.
There were a lot of people already in the corral, so I joined the throng and looked for Curtis to come back. He found me about 5 minutes before race start, which was nice so we could stand together. There was no real semblance of order or any discernible pace groups, so we just lined up together. And since the timing chips were recording our start and finish time, it didn’t matter too much when we started. As soon as the start came, the crowd started moving forward and when there was a clearing, Curtis took off.
Throughout the race, I kept repeating to myself, “just run your race”, because I have had a bad habit of going out too fast in running races in the past and blowing all my energy on the first half of the course. I knew that I did not want to do that during this race, so I just ran slow and steady at a comfortable pace. That turned out to be between 10 and 11 minute miles for the first half of the race. At the first mile marker, I was at a 10:24 minute mile. I was comfortable with the pace and kept it up for awhile. The weather was nearly perfect running whether, and maybe even a bit cold. There was pretty good cloud cover for the first half of the race so we didn’t have to worry about the sun in our eyes. The only bad part was the wind was pretty strong out in the country and on the hills. The course was absolutely gorgeous going through the countryside just outside of Charlottesville. It is a mountainous area so there were a fair number of hills, but nothing too terrible until reaching mile 6. At mile 6, there was a monster of a hill and it just kept going. Not only did we have to climb the hill, but we had a nice little wind blowing in our faces at that point to slow us down too. Many of the people around me were walking up it, but I just kept plodding on. About half-way up it, I saw Curtis coming down the other side! It was a huge boost in my morale to see him and soon enough I made it up the hill. After that we had another half mile or so out on the same road to the turnaround, then we got to run back down the hill, which wasn’t so bad. My pace was still slightly faster than 11 minute miles at this point and through mile 8. At mile 9, I started to drop off a little and was just about 11 minute miles. I did walk a little more than just through the water stops in miles 10 through the end. I probably didn’t need to, but my legs were tired with that dead leg feeling you get after such a long bout of repetitive motion. Finally, with just a half mile left, I saw Curtis again. He had come back from the finish to cheer me on to the end. I made it with an unofficial time of 2:25:28, which is an 11:07 minute mile pace. Not quite my “unofficial plan” but I’ll take it! Curtis rocked it with a 7:40 minute mile pace and a final time of 1:40:18. We were both quite sore the rest of the day!
After the race we got to spend some time in Charlottesville (after a nice hot shower and clean clothes!) and went to a dumpling place for lunch on the downtown walking mall then went to a nearby winery that we really like for wine-tasting and to enjoy a glass of wine before heading home. All in all, a very successful race weekend!
I think that I definitely prefer triathlon to straight up running races. I like the cross-training aspect and the hustle and bustle on race mornings. I’d still like to do a marathon some time and continue to work on my running, but I think I’d prefer to do it as a part of tri training rather than stand-alone like I did this winter and spring. I’m so excited to be adding swimming and cycling back to my regimen this week!