What a super fun way to spend a Saturday!!
I signed up for this race January 31st. I like to have things on the calendar ahead of doing the next big race. This keeps me training for that next event and keeps me moving forward. I learned this valuable lesson after my first half marathon. After all the buildup and excitement of the race once it was over I was left feeling like "now what" and sunk into a slump of no running. Keeping the calendar full keeps me excited and looking forward to the next thing.
After spending the weekend before last, however, in crazy weather at my first Ultra and being stopped short at 20 miles in I began to have some meh creep in and I wasn't feeling overly excited about the upcoming race. I actually thought briefly about not running it. I felt like maybe I needed a break.
I quickly brushed those thoughts aside. My nephew was running this same race as his very first half marathon. Actually this would be his very first running event ever! I had to be there! He found running much the same way I did and I am so proud of him!
I also had lots of friends running it too and I love running races with friends!!
I am so glad I didn't back out. This race has proven now to be one of my all-time favorites!!
The hubby and I ventured to Marion on Friday night to pick up my packet. Nothing fancy. The packet was a bib and my shirt. This shirt however is super soft, super comfy and super cute! We then grabbed dinner at a local hot spot and headed back home. I love a packet pickup turned date night lol!
I had not had time to really plan what I would wear like I normal do so I laid out all the things I would consider in the morning and went to bed.
I decided that morning on a tank and capris. I always wear Crazy Compression OTC socks but for some reason I decided not to for this race. It was ok but I really prefer my OTC socks. It helps me soooooo much with muscle cramps and at about mile 11 I had them in a big way! I did wear my Crazy Compression runners which are awesome running socks but I never run long without my long socks and I won't ever do that again. Lessons learned.
The morning was actually much colder than I anticipated so I grabbed a jacket last minute and headed out the door. My friend Kathleen (my Detroit running partner) came to my house to carpool and we picked up Carly (my Asheville Marathon training partner) on the way. We made it to Marion with seconds to spare to catch the first shuttle. This race is a point to point, Bob's Donuts in Old Fort to Bob's Donuts in Marion.
We caught the shuttle just in the nick of time and headed to Old Fort! We got there and had time to spare before the race start at 7:30am. If you know me I HAVE to get to the race start early, It gives me anxiety to get to the start line just before the race start. This race is small enough though that I would have probably been ok to wait until the second shuttle at 6:45am.
The weather was cold and there was nowhere inside to wait. Kathleen, Carly and I walked laps in the parking lot to stay warm. I ended up with an extra mile or so on my watch because of the warm up walk lol! The sun finally started to come up and we could then stand still in the rays and feel some warmth.
I got to meet up with other friends there too!!
I planned to meet up with Jen who I have ran some fun training runs with!
I got to see Robin and Stephanie (fellow Crazy Compression Ambassadors)!!
I saw Ruth a fellow runner from Morganton who has unknowingly paced me in a race a time or two ;)
I of course saw my nephew Jimmy!
I also go to see Kim who I ran Fonta Flora with.
The race was chip timed but there was not a starting mat. There were 103 runners and we all just started together at the countdown given by a race official.
The course was awesome! I want to run there every weekend! There were only 5 turns on the route so there were lots of long rolling roads. They had great aid stations that were all well manned. There were police vehicles back and forth throughout the event making sure everyone was safe as the course was open. I felt the traffic was minimal and I never felt unsafe at all.
There were several rail road crossings along the course and we were reminded to be alert when in those areas in particular. For the most part I stayed behind these runners most of the way. They kept a steady pace which helped me fall in to a steady pace behind them.
I didn't have a big goal going into this race. I hadn't really found a good elevation chart and I tend to be better prepared when I am able to anticipate the elevation change. I had heard there were some hills but I expected it to be somewhat of a downhill course simple because of the geographical location of Old Fort compared to Marion. My ideal was to do about a 2:30 half marathon, my half’s in the past have been 2:27, 2:29, 2:30, 2:45 and 2:52 with those last two having some adverse issues (blisters and severe leg cramps) I figure 2:30 would be where I'd fall.
I was not doing a great job tracking my pace as I ran and instead just running on feel. I did stick as best I could to the 3:1 run/walk method. I ran the first 5K nonstop then started my intervals. Over all the elevation gain is 645 ft. All of that in miles 11-12!!! What a doozie of a hill! I walked the entire thing!!
For the most part I ran the race solo. Just me and the road and the rolling hills and the pastures. I loved it!! It was peaceful and beautiful. I did my own thing and just kept moving along.
At the top of the big hill two runners caught up with me. Kim, I knew, she is a fellow Asheville Marathon Ambassador. I also knew that she was pacing this race for the 2:30 group. With only a mile and a half or so to go and with my goal of finishing in 2:30 I held on and ran in with the two of them. I thought maybe they were ahead of pace but I didn't ask and just kept on following behind. As the finish line grew near I kicked up my pace and sprinted to the downhill finish with a time of 2:24:18!!! A new PR!!! I was so excited and a bit surprised!! I feel like I still had energy in my tank but for the first time ever I didn't pull back too much at the finish and instead finished strong!
While the PR was AMAZING my favorite part of the race was having the opportunity to congratulate my niece on her first 5K and together cheer in my nephew and watch him also sprint to the finish!! I can't fully express how proud I am.
Running is hard. Running 1 mile is far. Running 13.1 is incredible. As John Bingham says "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
Be careful with those running shoes... You just never know where they may take you!