Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race Recap: New River Half Marathon

So half marathon #1 is finalllly in the books!  And it almost didn't happen (again), so I'm really glad that I went through with it in the end.  Super long recap ahead... watch out.

Let me start at the beginning.  

Last week was kind of a cluster... I woke up last Saturday with a serious crick in my neck (couldn't move it left or back), so I didn't do my long run at all.  I finally gave in and took some ibuprofen on Monday and struggled through 6 hot, sweaty, sluggish miles.  Tuesday was my birthday and Wednesday was Jimmy's, so drinks and dinners were happening, but running was not.  By Wednesday night, I had come down with a bad hacking cough and lost my voice.  I didn't feel good the rest of the week.

On top of all of that, I wasn't super confident in my training.  The schedule that I made for myself was designed just to get me to 13.1 miles.  Coming off of 6 weeks of no running, with basically no base to speak of before that (which was the problem in the first place), I just wanted to be able to finish.  But my legs didn't really cooperate with me in the beginning and I ended up dropping several of my runs.  Not only did I feel like I hadn't done enough miles, I was dreading the ridiculous hills that I knew were ahead.  The good news is that my shins have been feeling awesome - but on Friday, I kind of started to freak out about everything that was going on.

Luckily, Corey talked me down, convinced me that I wouldn't die, and I decided to go for it.

{Headed into the mountains}

The GPS took us some crazzzzzy way so we didn't roll into the B&B where we were staying until 10pm on Friday night.  We pretty much just set out our race gear and got in bed.  I always sleep terribly the night before a race, so I was awake when our alarm went off at 6, and I actually got right up (a minor miracle).  Everyone at the hotel was a runner (or cheering on a runner) and our hosts were sponsoring a water stop on the marathon route, so they were up early too and they set out a pretty legit breakfast spread for us.

We didn't have time to pick up our packets the night before (ugh), so we got to the start pretty early.  My pick up went fine, but for some reason, they didn't have Jimmy registered for the 5K.  Luckily they were nice about it and just assigned him a bib (and still gave him a t-shirt).  About that time it started to rain (ugh again), so we headed back to the car to wait it out.  

The half marathon started pretty much right on time at 7:45.  I started towards the back of the pack, and just tried to stick to my race plan - keep all flat/downhill miles under 10:00, hilly miles under 13:00, and walk if necessary.  I really had no idea what finish time I wanted to hit.  I would've been happy with anything under 2:30, and basically, I just didn't want to finish last.  I was worried that since it was a small(ish) race and it was way out in the boonies, that there might be long stretches where I was by myself, but that wasn't the case at all.  I was pretty much never further than like 5 feet from another runner, which was nice.  

And y'all... this course is GORGEOUS.  I didn't turn on my music until mile 10 because there was so much beautiful scenery - the New River, meadows full of wildflowers, tiny little towns with historic general stores.  And throughout the weekend, we spotted several quilt squares, part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail and Ashe County Barn Quilt Project, which I thought was super cool.

{Somewhere in Ashe County, NC}

I wish I had more pictures, but since it was raining at the start, I had my iPhone wrapped in a plastic bag.  By the time I got it together and fished it out, I was no longer interested in the pretty scenery, I just wanted my music, and I just wanted to be done.

You can tell from my splits that the slow miles match up almost exactly with the hilly parts of the course.  I went through the 10K right around 1:01:00, so I knew at that point that I was gonna come in under 2:30 unless I seriously blew up.  I also knew from studying the map that if I could get to mile 9, I could finish, and right as we started up that hill, I heard a girl behind me telling another runner that exact same thing.  

Sure enough, mile 8-9 was the hardest mile of the course for me.  My legs were starting to tire and my running pace was basically not any faster than the pace I could walk up the hill, so I was getting a little discouraged.  Mile 9-10 was better because it was on the downhill, but mile 10-11 was back to a flat section along the river and I was seriously dragging.  When I finally saw the mile marker for mile 12, I almost burst into tears.  

At that point, the course doubled back over the first mile, so I should've known approximately how close I was getting to the finish, but it felt like it took foreverrrrr.  Let's just say there were a LOT of mental F*bombs being dropped, but the start/finish area finally came into view.  I thought that we'd end on the same little bridge that we started on, so I kind of gunned it a little early, because the course goes down into a grassy area, which I wasn't expecting.

{So over it.}

I was not in love with the way the finish was set up at all.  The grass was hard to run in and the ground was very uneven.  I'm shocked that no one sprained an ankle or got seriously hurt.  The whole race was really well organized, there was great on-course support, and the route was insanely pretty.  The finish is my only complaint, and I hope that they change it next year (because I hope to be back).

ANYWAY... exactly 2:09:42 after I started, my first half marathon was over!!!


Overall, I'm really happy with the way I ran the race.  I stuck to my plan almost exactly, and I really didn't have to walk much at all.  I went through the 10K at 1:01:00ish and I went through the 20K at 2:01:00ish, so I kept it steady the whole time and I never felt too bad at all.  (Well, not any worse that you're supposed to feel anyway.)  Jimmy asked me, about 5 seconds after I finished, if I ever wanted to do this again, and I said yes, so I think that's a good sign! :)

I am pretty sore today, especially in my calves and hips, but my shins don't hurt at all, which is awesome.  I'm happy to be resting today, but I am excited to get back at it later this week.

PS - When they posted the results today, we found out that J placed 6th overall in the 5K and FIRST in his age group.  How cool is that?  That 19 for me is my age group place, btw.  I definitely did not finish 19th overall.


  1. I am SO SO SO happy for you!! It is awesome that you not only finished the race but KILLED it with a sub-2:10 on your first half! Especially considering the circumstances of the last week and the tough course! You are a tough runner! I can't wait to see what the next one is on the calendar :) I am sure you already have your eye on something?

    1. I'm working on it! I'm trying to find another (flatter) half around the first of September, but it's still so hot here, there's really nothing local. We'll see. Plans are definitely in the works! ;)