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Martinsville Half Marathon race review part 1

Man what a day.

Awesome race. End of review.

No not really. But it was truly an awesome race.

Finish Time: 1:39:46. (SUB 100 minutes!! woot! finally out of triple digit finish times!!)

Overall finish place-30th

Place in age group-6th (Official Results Here)

To be a race that was in it’s first year, you’d never know it. Well planned, well organized, thru and thru.

Race started promptly at 8am. I almost was late. I went to the start line and realized I had no music, and had to run frantically back to find my wife who had my ipod in my jacket pocket. I found it and made it back to the start line as the director yelled “30 seconds”!

I scramble back near my barefooted friend Josh who I had decided was going to be my pacer for the first mile or two. The horn went off, and I still wasn’t sure I was ready. The “plan” if you can call it that was to go out fast and hard, crash and burn at some point, recover, and still finish strong. Seems like a solid plan, no?

Starting out, I’m following Josh through town, trying to hang on for dear life. I think that first mile split was something like 6:40. And even better-there was a water stop at the first mile. Although I didn’t need water quite that soon, it bode well for the course. Round the first corner and up the first hill. I started to lose a little ground at this point, but I knew I could never maintain the pace I was running. I think I finally started to relax at this point, checking myself and shaking out everything that was tense. I hit the trail and start seeing the mile markers for coming and going. The 6 & 11 mile marker were both within eyeshot where we came onto the trail. Good to know, I’m thinking. I have a real easy visual of how far I’m heading out on this trail.

Mile number two came and went, I was still booking it at a sub-7 mile, but honestly it didn’t feel like I was at it full out too hard, just slightly beyond what was comfortable. A lady was trying her best to come by me, and I was thinking I could hold on with her. When I asked her, she said she was going for a 1:40-1:45 finish time, I’m thinking wonderful, somebody to pace with. Less than a half mile later the lead cycle came by and yelled “2nd woman” to her. Apparently that’s all she needed to hear, and she was gone.

Almost at the turnaround, I see Josh coming back already. I yell something. Good job, or something similar. I must say, that was one of the best parts of this course. Everytime you looked up, coming or going, there was someone you knew. And it’s not like there were a hundred faces there I knew. 4, I believe, was all that I knew well enough to call by name. But at every turnaround, there were 2 in front of me, and after I got turned around, there were two behind me. Best. Motivation. Ever. At the 5 mile marker I had a GU gel and as much gatorade as I could swallow without stopping running. A glance at the watch, and for the first time I felt like I knew I’d hit my goals. I didn’t know how fast it would be, but I felt like a 1:45 finish time wouldn’t be out of reach.

Near one of the parking lots along the way, I ran into a crowd of dead spectators. I decided this was no good, and started cheering and clapping for them. This got them going and shouting for me and everyone behind me. I never realized how much faster I could run if someone was cheering me on, but I could. I decided then that I was going to do it at every crowd that wasn’t already yelling. The 6 mile marker came and went, so did 7 & 8. I was basically alone at this point. Between mile 7 & 8 was a couple more dead crowds of spectators to get stirred up. At the 10 mile marker ( the first time I saw it, not when I was actually at 10 miles) was full of screaming volunteers. They were definitely my favorite group. Coming up near the turnaround number 2, I see first place. I start counting. 1, 2, 3,4, somewhere near 8 or 9 I see RJ Scott, a local runner I know. Then at 10 or 11 I see Josh, and shout his number at him.

I kept counting, and see that I’m in 29th place. I’m pretty happy with my overall position, I wanted to be in the top 25, but was willing to take top 30. Just had to hold on.

Then the red-shirt epidimic started. The two guys in front of me are both wearing red shirts. One is a hundred yards up, and the other is maybe a quarter mile ahead. Coming past my favorite water stop, I took another GU. 3 miles to go. 75 minutes have passed. I know all I had to do was not die coming up the hill between mile 10 and 11. I can still see one of the red shirts. I want to catch him. Then a third red shirt comes huffing and puffing past me. I told him we needed to catch the two people in front of us, and we both would be in the top 30. He started trying to push past me, and I wasn’t giving it up just that easily. We pushed up the hill, and caught one of the red shirts.

I’m not sure what happened then, but red shirt #3 fell off the face of the earth. It was almost like he stopped to walk up the top of the hill maybe. It didn’t matter, he pushed me up the toughest hill of the course at an 8:08 pace.

Two black shirts caught me coming back into town, but got confused on where to turn running the city streets so I was able to keep pace with them for a while. When I finally made the turn back onto Church Street, it was an amazing sight. I had the whole road, and it was empty. Granted this meant I had absolutely no chance to catch the next man up, but it was ok. If I had a camera, I would have stopped mid-race to take a few pictures.

….to be continued…
Up next– finish the race, awards, final thoughts..



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