Finish Time 1:38:04 (chip time) 1:38:06 (gun time) PERSONAL RECORD!
Place in age Group– 13th of 62
Place Overall- 65 out of 1169!!!
What a great race. I entered not knowing what to expect, either from myself or the race. After running the Martinsville Half just a couple weeks back and absolutely no long runs since, I didn’t know how’d I finish. I was hoping to beat my Martinsville time, but was willing to set a couple goals just-in-case. A new course can mean anything from being long, tough, or straight uphill.
I got up this morning around 4am, made some breakfast and got on the road. Got to the RBC Center right at 6:30, and found the packet pickup table as well as the *clean & warm* bathroom. (Nice touch, no porta-potty necessary at the start). I sat back inside the RBC building and started people watching. This was by far the biggest race I’d ever participated in, and compared to the usual 150 person 5k’s I run, this was just WILD. I see lots of folks stretching and moving around to warm up. I decide none of this is necessary for me, knowing I’m not going to win anyway, so at that point this is just a long hard training run.
7:15 rolls around and I decide I want a spot near the front of the pack so I head on down and get in the starting corral. I finally decide to stretch. I put my arms over my head, give it one good stretch, and call it good enough. I introduce myself to the guy next to me who claims he plans to run a 1:35, so I figure I’m at least close to where I need to be. We shoot the bull for a couple minutes, they give the 2 minute warning ( twice, mind you…apparently somebody was running behind somewhere). The race director hit the air horn, and I took off at a pace I knew I’d never keep, but I always figure it’s easier to bank a minute or two at the beginning than at the end.
After I finally settle down, I’m at the one mile marker again. I cross it in just under 7 minutes. Great, 40 seconds in the bank already. Mile two clicks by pretty uneventful as well, but then long-sleeve gray shirt guy comes past me. I decide I can keep his pace, so I fall right in. Little did I know, he would be my rabbit for the entire rest of the race. I keep up for a while until I came to a waterstop somewhere near 3 or 4 miles. I stop to take a GU gel, and I lose him for a while.
Getting moving again colorful shirt girl comes past me. I know I can keep her pace, but she’s pushing it. She’s aggressively passing as many guys as she could. I noticed though she had a funny stride, which led her to look like it was a TON of effort to run. Stomping and violently swinging her arms, and her head bobbed hard every step of the way. She led me back up to gray shirt guy, and she and I traded places more than 5 or 6 times. We hit another hill heading back to the 7 mile marker, and she left me behind. No problem, I’ve got grey-shirt back in my sights.
Up till this point, the course has looped back on itself at least twice that I can tell, maybe more. But after the 7 mile marker we take a turn and head out into the country somewhere. Vibrams guy comes past me here, and I’m not ready to let him pass me, at least not easily. I push the pace, and he pushes it right back. We come to a short downhill section, and I finally let go of my broken-hip fear, and decide if it’s gonna break it’s gonna break. Screw it, I’m gonna fly down this thing. I close my eyes and pick up the pace ten-fold. I open them up just a minute later to make sure I was still on track and not going to run into someone. I’m still good, and vibrams guy is nowhere to be found now.
Up ahead is still grey-shirt guy. Coming up with me off this downhill is a guy that looks to be late 30’s early 40’s. I figure this is going to be how the race is going to end. We stick pretty close until the 10 mile marker, when I stop to take another GU gel. I know I have to kick pretty hard to catch back up now, because this GU took a long time to get down. I sprint pretty hard to regain position. In the downtime Vibrams guy came back by. I encourage another older guy to catch up, and to lets regain where we were.
The hills are getting intense, and I can feel myself slowing way way down. I’m not hitting the 7:15-7:30 miles anymore, I’m fighting to keep them under 8 minutes. I lose more than a place or two in the last little bit hitting the hills, and I start actively thinking I need to be doing more hillwork in my training runs.
I see mile 11, and I’m at 1hr 22 minutes. I realize I can’t hit my big goal of 1:35, but I probably can score a new PR. Mile 11 is the worst on the course. Garmin elevation chart has it at 144ft of climbing. All of a sudden, like a stroke of genius, a mantra comes to mind. “Run Your Guts Out”. Fellow half-marathoner Iris (who wasn’t there today, she’s preparing for the Blue Ridge Marathon next week) offered this advice via Facebook yesterday concerning how I should run the race today.
So I do. Mile 11 was rough, coming in at 8:04, but mile 12 and 13 made up for it with a 7:18 and a 7:30 respectively. I began gaining ground again. I kept telling myself–“Run your guts out. If you’re not ready to puke, you didn’t do it hard enough. Run your guts out.”
Somewhere after the 12th mile, I see gray-shirt up ahead, but he too must have found the last minute fountain of running strength. I couldn’t catch him. I see the finish line, and I start giving it all I’ve got. I hear a guy closing in on me. I start yelling “no no NO NO NO NO“. I refuse to let him beat me in that close to the end. After we crossed, I asked him who got who, and he said he believed I had him by a step on the line. Official results have us both at a 1:38:06 gun time.
After the race, I congratulate the two or three folks who pushed me so hard at the end, as well as the winner.
I collect my finishers medal (very nice, by the way) stand around listening to the band play for a bit, check the finish times, and head on home. Great race, definitely on next years want-to-do-again list.
Everybody loves data as much as me, right? Here’s the good stuff. Official Race Results are HERE
And a little Garmin data too: