Spoiler Alert: this was not the half marathon I ran under 2 hours.
This morning I made the 2 hour drive to Traveler's Rest for the 9th Annual Resolution Half Marathon with nothing but a cup of java and the tunes on my radio keeping me company.
Since picking up my race packet yesterday wasn't an option, I had to get there early this morning to grab it. Their website said they would only be distributing race stuff from 7:00-8:00, with the half starting promptly at 9:15.
So I arrived sometime around 7:30, grabbed my bib and shirt (I didn't register early enough for the long sleeve tech, so I got cotton; the design is pretty blah), and headed back to my car. In anticipation for the 90+ minute wait, I brought my breakfast and a book to occupy myself.
Florida strawberries with a PB and honey sandwich
I decided to pump myself up by listening to some of my running music. As you can see, my car is totally rockin' the tape deck player, which is what I have to use with my iPod.
As 8:00 came and went, I noticed more and more people were arriving to pick up their bibs. I wish the race director had been a little more honest about the 'strict' 8am cut off time... I could have left an hour later!
The race started a few minutes early, which didn't seem to be a concern for the 196 participants. The first few miles were along a busy road (we were off to the side on a paved trail) before it weaved through some neighborhoods. Despite the hills, I was running strong and comfortably, keeping a 9:00 pace.
By mile 6, we started to hit some longer hills (or "heals" as it's said down in these parts), and at mile 8 there was one massive hill that seemed freakishly similar to the Southcliff Black and Blue trail race (3 miles up a mountain, 3 miles down).
The rest of the race was on winding backroads with ups and downs that reminded me a lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous and for once, it was nice to breathe in nature instead of car exhaust.
That's not to say there weren't cars though. There were many of them because apparently the roads weren't being blocked for runners. There were police cruisers out with their lights on, but cars were zipping by with no regard to runners. On multiple occasions, we had to jump off the road or yield to a speeding car in order to not get run over. One lady even shared a particular gesture with me because she was upset at having to share the road.
The last 3 miles were really rough for me. Since I've been training for the 50k next weekend, I haven't been treating this week like a taper week. My legs were sore and tired from Thursday's workout. I seriously just wanted to be done at this point!
My official time was 2:08:30 (I had serious positive splits... kind of the opposite of negative splits). At first I was upset with that, but I had to remind myself: hilly courses are obviously going to be slower than flat courses. The only race I can compare this to is the Hickory Half, which I finished at 2:10. So yes, I am happy with my time in comparison!
There were a few things that really irritated me about this race though. First and foremost is the safety of the runners. This course, in my opinion, was not safe. I understand it's difficult to block roads, especially when they're backroads and people need to use them. But if the race director can't figure out a way to protect the runners from speeding cars who run them off the road, maybe he needs to stick to a 5k or a 10k.
The second thing that bothered me was the lack of post race food/drink. By the time I finished, there was no Gatorade or bagels left. And I finished right in the middle so it's not like I brought in the rear. I think it's completely unacceptable to run out of post-race drinks for runners who need them, especially when you know how many participants there will be. Period.
Ok, enough whining. It was a gorgeous course, a beautiful day, and I have another medal. Win-win!
The greatest part of the race was its proximity to the World's Best Grocery Store.
You better believe my car bee-lined it over to the mecca of all things grocery! (we don't have any Publixes in Charlotte). I ordered a delicious veggie sub for lunch...
That I washed down with my 'protein recovery drink' (you know, since I didn't get any Gatorade).
As I hobbled out of Publix, I noticed the scenery around me. No wonder the course was so stinking hilly- we were in the middle of the mountains! (keep in mind, I drove in this morning when it was still dark)
I foresee lots of foam rolling and stretching in my immediate future. Bring on the 50k!
**on a funny note- I won first in my "age group". Too bad they had my age as 18!
Did you race this weekend? Tell me about it!
Did you get a good, long run in?
What's your favorite grocery store? (if you don't say Publix, I'm sorry but we can't be friends anymore).