June 18, 2016
I kind of decided to do this race on a whim. Not a complete whim because I did have to do some planning, but somewhat of a whim.
My folks live in Roanoke. My friend, Shannon, is a Race131 ambassador. She had some discount codes so I checked out their race series. When I saw that there was a race in Roanoke and it was at a time when I could do it, I asked my parents if I could visit and run a race in their town. This absolutely kills two birds with one stone; I get to see my folks and I get to race in Virginia so I can mark that state off my list. Win-win!
If you’ve been following along, you may remember that I sprained my ankle really badly in mid-April. I had to take a couple of weeks away from running to let it heal. I saw my doctor again and he told me to not do anything until the swelling went away. I waited two weeks and I still had some slight swelling. I was pretty miserable so I started going back to the gym. My trainer and I did a lot of exercises that didn’t require a lot of lateral movements since that is when I felt pain. I also tried some spin class and did some work on the elliptical.
I finally started easing back into it about two weeks before this race. I know that I am undertrained and I will likely hate myself for running, but I will try anyhow.
By the time I got on the plane on Thursday, I had managed to log about 15 miles in two weeks. I don’t have a lot of endurance and my legs get tired quickly. Managing 13 miles with two rather hefty hills will definitely be a challenge.
My sister brought my two nephews to my house on Wednesday. They flew with me and they will be staying a few weeks with their grandparents after I leave. I was a bit anxious about taking them on their first flight. Actually, my oldest nephew has flown before but he was a toddler last time and doesn’t remember it. The younger one has never flown.
We had a fairly uneventful flight. In fact, the only eventful thing that happened was a delay in all air travel in the area due to the President being in central Florida. His visit was due to the tragedy in Orlando over the previous weekend. I don’t live in Orlando but I have many friends that do and it is somewhat of a second home to me. This tragedy has affected so many people and it is amazing to see how the city has come together in support of the victims and families.
Roanoke is a small airport. My folks picked us up and were waiting for us just past the security checkpoint. The boys were super excited to see Nana and Pop-pop. I was just glad to be off the plane; it was kind of warm and I didn’t get to take my usual in-flight nap!
On Friday, mom drove me to Fleet Feet Roanoke for packet pick up. If I was in the store for two minutes, it was long. I had my registration email on my phone so they were able to give me my bib and my t-shirt and I was back out the door. I love efficiency!
I crashed pretty early on Friday night. I set my alarm for 4:15 and we planned to leave the house by 5:30. My folks weren’t quite sure where we had to go and I wasn’t sure how far we’d have to walk so we all wanted to allow a little extra time. The race was to start at 7:00.
We were really early. It didn’t take long to get to the venue from their house and we didn’t have to walk too far from where we parked. I was thankful we were early though because my stomach got a little angry and I ended up having to use the bathroom. Using the porta-potty early is always nice because they don’t smell.
The race started a few minutes after 7:00. I had no plan other than to stick with my intervals for as much of the race as I could. I knew the hills would be challenging and I knew that I wasn’t prepared for this. My goal was just to finish.
I did do my homework though. I checked out the athlete guide and saw that there were only three water stops. I don’t like carrying things but I made an exception for this. I froze a bottle of water and carried it with me. I don’t want to be in the position of needing hydration and not being near a water stop. And, I don’t know if there are water fountains along the greenway/trail. I’m at least prepared for this!
I stuck with my intervals pretty well until about mile five. This is where the first hill was. It was a very steep incline and probably 100 yards or so long. I tried to power walk up it and had to stop for a quick calf stretch about halfway up the hill. Once I got to the top, the course turned left onto the Tinker Creek Greenway. The first section of this was rolling downhill; I was able to run down this section easily and catch my breath and find my stride again. After this long section, it leveled out for most of the rest of the course.
The course was out and back. So, that lovely rolling downhill section was going to be a killer uphill battle on the way back. And, that steep uphill from the outbound was going to be a fast downhill on the inbound.
I made the turnaround about mile seven. I had started walking more because my legs started feeling like toast. I found my rhythm again and started running a little more. But, my legs were heavy. I did make it back to the rolling uphill section before I threw in the towel and started walking. That uphill section was NO JOKE! Holy hills, Batman! I stopped twice to catch my breath and stretch my calf. I dug deep to find the will to get up that hill. I wanted to do a happy dance when I finally made it off the Tinker Creek Greenway!
Immediately after exiting that, I was faced with the steep downhill. I ran some of it but then had to reel it in and walk because I felt like my feet were going to fly out from under me. I was glad to get back to level ground and head back towards the river greenway.
I picked up my intervals here and there and tried to run as much as I could. About mile 11, I was done. I walked the last two miles and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and getting myself to the finish line. I was tired and my legs might as well have had bricks on them.
I rounded the corner at the 13th mile marker and my youngest nephew was waiting to run with me. I took his hand and told him to run at my pace and he ran the last 0.1 with me. It was pretty awesome to cross the finish line with him. And, my oldest nephew got it on video for us! That was a pretty special moment.
I finished in 3:16:24. The hills were tough, no doubt. Had I been better trained, I think I could have had a better time despite the hills. The weather was nice and the course had a lot of shade. There was a breeze blowing in a lot of places so it was hot but not unbearable.
Overall, I think this race was very good. Registration was easy and it wasn’t expensive. The shirt and the medal were nice quality and a nice design. Packet pick up was easy and the race communication was excellent. I wish there had been a couple more water stations simply because it was warm and proper hydration is extremely important. But, given the greenway structure, I can see where it was challenging to put water stops along the path. The water stops were fairly well supported and that was great. The finish line area was also good. I got a bottle of water and was able to get some pizza, a granola bar, and a big piece of an orange to refuel. The pizza was still warm too! I didn’t stay for the Big Lick Burger Festival that started after the end of the race but that was a nice bonus; that the race coincided with the festival and the festival offered some discounts to the runners.
We bailed and went to IHOP instead. I do love pancakes and I love them even more after running.
I don’t know if I’ll run the Roanoke race again but I might try some other of the Race13.1 races. This one was done well; it was a smaller race but still had some good perks and a nice medal. Plus, I got to mark VA off my state list for relatively cheap!
Now that I’m home, I need to reassess and refocus. I have a full marathon on my calendar in September and I’ve got to get in better shape. I need to get my endurance back and I need to get some weight off (injuries have made it really easy to gain!).
Until then…gotta run!